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Insight News

October 28, 2019 - November 3, 2019

Vol. 46 No. 43• The Journal For Community News, Business & The Arts •


Portrait by renowned artist Charles Caldwell of former University of Minnesota Regent Dr. Josie R. Johnson, Phd., is on display in the newly rededicated Josie Robinson Johnson Community Room in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Charles Caldwell


Page 2 • October 28, 2019 - November 3, 2019 • Insight News

Dr. Josie Johnson continues to provide ‘Life Lessons’ The Humphrey School of Public Affairs rededicated a room that honors educator and civil rights icon Dr. Josie Johnson. The Josie Robinson Johnson Community Room, rededicated Oct. 14, will be used by students and the broader community as a public engagement space. The space will particularly honor Johnson’s commitment to education, to community service, and to justice and equal rights. During the ceremony Johnson was presented with a portrait drawing done by renowned artist Charles Caldwell – the artwork that adorns page one of this edition of Insight News. Caldwell said he was honored to capture the likeness of a living treasure. “I love Josie,” said Caldwell. “She’s very much like a mother figure to so many of us.” Caldwell titled the drawing “Life Lessons” and

Dr. Josie Johnson imagined Johnson looking over several children reading her book, “Hope in the Struggle.” Caldwell said it

was important to show children soaking up the wisdom of Johnson. “Josie loves the

kids,” said Caldwell. “The change we make in life is through the children.” Johnson, educator, activist and public servant for more than seven decades, release last year her memoir, “Hope in the Struggle.” Working with the Urban League, the University of Minnesota and many other organizations, she has been involved with civil rights causes and campaigns both locally and nationally. Johnson has shouldered the cause of equality and justice during the darkest hours and the brightest moments for civil rights in the United States – and more specifically, in Minnesota with her leadership in fair housing and in quality education for all. In the forefront of the civil rights movement, Johnson has served as a community organizer for the Minneapolis Urban League; lobbying for fair housing and employment laws, inves-

tigating civil rights abuses and co- chairing the Minneapolis delegation to the historic March on Washington in 1964. Johnson was the first African-American to serve on the University’s Board of Regents, and also later served as associate vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of Minnesota with a focus on minority affairs and diversity. She also co-chaired the African American DFL Caucus. In addition to numerous awards and honors both locally and nationally, the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs established a Josie Robinson Johnson Fellowship in 2018. The fellowship is used to help current and future students develop the skills and tools needed to keep on fighting for the justice we all seek. Dr. Sylvia Bartley, senior. global director at The Medtronic Foundation, called

Johnson an inspiration to us all. “When I learned about Atariana Jefferson (the African-American Texas woman killed in her home by a white police officer) my heart was heavy, yet another reminder that no matter who we are, what we achieve or where we live we are consistently reminded our life’s are not valued - it depressing,” said Bartley, in her closing remarks during the dedication. “I came to this reception with a heavy heart. I was subdued. I lost hope. Listening to Dr. Johnson’s story, knowing who she is as a person, standing tall in her values taught and modeled by her parents and grandparents. Learning about her courageous lifelong fight for civil rights, restored hope in me. She has inspired not just me but our community to have ‘Hope in the Struggle.’ And for that I’ll always be in awe of Dr. Josie Johnson.”

Book shows slavery fueled Minnesota economy From 1849 to 1865, Minnesotans developed some of their communities with money from sales of real estate to southern slaveholders, despite Minnesota’s legal prohibition of slavery. Dr. Christopher Lehman, professor of ethnic studies at St. Cloud State University, will present on his new book “Slavery’s Reach,” which traces the money trails between southern slave plantations and Minnesota’s businesses.

“Slavery’s Reach – Southern Slaveholders in the North Star State” takes place Nov. 17 at the North Regional Library, 1315 Lowry Ave. N., Minneapolis. The free event runs from 2 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. The discussion is part of the Woodson Lectures series. The series sheds light on topics relating to the experiences of AfricanAmericans throughout the course of United States history.

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Insight News • October 28, 2019 - November 3, 2019 • Page 3


October 28, 2019 - November 3, 2019


Vol. 46 No. 43• The Journal For Community News, Business & The Arts •

Threats ‘not uncommon’ according to city official

St. Paul mayor receives racist threats mayor is unsafe if St. Paul residents vote to put trash collection under the city’s control. Previously, property owners could choose their own collection service or none at all. That changed last year, and the city contracted with several companies, which were assigned by geographic territory. The ballot question asks to keep the new system in place or not. Regardless, it is believed the city must still honor the $27 million contract with the haulers. And while the two threats in question deal with the issue of trash, officials in the mayor’s office say threats to the mayor are nothing new. “While the two police reports over the past week relate to the garbage lawsuit, it is not uncommon for the Mayor’s Office to receive calls or letters

By Harry Colbert, Jr. Managing Editor It appears trash brings out trash. With an upcoming question on the Nov. 5 ballot regarding how trash collection will be handled in St. Paul looming, residents have been weighing in on the question in a multitude of ways. Many have reached out to their city council representatives, others to the mayor. In those communications at least two were so troubling law enforcement had to be notified. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter – the city’s first Black mayor – has received both a threatening phone call and threatening letter, each with racist epithets indicating the

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter

that are reported to law enforcement,” said Peter Leggett, communications director for the St. Paul Mayor’s Office. “While we don’t publicize our office’s security measures, we take all threats seriously and are diligent in our steps to ensure the safety of the mayor and our staff.” Carter, like most mayors, travels with police security. If residents vote “Yes” on the ballot question there will be an increase to property taxes, but proponents say it is a necessary cost to protect the environment and residents’ health, noting there was no regulation prior as to how property owners chose to dispose of their garbage. A majority of St. Paul City Council members are in favor of city-controlled collection.

