Social action, community involvement is a must
As we press rewind on the year 2011, several images remain embedded in our minds.
We vividly recall a year marked with protests, marches and rallies throughout the state. From Milwaukee streets to the State Capitol and beyond, Wisconsinites boldly declared their dissatisfaction with political policies, misdirected priorities and budgetary decisions.
We remember the Wisconsin 14; the senators who stood up and spoke for their constituents by fleeing the state in an effort to suppress a vote on Gov. Walker’s proposed budget that would drastically cut school funding, healthcare benefits and rights of union workers to employ collective bargaining.
With joy, we are reminded of the pride we felt as the “home teams” succeed in their quest for greatness. Football fans were ecstatic with the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl win. The Wisconsin Badgers are headed to the Rose Bowl. And Milwaukee Brewer fans passionately supported the team as they returned to the post-season, winning their first playoff series in 29 years.
Yes, we spoke up, spoke out and celebrated with great enthusiasm in 2011. We’re left with a year of remarkable images that changed the landscape of Milwaukee.
Sadly, however, not all of the images were positive.
Just as we recall scenes of groups gathered in protest against the Walker administration, we also remember scenes of groups of teens gathered in angst.
We vividly recall hordes of teens causing various disturbances throughout the city in what has been described as “violent flash mobs.” From the near-riot at Mayfair mall to the Riverwest attacks and the State Fair melee, groups of Black youth rampaged the city. Just last week a group of teens were involved in a nonsensical attack of a young mother on a county bus.
While many were fighting for our children’s education and protesting against budget cuts that they believe detrimental to our school system, our youth were in a fight as well – against what, we’re not entirely sure.
One might surmise that they were fighting against a system that has all but forced them to deal with mature issues at a premature age. Homes without fathers find young boys playing the role of men; and young girls lose their innocence, as they become mothers – babies raising babies.
Looking back on 2011, it is with vigor and passion that Wisconsinites stood up for what they believed in. We fought for what we thought was right, important and valuable.
Unfortunately, the plight of the Black community was not one of the highest priorities of most organizations; the disparities grew rather than reduced.
The year 2011 saw Milwaukee accepting without protest a series of negative social indicators that disproportionately affected African Americans, from a 55.8% unemployment rate for Black males to poverty, incarceration and infant mortality.
That must change in 2012. And we should spearhead the fight.
As we enter 2012, we need to harness that same vigor and passion and stand up for our youth; we must believe in them! In 2012, we need to fight for what we know is priceless: our youth for they are our future!
Our young people need us more now than ever. Programs for youth are being cut, class sizes are doubling; gym, art and music are being dropped from school curriculums and our youth are looking for outlets to find guidance, love and encouragement.
In 2012, resolve to stand up and fight for our young people. Get involved with an organization that caters to youth, like the Boys and Girls Club, Pearls for Teen Girls, Urban Underground, Running Rebels and so many more. Volunteer at your neighborhood school; mentor a child or just be listening ear for a child who needs someone to talk to.
Better yet in 2012 be a part of the solution. Register, vote and bring others to vote. It is an election year and many political offices are open, get out and vote for the candidates who will support and make a difference in the city as they tackle critical issues like jobs, education and health care. The work that needs to be done is not restricted to legislative policies, but to social action and community involvement.
If we ban together and fight for our youth, our families and our community, the images that flash before us in 2012 will tell a different story from those of 2011. In this New Year, let’s make it happen!