It’s an amazing thing when you can travel to a place and become overwhelmingly inspired by the people, the history and the culture. During my visit to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that is exactly what I felt. I have been working alongside The Milwaukee Community Journal for some years now and the first thing people ask me when I tell them that is, “Have you ever been to Milwaukee?”
Well, up until the 4th of this month, my answer was always “No.”
My visit consisted of an array of eye-openers and inspirational moments. A three-day visit is not enough to really understand and know the stories of the people in the city but I can say that I’ve heard many perspectives and I respect them all. I enjoyed the festivities of the Bronzeville Cultural and Arts festival.
I learned that the Bronzeville district was the primary African-American economic and social hub of its time. During that time period, Bronzeville brought various ethnicities together to celebrate culture, African-American culture. Urban tradition was highly uplifted and black people were truly admired.
After the festival, I spent the rest of the day (literally until 6am the following morning) talking to a mixture of family members, friends of family and even complete strangers. It was then that I witnessed a change in the attitude of the people. The curtain had been drawn back and it was like I had received a VIP pass to backstage Milwaukee. Just like many other cities and states, there were stories of high crime rates, no job opportunities, a poor education system, a sense of togetherness that was obsolete and an overall spirit of no hope.
That following Sunday, I attended The Milwaukee Community Journal’s 41st Anniversary brunch and everything that I had heard and witnessed, that previous night, went right out the window. Although it was still in my mental, I experienced light of the event and realized that with togetherness and unity, gatherings like the Anniversary brunch could really make a difference in the black community. Certain things must be done though.
For starters, there must be a cast of energy that dissolves all negative and pessimistic thoughts. Energy is real. Negative energy is just as powerful as positive energy. All that is not of hope and prosperity, must cease.
Secondly, it must be understood that the best way to break something down is to attack it from the inside. That includes communities and people.
We must come to realize that our brother and sister are not our enemies. We must truly understand that we all come from the same place. We must set aside prideful mannerisms and learn to love again. Most importantly, never give up. To build a foundation for communities to thrive upon takes time. One should never turn away at the first sign of trouble. No, the journey does not get easier but in the midst of your walk, you most certainly get stronger.
Too many times, someone said “I can’t.”, “The system won’t allow.”, “It’s hard.” I am a firm believer that faith, the size of a mustard seed, can move mountains. We can move mountains but nothing will progress if you do not believe. The thought process of the people should be, “I can.”, “We will create our OWN system.” And “We will prosper.”
Milwaukee is a city, just like any other, that has its strengths and weaknesses. At some point and time, everyone is faced with a trial or obstacle.
As a community, I believe it is safe to say that we face things daily but the key to experiencing these trials and tribulations is not what comes your way. It is simply how you handle the things that come your way.