ACLU sues to restore felon voting rights The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit to restore voting rights to tens of thousands of Minnesotans. Schroeder v. Minnesota Secretary of State was filed in Ramsey County District Court by the ACLU of Minnesota and national ACLU on behalf of people with felony convictions who are barred from voting while they are on supervision or probation, even after they have finished any prison term or even if they’ve never spent a day in prison. “No legitimate or rational government interest is served by barring people from voting while they’re on probation,” said ACLUMN staff attorney David McKinney. “The criminal justice system is supposed to be about reform, redemption, and reintegration into society. Denying people the vote flies in the face of these goals while violating a fundamental right.” “Minnesota has never articulated any justification for disenfranchising citizens who live in our communities following a felony conviction, and none exists. The exclusion of these citizens from the political process is fundamentally wrong, undemocratic, and corrosive to constitutional governance,” said Craig Coleman, a partner with Faegre Baker Daniels, pro bono co-counsel on the case.

David McKinney have the right to vote for the person who I think will make policy changes that will enable me to be successful. There’s absolutely no reason that anyone who’s served their time should be stripped of their right to participate in our democracy.” Plaintiff Tierre Caldwell, an employment navigator with The Power of People Leadership Institute, is on probation and has not been allowed to vote since the 2008 presidential election. He’s the father of two. “I can’t vote for my kids’ sake for who to put

The plaintiffs in the case are among more than 52,000 Minnesotans who are living and working in their communities, raising families and paying taxes, yet aren’t allowed to decide who will represent them. Plaintiff Jen Schroeder will spend 40 years on probation and cannot vote until she is 71. “I am proud that I have turned my life around,” said Schroeder, who was convicted of drug possession and has since become a drug and alcohol addiction counselor. “I am dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others. I should

on the school board. It’s hard to encourage your children to vote when you cannot,” Caldwell said. “Voting is the one thing that makes you feel free. Statistics show the majority of people who vote don’t go back to prison. It makes me feel like they can take my tax money but I can’t participate in selecting our leadership.” The complaint cites due process and equal protection violations under the state Constitution. “Our clients and thousands like them live in their communities, carrying all of the responsibilities that entails,” said Theresa Lee, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “Depriving them of voting serves no legitimate purpose and is unconstitutional.” According to the ACLU disenfranchisement disproportionally affects people of color. African Americans comprise about 4% of Minnesota’s voting-age population, but they account for more than 20% of disenfranchised voters living in the community. Native-Americans make up less than 1% of Minnesota’s voting-age population but comprise almost 7% of those disenfranchised. Latinx make up less than 2.5% of the voting-age population but comprise almost 6% of those disenfranchised.

Esther Agbaje

Attorney Esther Agbaje to run for 59B House seat Esther Agbaje announced her candidacy to serve as state representative for House District 59B. The seat is currently held by Rep. Raymond Dehn (DFL). Agbaje, a civil litigation and medical malpractice attorney, said she is running to be an advocate in the House for safe and affordable housing, public transportation and environmental justice. “As our representative in the State House, I will

ask the tough questions and pursue inclusive solutions such as, ‘How do we protect our vulnerable and make sure that every person in our shared community can live a full life in Minnesota,’” said Agbaje. “Our district has witnessed tremendous growth, one negative consequence of which, however, is rising rents and housing costs. As a renter, and as a legal volunteer with Volunteer Lawyers Network’s Housing Court Project, I know the impact of rising rents on our community. To build healthy and sustainable communities, the state must be a better partner to cities and counties to promote inclusive growth that does not displace people and families.” Born in St. Paul, and raised in Brainerd and Faribault, Agbaje has a B.A. in Political Science from the George Washington University and an M.P.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She previously served as a foreign affairs officer at the U.S. State Department while based in Washington, D.C. She earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School. Agbaje is an associate with Ciresi Conlin, LLP. House District 59B covers the lower portion of North Minneapolis, south of West Broadway Avenue, the North Loop and most of downtown Minneapolis.

Omar launches #Fightingforthe5th to highlight constituent stories

A woman identified as Mindy from Minneapolis is highlighted in an Instagram post by Rep. Ilhan Omar. The post tells Mindy’s story of needing assistance with her Social Security Disability Insurance claim. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Instagram page WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) released a new photo series called #Fightingforthe5th, which aims to highlight the everyday needs of constituents in the 5th district of Minnesota and what her office is doing to serve them. The series launched with a photo of a woman identified as Mindy from Minneapolis. “I had been in touch with local and federal offices trying to figure out why my Social

Security Disability Insurance claim was taking so long to process before I reached out for help,” Mindy said. “My claim was processing for two years before I contacted Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s office for assistance. My case was completed within a month of that contact and I was awarded over $11,000 from the Social Security Administration. I was just about to give up before I decided to reach out to Congresswoman Omar for help.” “Serving the people of Minnesota’s 5th District is my number one priority as a member of Congress,” said Omar. “In my tenure in Congress, I find it important to highlight stories like Mindy’s, in the hope that they will encourage other people in my district to reach out if they need help with federal agency casework. I am extremely proud to serve in the 5th District of Minnesota but more importantly I am happy we are able to help people like Mindy in my community.” Omar’s office says it has completed 207 cases and returned $411,635 to constituents in the 5th.

