Minneapolis – Turning the Wound Into Light

Art is a wound turned into light. — Georges Braque

‘So what was it like for you in Minneapolis?’ is a question I’ve received quite a bit recently. The week after the murder of George Floyd started off as a quiet one with mourning and vigils. However, soon the quiet vigils turned into riots and destruction.

I was actually a bit luckier than some of my friends. Saint Louis Park just next to Minneapolis – where George Floyd also lived – was quiet during the riots. However, just a few miles away friends were on all-night neighborhood watches to try to keep local businesses from being burned and looted.

The remains of the historic building above contained two restaurants I enjoyed eating at. However, for many in this area the lost businesses and services were essential. Post office? Gone. Target? Gone. Bank? Gone too.

Simply hopping into a car and driving over to another store or bank is not an option for some. For days after the fires residents came out and swept and cleaned the sites because they wanted those who owned them to know how important they were to the community.

Of course the temptation is there to just focus on the property loss because digging deeper into the human loss is more painful, more uncomfortable…just more.

George Floyd isn’t the first person to fall to police violence but for some reason his death was the spark that has lit a fire to the Black Lives Movement which has been around for years.

So what was it about the George Floyd murder? My pet theory: We are so desensitized to gun violence through our exposure to television and movies that even when we see someone shot live on Facebook it fails to shock us. However, the casual cruelty of George Floyd’s death shocked all of us.

So what happens next? We will rebuild of course. Many hope this is the start of some lasting change while some fear the necessary conversations will stop before they really get started.

So how do you start being the change you want to see in the world? Perhaps it starts with small actions.

Maybe it’s about being quiet and listening.

Or maybe it can start with just paying attention and not letting things slide back into ‘normal’.

Whatever the answer is I take hope in the street art popping up all around the city. On the beautiful summer Saturday I walked around and took these pictures I saw young people of various backgrounds, genders and ethnicities working together to create images of the world they want to live in.

They gave me hope that somehow we can take this ugly wound and transform it into light. Just as we can’t have light without the dark we can’t have love without the hate. They are two sides of the same coin. It’s up to each of us to choose our side.

So how is it in Minneapolis? Well, like the song says: ‘Love is all around no need to waste it.’ We might just make it after all!

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