By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There’s a public affairs professor at the University of Minnesota who has looked at race and public policy in our state for decades.

This month, he wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times illuminating some of the gaps and disparities that go far beyond policing.

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“Minnesota is One of the Best Places to Live in America. Unless You’re Black.” That’s the title of the op-ed Dr. Samuel Myers wrote in the New York Times this month. When asked why, he points to something he calls the “Minnesota Paradox.”

“Minnesota is one of the best places in the country to live. It has some of the highest measures of socioeconomic outcomes and achievement but it also has some of the widest racial disparities,” said Myers.

Myers uses data like the census or test scores, for example, to paint a picture.

In his op-ed, he says gaps in unemployment rates, wages, test scores and homeownership rates between white and Black Minnesotans are some of the widest in the country.

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“It turns out the probability of having your loan application denied is far far higher among African Americans than it is among whites in the Twin Cities,” said Myers “Should the city of Minneapolis, should the city of St. Paul be doing business with these lenders that engage in discriminatory behavior?”

Myers says because Minnesota has generally progressive policies, people can think we don’t have a problem here. But he says buried racism keeps the Minnesota paradox alive.

“In the 21st century an important component of racial inequality is related to these more subtle things,” said Myers.

To narrow the gaps, he says we need to talk about it.

“There is a subset in our community that cares about trying to solve the problem,” said Myers.

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Myers says there are encouraging areas in Minnesota as well and that not every disparity in the state is negative or points to race as a cause.

Erin Hassanzadeh