WELCOME TO THE TWIN CITIES! I extend this welcome even to those of you who live here, because as you know, we live in silos here in Minneapolis/ St Paul and chances are there is a part of the Twin Cities you don’t know.
Which brings me to my point. These urban marathons that stop traffic and transform byways for a day, can be cool ways to get to know the world. In fact that is part of the ethos of the sport. After all, if the point was to run 26.2 miles, you would do it on a track under controlled conditions. The competition would be fairer that way. But competition is not the only thing going on here. Marathons are global events. People cross national, cultural and racial borders and overcome diverse physical challenges to participate together in this extreme test of human physical capability.
That is a beautiful thing.
Unless it’s not really happening.
If the hosts and the marathoners gloss over problems inherent in each location, they can actually make them worse, pounding on the paths of existing inequalities, making them deeper. Then your visit — rather than bringing the human family together — can actually increase injustices and pull us farther apart.
So we invite you to peal back the veneer and come and see our Twin Cities as they are – our lovely parkways and our ugly inequalities; our beautiful community- building efforts and the struggles we have to make our institutions accessible; our gorgeous diversity and our racism. We want you to learn about the cities we have and the cities we dream of having. We want you to know:
- The Twin Cities have more corporate headquarters than any other Metropolitan area, yet Minnesota has the highest race/income gap in the United States.
- Minnesota has some of the highest K-12 test scores in the nation — and the great racial opportunity gap. The gaps are greatest in Twin Cities schools.
- Arrest rates for low-level non-criminal, offenses in Minneapolis are 81/2 times higher for Blacks and Native Americans than for Whites.
- Police brutality is a Twin Cities reality. Recent Police killings of Native American Phillip Quinn and African American Marcus Golden, — both St Paul men experiencing mental illness, signal a need for change in police training and accountability. There have been 12 such killings in St Paul since 2008.
- Housing inequality in the Twin cities is the result of not just historical legal discrimination, like the Federal Housing Authority and neighborhood covenants, but also current illegal discriminatory banking practices in mortgage lending.
- As you run from one area or another you should know that health disparities in the Twin Cities can be measured by Zip codes. Location matters in how long you will live and how able you will be to do things like run a marathon. At the same time we are fighting the gentrification, displacing low income residents and People of Color at accelerated rates in our fair cities.
- Thousands of people in hundreds of Twin Cities’ organizations — including Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and St Paul, and Native Lives Matter, — are working tirelessly to change these structural injustices.
We congratulate you for your running accomplishments, welcome you to our Cities, and invite you join us in our marathon struggles for equality, here and everywhere.