Fighting Over North

If you were watching the news August 11, you probably saw Rev. Jerry McAfee hijack Mayor R.T. Rybak’s press conference on fighting crime. Rybak and Council Member Don Samuels were standing on West Broadway Avenue when, the cameras showed, McAfee got into Rybak’s face. The next images were of Rybak scurrying to his waiting car. […]

Walking the Line

After winning the DFL endorsement at the Fifth Congressional District Convention in May, Keith Ellison has come closer than any black person (or Native American, Latino, Hmong, or Somali, for that matter), to representing Minnesota in Congress. If he wins the September 12 primary in the overwhelmingly Democratic Minneapolis, about the only thing that could […]

Who is “We the People”?

A few weeks ago, Joseph C. Phillips, one of my childhood “ace boon coons” (black Southern speak for best friends), rolled through the Twin Cities. He’s mainly an actor (The Cosby Show, General Hospital, and the upcoming Vanished), but on this trip he was promoting his book, He Talk Like A White Boy—Reflections on Faith, […]

Constant Commenter

When Kate Parry became the Star Tribune’s “reader’s representative” in December 2004, she told readers she was their “advocate in the room. My job … is to take [your] concerns and make sure the newsroom understands them … It’s a good thing when someone wants to call, even if they’re angry. It’s a good connection.” […]

Move Along

If you really want to get Minneapolitans edgy about crime, kill some white people. Since the random murders of two middle-class whites in Uptown and downtown, near Block E, both places where affluent people live, work, and spend big entertainment dollars, Minneapolis has dramatically raised its police profile at those locations. Block E, with its […]

The Pictures to Prove It

Ratting out someone, even a creep who really deserves the exposure, is not usually done before an adoring throng, but furtively, behind closed doors—because people generally despise snitches. When Vanity Fair magazine revealed former FBI agent Mark Felt as “Deep Throat” last fall, old passions flared anew. Virtually everyone, even those who defended Richard Nixon […]

Who are you calling an “underperformer”?

Close your eyes for a minute and picture a typical academically challenged, underperforming student. If you are really honest with yourself, you probably see one of the “boyz from the hood”—in other words, a black, brown, or Latino male raised in bad circumstances and going nowhere fast. For many years, the desire to avoid students […]

A Valentine Across the Fence

Before I understood what “wild oats” were, my parents—especially my mother—warned me to stay away from white women. Both came of age in the pre-Emmett Till South, where black men got lynched for so much as flirting with white girls. For my mother and father, however, avoiding “playing in the snow” was more about racial […]

In Memory of Richard Pryor

I had begun writing on an entirely different subject for this month’s column—plea bargaining—but then a friend called to tell me that Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor III had died. I put all thoughts about plea bargains aside, went down to my basement, and dug out an old Pryor album. Staring at it, I was […]

Busted and Disgusted

— People are talking about whether Rev. Randolph (Randy) Staten will run for his old seat representing North Minneapolis in the Minnesota House of Representatives. If he did, and won, he would become Minnesota’s version of former Washington mayor and convicted felon Marion Berry: a political player who went through a very public crash-and-burn, followed […]