Nonprofit seeks to make college admission and success possible

Michelle Benson named director of marketing and communications at College Possible Michelle Benson is the new director of Marketing and Communication for College Possible. Benson comes to the organization from the Minnesota Zoo, where she has was senior director of Marketing and Communications. Prior to her role at the zoo, Benson was the director of Marketing and Communication for the Chicago Parks District and the associate director of Marketing and Communication at the Uni-

versity of Illinois at Chicago. Benson also founded and launched an integrated marketing and communication firm specializing in event management/production, cause marketing, and community engagement. She is a graduate of Illinois State University and holds a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communication from Roosevelt University (Chicago). “A common thread in

Michelle’s impressive career is her focus on fostering relationships and engaging POC and non-traditional communities in authentic conversations and identifying meaningful opportunities for all communities to have access to resources,” said Sara Dziuk, College Possible chief advancement officer. “This passion and focus is an excellent fit for our work, and she has a strong connection to our mission. Michelle has ex-


Minnesota Zetas celebrate 40 years


ceptional marketing and communication expertise, extensive leadership experience, and her energy is contagious. I couldn’t be more excited for her to join us as director of Marketing and Communications.” College Possible, a nonprofit, seeks to make college admission and success possible for low-income students through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support.

Michelle Benson


Memoir provides lens to ‘see’ Cyntoia Brown-Long


Page 4 • October 28, 2019 - November 3, 2019 • Insight News

Grants support youths’ career and college options; enable transformative workforce training for men The Old National Bank Foundation, philanthropic arm of Old National Bank, presented checks for $50,000 to Big Brother Big Sisters Twin Cities, and $7,500 to Better Futures Minnesota, a nonprofit that works to transform the lives of men who were previously incarcerated. Three times a year, the foundation presents grants to organizations that fit the strategic initiatives of affordable housing, early education, economic development, financial literacy and workforce development. “Support from the Old National Foundation will help thousands of promising young people realize their future career and college potential,” Michael Goar, Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities CEO, said. “Mentoring happens at the community level, working with kids at a young age. Gifts like this are

both a way to begin eliminating racial and economic disparities and a long-term investment in the future Twin Cities workforce.” Big Brothers Big Sisters is being awarded the grant for its workforce development efforts. The grant money will go toward the organization’s Realizing Potential Campaign over the next two years. This campaign includes the purchase and renovation of a new youth development hub in North Minneapolis, which will also house the organization’s offices. Once complete, Big Brothers Big Sisters will be the first specifically youth-focused organization to move into the Hawthorne neighborhood. “As a community bank, we’re proud to support the continued efforts of organizations like Big Brothers Big

Sisters to revitalize North Minneapolis neighborhoods and invest in our children’s futures,” Old National Bank Foundation Board Member Kelly Elkin said. “We’re so grateful to the Old National Bank Foundation for their support of Better Futures Minnesota,” said Thomas Adams, president and CEO of Better Futures Minnesota. “This grant will allow us to provide certifications for upwards of 50 men that will allow them to gain entry-level employment in the HVAC industry. Thereby giving them an opportunity to earn a livable wage for themselves and their families. This is putting them on a transformational journey to better themselves and become contributing members of society.” Better Futures Minnesota is being awarded this grant for its workforce development

Old National Bank

(Left to right) Better Futures’ Joe Jeruzal, Old National Bank’s Leo Lopez, Better Futures’ Thomas Adams, and Old National Bank’s Trent Bowman, Kelly Elkin and Emily Michels. efforts. The grant money will go toward the organization’s training efforts. Better Futures Minnesota offers more than 12 workforce certifications, including refrigerant evacuation and HVAC.

“Better Futures Minnesota breaks down barriers for these men and really provides them with a brighter future,” said Elkin. “At Old National, we believe education is power, whether that’s financial educa-

tion, continuing education or workforce education – it all leads to a better way of life for our community. We’re proud to support this powerful organization.”

