MnMN Partners with TRUE Tuesdays

MnMN-written Article

What is TRUE Tuesdays?
TRUE stands for Transforming Rural Understanding of Equity. TRUE Tuesdays is a series of online explorations to identify, nurture, model and advance actions that support a safe, inclusive, and prosperous rural Minnesota. It is advancing civility and respect in our contentious age. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we all engage with one another, a small group of organizations in rural Minnesota were already planning to bring people from across the state together – to learn from, be inspired by, and make connections that advance social, racial, and economic justice. Their goal was to contribute time and energy to the dismantling of white supremacist culture and policies.

How are TRUE Tuesdays and MnMN Connected?
Responding to a call for a collective response to rising incidents of hate speech and hate acts in rural Minnesota, the Blandin Foundation convened a select group in February 2020 to explore what could be done to support social justice and racial equity workers in rural communities. Participants developed and committed to a shared purpose statement, which blossomed into an informal alliance of social justice champions and equity advocates called TRUE Partnership. MnMN joined to increase the reach of TRUE Partnership to faith communities while also extending MnMN’s impact beyond the Twin Cities to rural Minnesota. When COVID restrictions squashed initial aspirations to convene a statewide in-person gathering, TRUE partners quickly pivoted to create and launch TRUE Tuesdays. This series of interactive online explorations advances TRUE’s purpose of working towards a future where people can come together in a shared space to build on relationships and co-learning. TRUE’s 11 partners today include: Minnesota Council on Foundations, Minnesota Humanities Center, U of M Extension Center for Community Vitality, Region Five Development Commission, Southwest Initiative Foundation, Northspan, St. James Uniting Cultures, 100 Rural Women, Minnesota Multifaith Network, Independent Community Members, and Blandin Foundation.

Session 21: Healing Minnesota Stories
TRUE Partnership organizations take turns co-hosting TRUE Tuesday sessions. January 2022’s, “Healing Minnesota Stories,” was done in cooperation with MnMN. Joy Persall, a representative of our network, helped plan the session. It featured Rev. Pamela Ngunjiri, Co-Director of Racial Justice at the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC), who shared that MCC’s Truth and Reparations Program was started after the murder of George Floyd and that its focus is on Native and African American communities. “You’ve got to start at the beginning, which was the taking of Native lands and the enslavement of African people,” said Rev. Ngunjiri. “These groups are the foundation of the racism that has affected other groups in this country.” In examining the role people of faith have in addressing systems of racial injustice and cultural bias, she suggested how rural Minnesota can get involved. The audience learned that reparations are not simply about “doing charity better,” but must involve a process of recognizing and healing systematic racism. As Rev. Ngunjiri so forcefully put it, “We continue to perpetuate the racism by pretending not to see what is happening, by not taking the initiative to know what’s going on with our fellow human beings.” Finally, she stressed that restitution has two pieces: restitution in terms of both material things and spiritual restoration. “Restoration cracks that falseness, makes others human, not ‘them’ or ‘the other.’ It asks, ‘How do we see the face of God in all people?’”. After Rev. Ngunjiri’s presentation, participants broke into small groups to discuss questions like: “How is what you heard today sitting with you?” and “What is the source of fear people feel at the word reparation?”. To view the full session, play the video below or visit: https://youtu.be/hoh4af4TBt8.

Other Sessions
TRUE Tuesdays is educating by telling stories and forming calls to action across Minnesota. Other sessions have dealt with issues such as building understanding of equity, understanding trauma and traumas of oppressions, and story sharing by rural women about creating connections and inspiring leadership across the state. TRUE participants have shared testimonials like these:

  • “I appreciate the opportunity to have open, honest discussions. They feel like a safe place to ask questions I don’t know who else to ask and/or learn from.”
  • “This session is precisely what I needed, how to cope and care for self in this heavy work of equity and social justice.”
  • “I appreciate all of the links that you have shared with us – that bend the arc & help rural communities realize that we need to DO something! At any level. And I am grateful for that. Holding us accountable.”

TRUE Tuesday sessions are held the third Tuesday of every month, from 2:30 – 4:00 pm, and are open to everyone. Register for February 15’s Session 22, “Understanding Relationships with Sovereign Nations in MN,” at: https://true-tuesdays.com/.

By Linda Shapiro (with excerpts from TRUE Tuesday’s website)
Linda Shapiro is a former choreographer who co-founded New Dance Ensemble. She is currently a freelance writer with published articles, reviews, and essays on dance, architecture, design, and other subjects for numerous publications in Minnesota and New York City. She is also a published fiction writer.

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