A Mainstreet Radio special report "Hidden Rainbow: The Changing Face of Minnesota." Presents a series of reports on the state's growing minority population in outstate Minnesota.
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(00:00:10) Good afternoon. Welcome back to midday on Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Gary eichten. Glad you could join us this week here on Minnesota Public Radio. We're presenting a series of programs and special reports on a fairly dramatic change that's taking place in Minnesota. There was a time when it was assumed that once you got out of the Twin Cities, the only people people you'd find In Minnesota where white people Scandinavians and Germans for the most part, but if that stereotype was ever true it isn't true anymore. Minnesota is changing and this week we're exploring that change in a special Main Street radio series called hidden rainbow, the changing face of Minnesota all week were running stories on Morning Edition and all things considered profiling this change on Wednesday here on midday will have a special Main Street broadcast from st. Cloud and during this. Shower, we're going to bring all of that reporting together to give you an overview of the democratic demographic changes that are now a fact of life in rural Minnesota to begin a little history as we noted. There. Is this stereotype of a rural Minnesota that is populated almost exclusively by white people with names like Anderson and Schmidt The Stereotype is based on a picture of rural Minnesota painted by official government statistics, which portray Minnesota as a basic white tapestry with just occasional threads of color, but in reality in the past 150 years immigrants from more than 60 countries have come to Minnesota creating a state which actually enjoys a legacy of Rich cultural diversity Minnesota public radio's Dan Gunderson reports. The Minnesota of recorded history was first populated several hundred years ago by Dakota and Ojibwe Indians in the early 1800s a trickle of European immigrants began to arrive most were French Canadians who established a fur trade The first sizable White Settlement wave came in the mid-1800s when thousands of Yankees arrived looking to create a New England of the West the immigrants who would have the greatest role in shaping Minnesota begin arriving soon after Germans swedes and Norwegians have dominated the population of Minnesota since 1880. They came looking for a better life often. They were not greeted with open arms the Minnesota historical society's Debra Miller says when Scandinavians arrived in Minnesota in the mid 1800s, they were treated with derision by the resident Yankees Scandinavians were considered I think the insulting term was square head people weren't necessarily interested in each other's culture and learning about each other necessarily there was rivalry there was conflict such struggles are well-known to Edgar man who spent many childhood afternoons listening to his German grandfather tell stories of coming to America. Like many immigrants the groom and family made several stops before ending up in Minnesota where land was available Edgar man says there were sharp divisions among various ethnic groups here moves in a whole bunch of Germans and the varakin citizens that live there were were kind of put out about that. They could see what was happening there. The country was being taken over by these by these German see and so it was a kind of a hostile situation always within a few years intermarriage blurred the lines between the largest ethnic groups, but the historical societies Debra Miller says those early immigrant groups maintain a strong influence in areas of the state where they settled for example, German culture dominates parts of Central Minnesota Scandinavian Heritage left an obvious imprint on the Red River Valley the turn of the century brought the largest wave of immigrants to Minnesota, but another significant if much smaller wave has arrived in the past 20 years these immigrants include Hispanics somalis. Bosnians and Southeast Asians, it's hard to establish numbers for the most recent immigrant arrivals official statistics show about 51,000 overseas immigrants came to Minnesota in the past 20 years, but others say the actual number may be well over 100,000 a clearer picture of new immigrants should come out of the national census that will be taken next year in some ways. Their experience is different than the turn of the century settlers the recent immigrants arrived in much smaller numbers. And as a result, they have not been able to dominate anyone region by establishing the ethnic enclaves created by Germans and Scandinavians, and they have received much more help from churches and government agencies as they resettle but some common threads connect the recent arrivals to the turn of the century immigrants nearly all came to escape oppressive poverty or War most have faced some degree of hostility from those who came before The State Historical society's Debra Miller says it's an interesting historical irony that many descendants of the early European immigrants struggle to accept contemporary immigrants the same folks who whose English maybe a little ragged right now, you know, your grandmother great grandmother was in exactly that same position, you know, 75 or a hundred years ago. So I think that the more people can think about their families commonalities with some more recent immigrants probably the more successful estate. Minnesota will be the upheaval felt by immigrants across Minnesota History is remarkably similar as they struggle to comprehend a new language and culture Andrew Lindgren came from Sweden to Minnesota in 1914 in a 1978 interview with a historian. He recalled the overwhelming experience of stepping off the train alone in a strange place, even through the static of the old tape and despite the decade since the experience is Fusion is still evident. So I took their station. And I didn't know what to think Marissa haydar felt the same confusion when she arrived from Bosnia for years ago (00:06:10) many different see and people is different and every rules is different. Well everything. We just came here and we don't know (00:06:21) anything. Teresa