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Groups lay out ideas to help fix 'unacceptable' racial disparities in MN

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Community leaders pitched a handful of proposals to lawmakers Wednesday aimed at helping address the significant equity disparities between black and white Minnesotans.

The proposals put forward – which include steps to address minority unemployment rates, criminal justice issues and more – are being called the United Black Legislative Agenda

You can see a copy of the proposals by clicking here.

Anthony Newby of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change said it was not meant to be a definitive, end-all document – but rather a starting point for conversations that should continue on to future legislative sessions.

It includes, but isn't limited to:

  • A fund to help businesses owned by black Minnesotans get started;
  • Summer jobs programs in the Twin Cities specifically for black teenagers (of which nearly one in every four are unemployed);
  • A ban on private prisons;
  • Allowing people who have finished serving criminal sentences to vote again;
  • And an increase in the penalties for hate crimes committed against Muslims and immigrants.

The UpTake has video of the full press conference.

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The agenda was put together by a number of organizations, including African American Leadership Forum, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, Council of Minnesotans of African Heritage, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, the Somali Community of Minnesota, and the Urban League, according to the Facebook page.

On social media, people were using the hashtag #BlackAgendaMN to weigh in.

More on racial disparities in the state

Their press conference came two days after the announcement of a new subcomittee dedicated to focusing on racial disparities in Minnesota.

The state's black community faces staggering unemployment rates compared to Hispanics and whites, an income that's less than half of what white Minnesotans make, and one of the highest unemployment gaps between whites and blacks in the country.

All this (and more) led lawmakers to consider addressing racial inequity in a possible special session (that ultimately didn't happen).

Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed budget includes $100 million to address racial disparities in the state, by expanding workforce programs, helping college completion and increasing home ownership among minorities, the Pioneer Press reported.

House DFL Leader Paul Thissen put out a statement Wednesday calling the racial disparities in the state "unacceptable."

"We must listen. And more importantly, we must act. Because it’s not enough to merely acknowledge that racial disparities in our state are a problem," he said, adding that the measures should be seriously considered during the 2016 legislative session.

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