Danz: This is our Fargo
This column, in its imperfection, will leave me vulnerable to criticism. However, I can no longer choose the ease of silence. Speaking up is a crucial step in allyship and allows us to acknowledge and shift our prejudices through understanding and education.
On Saturday, May 30 th, after a day of peaceful demonstration to honor George Floyd and demand systematic change, I watched Fargo embrace and commend this community. However, when destruction ensued, many of the same people rallied behind the refrain, “not my Fargo."
We can’t take ownership and be proud of the peaceful protest and discredit and disown frustration and hurt that spilled into the streets after the sun went down. That’s our Fargo, too. Fargo is both its unity and its unrest, yet many of us have settled into the comfort of our privilege, unaware or dismissive of inequities and injustices in our community. Our silence has deafened the roar of outrage resulting from racism.
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Silence fuels fury in this community and across the country. My heart hurt for downtown businesses impacted by the events of Saturday night, but it breaks for the individuals in our community who’ve felt injustice all their lives. They define Fargo as much as those of us who’ve overtly or unknowingly made them feel that way. Where do our priorities lie? In people or property? There shouldn’t be a stronger emotional reaction to property damage caused by protest than there is for the protest’s cause.
Many of us were exposed to the discomfort, anger and prejudice some in our community persistently feel while we remain unchallenged in the ease of our daily lives. Fargo isn’t immune to inherent racism that persists and wraps itself around communities without discretion. To mourn for Minneapolis and simultaneously be grateful that Fargo doesn’t have similar problems isn’t only ignorant, but the very problem itself. Racism doesn’t have to be as blatant as the murder of a black man at the hands of the police. It’s prevalent in our community in significant inconsistencies of equality, big and small. This deeply rooted racism is more devastating, exhausting, unfair and widespread than all the riots combined.
Some of us are white with bodies of safety and privilege. We are Fargo. Others have skin that doesn’t act as their shield but instead paints them as a target. They are Fargo. We are made of privilege and oppression, comfort and discontent, hope and heartbreak.
We can no longer pretend that Fargo is all things good and nice. There are fractures that define distinctly different realities members of our community experience. We each need to do our part to recognize what’s broken and do the hard, but necessary work to make Fargo the community we want to proudly embrace.
I’m part of the problem. It weighs heavy on my heart and worries my mind. I’m ready to humbly submit to educating myself towards better understanding, vow to vote for candidates who will take drastic action towards reform, let other voices be heard, allow unrest and upset unfurl in effort to heal, and take ownership of the many ways racism has been allowed to run rampant. This is our Fargo – in its pride and its pain – and it’s ours to build or break.