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MinnPost Picks: on buses vs. trains, the home-ownership gap and how the first people came to the Americas

Our weekly roundup of recommended reading, listening or viewing by MinnPost’s staff and contributing journalists.

Green Line
MinnPost file photo by Peter Callaghan

Are Trains or Buses Better for the Environment? Governing

It’s a dilemma for urbanists and environmentalists: which is cleaner, buses or trains? Jake Blumgart in Governing chases answers and comes to the conclusion that … it depends.
—Peter Callaghan, state government reporter

Owned: A Tale of Two Americas

“At $171,000, the net worth of a typical white family is nearly 10 times greater than that of a Black family ($17,150) in 2016.” – “Examining the Black-white wealth gap” Brookings Institution, Feb. 27, 2020. Let’s read that again. “At $171,000, the net worth of a typical white family is nearly 10 times greater than that of a Black family ($17,150) in 2016.” OK, so, this is here, but how did we get here? While that’s a complicated and complex question, one of the under-looked drivers of white wealth (and in turn, reasons for Black poverty) is home ownership. And while there has always been a large gap in ownership, it was widened to a gulf following World War II. The reason? The GI Bill. While the Bill was for all veterans, the newly formed suburbs were whites only. So while homeownership in the age of American sprawl was creating generational wealth for whites, Blacks were landlocked … and locked out. This is the backdrop of “Owned: A Tale of Two Americas,” a fascinating 2018 documentary that takes us from the “first suburb” of Levittown, New York to the housing rush (and crash) of the early 2000s. Along the way we see past the numbers to the actual lives affected by access – or lack thereof – to the home ownership. “Owned” is available on several streaming platforms including Amazon Prime and YouTube. But if you were lucky enough to have been chosen, there was a private screening of it in 2019 at the Minneapolis City Hall. I didn’t get the invite.
—Harry Colbert, managing editor

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A Genetic Chronicle of the First Peoples in the Americas, Sapiens

Tanner CurlIn this excerpt from her new book, “Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas,” Jennifer Raff challenges the long-held theory that people came to the Americas on the Bering Land Bridge around 13,000 years ago. Weaving together genetic, archeological and linguistic research, Raff makes the case that this migration occurred much earlier and happened along coastal routes, not inland. Raff critiques the archeological field for neglect and harm done to Native communities and calls for partnership with Indigenous people to gain a more complete understanding of the past.
—Tanner Curl, executive director

Biking While Black in Minneapolis, Sierra

I really enjoyed reading these stories Black cyclists told about riding in Minneapolis. Their experiences are often quite different from what I’ve experienced as a white person riding a bike, but the joy and freedom of pedaling two wheels is something we have in common that shines through in these interviews.
—Tom Nehil, news editor