Here Again

Story Nyemadi Louise Dunbar
Video D.A. Bullock
Design & Illustration Melanie Walby


One. Two. Three. Four. We can no longer count how many times we have been here before. Lives ending unexpectedly at the violent hands of a police state, readers opening articles to make sense of the world around them, families and friends unwillingly learning the many sides of grief. 

As the last day of 2020 approached, many were filled with the hope that a fresh year could bring renewal into their lives. But on December 30, 2020, officers of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) would try to work against that hope by yet again deciding a life was theirs to claim — this time 23-year-old Dolal Idd.

A life spoken about in the past tense too soon and a police department’s absent accountability is a familiar cadence, a cadence that community members and activists will not accept. 


A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Jyn Erso — the reluctant hero of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — says “rebellions are built on hope.” Here on earth, systemic racism has taken many things from Black people over the past several centuries, but hope is not among them. There is plenty of it to be found in the collective quest to usher in a reimagined world where Black lives truly matter.

Hope can be found in the leadership of Representative Hodan Hassan of District 62A and Twin Cities healer and life coach Dr. Joi Lewis. For both activists, new life comes not only from the betterment of institutions but in justice for our souls.

“That’s why they call it post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s post, it’s done,” says Representative Hassan. “But for us Black people in this country it continues.” Hassan sees the cost of racism and anti-Blackness happening in a loop, beginning in school and building on its developmental and societal burdens into adulthood. Her career as a social worker lends itself to recognizing the internal and external needs of improperly policed people whose humanity is purposefully targeted. And, as she notes, a need to focus on protecting oneself instead of being protected has damaging effects on how youth and adults interact with their surroundings. This is essential to account for when addressing the systemic and personal needs of people asked to engage in a society designed to protect only some of its people.



“That’s why they call it post traumatic stress disorder. It’s post, it’s done. But for us Black people in this country it continues.”


Rep. Hodan Hassan (District 62A)
Minnesota House of Representatives

Like Hassan, Dr. Joi Lewis of the Healing Justice Foundation envisions a reimagined Minneapolis — one where Black people thrive as their full selves in harmonious concert with a community and systems they’ve co-created. The phrase “may the revolution be healing” is deeply embedded in Dr. Lewis’ work, and the ongoing cultural work of taking on trauma that is individual, generational, modern day, and historical. It is work that sees people and families remedying trauma that, as Dr. Lewis describes, has “steeped into our genes.”



“As I always say, may the revolution be healing.”

Dr. Joi Lewis

For Representative Hassan, healing looks like a clean slate and a new set of colors: “A bad system cannot be reformed. We need to re-envision what safety looks like for Black people in this country and build that from the ground.”

But what is the path to that renewal? Dr. Lewis believes that a corrupt system cannot siphon itself off from its deeply rooted flaws overnight. “It takes building trust, it takes having the healing practices in place to be able to move,” she says. Taken together, the sentiments of Dr. Lewis and Representative Hassan are both a firm rejection of the status quo, and an invitation to see the light of possibility.


“It takes building trust, it takes having the healing practices in place to be able to move.”

Dr. Joi Lewis


“It is scientific, it’s environmental, it is human” says Dr. Lewis of the coordinated trauma Black people experience. It’s the all-encompassing reason behind both activists’ efforts to center peace and justice in their shared quest to re-balance power. 

Over 12 films spanning 44 years, millions of people have watched as a determined resistance fought to eradicate hate and build an inclusive society on the foundations of love and care. Here on Earth, Black people have been targeted by evil in the form of white supremacy for far too many moons.


Though we’ve been here before, looking injustice directly in the eye, white supremacy’s repetition will not render us looped into chaos and despair, for we have a hope that is rebellious, beautiful and lasting.


This story is part of an ongoing series on reimagining public safety:

Things Must Change
Between the Numbers
An Untitled Song

Related Opportunities


Pillsbury United Communities
This story is the first in a series we are creating in partnership with Pillsbury United Communities called "Reimagine Public Safety," which will explore the possibilities for the future of policing and public safety in Minneapolis. The project is being led by PUC's storyteller in residence, filmmaker D.A. Bullock. This project is funded with support from The Minneapolis Foundation.
Nyemadi Louise Dunbar
Nyemadi Louise Dunbar is a creative strategist and storyteller currently pursuing her MBA part-time at St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business. She has spent her career amplifying communications and strengthening operations for nonprofit organizations, small businesses and a tech company.

Raised in Minneapolis, the daughter of Liberian immigrants, she is dedicated to eradicating oppression and destructive -isms toward seeing society fully realize itself as an inclusive, safe and welcoming place full of empowered people who have the access and opportunity to thrive.

Consistently curious about the world - and galaxy - around her, she explores through travel, tunes, the collection of books, engaging in conversation and putting pen to paper.

Nyemadi holds a special place in her life for physics, fashion and film photography.
Kenzie O'Keefe
As Director of Policy and Advocacy, Kenzie O’Keefe leads PUC’s efforts to realize justice for our communities in government and other institutional spaces. Kenzie joined PUC in early 2016 to lead the launch of the agency’s first community media social enterprise, North News. For over four years she worked with North Minneapolis residents, many of them youth, to ready their truths for publication and change the negative narrative about the Northside. In addition to journalism, she brings a background in design thinking, education, and innovation to her work as a policymaker. She was a 2019-20 Humphrey Policy Fellow.
Ruby Oluoch
As Pollen Studio Manager, Ruby manages the relationships and collaborative processes that connect Pollen Studio's design and storytelling expertise to our mission-driven client projects. Her previous experience includes managing communications projects to advance gender and racial equity statewide. Ruby believes telling stories is an act of love and resistance, and she is the proud organizer of several literary circles in the Twin Cities. Her favorite place to read is on the plane ride to her next travel adventure.
D.A. Bullock
D.A. Bullock has been an award-winning cinematographer, writer and director for over 15 years. As a film and television director, an ad-agency creative, cinematographer and an editor, Bullock has honed every facet of his filmmaking repertoire. In 2011, Bullock founded Bully Creative Shop in Minneapolis. Bully Creative Shop believes in story. “Story is the spark. Story plants the seed of innovative thinking. Story shakes up the status quo.” In 2014, Bullock was also named a McKnight Foundation / IFP Minnesota Media Arts Fellow.
Melanie Walby
Melanie Walby is the Design Director of Pollen Midwest who joined our team after working at various ad agencies in Minneapolis. Her illustration, typography and design bring stories to life in collaboration with our freelance network of illustrators and photographers. She's a former board member of AIGA Minnesota, was recently named one of AdFed’s “32 Under 32”, and has been featured in Communication Arts,, and Adobe Creative Jam. Melanie’s work is driven by a deep understanding of how art and design moves people towards social change.
Jerome Rankine
As Editorial Director, Jerome is the keeper of Pollen’s editorial voice and vision. He works with Pollen’s talented stable of writers to produce stories that entertain, enlighten, and invite readers to take action. Jerome spends a lot of time hunched over keyboards--either editing the latest Pollen feature, or composing music in his home studio. He’s active in local politics, less active on social media, and more active in his kitchen.