says many people have befriended her and her family since they came to Minnesota, but she's detected a clear message. If you want to be accepted you must work hard and not cause trouble. It's the classic Melting Pot ID along the backbone of u.s. Immigrant assimilation. It's less fashionable amongst academics and strongly resisted in some long-established immigrant groups, but still very real in many Minnesota communities and Marissa says Americans, too often ignore the individuality of new immigrants and (00:06:51) somebody say everybody is saying that that's not it's not it's not same we are Bosnia people that not we have a five fingers not same every people is (00:07:04) different Joe Amato agrees, wholeheartedly a motto is Dean of Rural and Regional studies at Southwest State University in Marshall. He says rural Minnesota has a rich varied culture that's been diminished by bureaucrats who have used color to defined. City race doesn't make people eat the same Foods race doesn't make him speak the same languages race doesn't teach him to dance race doesn't teach him to be ambitious or not. I mean, there's just so much that so many things that determine people's diversity that have little to do ask in. My motto says by conventional measure rural Minnesota is devoid of diversity census statistics show less than 5% of the population is considered ethnically diverse a model thinks those simplistic definitions only served to keep people apart. We get locked in generalizations. Like we're all Quote white Farmers experiencing X are all small town people doing this. I mean, we become the Pawns of the kind of books like Sinclair Lewis's Main Street, and we become Pawns of stereotypes and my particular position is always to try to create diversity in what I take to be the true and Rich sense of the word that we recognize ranges of cultures ranges of classes ranges of different human. This is in different human aspirations yellow motto contends that tendency towards simplistic categorization means the people of Minnesota have forgotten where they came from and don't know who they are. Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio Moorhead. It's been nearly three years since a series of racially motivated conflicts erupted in Rochester the violent clashes mainly between white teenagers and immigrants somalis grew out of deep racial divisions that some say were long hidden beneath the surface in Rochester. I'll since those clashes Luther youth groups promoting cultural understanding have expanded minority groups of found a stronger voice and city leaders have launched an ongoing education campaign still Rochester minorities say, it's been a challenge to find common ground with their white counterparts. Main Street radios are cues reports. Some Bots Oak is a Cambodian immigrant who's lived in Rochester for the past 14 years the high school senior writes poems and stories about people in issues. He sees around him. Is talent and likeable demeanor make him a popular speaker at local events Rochester NAACP president Nate Adams praised Oak at this year's Martin Luther King jr. Day rally and this brother is really about what dr. King was about. Okay, peace love for everybody and bringing this community to close the community and us being one. Okay, let's give (00:09:50) I'm glad to see that many people here still desire to carry on in Martin Luther King's dream. (00:09:55) But we have to make sure that what is said and what is heard today does not die in this room by carry on throughout Oak. Where's khaki pants v-neck sweaters and an easy smile. He makes good grades and wants to go to Hamline University this year Oaks outspoken Devotion to racial Harmony make his 3-day suspension last month for fighting in school that much more puzzling Oaks has he just snapped after a group of black students taunted him and his friends over several weeks with veiled racial put-downs, you know with the verbal tension between us and a couple of the physical fights. I went on, you know, I just I just couldn't take it anymore. And just one of them said something to me and I responded like in a way that I knew I shouldn't respond Oak is a member of a youth group called Unity that promotes cultural understanding and a forum sponsored by unity other students of various races Somali Chinese Hmong told stories of being singled out because they are different one of them lock the door behind me. They some of them choke me here. I couldn't breathe for a while (00:10:54) three men. Grown men jumped out of the vehicle with baseball bats and started hitting me because I was not of the same color skin that they were they were white (00:11:08) one weekend your the end of the school year. He was at a party and the three people saw him outside of his car and started to hit him and kick him a dramatic change in Rochester's population fuels the tension between 1990 and 1997 city planners estimate the combined number of blacks Hispanics and Asians living in Rochester more than doubled from about 4,500 to more than 90 200. Now people of color make up nearly 12% of Rochester's population many of the new residents moved here to benefit from Rochester strong economy touted on the cover of Money Magazine conflicts boil to the surface starting in August of 1996. A twelve-year-old Somali boy had a teeth knocked out when he couldn't outrun a mob of whites yielding baseball bats a Four-year-old Somali man was pushed to the ground beaten and kicked by several whites and a 13 year old paper boy of Somali descent was attacked and beaten by a car load of white teenagers since then city leaders have made a conscious effort to put race on the agenda. There have been advertisements school programs and discussions among employers Mayor Chuck Canfield now reminds residents of their responsibility to keep racial Conflict at Bay when he speaks in public such as this press conference in City Hall that we as a community are growing in our understanding of how we all fit together. I think we're starting to get it. I think I'm starting to get it. I'm feeling more comfortable with it. You remember the city that you grew up in in 1955 and things are different now. What's different now says Michelle rug (00:12:52) Severson and independent