The Last Word
Why the Rebellion Began Here.
Having grown up in New York,
then spending much of my adult
life seesawing from there to San
Francisco and Oakland, I was
an insufferable, bicoastal snob when I first
arrived in the Twin Cities.
Back then, I complained a lot about
seemingly endless winter months, shoveling
so much snow, feeling landlocked, and Minnesota Nice. As an Asian American woman,
I had trepidations about living in a flyover
state because race is a constant companion
I travel with, as it is for so many of us, and I
really had no idea what to expect in the Land
of 10,000 Lakes. I vowed to return to the
West Coast as soon as I was done with my U
of M M.F.A. program in creative writing.
But then the socioeconomics of the Bay
Area became untenable for a 40-something
poet like me, and perhaps more surprisingly,
I found community here. For the first time in
my wayward life, I began setting down roots.
Many white Minnesotans are married
to the state's squeaky-clean image of bikefriendly paths, being the home of Prince, pristine parks, Swedish meatballs, cheese curds
and hotdish, and pontoons on shimmering,
cabin-dotted lakes befitting those “The Best
of” lists that get published every year, but the
reality is far from these sanitized archetypes.
And yet, in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, Minnesotans are finally waking up, some
forcibly so. It’s hard to look away when there’s
an enormous conflagration on your street,
the literal burning down of centuries of apathy, willful ignorance, hoarded privilege, and
misplaced entitlement. Citizens continue to
fill the streets to protest, mourn, clean, paint
murals, and plan for a better future. Even at
the height of violence and raging fires, huge,
diverse crowds spontaneously gathered at
numerous sites with brooms and buckets to
assist in the aftermath, day after day after day.
Bleary-eyed, over-caffeinated bands of neighbors and community leaders continued to
come together to offer mutual aid, mobilize
supply drop-offs, and organize neighborhood
patrols. In the embers, something truly
beautiful seemed to be coming to life.
Many are calling this time an “inflection
point” in American history, including myself,
but the more I think about it, the less water
it holds. Inflection implies singularity, of one
musculature or a single stream of consciousness, when there have been multiple
inflections since the looting of this land from
American Indians to the founding of the
country on the backs of Black lives. I believe
we are truly at a point of convergence. Convergence or confluence implies multiplicity
and cumulativeness—a cacophony of voices
and perspectives. In this distinction, we honor
the lingering ghosts of all our ancestors. We
can no longer afford pivoting from one point
to another and calling it progress or justice—the weight of our collective histories can no
longer support these blatant disparities.
What we’re seeing and experiencing is a
cavalcade of centuries of protest, of deaths
and rebirths, the final heave for human
decency for all.
Excerpted with permission from Literary Hub. Read the complete essay at lithub.com/letter-fromminneapolis-why-the-rebellion-had-to-begin-here/