Opening Doors: Making homeownership accessible to Black households Owning one’s own home has long been a key component of the so-called “American Dream.” It’s seen as a sign of achievement. It yields financial, health and academic benefits. And it provides a stable base from which families can more successfully go about their day-

to-day lives. In Minnesota and throughout the country, Black households have historically faced pervasive, systemic barriers to homeownership – barriers such as racial covenants, redlining, violent community response and other discriminatory practices. Even after laws were passed to

officially change this, purchase options for Black households were severely limited via racist policies that restricted everything from the neighborhoods Blacks could live, to the financing they could access. While the fight to dismantle such systemic racism has just begun, even succeeding in this endeavor would not be enough to right past wrongs. It’s imperative to also provide proactive assistance to Black households as they work to gain ground. In the homeownership space, Minnesota’s Homeownership Opportunity Alliance is taking a small step toward doing just that. The Alliance, convened by the nonprofit Minnesota

Homeownership Center and Minnesota Housing, is comprised of lenders, real estate professionals, government agencies and communitybased nonprofit organizations all working together to reduce Minnesota’s shameful and nearly largest-in-the-nation homeownership gap. Among Minnesota’s white households, 77 percent own their own home. For Black households in Minnesota, this figure is just 24 percent. On Nov. 9, Insight News editor Al McFarlane, will partner with the Homeownership Opportunity Alliance to present “Opening Doors: A Community Empowerment Conversation.” At this panel

Al McFarlane discussion, attendees will hear from Twin Cities residents who have successfully achieved sustainable homeownership, as well as bankers, real estate professionals and nonprofit homeownership advisors who will dispel the myths around down payments, credit scores

and income. The event is aimed at those wishing to learn more about the possibility of homeownership, as well as those willing to take the message that homeownership is possible to their networks and communities. Prospective homebuyer attendees also will be able to meet one-on-one with nonprofit homeownership advisors to explore getting started on their own journey to successful and sustainable homeownership. Opening Doors takes place at NorthPoint Conference Center, 1256 Penn Ave. N., Minneapolis, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. The event is free, however registration is requested at http://

Personnel specialist Micah Clark-Fleming, manages pay and customer service By Dustin Good, Navy Office of Community Outreach OAK HARBOR, Wash. – Petty Officer 2nd Class Micah Clark-Fleming, a Park Center graduate, joined the Navy

because of a drive to serve all and continue the tradition of past family members who had served. Now, nearly four years after joining the Navy, Clark-Fleming serves with the “Cougars” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 139, working with the Navy’s premier electronic attack


Insight News is published weekly, every Monday by McFarlane Media Interests. Editor-In-Chief Al McFarlane Publisher Batala-Ra McFarlane Associate Editor & Associate Publisher B.P. Ford Managing Editor Harry Colbert, Jr. Culture and Education Editor Dr. Irma McClaurin Associate Editor Afrodescendientes Carmen Robles Associate Editor Nigeria & West Africa Chief Folarin Ero-Phillips Director of Content & Production Patricia Weaver Content & Production Coordinator Sunny Thongthi Yang Distribution/Facilities Manager Jamal Mohamed Receptionist Lue B. Lampley Intern Kelvin Kuria

Contributing Writers Maya Beecham Nadvia Davis Fred Easter Abeni Hill Timothy Houston Michelle Mitchum Inell Rosario Latisha Townsend Artika Tyner Toki Wright Photography David Bradley V. Rivera Garcia Uchechukwu Iroegbu Rebecca Rabb Artist Donald Walker Contact Us: Insight News, Inc. Marcus Garvey House 1815 Bryant Ave. N. Minneapolis., MN 55411 Ph.: (612) 588-1313 Fax: (612) 588-2031 Member: Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium (MMMC), Midwest Black Publishers Coalition, Inc. (MBPCI), National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) Postmaster: Send address changes to McFarlane Media Interests, Marcus Garvey House 1815 Bryant Avenue North, Minneapolis,

I Phone 7 pre-owned $19.99 I Phone 6s plus $49.99 Buy one Samsung A10e and get 3 free phones Add line and $5 only for the phone 4 line $100 unlimited everything Free Stylo 5 when you switch to Boost Mobile 1112 Lowry Ave N, Minneapolis MN 55411 612.345.4524

aircraft at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. “I enjoy getting the opportunity to working with people who make it easier to do and learn,” said Clark-Fleming. Clark-Fleming, a 2015 graduate of Park Center High School in Brooklyn Park is a personnel specialist with Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 139, a high-tech electronic attack squadron capable of altering the outcome of any engagement with the EA-18G “Growler.” “I’m responsible for managing pay and customer service,” said Clark-Fleming. Clark-Fleming credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in growing up. “My mom always taught me the importance of respecting people,” said ClarkFleming. “It helps because I have to deal with people all the time and no matter what is happening you have to keep your cool.” Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 139’s primary mission is to conduct airborne electronic warfare while embarked with a carrier air wing. They deploy with aircraft carriers to project electronic attack dominance anywhere in the world at any time. This includes suppression of enemy radar systems, sensor jamming and electronic protection. The EA-18G “Growler” is the most advanced airborne electronic attack (AEA) platform in production today, according to Navy officials. The Navy invests in advanced “Growler” capabilities to ensure it continues to protect all strike aircraft during high-threat missions for decades to come. “Being a part of administration is a bit different, but you always know you are helping out the team,” said Clark-Fleming. Serving in the Navy means Clark-Fleming is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy. A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied

Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marc Cuenca

Micah Clark-Fleming to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea. “Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.” Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Clark-Fleming is most proud of earning both an enlisted surface warfare and enlisted aviation warfare device. “It took a lot of time and taught me to be patient,” said Clark-Fleming. “It also taught me to ask for help when I need it and rely on people along the way.” As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Clark-Fleming and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs. “Serving means tradition,” said Clark-Fleming. “It’s protecting and serving.”

