Winona is not an island


(6/6/2018)

From: Mary Jo Klinker

On Monday, May 28, the Goodview Police Department responded to a complaint at LaCanne Park. What followed was the recording of two Black children physically assaulted, pushed, and handcuffed by a police officer brandishing a gun, a power differential that should not be overlooked. The responses by Winona community members on social media platforms have mirrored the larger national discussion about racial injustice: accusations about parenting, demands to obey the police, and claims that acknowledging race is the problem. These comments aren’t unique because Winona is not an island: we are a microcosm of systemic inequality in America.

Monday’s incident is a reminder that all parents do not have access to raise children in a safe and healthy environment, a basic tenet of reproductive justice. As Ta-Nehisi Coates explains in a letter to his son in “Between the World and Me,” the 2015 National Book Award winner: “Black people love their children with a kind of obsession. You are all we have, and you come to us endangered.” This statement is built on a historical reality that no amount of “obeying” or “respect” could have saved Tamir Rice’s life, a 12-year-old shot by police for playing with a toy rifle in two seconds. Nor could it have saved 8-year-old Aiyana Jones, killed by police in Detroit as she slept, for which no one has been held responsible, to give just two recent examples of the systemic reality of violence against Black children. This is the reality so many parents and children of color are socialized in.

As a girl asked on Monday in Goodview, after the officer pushed a protective 15-year-old brother, and tackled a 12-year-old child to the ground, digging his knee into his back, “That’s a … kid, do you feel powerful?” Winonans, do we feel powerful on our island city? Or do we feel compelled to demand that all families have access to a safe and healthy community?

 

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