Original photo by Elizabeth Flores - Star Tribune (www.startribune.com).
by Steve Timmer
Sep 6, 2021, 4:00 PM

Kristen Boldon does not win a Spotty ™

There was a remarkable letter to the editor in the paper edition of the Star Tribune on Labor Day. I reproduce it in full.

Dear Star Tribune editorial page,

Please stop using Black people to prop up your own rickety white arguments. You did that when you quoted the Samuelses and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo in the Sept. 2 editorial. In addition to using the insinuating term “gambit” it misleadingly states that the Yes 4 Minneapolis ballot question would “abolish the police.”

My white spouse and I were two of the thousands of signatures on the Yes 4 Minneapolis petition. We’ve lived in Minneapolis for more than 20 years; we vote every year, and our children attend Minneapolis public schools in our neighborhood. I believe the Minneapolis police and mayor have failed this city and that we need sweeping, constructive, change to address root causes, not increased police in response to crime spikes due to COVID-related instability and an ongoing lack of gun reform, for example.

By perpetuating the opinion that more crime needs more police, an institution rooted in returning slaves to their “owners,” the Star Tribune is stoking fear. By quoting the Samuelses and Chief Arradondo, the Editorial Board is doing what Mayor Jacob Frey does, using people of color as tokens to gain credibility.

How about hearing from any people of color who signed that petition? How about running a piece on Cincinnati, Ohio, a city that has achieved some success wrestling with its own racist legacy of police violence? How about working with reporters from the Sahan Journal, whose cogent piece on the ballot question is streets ahead of anything your larger, better-funded paper has done?

With editorials like this, where our local paper peddles lies to inspire fear, you lose all credibility with me. I subscribed to the Strib to combat the lies of the Trump administration. If you traffic in your own lies, you will lose me as a subscriber.

Kristin Boldon, Minneapolis

There are few things that annoy white progressives more than Black people who don’t think as they do. I have harbored this idea for some time, and it was crystalized for me recently by Brown University’s Professor Glenn Loury, writing an essay in the Journal of Free Black Thought, arguing for:

the principle that in a liberal democracy, viewpoint diversity and the airing of ideas—all ideas, even ideas that we’re told aren’t properly “black”—are essential components in the struggle of good ideas against bad.

I really recommend the Professor’s essay; it’ll make some of you uncomfortable, but in a good and illuminating way. It did for me.

The first sentence of Boldon’s letter is a stunner:

Please stop using Black people to prop up your own rickety white arguments.

There is really only one way to read this. Ms. Boldon has the insight to know how Black people should really think. She accuses the editorialists at the Star Tribune of engaging in tokenism.

Really, though, she engages in the wholesale denial of the agency of Black people to have their own viewpoints. She lists her own white Minneapolis progressive bona fides as proof that she is entitled to their opinion.

Let’s be honest, Ms. Boldon, a lot of activists behind the Yes 4 Minneapolis initiative DO want to abolish — another word for “defund” — the police; not that long ago a majority of the city council wanted to do that. You can backpedal on it if you want, but it was in the, um, papers. And just for the record, Strib editorial writers said “abolish the police department,” which the Yes 4 Minneapolis initiative does.

As an aside, there is a list of things that only licensed police officers may do. The Hennepin County Sheriff’s deputies will still be around, but they can’t do it all, or even a material part of it, not to mention that the county’s taxpayers would soon balk.

Support for the initiative is hardly monolithic in the Black community, and if people got off their white progressive high horses, they might be able to see that.

Remember readers, a Spotty™ is awarded for an op-ed, letter to the editor, or a blog post or comment that I wish I had written myself. That’s why Ms. Boldon’s letter didn’t win one.

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