Insight News • October 28, 2019 - November 3, 2019 • Page 5

Letter to the editor

St. Paul trash fight an issue of racial equity

Current members of the Iota Zeta Zeta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

Minnesota Zetas celebrate 40 years On their way to commemorate the centennial of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Minnesota Zetas are taking time to celebrate Iota Zeta Zeta Chapter’s 40 years of service to the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The Iota Zeta Zeta chapter was chartered Nov. 17, 1979, by Gladys Anderson, Mary Charles, Fannie Harrell, Effie McKerson (deceased),

Bette Spencer, Anita Spencer, Linda Spencer, and Nancy Williams. The trail blazed by these women set a standard for Zetas who have provided medical, educational, psychological, technological and scientific expertise to this community. Like the founders of the sorority, each Minnesota Zeta sees the sorority as a movement and a belief system

that reflects, at its core, the desire to provide true service, to embrace scholarship, to set a standard for sisterly love, and to define the noble concept of finer womanhood. This belief has sustained and encouraged Minnesota Zetas and those around the world to hold fast to the ideals initiated and developed by its earliest members. On Nov.17, 2019,

from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel Minneapolis West, 12201 Ridgedale Dr., Minnetonka, members of the chapter look forward to celebrating its illustrious history of service, the persistence and determination of its members, and its sisterly community building. The celebration will also include Chanda Smith Baker, Minneapolis Founda-

tion’s senior vice president of Impact, as the keynote speaker. All are invited to celebrate the milestone. Tickets and sponsorships can be purchased through (search for “Iota Zeta Zeta”). For more information, contact Della Schall Young at (651) 249-6974 or della@youngecg. com.

The current St. Paul trash fight is an issue of racial equity. For far too long Black and Brown neighborhoods in St. Paul were overcharged or refused service by the haulers in the city. While it would be ideal to get to a place where we have unionized city workers using our public dollars for our public good, the first step we can take to get there is by voting “Yes” on this trash coordinated collection issue so that we can start to address all the other needs in our city. I look forward to when we are talking about collective action on gun violence, quality public schools and affordable housing – especially for Black people who have been systemically left out. Let’s use our public dollars for this, not paying for trash twice. First, go vote by Nov. 5 and vote “Yes” for collective action in St. Paul! Sophie Rodrigues, St. Paul

Dr. Margareth Pierre-Louis receives 2019 Best of Minneapolis Award

Twin Cities Dermatology Center, PA has been selected for the 2019 Best of Minneapolis Award in the Dermatologist category by the Minneapolis Award Program. Each year, the Minneapolis Award Program identifies companies it believes have achieved exceptional marketing success

in their local community and business category. This past September Twin Cities Dermatology Center founder and medical director, Dr. Margareth Pierre-Louis was presented with the award. Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each

category. Winners were determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Minneapolis Award Program and data provided by third parties. The Minneapolis Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of

local businesses throughout the Minneapolis area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

Dr. Margareth Pierre-Louis

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Page 6 • October 28, 2019 - November 3, 2019 • Insight News

Insight 2 Health It’s time for MinnesotaCare members to renew their health care coverage Minnesotans who rely on MinnesotaCare for affordable health care coverage should complete their annual renewal form by Dec. 15 to ensure coverage into the New Year. The Department of Human Services (DHS) has mailed MinnesotaCare renewal forms to more than 54,000 households throughout the state. These members must verify their continued eligibility for the health care program to continue their coverage in 2020. After members return the renewal form, DHS will notify them by mail if their coverage is renewed,

if they need to provide additional information or if they are no longer eligible for the program. DHS wants to ensure a smooth renewal process for Minnesotans seeking affordable comprehensive coverage through MinnesotaCare, Commissioner Jodi Harpstead said. “We need to remind the Minnesotans we serve of this important end-of-year deadline so they continue to receive consistent care,” Harpstead said. “We ask MinnesotaCare members to return their renewal form for processing as quickly as possible to

maintain their MinnesotaCare coverage without interruption.” MinnesotaCare pays for a variety of services like doctor visits, prescriptions and hospital stays. MinnesotaCare members pay no more than $80 per person per month in premiums and typically have very low out-of-pocket costs. The plan provides health care coverage to more than 83,000 Minnesotans who earn too much to qualify for Medical Assistance but whose annual incomes are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. (A family of three may have

income up to $42,660 per year.) Answers to frequently asked questions are available at renewal, which also features a video and a checklist to walk members through the renewal process. DHS has added temporary staff to handle calls to the MinnesotaCare help line, (800) 657-3672 or (651) 2973862, which is answered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Members should wait two weeks after returning their renewal form before calling DHS to find out the status of their renewal.

