Before I write anything, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge my white privilege. I will never understand the experiences of a black person, but I will continue to educate myself and use my privileged voice for good.
I spent the first 17 of my 21 years in a community surrounded by people that looked exactly like I did and had the same privileges. I believe this is not normal or healthy. According to the United States Census Bureau, Sartell is 91.3 percent white and 2.3 percent black or African American. While Sartell is expanding and diversifying there is no doubt we have a racist structure to our community. Our statistics are just the tip of the iceberg. In light of recent events surrounding the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others in the black community, I call my fellow community members to act. I urge white members of this community to understand the foundations of our society are built on racism. Whether that manifests itself as ignorance, hate or privilege it is everywhere. In the words of Scott Woods, “It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe.”
Take time when you run on Pinecone to acknowledge the privilege you have knowing you will not be gunned down as a white person like Ahmaud. Take time to call the Sartell Police Department and demand change 320-251-8186. Email our city council and begin to question why the people who represent this great city are all white men. If you have the means, think about donating to organizations such as the George Floyd Memorial Fund, Reclaim the Block, Black Lives Matter and many more. It isn’t hard to start educating yourself and doing something about your own racist tendencies, myself included.
The point I want to make is that I want to come home for Christmas in Sartell someday and not see almost all the students in the schools be white. I want to see thriving businesses owned by black people. I want to see our small town open our arms to immigrants. After all, many of our ancestors were immigrants as well. I want to know I come from a town where we recognize and respect the culture, history and experiences of Black people and create safe spaces for them. It is not the responsibility of black people to change a system white people created. So, I ask you once more to question and change this small Minnesotan town that we call home.