diversity consultant is that Rochester residents are finally facing the uncomfortable (00:12:58) truth. So often avoided in smaller communities, (00:13:01) there is nothing happening Rochester Minnesota that hasn't happened somewhere else. We had a cross burning in some broad at we had a cross burning in Austin Minnesota. Every city has struggled with these things. The benefit is we're starting to find out about it and it's not like the young kid in sixth grade who gets picked on every single day and nobody ever knows (00:13:23) Severson says acknowledging the problem is a good first step, but changing course is a slow and painful process. (00:13:36) Rochester's Mayo High School is around (00:13:38) building with hallways leading out like spokes of a wheel to number doors students hang out at doors. According to their social status door six is for the athletes and other popular students door one is for the alternative crowd many sporting pierced eyebrows and baggy pants local human rights activists are alarmed at the degree to which students of color don't feel comfortable using the same doors as white students principal. John Frederickson downplays the apparent segregation at Mayo saying racial tension is not any greater than at other high schools or even other public places whenever you put 1800 teenagers together in a building. I think we all understand that there is a potential for conflict. Just like when you pack a lot of people into the Mall of America Rochester Mayo is Sam Oaks school. He says this is where many of the problems begin and that administrators could do a better job reducing the reasons kids turn on one another seems like in school that is like the assistant principal the principal of the conflict mediators and the police liaison at school seems like they have a lot of authority and the in control of what's going on. But actually I feel like all they do is just kick kids out of school when they have problems and let them handle their problems elsewhere Oak says without a place to go kids have little hope of successfully resolving such conflicts and then hard feelings and mistrust are inevitable concerned residents and city leaders say it's hard to tell yet whether their response to the racial attacks has made a difference assaults and bias crimes are down mirroring National Trends, but as Sam Oak and others point out. Many crimes are not reported and even when they are it doesn't always move the discussion of diversity forward in Rochester. I'm Art Hughes Minnesota Public Radio from Southeastern Minnesota to West Central Minnesota where immigration hit its peak in the late 1980s and early 1990s with some unofficial reports indicating that there had been an 800% increase in the Hispanic population Kandiyohi County saw the most dramatic population change is food processors, like Jenna go and gold'n plump hired Factory and Farm Workers who then ultimately settled in and around Wilmer over the years Wilmer has struggled with its race relations, Main Street. Radios, Katherine Herzog has a report. (00:16:05) It's lunch hour at the talk Town Cafe in downtown Wilmer. The tables are full as people talk over noon hour specials and homemade pie waitresses call customers by their first names. It's a scene repeated across the state a predominantly white middle-class Town that's experienced a surge of immigrants over the past two decades, but you wouldn't know it sitting in one of downtown wilmers busiest diners. The numbers say Wilmer has become more diverse, but it seems that socially life and Wilmer remains somewhat (00:16:36) segregated. There's a lot of reasons why I think we'll my wrist. It is the place to be it's a window of the world in rural Minnesota (00:16:46) Pablo Obregon is a Lutheran minister at the posi Esperanza Church in Willmar. He opened his church in 1992 as a place for immigrants both new and old it's mainly Hispanic people who show up for Sunday Services as readings and music are in Spanish. But Obregon says integration is About more than just language. It's about being comfortable with something new (00:17:08) some people they know how to react, you know changes are very difficult changes could be scary. And of course people are going try to put their defenses (00:17:19) up obregón says there was a significant lack of communication between Wilmer city leaders and the Hispanic Community as people began to arrive in large numbers in the late 80s. He says initially Spanish-speaking residents had little support to find adequate housing and adjust to new schools. Wilmer has experienced great change over the past two decades with the growth of Industry many new immigrants have found jobs and settled down Wilmer as a regional Hub in West Central Minnesota with a population of about 20,000 about 10% are people of color by the year 2000 its predicted students of color will make up 20% of enrollment at Wilmer schools. Wilmer has long carried the stigma. What a town should not do when the population becomes more diverse even residents of Willmar recognize their City's reputation for intolerance Obregon and other city leaders admit Wilmer does have its skeletons. But Obregon says people in town haven't had their feelings about what it means to live in a city that's (00:18:22) changing. Sometimes people haven't meant to be negative, but they are being honest and a lot of the things that have been said or Express has been negative comments, you know, very discriminatory statements about people from other cultures, but by being honest, I think there was a channel to start a conversation with those that were open to communicate about these issues (00:18:55) Lucia Mena's is president of the Hispanic Alliance in Willmar. She's lived in town for more than 10 years organizing Farm Workers. Non, get-out-the-vote campaigns in the Hispanic community and more recently helping new immigrants receive their geds but the hours of extra work with little reward have weighed heavy on you men has in the recent weeks. She says it's hard when the media seems to focus only on problems in the Hispanic population gang trouble and crime for instance without paying attention to organized events. Like Cinco de Mayo or other cultural celebrations. We are tired, you know, we