Finding moments of validation was a major theme of the final Counter Stories episode of 2016, recorded Tuesday evening in front of a small audience at The Third Place Gallery, the south Minneapolis gallery of photographer Wing Young Huie.
Host Tom Weber was joined by regular co-hosts Don Eubanks, Luz Maria Frias, Anthony Galloway, and Hlee Lee.
Looking back on 2016 included discussions of Philando Castile, fake news, Standing Rock, the election, and the Mall of America's decision to hire a black man to be Santa Claus.
Eubanks claimed that the most powerful moment of 2016 for him was when he heard Ramsey County Attorney John Choi on the radio stating that the officer who shot and killed Philando Castile would be charged with second-degree manslaughter. It's rare for police officers to be charged in such cases. The rare moment was, for Eubanks, a "validating" one.
Frias reminded everyone that another way to express validation is to say "I matter." In doing so, she tied a single moment to the Black Lives Matter movement, whose mission is expressed in its name. Eubanks extended this feeling to the news that the Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline. At first, the protests against the pipeline at Standing Rock didn't receive much media attention.
Hopes for 2017Galloway's hope resides in what he's already seeing. He sees "networks of youth" engaging in conversations about race and equity. He states that citizens can no longer "rest on their laurels" with the confidence that equity will just happen. With the election of a president who, at the very least, has provided space for active opposition to equity, having these conversations is now more urgent and necessary.
Frias, similarly, sees a path for young people of color and members of LGBTQ communities to actively seek elected office. There's urgency here, too, and this is a way to not just discuss "the why and how of change," but to embody and activate it. Lee sees hope in conversations like those she was participating in. Having "separate communities"--African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and white allies--come together is another essential way to enact positive change.
Editor's note: One of the contributors to Counter Stories suggested that the Star Tribune had turned off the comments function for its story on the Mall of America's black Santa. While an editor for the Star Tribune did mistakenly post a Tweet to that effect, he later amended his statement to clarify that the newspaper had preemptively disabled commenting at the time of publication.