It’s Time


Book editor Sun Yung Shin. Photo credit: Uche Iroegbu

 Anoka-Ramsey creative writing student reviews “A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota.” Authors from this book will be on the Coon Rapids campus Nov. 1 for two speaking events. 

  Axel Kylander                                                                                                                                Contributing Writer

“A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota,” edited by Sun Yung Shin, is not an easy read. It is a work of devastating humanity, born of inspiring resolve and haunting pain, an examination of racism in a state so urgently polite that it pretends to be colorblind. From front cover to back, this book will induce in the Minnesotan reader that most dreaded of activities – introspection. 

 “A Good Time for the Truth” is an anthology with contributions from a diverse group of sixteen Minnesotan authors. An African-American man gives insight into how the constant shadow of racism affects the perception those targeted, while a Vietnamese immigrant explores unacknowledged discrimination against Asian-Americans, and an Indigenous woman reflects on society’s habit of drawing dividing lines among peoples. 

The opening essay by Shannon Gibney, “Fear of a Black Mother,” is an excellent  tone-setter for the rest of the book. Gibney describes the veiled judgments she and her family encounter on a grocery run; judgements concealed even to the people thinking them, “for fear of exposing their white liberal minds to the reality of their deep-seated racism.” Gibney’s work establishes a general style for the essays; eloquent and conversational, a moving medley of reflection, poetry, and facts.  

The state-specific setting is essential to the nature of “A Good Time for the Truth” as the overarching theme is an analysis of Minnesota’s approach to racism. It is regarded as a problem for Southern states, not the progressive Northern Star.

In “Disparate Impacts,” Taiyon J. Coleman summarizes the problem of these shielding stereotypes with striking clarity: “there are Confederate flags everywhere, even in places where we can’t see them.” In Minnesota, those prejudicial trappings are buried under a polite veneer: Minnesota Nice. Be it in college campuses, the protests that make white people uncomfortable, or who gets stopped by the police, these underlying conflicts haven’t been addressed because it wouldn’t be polite to reveal them.  

The intended audience here is clearly Minnesotans, especially white Minnesotans who lack a personal grasp of racism’s trauma. Therein is the risk for this book, that some might be “turned off” by its solemnity and boundless fuel for reflecting on one’s own possible prejudices. 

An open mind cannot come away from “A Good Time for the Truth” without greater understanding of themselves and the world. The message here is never compromised to be more palatable. An eminently unacceptable status quo of suffering isn’t supposed to be palatable. It’s supposed to be addressed. This book had to be written because it’s always been a good time to discuss these buried truths. But better late than never, and there’s no better place to start than here.