Sunday, August 05, 2007

More Bridge

I have trying to avoid national coverage of the bridge collapse. But what I have seen has struck me as interesting in one way. The stories seem to be mostly positive: the tough and hardy and disciplined people of Minnesota deal with a tragedy with their usual competence.

Compare this with the stories -- pretty much all untrue -- about the people of New Orleans going out of control, looting and shooting.

Now there are many differences between Katrina and the bridge. Katrina was a much, much bigger disaster; and Louisiana and New Orleans are much poorer than Minnesota and Minneapolis and have much less in the way of public service resources.

But I wonder if one difference in the stories is race. The New Orleans coverage was about black people going out of control. The Minneapolis stories are about white people getting the job done.

Minneapolis is 35% nonwhite. According to Sherman Alexie, we are the urban Native American community for the whole country. We have significant African American and Hispanic communities. Our immigrant groups include Vietnamese, Hmong, Somalian, Ethiopian and Tibetan. The cops and firefighters and paramedics and ordinary citizens who have been dealing with the bridge collapse come in all colors.

Maybe I am reading in to the media stories. Not everything is America is about race.

But it's something to think about; and when you think of the Twin Cities, if you do, think of us as a place with a lot of different kinds of people. Assimilating new groups has not been easy, after decades where the main ethnic distinctions were between Minneapolis Norwegians and Swedes and St. Paul Irish; but it has made life more interesting. And Lake Street, always the dreariest street in Minneapolis, is now lined with terrific new restaurants and markets and shops.


Blogger delagar said...

New Orleans (which is where I'm from, and where all my family still lives -- my brother and sister and law just last month finally moved out of their FEMA trailer back into their house, in a Gentilly neighborhood which is about 70% still abandoned) -- anyway, New Orleans, as I started to say, also always had this reputation as being wicked. "Sin city," people would say, when I said I was from the place. All they knew about it was the drinking and the hookers and the Mardi Gras. So when Katrina came, many (on the blogs, at least) came crowding around claiming the city had it coming -- we were the grasshoppers who had spent our time fiddling when we ought to have been storing up that wheat; so why should anyone help us now?

Never mind whether that tale was true: it was the one that got told.

2:09 PM  
Blogger delagar said...

drrr -- sister-in-law, I mean. Rats.

2:10 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home