are working with the community and we try to do it a good things. So and I don't think they are nobody appreciate you know that if we make so especially the another part, you know the angle part so but we still we still working in this we still do it something here in the community and we will see what happened. There is a hopelessness and your men has voice as she recalls a recent incident at a local Chinese restaurant. So when we come to the this restaurant those The family there they say well why this is funny people come to Minnesota and I try to acknowledge them, you know, but this her hurt my feelings and then they say well these people smell like rats, you know, they they they talking loud. We can hear very well and I was with there with my family, you know, things like that. So it's upset me as the tears come you men as emphasizes. There are many good people in Willmar and that she has many white friends, but she says Wilmer is not a healthy place to raise Hispanic children and also sometimes I can explain sometimes I feel myself, you know, like I don't want to I don't want to be spanic. I went to be another, you know person another culture because I went to the first I came here to Minnesota. Wow, I feel you know, this is the Atlanta or the opportunities. I can do it everything what I want here. So, but when I moved to Willmar You know and after that, you know letter people they don't like us fear and mistrust common reactions from people in towns unfamiliar with new cultures residents of Willmar often cite language as a source of tension within the community and over time. It's even brought the national Spotlight to Wilmer as the community's frustration made its way to the courts the Wilmore Police Department attempted to ease the language barrier by hiring the forces first Hispanic police officer in nineteen, ninety two years later the officer filed a discrimination lawsuit against the force claiming. He was the victim of racial harassment by other officers and falsely accused of taking bribes from the Hispanic Community. The case was settled out of court, but the officer eventually left the force and the city in 1996 13 Hispanic families in Willmar filed a lawsuit against the local school district alleging Hispanic students were singled out for harsher discipline. And that their children's academic needs were not met the case was eventually settled out of court and required greater contact between school officials and Hispanic parents lifelong Wilmer resident and former mayor, Richard Hoagland says the lawsuits marked Wilmer as a City close to people of color. But over time. He says they helped change Wilmer for the better. (00:22:25) I would probably told you about 10 years ago. We thought we were welcoming people and we so we can take anything. But then after the some of these people come in some of the things that had happened a lot of them weren't welcome. Sometimes they said well, I'm back home. We're back where you came from, but I think a lot of that's been overshadowed know and most people welcome to people in our community (00:22:49) Pablo Obregon says Wilmer like many Minnesota towns still has a ways to go before all aspects of City Life become (00:22:56) integrated. We are out on the spotlight and I think we have learned to be on that position. People travel around our Rural and Country Roads, you will find people from different parts of the world living in the prairie of Minnesota (00:23:15) Wilmer is a town with well-tended yards where businesses lined Main Street, but there's a reputation that Wilmer is a City close to newcomers a new Statewide ad campaign is designed to help improve the city's image while people of color and Wilmer have gained a greater voice and created their own organizations. They Remain the city's newest hidden residents in Collegeville. I'm Katherine Herzog, Minnesota Public Radio. (00:23:41) This is midday coming to you on Minnesota Public Radio this hour the hidden rainbow the changing face of Minnesota series of reports put together by our Main Street radio unit taking a look at the changing demographics in rural Minnesota reminder on Wednesday special Main Street radio broadcast from 11 to 1 here on Minnesota Public Radio from st. Cloud on this subject and of course It's all week long here on Minnesota Public Radio. We'll continue with our overview this hour, but right now let's catch up on some news headlines. Who's Greta Cunningham Greta. (00:24:14) Good afternoon, Gary. There are new questions being raised about the treatment of the three American pows released by Yugoslavia yesterday. Army doctors. Say the soldiers for the most part are in good shape, but checkups have also revealed fractured ribs and a broken nose. The Army won't say how the injuries were sustained Yugoslavia release them in yesterday to the Reverend Jesse Jackson after more than a month of captivity. President Clinton is going to meet with Jesse Jackson today Jackson's reportedly carrying a letter from Slobodan milosevic proposing a meeting with President Clinton Clinton is also meeting later today with Russian Envoy Viktor chernomyrdin who's just back from talks in Belgrade in Regional news. A senate committee has unanimously recommended John Swift Governor Ventura is choice to head the Iron Range resources and Rehabilitation board. The full Senate will vote on the confirmation Swift owns a resort on Lake Vermilion and has been a vocal critic of the Triple R. Be the forecast for Minnesota today calls for Sunshine and Breezy conditions a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the South and West highs today in the 70s at this hour some light rain is falling in Saint Cloud and 66 Rochester reports sunny skies and 72 Duluth partly sunny and 63 and in the Twin Cities partial Sunshine a temperature of 75 Gary. That's a check on the latest (00:25:26) news. Thank you Greta hidden rainbow. The changing face of Minnesota continues now here on Minnesota Public Radio, you know, the recent Supreme Court decision on Indian treaty rights capped a decade of friction between American Indians and their non-indian neighbors here in Minnesota. We're now left to digest not only the impact of the decision itself, but also the shouting defensiveness and