By Quinton Skinner
After more than a year of meetings, interviews, listening sessions, and the compilation of an anonymous online survey, the Edina Race and Equity Task Force submitted 21 recommendations for addressing long-term racial inequity in the city. The Edina City Council subsequently approved the report in mid-May.
“This process is always a journey, and there are times when conversations can get tough.”
“I’ve lived in Edina for more than 30 years, and racial equity is a huge part of my life,” says Jessica Kingston, director of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity for St. Paul and cochair of the task force. “When the city decided to embark on this journey, I jumped at the chance, because this is my community.”
“It was a very well-thought-out process, Edina as well as city staffers,” says task force cochair James Pierce, who is chief information officer for Cargill Animal Nutrition. “It was good to have that expert assistance.”
The group was initially formed in response to a viral video in 2016 that showed an Edina police officer handcuffing an African American man, which raised unsettling questions in the community. “This process is always a journey, and there are times when conversations can get tough,” Kingston explains. “I think it has to do with the fact that we’re dealing with race—not one of those conversations is comfortable.’ ”
The task force has laid out a rubric for the city to evaluate its performance in services, institutions, and facilities. The City of Edina is in the process of creating a plan to administer the task force’s guidelines.
“I can’t imagine there won’t be some change,” Pierce says. “The city had a goal of improving diversity even before the task force was commissioned. I would be surprised and disappointed if we didn’t make some meaningful change. I do expect that.”
Quinton Skinner is a Twin Cities-based writer whose work has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers. He is the cofounder of Logosphere Storysmiths.