Jodi Harpstead

Study: Racism shortens lives and hurts health of Blacks by promoting genes that lead to inflammation and illness By Dr. April Thames Associate Professor, Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Southern California From Originally published on The Conversation. Negative social attitudes, such as racism and discrimination, damage the health of those who are targeted by triggering a cascade of aberrant biological responses, including abnormal gene activity. It is not surprising that reports documenting lifespan and causes of mortality have demonstrated a clear pattern … African Americans die sooner and bear a heavier burden of many diseases, including hypertension, heart disease, dementia and late-stage breast cancer. Scientists have searched for genetic causes to health disparities between Blacks and whites but have had limited success. The strongest evidence to date points to social-environmental factors such as poverty, health care inequities and racism. Our society is plagued by racism and racial inequality which is not fully recognized by all, according to a recent study showing that many Americans overestimate our progress in fixing racial inequality. On the other hand, more Americans (65%) are aware that it has become more common for people to express racist or racially insensitive views, according to a U.S. survey. Racism is not merely negative attitudes or treatment from one person to another. Racism has deep historical roots in American society, sustained through institutional policies and practices, whereby people of color are routinely and systematically treated differently than whites. As an AfricanAmerican/white individual, I often experienced comments growing up like, “You don’t

The Conversation

A study shows nearly 45 percent of African-American patients express experiencing discrimination when receiving health care. sound Black,” and “What are you?” that made me cringe. In college, I became intrigued by the field of psychology as it was a field that explained how prejudices, stereotyping and racism arise. My research as a clinical psychologist at USC is focused on understanding how societal factors interact with biology to create disparities in health outcomes. A recent study I co-authored showed that racism promotes genes that turn on inflammation, one of the major drivers of disease. Less overt, but entrenched Although racism may be less overt today than during the early 20th century, government policies and norms, unfair treatment by social institutions, stereotypes and discriminatory behaviors are sobering reminders that racism is still alive – and contribute to earlier deaths in addition to poorer quality of life.

For example, Blacks are more likely than whites to receive drug testing when prescribed long-term opiates even though whites show higher rates of overdose. AfricanAmericans have shouldered the burden of racism for decades, creating a level of mistrust for societal systems, be it health care or law enforcement. Terms such as “driving while Black” illustrate how racism and discrimination have been deeply embedded in AfricanAmerican cultural experience. Just imagine trying to buy a home and being turned down because of your race. This is too common of an experience for African-Americans.Nearly half (45%) reported experiencing discrimination when trying to find a home and in receiving health care, according to a Robert Wood Johnson survey that was developed by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Robert Wood Johnson

Foundation and National Public Radio. From macro to micro, the effect is widespread Until recently, we scientists did not know the mechanism linking racism to health. The new study from my lab here at USC and colleagues at UCLA shows that the function of genes may explain this relationship. As it turns out, our study showed that genes that promote inflammation are expressed more often in Blacks than in whites. We believe that exposure to racism is why. We previously showed how activating racism, such as asking people to write down their race before taking an exam, in the form of stereotyping impairs brain functions such as learning and memory and problem-solving in African Americans. This may partly explain the higher rates of dementia in AfricanAmericans compared to whites. Researchers have well documented that chronic stress alters the function of

brain regions, such as the hippocampus, that are targeted in brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. This work has been expanded through the field of social genomics, largely pioneered by my colleague Dr. Steve Cole at UCLA. A relatively new field called social genomics demonstrates how the function of genes – termed gene expression – is influenced by social conditions. Genes are programmed to turn off and on in a certain manner. But those patterns of activity can shift depending on environmental exposures. Certain marginalized groups demonstrate abnormal patterns of gene activity in genes responsible for innate immunity. Innate immunity is how the body fights off and responds to foreign pathogens. Cole named this pattern/sequence of gene activity the Conserved Transcriptional Response to Adversity. It refers to the how genes controlling innate immunity behave under positive or negative environmental conditions. When environmental

stresses like socioeconomic disadvantage or racism trigger the sympathetic nervous system, which controls our fight-orflight responses, the behavior of our genes is altered. This leads to complex biochemical events that turn on genes, which may result in poor health outcomes. The Conserved Transcriptional Response to Adversity profile is characterized by increased activity of genes that play a role in inflammation, and decreased activity of genes involved in protecting the body from viruses. We found that blacks and whites differed in the pattern of which pro-inflammatory and stress signaling genes were turned on. Our findings are particularly important because chronic inflammation ages the body and causes organ damage. As my colleagues and I pulled this study together, we took into consideration the health disparities such as socioeconomic status, social stress, and health care access. For example, we recruited African Americans and whites with similar socioeconomic status. We also examined racial differences in reports of other types of stress events. Both groups reported similar levels of social stress. For this particular study, none of these traditional factors explained why African Americans had greater expression in pro-inflammatory genes than whites. However, we found that experiences with racism and discrimination accounted for more than 50% of the black/white difference in the activity of genes that increase inflammation. So what do these results mean for future health? I believe racism and discrimination should be treated as a health risk factor – just like smoking. It is toxic to health by damaging the natural defenses our bodies use to fight off infection and disease. Interventions tailored toward reducing racism-associated stress may mitigate some of its adverse effects on health. As a society we cannot afford to perpetuate health inequities by undermining or disguising the biological impact of racism.

Insight News • October 28, 2019 - November 3, 2019 • Page 7

SATURDAYS at the MUSEUMɨ Storytellers, Activities and Fun! Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery 1256 Penn Ave No, Minneapolis, MN 55411, 4th Floor

Saturday mornings from 10 - 11:30am Hear Stories Read or Great Storytelling!

Caroline Wanga

Engage in coordinated activities and just have Fun!

Shawntera Hardy

Local Children’s Book Authors and Storytellers! Treats!

