• Moving beyond Sherman Park to a brighter future

    August 22, 2016

    bp-gas-station-sherman-park

    By: Urban Media News

    “Anyone from Milwaukee
    saw this coming. It was always
    when, not if.”
    So said outgoing State Representative
    Mandela Barnes
    this week after nights of
    unrest in the Sherman Park
    neighborhood in the wake of
    another fatal police shooting.
    The images of stores set on
    fire, police in riot gear, and
    a community in pain have
    made headlines this week,
    but while they are disheartening
    they do not come as a
    shock to the community.
    The reality of being a person
    of color in Milwaukee
    is well understood by those
    who live here. What is harder
    to understand is where
    we go from here. How do
    you begin to address racial
    disparities in education
    and economic opportunity?
    Where do you start when it
    comes to addressing divides
    decades in the making? Who
    can the community turn to
    for answers and solutions so
    that we can get past the recent
    headlines and address
    the root causes that will lead
    to the changes so desperately
    needed?
    Answers to the first two
    questions are many and varied,
    worthy of more than
    discussion but action in the
    days, weeks, and months that
    lie ahead. The answer to the
    third question is easier. The
    community must first look
    within.
    There are every day, ordinary
    heroes in the Sherman
    Park Community who have
    set an example for all to follow
    in the wake of destruction.
    Leaders in the faith
    community who prayed not
    just for peace, but for justice.
    Volunteers, including
    children, who gave of their
    time to assist in clean-up efforts.
    That is how the healing
    has begun, but it cannot end
    there.
    The Sherman Park neighborhood
    and all of our communities
    of color in Wisconsin
    must now look to the past
    for inspiration and a path
    forward. Progress, change,
    and advancement have come
    far too slowly in our communities,
    state, and nation. But
    they have come. Most often,
    it has taken a combination of
    good works in the community
    paired with effective public
    policy and leaders who
    understand how to advance
    a cause.
    We are already seeing the
    community step up. The next
    step is rising up as a community
    to demand, en masse,
    changes to public policy and
    leaders who will give more
    than lip service to the challenges
    we face. This fall, we
    have an opportunity to do
    just that in local, state, and
    federal elections. The surest
    way to make progress is to
    ensure electing representatives
    who have our back, and
    holding them accountable in
    the future if they fail to back
    up words with action.
    In the 2012 election, turnout
    among communities of
    color was off the charts in
    Wisconsin when President
    Barack Obama was re-elected.
    Sadly, a well established
    pattern held, as turnout and
    participation declined in
    spring elections and the 2014
    midterm election.
    It is simply not enough to
    only vote in presidential election
    years like this one. The
    policies enacted by the leaders
    we elect in every election
    at the local and state level
    have a profound impact on
    our communities. Wisconsin
    has seen that up close in the
    last five years.
    If we are unsatisfied with
    what we have in terms of
    elected representatives, we
    must act at the ballot box to
    do better. If the policies enacted
    are failing to address
    the challenges we face, we
    must act at the ballot box to
    remove those who stand in
    the way of progress. It has to
    be on all of us, all the time.
    President Obama is fond
    of imploring crowds, “don’t
    boo, vote!” He’s never just
    meant for him, nor meant
    only once every four years.
    He understands that our surest
    power as a community is
    not as individual voices, be
    they crying out for justice
    loudly or in quiet, but as a
    collective community mobilizing
    ourselves to make the
    changes we want to see as
    members of a democracy.
    In the weeks ahead before
    Election Day, raise your voices,
    ask the hard questions,
    and demand accountability
    from those seeking your
    votes. That is the path to
    Moving beyond Sherman Park to a brighter future
    the brighter future we need.
    Don’t riot. Don’t loot. Don’t
    descend into the spiral of violence
    and despair. Vote.
    For information on how
    to register to vote and cast a
    ballot visit myvote.wi.org or
    www.866ourvote.org.

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