Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said at a recent meeting that employees of color in Minneapolis have “been carrying the burden of white supremacy.”
In a May 28 meeting, Bender referred to an open letter which all city employees are invited to sign — anyone who signs the letter is acknowledging racism as a public health crisis, accepting responsibility for the “pain” they have caused as “stewards of the City of Minneapolis’s policies,” and recognizing that Minneapolis has been and continues to be harmful to the BIPOC community.
The letter was filed into the official city record and will be published on June 11 with the signatures of all who choose to sign, making it easy to know which employees decide not to sign the letter.
Bender said this statement should not have to be “courageous.”
“This should be baked into our systems, and what we all commit to unwaveringly every day,” Bender declared. “Our staff of color, particularly in Minneapolis, have been carrying the burden of white supremacy throughout our systems every day, for a very long time.”
As policymakers, she said, it is the council’s job to create an environment where people of color do not need to “carry the burden.”
“We need to acknowledge and recognize our part in those past harms and our responsibility in moving forward together,” Bender said.
The letter was read during the council meeting by Daniel La Croix, a city employee, who began by acknowledging that “we are on stolen land, Dakota and Anishinaabe land.”
An email sent to city employees explaining the open letter says that the past year has been especially hard for BIPOC communities and “customer-facing employees who disproportionally experience trauma while working for the City enterprise.”
Rep. Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal, posted the email and a statement to Facebook regarding the letter. He asked, “Can your employer publicly shame you into supporting critical race theory? The City of Minneapolis is doing just that.”
Munson noted that police and firefighters are included in the list of city employees being asked to sign the letter.
The city held a “Day of Racial Reckoning Assembly” prior to sending the open letter to employees, according to the email posted by Munson.