The twoMinnesotas

A new TPT documentary series examines the widening gaps between Minnesotans.

There are two Americas,” said Sen. John Edwards in 2003. “One America that is struggling to get by, another America that can buy anything it wants.” Minnesota is no different.

“Close the Gap,” a documentary series produced locally by Twin Cities Public Television and the Itasca Project, premieres April 6, from 6 to 7 p.m. on Twin Cities Public Teleivion 2 and examines metrowide disparities as the space between the haves and have-nots is growing. The first installment, “Close the Gap – The Case for Change,” is an hour-long summary to preview the series. Five 30-minute documentaries will air over the following five weeks on TPT 17.

Inspired by a Brookings Institution study that Itasca Project participants released in late 2005, “Close the Gap” documents disparities in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area among racial and ethnic groups, different income groups, and between the central cities and the suburbs.

Minnesota is a prosperous state compared to many, yet prosperity is had only by a few. There are those that unfortunately go unseen in state statistics as their struggles are averaged out by the success of others.

As reported by the Brookings Institute using census data from 2000, the Minneapolis-St. Paul region has the 14th highest median income among the country’s largest metro areas. White households had a median income of $56,642, while African-American households had a median income of $29,404 and Mexican households of $38,909. In 2000, only 4 percent of whites were poor, but one-third of all Hmongs lived below the poverty line. Seventy-six percent of whites own homes in Minnesota, while only 32 percent of blacks do. In 2000, Minneapolis and St. Paul had 23 percent of the metro-area’s population, as there has been increased movement to the suburbs. But, with only 23 percent of the region’s population, the two cities were found to house 54 percent impoverished residents and 54 percent nonwhite residents.

Minnesota is a state of great diversity, but little unity. “Close the Gap” is an opportunity for Minnesotans to look at themselves and take notice of what goes unseen.