African American Leadership Forum to host breakfast gala The African American Leadership Forum (AALF), will hold its fifth annual gala breakfast celebration, “Collaboration: The Four Personas of Leadership” this Wednesday (Oct. 30). The gala will be held at the University of Minnesota McNamara Alumni Center from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and will be led by a panel of leaders from across the Twin Cities and host-

ed by T. Mychal Rambo with performances by Jamecia Bennett and other area talent. This year’s theme will focus on AALF’s four leadership personas (thought leader, influencer, builder, and ambassador) and provides attendees with the opportunity to network with creative changemakers in the African-American community. Panel members include

Caroline Wanga chief diversity and inclusion officer and vice president of Human Resources at the Target Corporation, Al McFarlane, editor, Insight News, Reuben Moore of Minnesota Community Care and Shawntera Hardy, founder of PolicyGrounds Consulting and former Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

The African American Leadership Forum mobilizes and activates African Americans to influence the social, economic and political landscape that impacts people’s daily lives. To learn more visit

Contact us at:

Become a member!

All Are Welcome.

See us at

Free Admission.

____________________________________________________________________________ "The Children's Reading Circle is partially supported by The Givens Foundation for African American Literature through operating support funding from Target. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund."


The MAAHMG is a fully qualified 501c3 nonprofit organization based in Minnesota.

Mihas named GTCUW chief financial officer The Greater Twin Cities United Way announced the promotion ofAthena Mihas to chief financial officer. Mihas joined Greater Twin Cities United Way a little more than four years ago as vice president of Finance and has served in senior non-profit leadership roles for more than 25 years with experience in finance, fundraising, information services, facilities management, direct service and board service. As chief financial officer, Mihas will continue to oversee the delivery of finance, information technology, facility management and support services, as well as serve as a key participant of United Way Worldwide’s financial leadership forum and its shared customer relationship management initiative.

Athena Mihas

Marc Cohn

See their faces light up.

“Walking in Memphis” Fame

The Hot Sardines

Brass & Sass Hotclub Stride


NOV 15-16

NOV 18

Donna the ƍƷÝńŕ


NOV 19

NOV 21

Greats Gone 2 Soon!

American Roots Revue feat. Larry

NOV 22

NOV 23

Dance In The Street Album Release

feat. The Music of Luther Vandross, Rick James, Isaac Hayes & Barry White

African All-female A Capella

Long, Tonia Hughes, JD Steele, Waubanewquay Day and Robert Robinson

Spyro Gyra

Contemporary Jazz Icons

NOV 24

oct. 1 - Nov. 3 7pm–10pm Sun–Thurs | 7pm–11pm Fri & Sat Wind your way through more than 5,000 glowing carved pumpkins. Get lost in the magic. Don’t miss the 2nd annual Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular at the Minnesota Zoo. Let the area’s best pumpkin artists take you on a journey around the world. Enchanting for all ages.

Tickets available at

A Night of Classic Rock

Bobby Rush Solo

NOV 26

NOV 27

Meckler Music House Presents: 90’s

The Lioness Unplugged

w/St. Paul Peterson & Classic American Rockers Southdale YMCA Fundraising Event


Hits From Lauryn Hill, Blackstreet, TLC, Ginuwine & more

NOV 29 • 7PM


King of the Chitlin’ Circuit

Rich Deep Hip Hop

NOV 29 • 10PM

1010 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN

Page 8 • October 28, 2019 - November 3, 2019 • Insight News

Memoir provides lens to ‘see’ Cyntoia Brown-Long Commentary by Joy Doss Special to the New Tri-State Defender Cyntoia Brown’s story sent waves of nausea across my stomach and a riptide of ire through my mind. The ham-fisted “morality” and the way in which “justice” was meted out did not sit right in my spirit. Where was the compassion? Where were the courtroom hugs and Bible? Where was the forgiveness that is often required of us? Do you mean to tell me there’s more compassion for a serial predator and frequent flyer with prostitutes than for this girl-child? Last week, in advance of the Oct. 15 release of her memoir: “Free Cyntoia (My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System),” I interviewed her. There was so much running through my mind as I read the book in preparation for our conversation. Who doesn’t want to be grown, especially as a teenager? I know I did. I pushed boundaries. But I quickly realized I was not ready for grown up stuff. When the grown stuff came at me around age 15, I said to myself, “Oh. This? Nope.” But I also remember wanting to be loved by someone, not to fill a void or resolve daddy issues. I just wanted to feel beautiful, special and adored like the girls in the movies. Cyntoia was no different than me or most of us. She just had the follow through and boldness I didn’t. As with many teenagers, she was seeking freedom, belonging and acceptance, which she found in the streets. Although at home she was loved, accepted and never isolated. From most angles, it looked as if she had a good life. Most girls (or boys) that are drawn to the streets do so because there’s something lacking in their family life; not so much with her. So, what made her feel so disenchanted and at times angry? In its simplest form, it was challenges with

