Structural Racism/Economic Justice

Not long before I was born, my parents were deciding on what to name me. I don’t really know what made them decide on Christopher, but one other name under consideration was “Kareem.” My dad was an excellent basketball player in his youth and continues to be a fan of the game to this day. By the mid 1970’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been dominating the college, then pro game for a decade. Therefore, I was almost Kareem Parsons.

I sometimes wonder how different my life would be like if my name was Kareem Parsons, instead of Chris Parsons. We know for a fact, thanks to research, that names like Kareem conjure up certain biases among those hiring for jobs, or choosing who to admit to universities, or choosing who to extend credit, or choosing who to rent to (I can go on and on). Names like Chris certainly do not engender bias, and even other names will get people an advantage. That is a prime example of structural racism leading to economic injustice.

There will not be racial justice for any of us until we have economic justice for all of us. We have an obscene wealth gap in our country where the top one percent own more wealth than the entire middle class combined. Average white wealth is 13 times greater than black wealth. It’s not by accident that by poor areas are disproportionately Black and brown and affluent areas are vastly white. Since Europeans first set foot on this land the economic system has been rigged against non-whites who had no political power to change it.

We are in a position to reverse these policies through the political process and using the levers of government to our advantage. We need to end the policies that are destroying wealth building opportunities opportunities in our city. We need to provide for safety in our communities, for the sake of residents, visitors, and businesses, through adequately staffing and training our police and provide the accountability that will remove bad actors and protect all of our civil rights. We need to offer our youth training that will set them up with good paying jobs and a bright future and open support to residents wanting to start and grow they’re businesses and so that our wealth can stay here to benefit the people of Minneapolis.

Fighting Racial Disparities

Our land has been plagued by racial injustice from the first moment Europeans reached its shores. A direct line can be drawn from the genocide of the indigenous people, to the suffering of the African slave trade, through Jim Crow segregation, to today’s appalling racial disparities. We cannot accept this and must do what we can to eradicate disparities.

Economic justice and increasing opportunities are the key to fighting racial disparities in Minneapolis. City government cannot cure society’s failings but we can use our resources to fight them. 

We must continue to ensure that our minimum wage is a livable wage, and expose disadvantaged youth to careers in fields where they are currently under-represented through mentoring and partnering with city departments, other government entities, trade unions, and the business community.

One example of this partnership is the Minneapolis Fire Department’s EMS Academy. Over the last three years the the EMS academy has trained 36 Minneapolis youth in for careers in the Emergency Medical Services field. 85% of the graduates have been BIPOC and many have gone on to careers with Hennepin Healthcare and the MFD. This is the type of successful program that I will work to expand citywide.

Accessible and Responsible Leadership

Governing by Tweet and referendums is not leadership we deserve. As your representative on the City Council, Chris will fight to ensure that the values of Ward 10 residents are represented on the City Council. He will accomplish this by:

  • Being accessible and promptly responding to resident’s inquiries and concerns.
  • Holding regular in-person and remote listening sessions and town hall meetings.
  • Being an advocate for residents and putting their needs first and foremost.

Proposed Hennepin Ave S Redesign

As Minneapolis continues to grow in population, and density of residential density increases, we must design our transit corridors to meet the needs of how residents and visitors actually move abut the city. Studies indicate that over the last 10 years the share of residents using cars, bikes, and walking as their primary means of transportation has remained essentially unchanged. Despite large investments in light rail transit and other mass transit investments the share of riders has fallen precipitously, and that was even before the pandemic. The increasing prevalence of electric and, relatively soon to be, autonomous vehicles means a phasing out of greenhouse gas emitting vehicles meaning a future where we can more quickly meet our CO2 emissions goals more quickly.

Therefore as we upgrade and reconstruct our streets it is not wise to remove parking availability or restrict street access to vehicles in most cases. Reducing traffic lanes and parking hurts access to businesses and disproportionately impacts the elderly, less mobile, families, and people of color. Believing that most people can easily go about their daily lives without a vehicle or access to convenient parking is rooted in privilege and does not take into account the realities that most people face daily.

Our Hennepin Avenue businesses which provide so many necessary services and jobs for area residents and attract customers to the area have been united in their opposition to the current proposed Hennepin Ave redesign options. Most businesses rely on on-street parking for customers to access their businesses which will be removed under he plan. Also, the removal of traffic lanes and restricted left turn opportunities will cause congestion along the main corridor as well as further impact the availability of parking on adjacent side streets.

I join area residents and businesses on their opposition to the current proposed redesign and urge the city council to delay the process for further study.

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