Letter to editor stock art - old mailbox

In this open letter to our neighbors, we hope to explain how our community’s increased awareness of what has been occurring for decades, and a small group’s efforts to enact meaningful steps to address the racism in our town have provided a catalyst to be better.

Several weeks ago, we, along with five other residents representing a broad diversity of lived experiences, shared our dismay and resolve with the city council. Our hope and expectation then, as it remains now, was shared in an effort to compel the city council to actively engage in anti-racist work. Supported by 65-70 residents who filled the council chambers, we illuminated the current reality experienced by scores of community residents — that Prior Lake’s mission, to be “a vibrant and welcoming life-long community, offering a high-quality of life and small-town feel” may be true for some, but not all.

As fathers, professionals and committed residents, we see the awakening that is happening. We want to trust that elected officials and others in key leadership positions are learning and will actually engage in the work that is needed to create a truly welcoming Prior Lake. Unfortunately, we have heard countless experiences of children and adults in Prior Lake who have been subjected to racist words and actions.

We are waiting for leaders of our city to condemn racism and commit to anti-racist work publicly and forcefully. It is now time to direct our focus onto the richness of our diversity and embark on a journey toward fostering an anti-racist posture as a community. We appreciate the recent efforts of Mayor Briggs, Superintendent Staloch and other leaders of contiguous communities to begin important community conversations. That said, we have grown tired of hearing about the resistance expressed to even our basic ask to make an official statement that condemns racism.

On Dec. 6, our city council was presented with a robust, evidence-based roadmap consisting of a resolution, DEI statement and ordinance language for its consideration, deliberation and adoption. There is no doubt that movement toward full adoption will advance the city’s mission. We look forward to hearing in the near future the council’s commitment and progress toward adopting the resolution, statement and ordinance.

In the meantime, we have decided to move forward with a sequence of learning activities open to all community members who are interested in starting and furthering their anti-racist journey. As evidenced by the beautiful diversity of backgrounds and ideology seated in the council chambers on Dec. 6, we know that the community conversation at the table we set will be unifying.

Let’s get on with the heart-centered and healing work that will empower us to acknowledge the trauma that many of our BIPOC brothers and sisters of Prior Lake are carrying. This journey of ours will redefine how we see one another; and it will redefine how prospective newcomers view our community.

G. Bryan Fleming & Charlie Sederstrom

Prior Lake