can’t be silent – we need change now

I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I love this city, and it’s people. No, it is not a perfect place. There is lots to work on. There are big issues with race and our police as you now all know. There is a gap in student learning with our students of color. There is lots to work on but there are good people who want to work on change and keep pushing us forward.

What has happened over the last week was a spark that ignited frustration, pain and lots of history that is not good. This pain and frustration is felt throughout our country. It is not just here in the Twin Cities. It just seems the spark for the flames started here when we lost George Floyd on that Monday.

At this time, layered on this grief, there is a group of people some who are from here and many from outside this area who are taking advantage of this sorrow and grief to disrupt life as we know it. These people are creating an “urban war” so to speak. They have attacked the urban core structures -the food chains, the drug stores, the small family businesses leaving people without ways to get the basic needs to care for themselves and families unless you have a car and can drive out of the main city centers.

They have created fear on top of fear due to the virus that is also circulating. They wander at night in dark unmarked cars with no plates. They leave collections of gas soak wood in baskets under bushes in alleyways. There are stolen cars left burning on roadways and streets. They appear to be organized and well supplied with fuel to create chaos and fire.

There are some of us who are living with fear but our homes are intact, we have cars and ways to get food and basic needs. There are some who are living in smoked filled neighborhoods where Targets and grocery stores sit smoldering from looting and then fires.

At least from my circle of people what I see is many, many of those who still have means to help are helping. Hundreds of people have rushed out to help clean up and find ways to protect those under fire. Hundreds of people are driving out to the suburbs to buy supplies and food to donate. When the call goes out on social media for help it is answered. A school asked for help with food and other needs for about 150 people. They ended up with bag and bags of goods that lined the block. They had way more than the needed so it was dispersed to other areas in need.

It is not the best system but people are helping people. People are asking what is needed and how can they help. Neighbors are watching out for their neighbors – checking in daily. They are setting up phone systems to alert each other if there are issue during the night. People are out patrolling their blocks and keeping an eye out for cars and people who are not usually on the block.

People Care! People are trying to find ways to help! We have a long ways to go but here in Minnesota even though the “urban war” is not over we are looking to heal and change things.

We must change the way we treat people. We must change the racism that is so obvious to all of us. We must walk away from violence and confront those who continue to stir up trouble. We as a country have work to do.

We need to begin that work now! How can you help?

Read, learn, listen and be open for change because change is needed. This is not going to be easy but it is important work!

Don’t be silent! Speak up and Help!

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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