4.11.05

mpls: Prospect Park neigborhood has history of racism?

Tuesday I was listning to Mid-Morning with Gary Eichten. It was a great show, with two old Twin City civil rights activists talking about what the TC was like for blacks back in the old days.

There were many great details, like bits about Rondo Avenue or job hiring practices. But one thing that caught my ear was a tale about one of the guest’s friends, a middle class black family, that tried to move into the Prospect Park neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Apparently, the black family that tried to buy a PP house was met with organized neighborhood reistance. According to the guest, people got together to try and discourage the family from moving there. The guest added a bit about how that neighborhood was filled with “educated, university types,” and that she was taken aback by the racism.

The story caught my attention because, earlier in the year, I’d been talking with a Prospect Park resident about the “liberal” neighborhood’s particular hypocrisies. He told me a story about a friend of his, an African University professor, who’d moved to the neighborhood and felt decidedly unwelcome. He’d eventually left after too many stares and awkward silences.

I’m not trying to single Prospect Park out in particular, because there’s an inert racism throughout much of Minnesota’s “nice” white culture. Party because of our size, our isolation, and our Scandinavian-centrism, people here are not very used to dealing with a cosmopolitan, international, multi-racial world (unless it involves a cash register). And, we should be reminded, this is true even in the most liberal of neighborhoods.

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