but I see families in North Minneapolis saying, “It is up to us”


Senior Member
Hello everyone,

From the book Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman.

Mr. Friedman quotes Sondra Samuels who created Northside Achievement Zone to help black children to improve their performace at school.

I am seeing a real commitment to change on a personal level, and people asking, “How can I use who I am in this change to help my neighbor on my block?” Everyone has to do their part, but I see families in North Minneapolis saying, “It is up to us” . . . With the right support we can create a culture where people believe they are expected to succeed.

I'm a bit confused by the meaning of the bolded part.
If I'm not mistaken, "It's up to us" means something like it's for us to decide (i.e. it corresponds to "Everyone has to do their part"), so why does the sentence use "but" as if indicating that "It is up to us" implies that families in North Minneapolis don't want to do their part?

Thank you.
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    This appears to be a heavily context-dependent meaning. My guess is it implies that families in the North Minneapolis area are being positive about the issue, but those in other areas aren’t.


    Senior Member
    English English
    Yes, it strikes me as not very good English, but perhaps it is reported spoken language, where we don't always speak as fluently as we write.

    Have just seen lingo's post, and agree it's hard to interpret and her guess is a good one. I interpreted it slightly differently – but as she has clearly said, it's impossible without a lot more knowledge of the situation.

    It seems to me the speaker has used 'but' because he/she has first said 'everyone has to do their part' - which I would take to mean politicians, the government, social services and the people in involved, BUT families in N Minneapolis say 'it is up to us...' – meaning 'what we do for ourselves is more important than what all the other people involved do for us.'


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think she has a whole lot of things going on in her head but only so many words and ideas that can come out of her mouth at one time.

    Like it was said above, the bigger context of the conversation and the bigger context of the ideas being discussed might make it clearer.

    But my sense is she is saying something like:

    Everyone has to do their part, but despite how things were in the past and despite the overall reputation these neighborhoods and the people in these neighborhoods have even today, I (now) see families in North Minneapolis saying, “It is up to us” . . .
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