We Are Meant to Rise

Voices for Justice from Minneapolis to the World


Carolyn Holbrook and David Mura, Editors



A brilliant and rich gathering of voices on the American experience of this past year and beyond, from Indigenous writers and writers of color from Minnesota

Here Indigenous writers and writers of color bear witness to one of the most unsettling years in U.S. history. Essays and poems vividly reflect the traumas we endured in 2020, beginning with the COVID-19 pandemic, deepened by the blatant murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers and the uprisings that immersed our city into the epicenter of worldwide demands for justice. 

"A powerful and passionate take on a fraught moment." Publishers Weekly

In this significant collection, Indigenous writers and writers of color bear witness to one of the most unsettling years in the history of the United States. Essays and poems vividly reflect and comment on the traumas we endured in 2020, beginning with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, deepened by the blatant murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers and the uprisings that immersed our city into the epicenter of passionate, worldwide demands for justice. In inspired and incisive writing these contributors speak unvarnished truths not only to the original and pernicious racism threaded through the American experience but also to the deeply personal, in essays about family, loss, food culture, economic security, and mental health. Their call and response is united here to rise and be heard.

We Are Meant to Rise lifts up the astonishing variety of BIPOC writers in Minnesota. From authors with international reputations to newly emerging voices, it features people from many cultures, including Indigenous Dakota and Anishinaabe, African American, Hmong, Somali, Afghani, Lebanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Puerto Rican, Colombian, Mexican, transracial adoptees, mixed race, and LGBTQ+ perspectives. Most of the contributors have participated in More Than a Single Story, a popular and insightful conversation series in Minneapolis that features Indigenous and people of color speaking on what most concerns their communities.

We Are Meant to Rise
meets the events of the day, the year, the centuries before, again and again, with powerful testament to the intrinsic and unique value of the human voice.

Contributors: Suleiman Adan, Mary Moore Easter, Louise Erdrich, Anika Fajardo, Safy-Hallan Farah, Sherrie Fernandez-Williams, Pamela R. Fletcher Bush, Shannon Gibney, Kathryn Haddad, Tish Jones, Ezekiel Joubert III, Douglas Kearney, Ed Bok Lee, Ricardo Levins Morales, Arleta Little, Resmaa Menakem, Tess Montgomery, Ahmad Qais Munhazim, Melissa Olson, Alexs Pate, Bao Phi, Mona Susan Power, Marcie Rendon, Samantha Sencer-Mura, Said Shaiye, Erin Sharkey, Sun Yung Shin, Michael Torres, Diane Wilson, Kao Kalia Yang, and Kevin Yang.

Carolyn Holbrook is the founder and director of More Than a Single Story. She is author of the essay collection Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify (Minnesota, 2020), winner of a Minnesota Book Award, and coauthor of Dr. Josie R. Johnson’s memoir Hope in the Struggle (Minnesota, 2019). She teaches creative writing at Hamline University, the Loft Literary Center, and other community venues.

David Mura’s most recent book is A Stranger’s Journey: Race, Identity, and Narrative Craft in Writing. He is author of two memoirs, Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei, which won the Oakland PEN Josephine Miles Book Award and was a New York Times Notable Book, and Where the Body Meets Memory.

Diversity is our strength. Each new voice who becomes part of America is our strength. The writers in this anthology provide us with individualized portraits of who we are, and in doing so they can help us to know each other, our neighbors, our fellow citizens. These writers prove we are indeed more than a single story.

David Mura, from the Introduction

A powerful and passionate take on a fraught moment.

Publishers Weekly


Introduction: Call and Response

David Mura

About More Than a Single Story

Carolyn Holbrook

Pandemic Love

Ed Bok Lee


Alexs Pate

George Floyd Was Killed in My Neighborhood

Safy-Hallan Farah

إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ Queer Death in Exile

Ahmad Qais Munhazim

With Birthday Girl Blindfolded, Star Piñata Considers His Regrets and Offers a Last Request

Michael Torres

Battlegrounds and Building Grounds

Kao Kalia Yang

Summer 1964

Pamela R. Fletcher Bush

The Courage of Holding Together, the Courage to Fall Apart

Mona Susan Power

Long Live the Fatherless Children

Anika Fajardo

Land Acknowledgment Statement of a Native Virginian

Mary Moore Easter

Financial Trauma

Tess Montgomery

Cross Pollination

Kathryn Haddad

Breath: A Meditation in Uprising

Erin Sharkey

Dear Editor

Douglas Kearney

What Does It All Mean

Tish Jones

The Trauma Virus

Resmaa Menakem

How Will They Take Us Away / How Will We Stand

Bao Phi

Healers Are Protectors / Protectors Are Healers

Marcie Rendon

The Pachuco Himself Considers the Audacity of Language

Michael Torres

Covid-19 and Asian Americans

David Mura

Little Brown Briefcase

Suleiman Adan

We Are All Summoned

Diane Wilson

A Tangent to a Story about the Smith & Wesson .38, or, Attempts to Be Fully Assimilated into the White American Project Have Failed Miserably, in the Form of a Self-Questionnaire

신 선 영 辛善英 Sun Yung Shin

Today in Minneapolis

Samantha Sencer-Mura

Let Me Tell You a Story

Melissa Olson

Here Before

Sherrie Fernandez-Williams

Truth, Reconciliation, and Four More Meditations on Human Freedom

Arleta Little

Didion Dreams

Said Shaiye

A Time for Healing

Carolyn Holbrook

Speaking into Existence

Kevin Yang

The Weight

Ezekiel Joubert III

Four Genies

Ricardo Levins Morales

All the Stars Aflame

Shannon Gibney

Humility, Sincerity, Banana Oil

Louise Erdrich