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COMMENTARY: Johnson-Patterson played as well as she coached

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN-RECORDER — Faith Johnson-Patterson is well known in Minnesota high school basketball lore. After eight state titles and 14 tournament appearances as the head girls’ coach at Minneapolis North (state championships in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005) and DeLaSalle (state championships in 2011, 2012, 2013), she has established herself among the state’s elite.

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By Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald

Faith Johnson-Patterson is well known in Minnesota high school basketball lore. After eight state titles and 14 tournament appearances as the head girls’ coach at Minneapolis North (state championships in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005) and DeLaSalle (state championships in 2011, 2012, 2013), she has established herself among the state’s elite.

Twenty-nine years ago, I saw the Hall of Fame coach in a different light.

In May 1980, my father invited me — a ninth-grader at the time — to attend a high school all-star game at the old Met Center in Bloomington featuring teams representing Minnesota and Indiana.

I was very excited because my basketball heroes at the time — Ricky Suggs (St. Paul Central) and David Gilreath (Marshall University High) — were going to be playing against the best high school players the state of Indiana had to offer.

My pops, the late Kwame McDonald, had other ideas. I should have known, because we were leaving for the game three hours before tip-off.

“There’s a girls’ game before the boys’,” he said with urgency. “I’ve got to see Faith.”

At the time, I wasn’t that excited about seeing the girls play. The priority for me was to watch the boys represent. I also remember saying to myself, “Faith who?”

The answer to that question was fully answered in the next hour and a half.

We looked on as Marshall-University High senior guard Faith Johnson — displaying quickness, leadership and one of the purest jump shots I’ve ever witnessed scored nine of her 15 points in the second period to help the Minnesota all-stars defeat the Indiana all-stars 71-65.

That game was my introduction to Faith Johnson the player. Many don’t realize the impact she had as a player during a time when girls’ basketball was in its infancy.

She played in the first two girls’ state basketball tournaments during her eighth- and ninth-grade seasons, and though she went on to have an outstanding prep career, she was not an all-state selection as a senior.

Despite the snub, she accepted a scholarship offer to play at the University of Wisconsin, scoring 1,120 points from 1980-1985.

Many remember Johnson-Patterson as one the state’s greatest coaches. Some remember her as an outstanding high school player.

Thanks to my father, I will always remember her as both.

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald

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Commentary: May Is Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month

AANHPI is not a social term; it’s purely political, a Frankenstein acronym that reeks of inclusion, and yet there’s so much more of us we don’t see in the name. In fact, the top three groups are Chinese, Indian and Filipino. We’re “Chindipinos.” It makes AANHPI more like a prompt to make sure we don’t forget the incredible potential of our large, diverse community.

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By Emil Guillermo

AANHPI is not a social term; it’s purely political, a Frankenstein acronym that reeks of inclusion, and yet there’s so much more of us we don’t see in the name. In fact, the top three groups are Chinese, Indian and Filipino. We’re “Chindipinos.”

It makes AANHPI more like a prompt to make sure we don’t forget the incredible potential of our large, diverse community.

Across the United States, we’re more than 25 million strong. As I like to point out, it really should include West Asians, like Arab Americans, at around 5 million people. That would boost the group to around 30 million- plus.

How can U.S. policy makers ignore a coalition of 30 million people that have all of Asia as their common ground? They can’t.

Unless we don’t vote.

THE AANHPI POWER YEAR

Around 15 million Asian Americans are projected to be eligible to vote in 2024. This is an increase of 15% from 2020, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s a larger projected increase than for Hispanics (12%) and Blacks (7%).

A lot of talk this year has centered so far on Black and Hispanic voters defecting from the Democrats in 2024. There’s hardly any talk about the Asian American vote. But any change there could be significant.

Seventy-two percent of English-speaking, single race, non-Hispanic Asian voters went for Joe Biden in 2020 vs. 28% who voted for Donald Trump, according to Pew.

Will we see Asian Americans continue to show up for Biden at the 72%level, or will that number erode?

Hopefully, Biden’s Asian American numbers may go higher if the Republican voters in our broad community (around 30%) understand what’s at stake and abandon Trump.

The list of Biden White House initiatives to help Asian Americans is long.

On the other hand, think about how Donald Trump treated his lone Asian American cabinet member, Elaine Chao, and see if that isn’t reason alone for MAGA-AANHPIs to dump Trump, the indicted one.

Here are some other key things about Asian American eligible voters that are worth noting.

We’re 6% of the electorate, which means as a bloc, it has the potential to be a real swing vote.

When you see poll numbers at a dead heat with the margin of error at 3-5%, imagine Asian Americans making up the difference to provide a margin of victory.

That’s how critical our vote is.

Gender-wise, the demographic breakdown is also significant: 53% women and 47% men. Which party has women’s best interests at heart?

By age, 22% of us are 18-29 years old. The biggest demo is 30-49 at 36%. Add ages 50-64 at 23%, and the core 30-64 working age demo is almost 60% of our community.

The majority of us are also naturalized citizens, 56%, vs. U.S born at 44%.

For me this is always where I see some of the biggest fissures within our community. Who was pushing for affirmative action and who was against? Naturalized citizens, immigrants generally led the fight against affirmative action. It remains a flash point. Might it also define a new dividing line between Asian American red and blue?

So, this month, AANHPI Heritage Month, take the time to notice and get to know us better.

About the Author

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator, and was the first Filipino to host a national news program while at NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Contact him at www.amok.com.

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Oakland Post: Week of May 15 – 21, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May May 15 – 21, 2024

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Oakland Post: Week of May 8 – 14, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May May 8 – 14, 2024

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