Owning Up: Racism and Housing in Minneapolis

Two people view part of the Owning Up exhibit

On display at the Hennepin History Museum, “Owning Up: Racism and Housing in Minneapolis” explores the history of racial housing discrimination in Minneapolis.

Created by heritage studies and public history graduate students Denise Pike and Kacie Lucchini Butcher, with help from Augsburg University graphic design students, “Owning Up” demonstrates the lasting effects of structural discrimination.

The exhibit is particularly poignant in light of a recent study that ranks Minneapolis as the 4th worst city in the country for black residents, citing, among other statistics, a homeownership rate of just 24.6 percent, versus nearly 76 percent among whites.

“Minneapolis has the largest homeownership gap between black and white households in the United States, something that ... is directly correlated to decades of racist housing policy that restricted where people of color could live,” says Lucchini Butcher.

For their exhibit, Pike and Lucchini Butcher used research from the award-winning Mapping Prejudice project, based at the University of Minnesota.

“Where you live affects everything,” says Lucchini Butcher about what drew her and Pike to the topic of housing discrimination.

Pike, the daughter of a Nigerian father and white mother, says that she was aware from a young age of how race affects where one lives.

“Growing up in the Twin Cities, my family experienced struggles around housing. We lived in the suburbs and also a homeless shelter downtown. I learned early on the impacts that housing had on individuals,” she says.

Through the exhibit, the pair tells the stories of three Minneapolis families affected by racial housing discrimination.

“These racist housing policies were not just abstract laws,” say Pike and Lucchini Butcher. “They affected people, human beings, and we wanted people to know their names and to know their struggle.”

“Owning Up” is on display at the Hennepin History Museum through Jan. 20.


A version of this story appears on the College of Design blog.