Duluth’s strength comes from us being there for each other, and it shouldn’t matter where we’re from, what we look like, or how we pray. At our best, our city brings everyone together into a community we can be proud of.

But today, a few politicians and the powerful interests behind them are fueling divisions among us so they can block efforts to ensure everyone gets a fair return for their work, access to affordable health care and the funding required to give every student a high-quality education.

We learned another lesson about the human cost of the politics of division when Minnesota’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, Qorsho Hassan, shared her story of being harassed at a coffee shop in Canal Park on Sept. 26 (“Union condemns hate, supports teacher following incident in Duluth,” Oct. 5). She said a group of white men in a pickup truck circled her and chanted “white power” and “four more years,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s re-election. The verbal attack and intimidation were heartbreaking. Equally upsetting was that a dozen of our neighbors sitting near Hassan did nothing to help.

If we truly want Duluth to be a place where everyone can thrive, we all share a duty to call out bullies who use race and religion to target our neighbors for abuse and hate. We must do it in the moment when it’s happening. As we tell our students, stand up; don’t stand by.

We also cannot reward certain politicians who use racism and xenophobia as political tools. Minnesotans have the power to support politicians who see us all as equals and who care for all of us equally.

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Duluth can be better than what happened to Qorsho Hassan, but only if we come together to make it so.

Ethan Fisher and Bernie Burnham


Fisher is president of the Duluth Federation of Teachers, and Burnham is vice president of Education Minnesota and a past president of the Duluth Federation of Teachers.