White people debating racism (5×8 – 2/9/12)

Racial baby steps, who was Roy Wilkins, same-sex firsts in Fargo, for the love of winter, and cold people and warm hearts.


There has been plenty of debate in the last two weeks over Duluth’s Un-Fair campaign, the anti-racism campaign that suggests white people can’t see the racism in the community. But at least people are talking about race, which has to be some sort of step forward. But it’s hard to make progress when you have 3 minutes to say what you want to say, some opponents of the campaign told the Duluth News Tribune after a 45-minute forum yesterday.

And almost all of the participants were white…

Boman Schneider said the campaign wasn’t saying all white people hold racist views. She applauded those who fight for equality but said being “color blind” is a myth comparable to not seeing herself as a woman.

It’s about systems in place that perpetuate inequalities, she said. “The silence of white people implies consent.”

Commission member Cruz Mendoza said he can’t understand how a racist message is being read into the Un-Fair campaign. “There’s nothing in that mission statement that screams, or even whispers, racism,” he said.

Leslie Bruns-Fralich, part of the anti-UnFair campaign on Facebook, said she apologized for the site name but it couldn’t be changed for technical reasons. “We want to be a bridge,” she said of those vigorously for and against the campaign.

Bruns-Fralich was also on the Scholastica panel at Mitchell Auditorium, where a large crowd of mostly students gathered to hear seven white people providing deeply personal and nuanced accounts of their touches with white privilege. Audience members were allowed to write down questions for the panel and they were read by moderators.

In Waltham, Massachusetts, community leaders are taking a different approach to uniting a community. They’ve started a campaign to get people to say “hi” to each other.


Props to the city of Saint Paul for caring enough to answer the question in this video the city re-released yesterday.


Two Fargo men are going to apply for a marriage license today. They’ll be denied because North Dakota recognizes marriage as something that’s between one man and one woman.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a long thing,” Lenny Tweeden tells the Fargo Forum. “I’ll ask for it and they won’t give it to me, and I’ll basically leave.”

Then what? Tweeden says he doesn’t know, although he’s not ruling out a legal challenge.

A gay couple has never applied for a marriage license in Fargo before. Tweeden says this week’s Court of Appeals ruling declaring California’s Proposition 8 law is unconstitutional prompted his attempt today.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports today that the key to a Supreme Court consideration of Proposition 8 may hinge on one justice — Anthony Kennedy.

Did someone say marriage? In Brookfield, Wisconsin, Dorothy and Roy Fleming are celebrating their anniversary. They’ve been married 80 years.

Related: Ellen Degeneres responds to One Million Moms, which called for her to be fired as a spokeswoman for JC Penney because she’s a lesbian:

One Million Moms is subsequently calling for a boycott of Penney.

JC Penney’s boss this morning said the decision to stick by Degeneres was a “no brainer.”


It’s going to get cold — that is to say: temperatures will be normal — in Minnesota over the next few days so the TV weatherpeople have gone to DEFCON 1 to sound the alarm. But this is good news for places like Walker, where the Eelpout Festival is being held this weekend. It was moved from its usual January date because it was — wait for it — too warm.

A marketing campaign by Ford, in which it asked people what they’d do with one of their trucks for a week, offers us an opportunity to think about the romantic days of cold weather, when water froze on the lakes of Minnesota and people strapped knives to the bottom of their feet.

Ford Explorer – Pond Hockey Adventure in Minnesota from Dorota Coy on Vimeo.


On Saturday, the New York Times carried a story on a fuel oil dealer in Maine who’s trying to keep people warm and stay in business. It included the story of a man who offered to trade his car’s title for some heating oil. Since then, about $100,000 in donations have poured in from the rest of the country.

Bonus I: Collapsing cooling towers (h/t: Neatorama)

Bonus II: The antidote for the constant “get on your feet and make some noise” harangue at Minnesota Timberwolves games: Have Will Farrell take over. He introduced the starting lineups last night in New Orleans.


A constitutional amendment requiring Minnesotans to show a photo ID when they vote could be on the ballot this fall. Backers say it will cut voter fraud. Detractors say it could keep more than 200,000 Minnesotans from the polls.

Today’s question: Where do you stand on requiring Minnesotans to produce a photo ID to vote?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Willpower: and what can we do to increase self control.

Second hour: In her new book, physicist Lisa Randall examines the role of risk, creativity, and uncertainty in scientific thinking, and why answering the biggest scientific questions we face could tell us who we are and where we come from. (Rebroadcast. Here’s the original broadcast.)

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – Both hours: Jonathan Alter, “The Promise” and Hendrick Herzberg of the New Yorker on the Obama presidency and 2012 campaign

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: “Truth, Lies and Afghanistan,” a piece written by Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis for the Armed Forces Journal, has inspired intense debate about the U.S. effort in the country. Is Afghanistan on a positive path to self-sufficiency?

Second hour: The challenge of Occupy Wall Street.

  • Sutton S.
  • Bob Collins

    Thanks for the correction, Sutton. If you go to the Eelpout festival, send me some pix this weekend, willya?

  • Kassie

    As I was sitting at a RollerGirls bout a couple months ago, I realized I had no idea who Roy Wilkins was, other than he was African America. Thanks to living in the future, I was able to look him up on the spot and share the amazing accomplishments of this man with my friends.

    But also of interest, is that the Roy Wilkins Auditorium was designed by an African American architect named Clarence Wigington in the 1930s. Wigington was the nation’s first black municipal architect. He worked for St. Paul for 34 years. Sixty of his buildings are still standing in St. Paul, including the Highland Park Tower and the Harriet Island Pavilion.

  • Heather

    I clicked through to the One Million Moms site out of curiousity. The very best line in their write-up of the campaign against JCP:

    “Degeneres is not a true representation of the type of families who shop at the retailer.”

    Reality check! What celebrity DOES represent the type of families who shop at JCP?

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob – Good stuff today. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I choked up watching Ellen’s thing.

    No local TV news people being mauled,

    but you can’t have everything. 🙂

  • Susan

    I have a strong urge to go shopping at JCPenney this weekend. I hope many others feel that way too.

  • Kassie

    I don’t care who the spokesperson is, I will never have a strong urge to go to JC Penny. Ever.