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A 'miracle' under the microscope
February 18, 2015

By Kris Berggren | There’s an article published in The Atlantic circulating on Twitter about how Minneapolis, though “deceptively boring,” is a city that really has its act together. They actually call us a miracle, but you know I’m speaking Minnesotan here so I’ll just say it portrays us in a pretty good light.

The author makes the point that for various regional policy reasons, the American dream is alive and well in Minneapolis. People of middle class means can actually afford to buy homes unlike in many other large metropolitan areas. And Minneapolis also apparently has “high intergenerational mobility—that is, the best odds that a child born into a low-income household will move up into the middle class or beyond.”

You know I want to love this article with all the Minnesota pride I can muster. (Disclosure: I am not a native but I have given birth to three of them, and have lived here for nearly 27 years, longer than anywhere else. Plus I’ve tried lutefisk.) It’s been a great place to live and raise my kids. We have great parks and culture, civic involvement, yadda, yadda.

I think the Minneapolis “miracle” is partly true. Especially if you went to college, and you own your home, not rent it. Oh, and if you’re white.

Because what the article ignores is that Minneapolis, the metro area and the state of Minnesota have some of the country’s largest gaps between black and white residents in income, education and housing -  even incarceration rates [see map, right].[1]

For example, 5 percent of Minnesotans are black but 37 percent of those experiencing homelessness are black, according to Cathy ten Broeke, the state’s director of the office to end homelessness.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul region’s four-year high school graduation rate is 56 percent for blacks but 84 percent for whites. (In Minneapolis proper, the on-time graduation rates are troubling for all students but there’s still a gap between the 54 percent for whites and 35 percent for blacks.)[2]

The poverty rate in the Twin Cities is 10.8 percent, better than many other metro areas. But according to a study by the Minnesota Budget Project from October, the poverty level for African-Americans in Minnesota is 37.8 percent.[3]

I do love my city and I want to be proud of it, but I can’t look the other way in the face of these facts. So, I was glad to see some pushback in my Twitter feed. Some of us know the real miracle would be to close those racial gaps and give everyone reason to be Minneapolis proud.  
 

[1] Prison Policy Initiative

[2] Generation Next

[3] Minneapolis-StPaul Business Journal