On the evening of Jan. 22, I was briefly in attendance at a forum convened by Ward 8 Council member Andrea Jenkins. I was curious about a recent incident at the Blackeye Coffee Shop on Chicago Ave. (where the meeting was held) which was reported in the Jan. 10th edition of the Star Tribune.
I emphasize that I was “briefly” in attendance, for within seconds of entering through the front door, I was directed to sit at a section away from the front window of the establishment on the basis of my “racial identity”. Three persons, including Jenkins, strongly requested that I stand in the section of the room which, supposedly, aligns with my genetic phenotype of my epidermis (i.e., my skin color).
As I am utterly opposed to racial discrimination, I quietly declined the request. The third person at the event asked me to leave the event, stating that my presence was “triggering” the speakers who were addressing the audience from a table located by the front window. I had not intended to interfere with any of the speakers or, indeed, anyone else who was in attendance; rather, I was seeking clarification regarding the incident involving Jenkins which had resulted in the firing of an employee of the coffee shop.
I finally agreed to step outside to speak with one of the (apparent) facilitators of the event. I expressed my confusion regarding the segregated space within the coffee shop. I was also informed that “the City of Minneapolis” had sponsored this event. If so, I am curious to know in whose authority the decision was made to have a segregated audience.
At present, I am considering my options to bring this matter to the attention of any authorities at the municipal, state, or federal levels who may be able to clarify the legality of the intentional separation in a public accommodation on the basis of race, color, ethnicity or national origin. Likewise, I seek to clarify if it is the policy of the City of Minneapolis to enforce or otherwise tolerate racial segregation in public meetings presided over by members of its city council.