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The False Comparison of Immigrant Africans to American Blacks
Another Example of Black - White Dialogue Gone Awry and an Attempt to Find Both of them Common Ground

An Solution Paper by Ron Edwards and Beacon on the Hill Press, September 8-11, 2003, posted November 8, 2003
Based on “The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes”
By Ron Edwards as told to Peter Jessen

11-8-03 Introduction: A young member of The Minneapolis Forum issues list (subscribe at asked if Ron Edwards had anything to say about bigotry. The young are often brash with their elders but in their eagerness offer the elders teaching moments, and that is what the generational dialogue is all about. The four web log responses below address this inter-generational dialogue on the sad but real remnants of bigotry in America.

#125. Part I: Response 1 of 4 regarding the question [of what Ron Edwards would say if he had a] chapter in his book on old fashioned bigotry."

#126. Part II: Response 2 of 4 regarding the question [of what] Ron Edwards has ... to say about bigotry and racism.

#128. Part III: Response 3 of 4 regarding the question [of what] Ron Edwards has ... to say about bigotry and racism.

#130. Part IV: Response 4 of 4 regarding the question [of what] Ron Edwards has ... to say about bigotry and racism.

#125. Response 1 of 4 regarding the question [of what Ron Edwards would say if he had a] chapter in his book on old fashioned bigotry." PART I

It has been called to my attention that ..., in a post to the Mpls.Forum Email discussion group of E-Democracy, has asked if there is anything in my book against bigotry because no comment was made by me regarding the example used suggesting that as Somali's were fine upstanding people North side Blacks could be too. [it was] said, about the "godsend" comment regarding the Somalis of [another list reader], that Somalis "show Whites that Black people moving into a neighborhood is not defacto synonymous with crime" because the Somalis "have a culture and belief system that preclude anti-social behaviors" is "the most overtly bigoted remarks I've seen on here " and then says "I guess Ron Edwards doesn't have a chapter in his book on old fashioned bigotry."

Well, first of all, I spend my time in the community, not reading the Issues Forum, as wonderful and useful as it is, and so I appreciate those who draw my attention to various posts. But I can't respond to all of them. I appreciate it when my publisher does to some. But [as some have] been so attentive to my book lately I did want to pause to respond to this report of [this] concern. I hope after [they] read my book [they] call me and we can sit down and talk about his concerns. To that end, I had my publisher send him a book. Had he read it he would not have made that statement. I’ll outline this in my next three commentaries on [his] comments and show relevant places in my book that address [this] concern.

Tomorrow, in Part II, I'll discuss the Somalis. The day after that, in Part III: a discussion of the concept of ignorance and how it leads to of bigotry, prejudice, and racism, which in turn lead to discrimination, whether de jure (legally, as in Jim Crow) or defacto (done anyway, as in the efforts after the 1968 Kerner Commission Report (see Blog entries #99 and #113) said we weren't capable of making it on our own. Finally, in Part IV, I'll discuss the Somalis again and what this discussion means and what we should do about it.
Monday, September 8, 2003, 4:08 a.m.

#126. Part II: Response 2 of 4 regarding the question [of what] Ron Edwards has ... to say about bigotry and racism.

See Blog entry #125 For Part I. Now, Part II: about the Somalis. ... I have been in the field working with the Somali community on a wide array of issues and events for five years, including the recent killing of Somali cab drivers on the streets of Minneapolis. I haven't seen [enough others] there. I invite any and all who are concerned to join us in working with the Somalis. And yes, people have attempted to drive a wedge between the Somalis and American Blacks. Three weeks ago we all met together at the Urban League and then shared in a press conference at the Urban League Family Day, and have continued to work to maintain a tightness and to heal any wounds that may have opened. Just because the Star Tribune, the Pioneer Press and the Democratic Party does not report these events doesn't mean they aren't happening. We continue to work together regardless of the attitudes or slights from the press or the DFL.

I've been meeting with the Somalis and the Elders in this town for the last 5 years on differences and am pleased with the progress. These are good people. The animosity between our groups started over American brothers hitting on the Somali brothers' women, which they take as an affront to their culture and their religion. That is being addressed. And yes there are Somali gangs. But every group, including Whites, have gangs, especially immigrant groups. That's the history (check out the movie "Gangs of New York"). The mainstream of all groups don't like the gangs of any color or ethnic group, including gangs of their own people, and we and the Somalis are no different on that. As noted below, I have an open invitation to talk to anyone concerned with community. We'd love to have [all] on board. And as for how to solve all of these problems, I draw your attention to my Solution Paper, “Seven Problems and their Solutions For Stopping the Deferment of the Dream in order to Actualize The Dream,” on my web site,, a paper some are already calling a Minneapolis Agenda for Change.
Tuesday, September 9, 2003, 1:25 a.m.