political maneuvering that preceded that decision there is however a less toll story hear a story of people who have indeed reconciled with a larger culture who've grown. So comfortable in that culture. They're no longer they no longer see How's as minorities life angerer Main Street radio has that part of the story after 20 years in the Pulpit Curtis temp says he's more grandfather than preacher more friend than missionary energetic and concise in his 70s stem fleed services at the tiny Vineland Indian Chapel on the west side of Lake Mille Lacs this morning those it would like to follow along with me a (00:26:26) turn to John (00:26:28) 10 and 10. This morning's turnout is small about a dozen people during the sermon two little girls leave their seats to stand up front with Pastor stiff. Sometimes climbing the lectern sometimes leaning against him to listen to stem. The relaxed tone is just right you can't go in there and say I'm a white man and carry on in that manner. I'm not here to present some new thing for you to accept I'm here because I love you people as stiff puts it he's always drifted toward American Indians. He grew up near the white Earth reservation at ease. In the homes of Indian neighbors, they were his fellow soldiers in World War II and his closest friends afterward while working in. Oh, no meah at some point. He says it occurred to him. His drift was actually his calling the Lord has an agenda for us through life and he arranges circumstances that put us into his program. We are one so there is no racial thing there with us and I don't see them as Indian people. I see them as my family. The Vineland family has seen big changes during stamps two decades here the 80s economic High Times for many Saw per capita income actually fall among outstate American Indians. Joblessness Rose to 55% when he arrived one in three Indian children lived in poor households by 1990. It was one into then in the early 90s the Mille Lacs band. Made to provocative choices to sue the state for long extinguished fishing and hunting rights and to build casinos The Reluctant to talk politics step says many non Indians refuse to look at those issues from a native Viewpoint. Archie thing was mr. Garble and his goal was to better the lot of the people and Margie came in with the same intentions after art died. She came in and she followed the what he was up to and I have noticed nice homes. Nice treats streetlights beautiful schools a beautiful clinic and if you go up there and go around that Village, I think there's something wrong with anyone that do condemn the casino straight out as for treaty rights stamp says he's glad the case is over but that in truth. He rarely discussed it. He says for non Indians, especially the case became a stumbling block a detour away from things that matter let us go on and be family. They'll be things that I don't agree with it will be things. They don't agree with we're going to be family regardless. And how many families do you have that you don't have friction? It's hard to pinpoint why some adapt well in a different culture and others don't John poupart who's American Indian research and policy Institute is headquartered in st. Paul says research suggests few people ever grow comfortable living or working as cultural minorities and he says those who do often share some of Pastor sniffs traits. They ignore politics. They pay attention to history. They listened more than they talk very abstract and you got to pick up on the nuances and you got to pick up on silence as a means of communication poupart believes the recent Supreme Court treaty affirmation injected reason into an emotional war in the calm that follows. He says it might be easier for individuals on both sides to disown racism. I think there are people who are willing to put the Olive Branch. For example, (00:30:02) I would caution them don't organize in (00:30:06) a human Relations Committee or an anti-racism Community because then you buy all the frame of reference that goes with fighting racism (00:30:16) rather than working against something wouldn't you work for something? Where do we want to be and how can we make that happen? (00:30:25) At Central Lakes College in Brainerd Dennis Eastman tries to keep one eye on practice at this end of the gym the other on his ten-year-old boy Zack shooting hoops at the far end Eastman is clc's athletic director and a successful basketball football and volleyball coach. He's a member of the Crow tribe and are two centuries of tradition. He knew nothing about for the first 30 years of his life. That was the time when President Johnson was in an office and he was trying to get rid of the reservations. So they were taking people out the reservations and sent it into different areas for work and my dad ended up going to Los Angeles. He was so bent on fitting in that he didn't want to be unusual. I think he wanted to fit in so much that he just buried some of this stuff in his soul. Eastman says he understands his parents decision not to raise him in the crow culture. There seemed to be no future on the Montana reservation and the watchword of the early 60s. Is integrate but having no history put him at a disadvantage as the only Indian in his Los Angeles neighborhood and even more so on trips back to Montana. I was always called the Apple what that means is your your red on the outside but white on the inside, I was sort of beaten up by both sides, you know, you roll out that thick skin and let it hit you and then just keep on moving Dennis Eastman did keep moving to Utah then North Dakota in the 70s then to college in Moorhead at a wedding dance in the Red River Valley. He met Pam Halverson the daughter of Scandinavian beet Farmers (00:32:00) when I met Dennis, I didn't know what nationality was I decided was good-looking and wanted to go out with them. I really didn't know he was Native American and I had a picture of him and I remember showing my parents and their eyes got kind of big and and then, you know, they sort of talking and I remember feeling very angry with (00:32:18) them Dennis and Pam have been married 17 years. They say in mostly White Brainerd. They are still a cage. Target's for racial suspicion but three years ago. Something