License Plate=Conversation

12764693_10101704790638251_6229109521060892532_oSaturday, February 20th:

#unitecloud’s Community Director, Haji, received a photo from 2 Muslim teenagers in St. Cloud. They were driving down Division Street and, to their surprise, a red pick up truck stopped in front of them had a license plate that was a big F-you to them, their family, and to all of their Muslim brothers and sisters. Haji and #unitecloud put the picture on Facebook and were met with outrage from our community and people around the state.

Monday, February 22nd:

State and local DMV employees come to work to find TONS of e-mails and voicemails from folks all over MN, sharing their disdain for the license plate and asking how this was OK’d, both in Benton County and at the State level. The media blows the story up, garnering national and international attention. More importantly, conversations happen all over Central MN about the license plate and everything behind it.

Conversations 

#unitecloud has heard from so many people about how this license plate story has opened up a dialogue about the issue of religious tensions in this area. We heard from one #unitecloud supporter (who would like to remain anonymous) who shared their conversation story with us:

I’m speaking up to loved ones! One of them was laughing about the license plate issue, while another was complaining about the tax dollars to reexamine all potentially discriminating plates. I said: “What if the plate said F___________ (using a description of that person that they feel strongly about). The person stopped in their tracks. I continued, conveying a concept from a colleague who shared the theory that “us and them” terms encourage division.

I closed that conversation by recalling my favorite childhood song: 

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Thank you for being a leader and encouraging me to speak up. I spoke in love for those who are equal to me. Just like the the Holocaust preaches: SILENT NO MORE. 

Thank you, Central MN, for taking steps to speak out and stand up for your neighbors. Click To Tweet 

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Do you have a conversational story to share? Please leave it in the comment section below or share it with us at info@unitecloud.org.

About the Author

Natalie Ringsmuth

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Natalie grew up in Central Minnesota and received her Music Education degree from Concordia College in Moorhead. She taught middle school choir in Georgia and worked in the church sector for over a decade. She now works as a legal assistant at Tripiciano Immigration Law, a trainer with the CARE (Community Anti-Racism Education) Team at SCSU (St Cloud State University), and as Founder and Director of #unitecloud, a non-profit working to reduce racial, religious, and cultural tensions in Central MN. She is a member of the Community Impact Team at United Way of Central MN and is a member of the St Cloud District 742 school board. In her spare time (haha) she loves to spend time with her husband and 3 children.