#128. Part III: Response 3 of 4 regarding the question [of what] Ron Edwards has ... to say about bigotry and racism. For Part I see Blog entry #??? And for Part II see Blog entry #???Apparently [some] felt the comparison of Somalis with American Blacks [by another list member] was flagrantly bigoted. "Bigot" and "bigotry" refer to someone who is "obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his own opinions and prejudices." In that sense, both [the young questioner] and the writer he complains about demonstrate bigotry. Never forget the wisdom of the saying "opposite in content is the same process." Prejudiced, as in preconceived judgment or opinion? Of course. But so are comments about my book. Racist? Of course not, because Somalis and us are both Black. Culturalist? Of course. Discriminatory? Ah, now we are getting somewhere. Up till now, free speech was in play. I support free speech even when I oppose the view. But I don't support discrimination, which is about actions, based on bigoted/prejudiced/racist views. Now let's cut to the chase: ignorance? Yes, of course, but so too [are comments] about my book [by those who haven't read it]. So let's look at ignorance, which this certainly was: it is nearly devoid of any historical and anthropological understanding. Ignorance is not in itself bigoted or racist but it leads to them and alone or together they lead to discrimination (slavery, apartheid, Jim Crow, etc.). First, the general charge that I don't discuss bigotry (prejudice/discrimination/racism too?) shows, hello, ignorance of my book. I discuss them throughout my book. Let me flip open my book. On p. 179 I write about racism in city government. Pick your own page. There it is. So once again I have to ask: why do people comment on my book without reading it? This takes away any way to have an objective discussion. The chapter on justice and fairness, Chapter 5, again outlines clearly the existence of these White attributes in Minneapolis. Interludes 2 and 10 report the reports of them in the Star Tribune and Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. So these attributes of bigotry/prejudice/ racism that lead to discrimination, call them what you will are, per se, not news. Now we even sent [our young commentator] a copy of my book. We do hope he gets a chance to read it and then instead of me or instead of my publisher pointing out where topics of concern are located, he can help do so too. I look forward to that. Wednesday, September 10, 2003, 1:26 a.m.

#130. Part IV: Response 4 of 4 regarding the question [of what] Ron Edwards has ... to say about bigotry and racism. For Parts I-III, see Blog entries #125, #126, #128 Minneapolis now has Somalis in town. They came here to escape the civil war in Somalia, where Blacks were killing Blacks, not because they are Black but because they don't support "the other side." The Somalia civil war is cultural (Islam against Christians) and political (over which tribe or group should control). Since the 17th century, almost ALL immigrants to this country were running from the prejudices and bigotry and discrimination and racism of their home land (in the 19th century, the Irish were considered "a different race," hence the shop window signs in Boston said "No Irish Need Apply." As for the statement that the Somalis "have a belief system and culture that preclude anti-social behaviors," well, what can I say? Somalis are not robots. No group is. There is NO such thing as a culture or belief system that precludes anti-social behaviors. Why respond to every outlandish claim? There is work to do. All groups argue against anti-social behaviors (or at least against the group or sub-group) but that has never stopped any group or sub-group from doing so. Certainly no parent with teenagers can make the claim that their culture or belief system precludes their teens from anti-social behavior.

And lets not dodge the bullet here: Radical Islam (whether by Somalis, Arabs, Indonesians, Whites, Blacks) want an Islamic world. In every country, including the U.S., where there are those who are of Radical Islam (as opposed to moderate Islam), all have stated that they want their new country to become Islamic and will work for that. But that is another topic for another day. My point here is to encourage every one to learn of and leave their ignorance so they can reduce their own bigotry, prejudices, and racism, and end discrimination, and thus hold everyone, White or Black, native born or immigrant, Christian, Jew, Muslim or nothing, to live according to the rules and laws of this nation and follow the basics of upholding the rights outlined in the Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights, for everyone. That is my goal. Provide it for everyone and you provide it for your group and your self. This is clear in my book. If people would read my book rather than act in a knee jerk kind of way to be the messenger boys and water carriers for the DFL, where the messengers look silly and the DFL behind the scenes puppeteers go unscathed. When will the messengers learn? My goal remains the same: a seat at the table for everyone. Thursday, September 11, 2003, 1:05 p.m.

Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between columns “web log” at

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