happened that removed most of the sting Dennis his father moved back to the reservation. He broke his silence about Crow Traditions Dennis immersed himself in his history. Well, I walk into some place and people say well, you know, what are you well, I'm a crow. You know, I used to say I well I'm Native American or I'm Indian. Well now Sam Crow, I'm Crow from Montana, you know, I'm from the whistling water Clan, you know, so I can tell these things what who I am and where I'm from. It's a different type of confidence the Eastman say, they're passing on these lessons to their children whom they hope will find it easy to live in either culture instead of difficult in both laugh anger, Minnesota Public Radio traveled through rural Northern Minnesota and you'll come across some Native Americans, but mostly you're going to see white faces people who Trace their roots to Scandinavia and other parts of Europe things are changing though a small but growing number of African Americans are calling Northern Minnesota home some are attracted to education or job opportunities other seek relief from Urban problems, but many find it a challenge to settle into a rural culture where black faces are rarely seen and a set of public radio's Tom Robertson reports. Fifty-year-old. Liguria Bodine is an African-American originally from Mississippi who moved to rural black duck, Minnesota 25 years ago. (00:33:50) I was like an ink spot in the middle of a white linen tablecloth, you know, and so yes heads did turn but people would be cordial but still you could feel something (00:34:05) she came to marry a white man. She met at a Southern College laborious says she was the first black woman to live in the small Northern (00:34:12) Town. Everybody's eyes just it was so different at that time. I wore a very short little afro, and I was skinny and cute butt. I could not believe how everyone looked at me. It was I was so different for them. And so obviously they had not seen any blacks except perhaps on (00:34:37) TV laborious says most people in the community were friendly but she occasionally felt the barbs of racism usually subtle sometimes direct but always painful the incident that sticks out the most in her mind is the loss of a job in (00:34:51) 1981. I was dismissed as a result of my color. I found this out later so instead of taking it to court and I was going to because I was a fighter my father-in-law encouraged me not to do that. He said you have to live in this community. Don't pursue it. It took the fight out of me, you know and for a long time, I was angry over it very (00:35:20) hurt laborious says her four children had a difficult time in school because of their mixed race. She says they had few friends and were treated as outcasts troubles began early for her son Chris now 21 first grade little white girl ran up to me (00:35:36) nigga nigga, nigga nigga nigga, (00:35:39) which upset me which I don't know. I knocked her out. She made me mad so I clocked her one, you know, it's just I've been getting in in school since then. It's always been the same Chris got fed up with school and quit in the ninth grade. He says he not only has a hard time with racism but also feels like something is missing like he's been deprived of his Heritage. Chris says, he'd like to go down south to his mother's Mississippi home to learn what it means to be black. I don't even know what my black site is about. It ain't I've lived around white people all my life. So that's all I really know. I don't even know much about my Black Culture. (00:36:21) I would like to know (00:36:23) what it was like to be black my skin color might be different but I'm all white boy underneath it, which is the truth. I don't even know what it's like 25 miles south of blackduck. There is a somewhat larger black community. There are 33 African-American kids in the Bemidji school district and last semester. There were 23 African-American students had Bemidji State University. Kerry Woods graduated a few years ago from BSU and decided to stay in the area to teach School originally from Rockford, Illinois wood says the biggest draw for African Americans to come to Bemidji State is sports scholarships, but he says many don't stay around long enough to graduate and of those who do very few decide to stay in northern. Minnesota has a lot of blacks come up here and can't make it. Because they're not used to surviving in a non black neighborhood where a lot of people they need to go where there's a lot of blacks that so they can survive another former BSU student L Tuan Fuqua also chose to stay in Bemidji. He came from Detroit Michigan to play sports and stuck around to avoid returning to his crime-ridden neighborhood is like you come here and you can let your guard down so, you know, I lay down at night. I don't hear no cars going by with boom assistance on him gunshots. I don't know police sirens out here the ram Lambs only none of that. No one has done more to develop greater awareness of the African American Experience in the local community than dr. Annie Henry one of the few black professors at BSU and the force behind local Black History Month (00:38:02) celebrations (00:38:09) the Jacksonville Florida native arrived in Bemidji 12 years ago and at first shed a lot of Tears she says because she felt isolated and experience some racism the one she overcame the culture shock. She made it a personal crusade to educate the community about Black Culture. I (00:38:26) think when you come to a different culture, we have to share and get to know each other the (00:38:33) 57 year old Henry says, she doesn't get nearly the support. She feels should be given to Black History Month. She says many in the rural White Community are politely indifferent to the black experience. Are unaware of the loneliness African-Americans feel living away from larger black populations, but Henry takes constant inspiration from the late civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King. She spent time with King and his Atlanta home back in 1967 and has maintained a friendship with the King family ever (00:39:03) since I have lived to see everything. Mine said to me come true and he told me there come a time in my life (00:39:12) when I say, oh my God, why