While some University of Minnesota students will proudly shout, “West Bank, best bank!,” others have given the outskirts of the area a bad name.
Cedar-Riverside is a multicultural community that is home to about 8,000 residents, including a large Somali-American community. Despite the culture and family-based community, there is prejudice expressed toward the area.
Across campus, the iconic Cedar-Riverside apartments tower over the nearby area. When I first described them to a fellow student as “those big colorful buildings that you can see from West Bank,” I was promptly corrected, and told that they were actually referred to as the “crack stacks.” I’ve heard complaints from friends that refuse to walk through the area because it is “sketchy.”
This is entirely puzzling when crime rates in the area are fairly similar to other areas surrounding campus, such as Marcy-Holmes. I have never heard statements like these about Marcy-Holmes.
It’s likely that racism is contributing to the bad name that is given to this area. Somali people are currently facing some of the highest levels of xenophobia in our nation. Being Black and Muslim presents systemic challenges and institutional pressures.
Prejudice within our campus toward this area needs to minimize. Families live in the area, as do students that attend the University. To truly create an inclusive campus, we need to be accepting of the people in Cedar-Riverside.