Wednesday, March 28, 2018

3.1 - Two Americas in Minneapolis

There were two Americas on display at the Minneapolis Convention Center today. One, called “ Tax Cuts To Put America First Event” featured the Vice President of the United States of America talking about how tax cuts have improved the economy. He was up on stage with two congressmen who are afraid of their constituents and a businessman who’s taken part in some sleazy advertising practices.

About eight hours later, one floor up, at the “Step Up” event,  one of the convention halls was filled with 400 teenagers getting critiqued on their job interview skills by about 100 working professionals. The kids ranged from ages 14-21. Most all of them were kids of color, many of them were kids of immigrants, and about 25 percent of them were Muslim girls.

I interviewed four kids. One kid, named Johnny was a bright kid with an enthusiastic spirit and a good heart. He wanted to do well in school for his parents, who were from Mexico. I found out he was a soccer player. I asked him about a time he was challenged while playing soccer and he spoke about the time his club team was down 5-1 in a state championship game at halftime, but they came back to win. I was impressed. He also played center-midfielder, which is one of the toughest positions on the field because you have to direct the game, but also keep an eye on everyone.

I talked to another kid who was quiet, but he wanted to help other teenagers with mental health issues. There was a young Somali girl who didn’t speak a lot of English, but her eyes lit up when she talked about a school project she did about Nina Simone. My last interview was with a Somali boy who went through the program last year, but was looking for “an indoor job” because it was hard for him to build playground stairs in the summer while he was fasting for Ramadan. Kudos to him because I could barely keep my Lenten promise for this year.

While I’m not going to wade into the weeds of tax cuts and job growth numbers, I did see that Pence did not mention anything about equality in hiring, or giving opportunities to people like those kids. While Pence touted how many jobs his tax cuts have saved Minnesotans, he didn’t mention that the state is second worst for racial inequality.

I wonder what Vice President Pence would have said if he had just been able to stay a little bit longer and talk to those kids. I wonder how those kids factor in to his and Trump’s “America First” plans. After all, they are American, too.

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