• My neighborhood Cub – a safe(er) space?

    Date: 2017.01.29 | Category: GIFTS OF RESISTANCE 2017: creative writing | Tags: ,

    I shop for groceries at my neighborhood Cub in South Minneapolis, on the corner of Minnehaha and Lake. As grocery stores goes, it is unfancy, even by Cub standards. A hood Cub, as many have called it, but it has the lowest prices and is convenient for us who live around it. I’m not a grocery shopping fan (or any kind of shopping fan), so even though I can currently afford it, I do not make a trip or extra trips to the co-op or Whole Foods a part of my routine in order to acquire fancier, healthier, better sourced foods. I go to Cub, zip up and down the aisles for what I need, pack my bags up and go home. Sunday after Sunday afternoon.

    I have lived in near-South Minneapolis for over 40 years, so I’ve watched our neighborhoods and stores evolve. We’ve always been a diverse mix along Lake Street, and I honestly don’t know when shoppers at “my” Cub or Target became typically more brown than white, but it’s been that way for a very long time.

    Like everyone else getting their shopping chores done, I don’t normally think philosophically about these stores, who is in them, or anything symbolic or political at all. I just get my groceries, or toothpaste and toilet paper, and go to whatever is next on my list of errands.

    But the Sunday after the election I went grocery shopping feeling completely raw and started noticing we the shoppers, gliding up and down the aisles in our many languages, our after-church wear, our hijabs, our sweats, our ink and asymmetrical haircuts – our carts spilling with our kids and grandkids along with our foods.

    And we appeared unbothered. I imagined us collectively feeling safe(er) – or at least able to focus on just shopping. That may not be true. Folks may have been been feeling all kinds of ways, and “safe(er)” may not have been one of them.

    But I’m wanting to believe folks that day were not worrying the way I’ve heard others worry since the election while shopping in their whiter neighborhoods and communities – fearful of being targeted because of speaking a language other than English, for wearing clothing that identifies them as Muslim, about the possibility or actuality of being hurled hateful words. “Go back where you came from.” “Build the wall.” Or having to see confederate flags in trucks in the parking lot.

    Of course crap goes down at that Cub – people are profiled and insulted – this is the U.S./Minnesota/Minneapolis, and I’m not that naive. I’ve been insulted and called out many times myself, not so much for being queer, but mostly years back when my children were young for being a white mother of brown kids (everything from being called a n-word lover to having serious shade thrown at me for being us).

    Let’s not be delusional. We live in the same old days. But it’s new day, too, with a sharper, harsher edge and even more terrifying possibilities ahead. Maybe I’m being my sentimental older white woman self looking for hope wherever I can find it – a self who I love. But maybe – just maybe – places like a neighborhood Cub can actually feel like a safe(er) space in a new kind of way.


    copyright Ann Freeman