Fear and Loathing in south Minneapolis

'ALL ARE WELCOME HERE'... but not, like, RIGHT here. Somewhere else would be nice.

'ALL ARE WELCOME HERE'... but not, like, RIGHT here. Somewhere else would be nice. Tony Webster/flickr

Nothing inspires fear and loathing in the lizard brain of affluent white Minneapolitans like a tepid, fairly benign future land use and built form map.

I am laughing as I write this.

What this whole Minneapolis 2040 plan has shown me is that liberals have their own dog whistles that make them howl, whether they are self-aware enough to recognize this or not. For too many white Minneapolis homeowners, "affordable housing" is like their "state's rights" rallying cry.

Let's just be honest for most of the folks involved in this Brooks Brothers rebellion: Affordable housing conjures up scary black and brown poor folks, with all their poor ways, and poor cars and poor music and poor loitering about.

If the picture that they conjured was their 86-year-old Auntie Millie, if that was the face of affordable housing, we would be having an entirely different conversation.

I've seen signs in front of $400,000 houses announcing the threat of extinction brought about by the dreaded fourplex, and I laugh. These same concerned residents have taken up nary an arm in protest to the tearing down of classic working-class single-family homes to build the Minneapolis form of small-footprint 3,000-square-foot McMansions.

Besides, when in the history of forever have affluent white homeowners been removed to make way for poor working folks' housing?

This campaign has done an effective job of tapping into the slightly veiled fear and prejudice that was sitting there all along. For many in our city their worldview holds that "affordable housing" belongs in north Minneapolis, and north Minneapolis alone.

They feel like they have earned and invested in the physical separation that ghetto neighborhood planning provides. Yet they would never want to be considered in this light. The self-image of "nice" is too important.

When I look at the Minneapolis 2040 plan, I see some tepid, slightly ambitious, immeasurable, esoteric goals around racial equity and inclusion, a "meh" sandwich. They look at this map that is so broad it is barely useful, and see an existential threat to all they hold dear.

D.A. Bullock is a north Minneapolis resident, documentary filmmaker, and film instructor. Find his work at


Don't fear the renter