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Think Tank Scholar: Dr. Taiyon J. Coleman

Dr. Taiyon J. Coleman is Associate Professor of English Literature and Women’s Studies at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dr. Coleman is a poet, essayist and scholar who specializes in African-American and African diaspora literatures. Coleman is currently completing a manuscript, Communicating with the Dead: Pandemic Love Poems, which gives voice to the BIPOC people who have died from COVID-19 due to historical and structural inequities, civic complicity and complacency within U.S. culture and institutions. Each poem is both a creative work of art and a historical record that honors and bears witness to the lives, humanity, experiences, loss, and tragic injustice of these deaths. (You can read one of the poem, Can’t Turn Around: Rana Zoe Mungin, here.) Coleman is also completing her collection of critical essays, Traveling Without Moving, which is forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press. Coleman talks about her work in this interview with St. Paul’s History Theatre.
Researchers Map Covenants in Ann Arbor Neighborhood

Following the repeal of a racial covenant in a neighborhood in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy hosted a panel discussing racial covenants in the area. The panel was Michael J. Steinberg, Alexandria Nichols, Justin Schell, and Laura Durand, all of whom are on the project team of Justice InDeed. Justice InDeed was created in collaboration with Mapping Prejudice to “employ crowdsourcing and individual volunteers to identify racially restrictive language in individual deeds.” To learn more about the mission of Justice InDeed, visit their website.

Meet Mapping Prejudice

Jake Ford

Jake Ford is a research assistant with Mapping Prejudice, where he is looking into the relationship between racial covenants and the history of zoning in Minneapolis, and putting his cartographic, data visualization, and programming skills to the test. He is currently pursuing a Master of Geographic Information Science degree at the University of Minnesota. He has a BFA in acting from the U of M and worked as an actor and theater maker on the East Coast. His arts background strengthens his geospatial work, highlighting the narrative power of maps and geospatial data. He is interested in how data analysis and visualization can be powerful components of impactful storytelling; and in how storytelling can build, shape, and empower communities. He’s an avid hiker and will take any excuse to walk in the woods. Recently he completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail with his father, which served as inspiration for a renewed interest in geospatial studies.

Jamila Boudlali

Jamila Boudlali is an archival researcher/writer for Mapping Prejudice. She is currently enrolled as a student in the Master of Urban Planning program at the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota with a focus on Housing and Community Development. She is interested in Mapping Prejudice because it allows her to explore the historical factors that contributed to current inequalities. She is also passionate about increasing access to affordable housing globally and locally.

She also received her bachelor’s degree in geography at the University of Minnesota. Before coming to Mapping Prejudice, she spent several years at the Minnesota Historical Society, Minneapolis Public Schools and the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State, as well as working in community organizations.

Emily Cavazos

Emily Cavazos is a research assistant for Mapping Prejudice, where she is reviewing plat maps in search of racial covenants that were not included in property deeds. She is currently enrolled in the Master of Geographic Information Science program at the University of Minnesota. In 2016, she graduated from Macalester College with a bachelor’s degree in biology and art history. Emily is interested in community building, fat liberation and creating accessible map products that inspire action. In her personal time, Emily enjoys hiking, photographing plants, and making art, especially printmaking.


Book Launch - Whiteness in Plain View: April 9th, 5:30 - 7:30pm

Hennepin History Museum is hosting the launch of Chad Montrie’s new book, Whiteness in Plain View: A History of Racial Exclusion in Minnesota. The book works to unravel the Minnesota Paradox, examining the ways in which White residents in Minnesota and government agencies have worked to reinforce racial disparities in the state. The event is free to attend, click here for more information.

The University as a Colonizing Institution: April 28th, 3:30pm

The Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota is hosting an online talk intended to unpack the tensions and dichotomies surrounding the understanding that colleges and universities aid in social liberation and upward mobility. Alexis Bunten will be leading the talk and discussing her own experiences within academic institutions. This event is free to attend, but registration is requested. Click here for more information.

Outreach and Community Engagement

Plat map event with “Welcoming the Dear Neighbor?”

On February 15th, St. Catherine University brought volunteers together to scan plat maps from Hennepin County for evidence of racial covenants. Plat maps are created by real estate developers when land is divided into parcels for sale. In many parts of the country, racial covenants were inscribed on plat maps instead of warranty deeds. Mapping Prejudice is working together with Welcoming the Dear Neighbor at St. Kate’s to determine whether these hand-drawn maps contain racial restrictions that were not included on the initial map of covenants in Hennepin County. Hennepin County has 1,500 plat maps that need to be examined for covenants. On this one night, volunteers reviewed 186 plat maps and identified new covenants to be incorporated into the Hennepin County dataset. 

Land Surveyors Conference

On February 24th, Mapping Prejudice Director Kirsten Delegard teamed up with Maria Cisneros and Kiarra Zackery, two of the leaders of the Just Deeds coalition, to present at the annual convention of the Minnesota Association of Professional Surveyors. The team narrated the history of racial covenants and their contemporary legacies with the surveyors, who shared that they frequently encounter these restrictions as they work in the field. These professional surveyors confirmed what the Mapping Prejudice team has long suspected: racial covenants were not just an urban phenomenon. Racist deeds can be found in every part of Minnesota.

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