Blackasotan is a soon-to-be launched website about the experiences of Black Minnesotans. From its “Share Your Story!” section:
Every creative venture has an origin story. Ours? A lot of shared meals and amazing conversations about our individual and collective experiences of blackness in the frozen tundra, AKA Minnesota.
At some point, we became determined to make this idea a reality. We aren’t the first to try to capture stories through the lens of a place: shout-out to sites like 1839 and Stuck in DC. We also know for sure that we didn’t invent the idea of featuring stories of Minnesotans from communities of color / with underrepresented identities (hello, Opine Season).
But, we’re doing it anyway. An idea doesn’t have to be new to be impactful. And we know these stories that we tell to each other, our friends, families, and co-workers at happy hours and house parties and in the hallways are powerful.
Indeed! Sharing our stories can be useful in so many ways. I came up with a possible story, and sent a note to the editors:
I have an idea for a short non-fiction submission: “30 years a Minnesotan.” I first visited Minnesota in the summer of 1986 after graduating from an all-Black Atlanta high school. Today in 2016 I’m the Dean of the College of Social Sciences at San José State University, but in between I spent four summers in Minnesota as an engineering intern at 3M, lived there for 14 years as a professor (including five years as Chair of African American & African Studies at the University of Minnesota), and visited at least once a year in the other 12 years. I now consider myself a Minnesotan: I pined for home during my first two years away while at the U of Wisconsin-Parkside, and recently changed my hometown listing on Facebook from Atlanta to Minneapolis. I’d talk about how many think that an existence in a state with a relatively small number of Blacks is extremely limiting, but I found it full of possibilities for Black identity after living in a more regulated all-Black environment.
Blackasotan will launch in April, so they’ll need stories by the end of March. On one hand I hope that I’m not selected to develop the idea into a submission, as I have several deadlines and tasks due in March. On the other hand, it will be fun to write this piece!