Literary Pairing #2: We are Meant to Rise & The Sentence

by | Feb 14, 2022 | Blog, Social Movements

The Twin Cities are rising. Teachers in Minneapolis and St. Paul are wearing each other’s colors in solidarity as they prepare for a two-city strike, demanding raises for their lowest tier educational support professionals, retention of teachers of color, mental health supports for students, and wages commensurate with surrounding districts.  Workers in construction bookstores, coffee shops are organizing. Neighborhoods are on the move for Environmental Justice, and campaigns for rent stabilization in Minneapolis and St. Paul are on the move.

This week, students, Black mothers, and people with hearts and minds, rose to protest another murder by police, another cop and corrupt mayor cover-up and the lies and subterfuge and broken promises of an election that is barely over. Amir Locke, a 22-year-old Black man, not a suspect in any crime, who had a gun and a permit to carry, was sleeping on a couch in an apartment, when police officer killed him, within nine seconds of a no-knock raid.

The Twin Cities have been fighting police corruption for decades and have been vigilant in the streets since the murders of Jamar Clark, when community occupied the police station for over two weeks, and the cops got off. We marched for Justin Damond, a white woman killed by a Black cop, who is currently serving his time. When Philando Castile was shot in his car, with a child in the back seat, we occupied the Governor’s Mansion. The world viewed the murder, thanks to the video taken by his girlfriend, and yet the cop still got off.

And then the murder of George Floyd. Because we rose up, the whole planet knows his name. People in all corners of the globe rose with us to protest this Minneapolis atrocity.  The cop who used his knee to torture and kill George Floyd is convicted, and the three who aided and abetted the murder are currently on trial.

You may not know that since May 2020 Dolal Idd, Winston Smith, and Duante Wright, three young Black men, were killed by law enforcers in the Twin Cities.

This week, Minneapolis and St. Paul are marching to make sure you know the name Amir Locke. More important they are rising up for the kind of systemic change an election, and a public safety task force have failed to bring.

Now is a good time to read We are Meant to Rise, a compilation of essays by writers of color in the Twin Cities, edited by Carolyn Holbrook and David Mura. Many focus on the murder of George Floyd and the movement that arose, but other essays dig deeper and broader, providing the perspective you need to understand this place and time. The writing is superb and diverse, the sum is greater than each part. I recommend you pair it with Louise Erdrich’s The Sentence, historical fiction at its finest. The Pulitzer Prize winning author appears as a minor character, and a cop and a formerly incarcerated woman struggle through 2020 in Minneapolis.

And for dessert, if you are still hungry, read the Minneapolis Interview Project. Here are a few links to get you started:

Robin Wonsley Worlobah, (also read Robin’s Teen Vogue article)

D.A. Bullock, (follow D.A on twitter)

The late Mel Reeves, (whose coverage in the Spokesman Recorder of the struggle against police brutality, goes back decades, and right up to his untimely death from COVID in January 2022.)

We are meant to rise.


Literary Pairing # 1