Despite progress, inequities remain

Daily Editorial Board

Last week, Minnesota’s Muslim population featured in two very different local news stories. One celebrated the opening of a new mosque in Afton, an east metro suburb. The other detailed a discrimination suit filed by Somali bus drivers. 
 
 
These polar-opposite news stories illustrate that, despite certain examples of progress, our state is still far from free of racial discrimination or inequality, especially as it relates to the Muslim community. 
 
 
Afton’s plans to construct a new mosque demonstrate efforts to welcome diverse populations into suburban communities. The city’s estimated median income is significantly higher than the median income of Minnesota as a whole, and it’s encouraging to see wealthy suburbs welcoming Muslim communities.
 
 
At the same time, problems like alleged discrimination against Somali employees in Minneapolis can prevent Muslim communities from building the wealth necessary to afford suburban homes and lifestyles. 
 
 
On behalf of 15 bus drivers, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has accused two bus companies of unfair labor practices. These include assigning drivers to broken, unheated buses and lowering their wages without cause. These 15 drivers have lost their jobs. Their lives bear little resemblance to those of the people of Afton.
 
 
While we should celebrate the events in Afton, it remains important to remember that eliminating discrimination does not end with building a new mosque. We must continue to be vigilant against prejudice and to take intentional action against practices that inhibit racial equity.