her identity and her otherness. “I struggled with feeling different, feeling like an outcast. Now, we’ve done more to make people feel like it’s OK to be different. We’ve done more for inclusiveness,” Brown told me. “I was feeling like I didn’t belong where I was. And I just didn’t know what to do with those feelings.” One thing is crystal clear. There was this dichotomy of being a girl in a woman’s body. This woman-child was doing grown stuff with her body but still thinking like a child. She believed in fairytales in the midst of this madness; Prince Charming will save the day. Brown was 16 years old when she had the fateful encounter that ended with her killing a man she said picked her up for a paid sexual encounter. Of course, her logic was faulty. Sometimes the stranger-danger alert kicked in, other times it didn’t; and other times it did but she walked right into danger anyway. How did she distinguish one situation from another? What made her decide that this bad thing/person wasn’t as bad as this other bad thing/person? “I really didn’t do evaluations. There was no real risk assessment,” she said. “I was just walking into situations and pretty much just reacting as they happened. I was just blindly walking in. I didn’t think about the consequences, so it wasn’t always consistent. And (consequently) I ended up dealing with things no one else my age would be able to navigate. I wanted all this freedom, but when I was legally declared grown at the age of 16, I was like, whoa, ‘I’m really in over my head this time.’ You realize how wrong you were. You’re forced to be grown without understanding what it means to be adult or even be a woman. Having to face life as an adult, you realize what mom was saying. It’s difficult to grow up like that.” A useful tool in healing, self-forgiveness and uncovering personal truths is writing to your younger self. What she would tell Young Cyntoia and young girls? “Slow down. I re-

Flip Holsinger

Cyntoia Brown-Long member saying, ‘This is it, this is life,’ without slowing down to think about, ‘Where am I going? What do I want to do?’ Take the time to stop and think through things? Who are you? What do you want to see happen,” Brown said quizzing her younger self. We don’t think through things at that age. Ask yourselves, ‘Who are you and who do you want to be? What do you see coming from this course of behavior?’ As for ‘Young Cyntoia’ specifically, I would tell her, you don’t know half the things that you think you know. I thought I

knew better than my mother and anyone else around me. You couldn’t tell me anything. I would tell (Young Cyntoia), ‘You have no idea what life is really about. You’re not equipped, you’re not ready to be grown. God has it so you’re in your home with your parents for a reason, so you learn the ways of the world.’” Tried as an adult, Brown was convicted of firstdegree murder and robbery. Tennessee law mandated she not be eligible for parole for at least 51 years. She was 31 when her sentence was com-

muted by then-Gov. Bill Haslam on Aug 7. Throughout the criminal court process, she continued to believe the criminal justice system would protect her and see her. This raises the point of invisibility and sexualization of Black and Brown girls. This is a story in and unto itself, pegged to the larger community. As a mother to a young daughter, I find this distressing. It’s not just white people, it’s us too. Invisibility is a twin demon of sexualizing children. Some people just

don’t see their girlhood or their innocence. Somehow the lens through which people view our children is distorted. Since slavery, our bodies were never our own; they were up for grabs for whoever was interested. Clearly, there are remnants of this disposition today. Without spoiling the book and going too deep into the weeds, I encourage people to just stop and see our girls. See their worth, even when they don’t. It’s doesn’t matter if she’s “fast” or womanish or “developed.” This does not matter. It’s our job as adults to shepherd children through the growing up process in the healthiest way possible. Even when they aren’t our kids, it’s still our village. There is no blame assignation anywhere in this book. She doesn’t even seem to blame any of the predatory grown men who passed through her life. How? Letting go and letting God. Through all of the trauma, she managed to reconnect spiritually. The entire book, her entire story is a testimony. “The crazy thing is that I really didn’t have a difficult time shedding the armor,” she said. “When I got out, I was like, ‘OK, I’m free.’ I didn’t have a hard time transitioning. It’s natural. God made us to be free individuals,” said Brown of her release. Now she can move how she wants. “Lights out would be at 9:30 (p.m.),” she recalled. “So now, sometimes I’ll be up until 3 o’clock in the morning.” She credits her support system as a huge reason her transition was so seamless. “My husband has been incredible. Support matters. I’m super blessed coming out into the situation that I did,” said Brown (now BrownLong, having married Christian hip-hop artist Jamie Long while in prison). What’s next? She looks forward to working with young people, the legal community and generally being of service. “Free Cyntoia” puts humanity at the forefront. Everyone has a story. It’s up to us to see that and see them.

We’re here for you. We have answers to your health plan questions — in more than 200 languages. UCare has plans for everyone. Get started at

Profit Idowu/Urbane Aperture


Niles to release new single, accompanying music video ‘Cold Fire’ at HWMR Medicaid | Individual & Family | Medicare

Artist and educator Chadwick “Niles” Phillips is set to release his new single, “Cold Fire,” Nov. 2 at HWMR. The release is the second single from his debut album, “To Remain.” The evening, which begins at 7 p.m., will consist of a viewing of the new music video, an interview conducted

by Houston White, founder of HWMR and Black Excellence Clothing, and an after party. There is no cost for entry. In addition to his work as a performing artist Niles is the founder and CEO of the Avant Garde, an arts, music and entertainment production company that works to spotlight up-and-coming art-

ists in the Twin Cities. In addition to his work as an independent artist and the Avant Garde Niles is also an educator teaching his own curriculum entitled “Hip-Hop, History and The Arts.” HWMR is located at 1500 44th Ave. N., Minneapolis.

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October 28, 2019

Insight ::: 10.28.19  

October 28, 2019