At the dawn of summer 2020, with the world spinning from the Covid 19 pandemic, Minneapolis went into a nose dive after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. In the weeks and months that followed, Minneapolis became the epicenter of worldwide demands for justice. In a compelling new collection, WE ARE MEANT TO RISE, edited by Carolyn Holbrook and David Mura, Indigenous writers and writers of color bear witness to one of the most unsettling years in the history of the United States.
Marcie Rendon, Anishinabe author and citizen of the White Earth Nation, ends her essay describing the seven clans of the Anishinabe, fish, marten, bear, deer, crane, loon, bird, eagle, and wolf – each clan responsible for a different role – the bear clan serving as both police (protectors) and healers: “Imagine a world,” she writes, “where the police (protectors) and healers are one.”
Kao Kalia Lang, Hmong author, tells of a time when she “cleaned” her older sister Dawb’s room, selling off her beloved CDs for pennies. Admonishing her after the fact, her father says, “If you can’t get along with each other, how are you going to get along with the world?” He taught her that a person’s goodness starts in a family, then extends to a community, and grows out from there.
Shannon Gibney, African American author, quotes Baldwin “Try to imagine how you would feel if you woke up one morning to find the sun shining and all the stars aflame . . . any upheaval in the universe is terrifying because it so profoundly attacks one’s sense of one’s own reality.” Jamar Clark, Philando Castile, George Floyd – all of them – Gibney writes, like Baldwin’s stars aflame, their voices shaking heaven and earth to their foundation.
WE ARE MEANT TO RISE was born of Carolyn Holbrook’s “More Than a Single Story,” a series of panel discussions and public conversations that she created to offer a platform for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color writers and arts activists. David Mura, co-editor, writes that the anthology is offered as an encouragement for each of us, no matter our ethnicity, to speak out, tell our story, and own our power.
WE ARE MEANT TO RISE is a testimony to the strength, power, and resilience of a community, and inspires all of humanity to rise up higher to serve a greater good.
I recommend WE ARE MEANT TO RISE for readers interested in political and community action, for activists and artists and people of all races and ethnicities. Preorders are currently available. November 23, 2021 release from University of Minnesota Press.