me? (00:39:15) He said always remember there be a little (00:39:16) bird over your shoulder saying if not you then who (00:39:21) the issue of race is still a (00:39:23) problem and it will be a problem until we the people of our great country really sit down and honestly do gut-wrenching dialogue about the racism in our country cruel to exist in Bemidji, Minnesota. You don't have to go to Miami, (00:39:41) Florida. You have go instead of st. Paul. It is (00:39:43) here and it Henry Is considering a new project she'd like to plan an event Gathering African-Americans in northern Minnesota together to begin creating a support network. (00:39:54) We are so isolated and there are probably many of us up here and we don't know how to go (00:40:00) to get the connection (00:40:02) with another one to say, you know, I'm having some concern. Can you help me? I think it would be so great. I would like to see how many of us here so I can say my God quite a few of us here and I begin to feel that that's my brother and sister in this place that I don't know anything about Henry says soul food and lutefisk can exist side by side (00:40:23) but networking and education will open more hearts and Minds to the black experience in rural, Minnesota in Bemidji. I'm Tom, Robertson, Minnesota Public (00:40:32) Radio. (00:40:35) In our in addition to our reports on Rural diversity. We are also hearing this week from several commentators George Rowe basa says he wants to talk about home for most of us home is not a complicated concept. It's the place where we lay our head hang our hat find our heart. It's not a matter that takes great deliberation. Our knowledge of home is a self-evident as our name our age our face. We know we're home when we're there yet for the thousands of immigrants that have settled in Minnesota most recently from places as disparate as Laos and Vietnam Somalia Eastern Europe Mexico and Central America home becomes a considered decision a deliberate act that involves both a wrenching from the past and a claim on the future. The Mexican population in the South Central Minnesota Heartland in Willmar. Glencoe Mankato. Granite Falls has grown tenfold from just a few hundred in the 1980s to several thousand today. It started with groups of mostly men who made their way north from Mexico and Central America and also from Texas and California to harvest sugar beets and Slaughter turkeys to work in canneries and poultry packing plants. They came because they were needed the men could hardly call their new quarters Home Sharing house trailers and ramshackle rooms gave no sense of the ownership of physical space that a home requires still the work was plentiful and it provided hope as well as cash the landscape even one is flat and frigid and foreign as the Prairie offered some vision of a future and there was room in it for newcomers. The starting point of a new life is the making of Home in the Mexican culture home requires the basics of a house a market where one can find Chiles and cilantro pork rinds and bio beans a neighborhood that Echoes with the familiar language. But without family home remains a reality that is a thousand miles away and years in the past to build a home. The men had to be joined by women mothers brought their children brothers and sisters came together grandparents and in-laws and uncles and nephews gathered sometimes in close quarters. The more complete the family the more tangible and permanent the feeling of home became in the Mexican culture children are not encouraged to go off on their own when they're 18 grandparents are not placed in nursing homes, the errant sibling or the Casual cousin is not denied a place at the table. Everyone belongs, the more the merrier the warmer the noisier. The effect of immigrant family growth on the mainstream communities has been a shock landlords are at a loss when their properties envisioned for nuclear clusters of four become homes for extended families. Some apartments are easier to rent. If you have a dog then if you have a child rented properties are inspected to ward off new arrivals. There are rules about houseguests three days max than out. The mainstream Community Frets, why are there so many of them it would be nice if our new immigrants some might think became fully Americanized their numbers more manageable the family Arrangement more symmetrical the Temple of their family life more orderly. Dear minnesotans, it's not going to happen the sense of family and home are so ingrained in the Mexican heart that it's no more capable of disintegrating and extended family than of sacrificing a limb. The solution is not to expect to change a culture that is several thousand years old. The key is to make it easier for this culture. So rich and wise in the ways of the family to find a way to be nourished and preserved in this foreign country. This can only happen by making homeownership more widely available to low-income immigrants this transformation in the available habitat will take work education investment. The result will be the final flowering of the immigrants dream to be at home in the adopted land George or Vasa was born in Mexico. He now calls himself a Minnesotan his most recent novel floating Kingdom one the Minnesota book award communities and schools provide education programs. So immigrants and their families can learn English. These programs are changing as Educators learn better ways to teach English as a second language seven years ago in Worthington. There was typically just one student of color in a classroom today nearly half. After class is minority while the new residents are learning a new language and a culture some feel there should be lessons in tolerance for the rest of the Town Main Street. Radios Cara hetland reports (00:46:13) during Lindemann Edge plays a math game with her 24 first grade students Carlos casseras stands at the chalkboard competing with three classmates to see who can solve the addition problem first. The winning team gets crackers the seven-year-old dark hair and Dark Eyed Carlos is among half the class who speak a language other than English Carlos says math is okay, but he would rather write stories about his family, especially his father. He proposed to me and