North Minneapolis has a sordid past, I can’t deny that. However, many don’t give it another thought that it is a good place. I regularly have to defend my decision to live there and live there alone as a woman, because no one takes the time to see what I see. There are people here. Good, well meaning people going about their daily lives, going to work, raising children, keeping an eye on their community.
I was on the way to my regular coffee shop today and was stopped at a red light. I looked over at six youths on the corner. They were about fifteen or sixteen years of age. They were not hoodlums.
They were dancing.
The youth of North Minneapolis had just gotten out of the first Friday of the first week of school and they were spending their new freedom dancing. They were invested. They had a little travel PA and tiny dance floor. They took turns filming each other. They showed passion, dedication. They were pouring themselves into an art form to express themselves beyond the screen tees that say ‘RESIST’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’. The opportunities before them at sixteen are wide open. Their lives can go in any direction and they have chosen art.
Blocks between the Jamar Clark tragedy and one-time home of Prince, life is occurring. North Minneapolis has blemishes and tarnish, but here on this corner was part of the pure silver shining through. I hear too often that North was not the place of people’s youth back when things were good. Things are still good. Childhood is a different experience in the 21st century, but I hear the laughter of children through the window in the summer. I see the banners saying the high school made it to the State Championships. I talk to a man whose father was the first licensed black electrician in Minneapolis. He tells me how he went to work with his father since the age of seven and learned everything he knows. I hear the pride.
A little girl and her even smaller sister call out to me for help. They are afraid of the little barking dogs across the street. I walk between them and the dogs as we go down the block. They are relieved to have finally made it to safety. To them, the scariest part of their neighborhood is a vicious Chihuahua and its mutt accomplice.
This is not a hood. It’s a street like any other in the U.S. Full of lives, stories and experiences. There are hope and dreams here.