Do YOU belong in the skyway?

This editorial on the Minneapolis and St. Paul skyways appeared a couple of weeks ago in the Star Tribune:  It may be the most illogical and biased piece I have ever seen printed in a major metropolitan newspaper, and it’s on the editorial page, which makes it even worse.   By virtue of having worked in downtown St. Paul for the last 20 years or so, allow me to refute pretty much all of his points:

…let’s think about what the average downtown worker looks like.

Sure, let’s think about it: what exactly does this mysterious person look like?  Judging from the tone of his article, the writer’s version of “average downtown worker” seems to be a white guy in a suit, popping down from the 30th floor, dodging the great unwashed masses to grab some lunch, then scurrying back to the safety of his office in the sky until it’s time to hop in the Lexus and drive home to his McMansion.

In reality: there is no average downtown worker. Mix together thousands of people who work in all levels of government, business and industry; workers from two major museums and a handful of smaller ones; staff from the Xcel Energy Center, schools, childcare centers; owners and staff of dozens of small businesses (pet supplies, hair salons, liquor stores, print shops, and premium chocolate, to name just a few).  That’s before even counting convenience stores, dentist and optician’s offices, and eating establishments that run the gamut from Subway to Pazzaluna.  I’m not seeing anything average in that mix.

They make more money than many…

Really? Tell that to the bank tellers, the clerks, secretaries, and other worker bee types; the small business owners, the frontline staff at the X and the museums, or the building security guards.  I’m pretty sure they would be to differ with his inference that they are just rolling in the dough!

…drive to and from work…

I have never seen as many people using public transportation as in the last few years.  Commuter buses (filled with people from those icky suburbs) are full morning and night.

…and are more than likely white.

That’s a bit of an exaggeration, to say the least.  Of course there are a fair amount of white people – this is Minnesota, after all.  But I see plenty of people of all hues and shades, every nationality I recognize and many that I don’t, in the skyways every single day.  The vast majority appear industrious and busy, looking as if they have somewhere to go (to work, perhaps?)

It is easier to get a sandwich in a skyway than to layer up and walk around the streets. But there is a certain social level, a certain profession, one must attain before he or she can do so.

So one has to attain certain pay scale, or a high enough rung on the social ladder, before they’re allowed to walk through the skyway and buy a sandwich at Erb’s & Gerb’s?  There is just so little logic to this statement I can’t even come up with a good counterpoint, I’m just flabbergasted.

But people who still use the streets in the winter are usually those who have no reason to navigate the skyways — aka the poor, the non-businessman class.

I’m not even going to comment on the gender bias in “businessman” (ok, I guess I just did).  This inflammatory, derogatory statement is not even close to being accurate.  And for that matter, why does the author get to decide who has a valid or invalid reason to navigate the skyways?  People of all races, ages and income levels are in the skyways each and every day, happily co-existing while being protected from the elements, which is…wait for it…the reason why the skyways were built in the first place.

But let’s be frank and not pretend like they were built with the intent to be used by every single resident of our cities.

Well actually, yes they were – and I can assure you, they definitely are being used by one and all, and I have seen nothing that would cause me to believe any differently.

I have no scientific evidence to back up the points I’ve stated above.  I’ve never sat in the skyway counting people, categorizing them by demographic, then making pretty graphs and charts of my results.  But my eyes, my good sense of observation, and my 20 or so years of skyway living tell me that I’m correct. I’m sincerely hoping this gentleman wrote this piece as satire or sarcasm: something so far-fetched it shouldn’t even be considered serious.  But I’m fairly sure this minority vs. white, rich vs. poor, belong vs. not belong is how he honestly and truly sees the world, and that’s just disturbing and sad.


2 thoughts on “Do YOU belong in the skyway?

  1. Thanks for your counterpoint. I agree that it was surprising that Strib would publish. Anyone who’s actually spend any time in the skyways, would see his assumption wasn’t based on experience. Or, at the least, he was wearing his white privilege glasses that filtered his experience to fit what he already believed. Interesting that his last line is “wouldn’t it be better if, at the very least, we saw each other and noticed each other’s existence?” I think he forgot to pay attention while in the skyway, if in fact he was there.

  2. It doesn’t seem to me like he’s even step foot downtown! When I go downtown I am usually by myself so I find it fascinating to observe all of the different people around me and let me tell you for every typical white male in a suit I see probably 30 or 40 of everyone else. Its that he has such a biased view and doesn’t take the time to really enjoy and observe his surroundings.

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