he took me to the Pizza Hut Carlos and his family moved to Worthington three years ago from Mexico. None of them could speak or comprehend English Carlos now works at Advanced levels in his English as a second language or ESL class. He understands his teacher can read and write. In English and can converse with other English-speaking kids 1/3 of the students at Worthington Central Elementary School are students of color. They speak eight languages ESL teacher Amy trick sack in courage's families to continue speaking native languages at home and not try to help teach English because otherwise the younger kids that you have at home will grow up speaking broken English and then it's really hard to teach them to speak to speak English correctly here. They might end up speaking broken English for the rest of their lives trick sack and other ESL experts encourage families to practice words together, but it's more important to be literate in their own language first. This is very different from ESL education of 20 years ago veteran teacher Connie Evans says English as a second language has evolved because the type of student is changing many can speak their native language, but are not literate. We're seeing a different type of student coming to us, not only language delayed, but Some other social emotional concerns that were having so the progress of child makes it school is not necessarily because of the language but because of other factors surrounding that could be the home influence many of them are separated from their families could be that they haven't had a lot of basic language learning in their first language lose casseras is concerned her younger children, like Carlos are starting to use more English than their native Spanish. She says it's difficult for them to communicate with her father who works full-time and has not learned any English Lou says her family must learn English though to survive. She spent several days a week on language instruction. It's a class designed for adults to practice conversational skills by talking about their lives and experiences the class also acts as a support group for Worthington s newest residents to talk about their experiences at local stores and Clinics lose says as she learns for herself, she wants to help others because I like to help my children. Would they homework? And I like to hear about some of my friends because they don't speak English because they have to work all day and I need they need to go some places where nobody speak Spanish and I like to give them the petite 35 year old mother of four has long dark hair and a nervous giggle. She's quick to point out all the positives of life in rural Minnesota. She prefers small town living and doesn't want to criticize the people of the town. She calls home. Some people are nice and some are not a problem. She tries to solve herself. Yes. I have I have problem but I tried to learn more about this problems every day. If I have to go to the clinic. I have to read more clinics words for to know what I what I have to say in the clinic. And I had to study every day different different things different words. So salts World teaches ESL classes for adults. She says lose has a healthy attitude, but she would prefer more tolerance in town. I think that training needs to be done in the community. That's that's what I think to understand. It's just basically people skills is what it boils down to I don't see it happening. But I I would like to see it happen teaching tolerance is subtle business in Worthington, Minnesota. The mayor has developed a welcoming program for new immigrants and translation services are available. There's an annual cultural event for residents to learn about their neighbors even in the school's posters decorate the walls with poems stressing similarities, not differences and saying you're the one who can make the Peace Keeping the peace is a difficult lesson for 16 year old Louis casseras the oldest child in the cazares family. He is in eighth grade at Worthington Junior High School at first glance in this gym class. He fits right in playing volleyball, but he's been suspended three times this year for fighting (00:51:19) one boy come and push me to the bucket. Hit me right here at the wrong angle Phi. Thing is that teacher can give me negative spin it for three (00:51:30) days. Lewis says it's tough being different. He sticks close with other Mexican students a self segregated group part of that is survival. Part of it is the Adolescent pain of junior high and part of it is the fear of making a mistake with their English. It's easier for the younger kids to adapt as they grow up in a mix of society mistakes are more easily overcome and kids are eager to learn and in turn help their parents and older siblings a newly developed program even start is federally funded and works to teach literacy to parents and preschool children. This is the first year for the program in Worthington. The primary goal is language instruction with some focus on parenting skills and Literacy for the family the children in the room are eager to show off their English the programs in Worthington are free to families and they are well attended. It's a sign that the city's Immigrant population wants to learn learn a new language and new Customs as a way to learn how to belong in Sioux Falls. I'm Cara hetland Minnesota Public Radio (00:52:42) and that concludes our overview of the Hidden rainbow the changing face of Minnesota. Again, you can hear stories throughout the week here on Minnesota Public Radio on the changing demographics in rural Minnesota big special broadcast from st. Cloud on Wednesday here on midday and much much more information available on our website www.mptv.org. (00:53:08) I'm Rachel riebe join us for a live Main Street broadcast from st. Cloud on Minnesota's changing ethnic landscape Wednesday at 11:00 on Minnesota Public Radio K. No W FM 91.1 (00:53:23) You're listening to Minnesota Public Radio. We have a partly cloudy Sky 75 degrees at Kenner wfm 91.1 Minneapolis. And st. Paul partly cloudy Breezy through the afternoon with a high right where it is mid-70s 50/50 chance for thunderstorms than tonight and tomorrow low tonight 55 60 high tomorrow in the mid 70s.