Black Lives Matter…Racial Disparities need to be addressed..the raging doesn’t help.
I began my campaign saying in my WORT interview that I do not believe we can legislate our way out of racism. I believe it will require that we have the uncomfortable conversations with each other about racism, and how ALL of us contribute to it. We need to be talking to each other about what it means, what it feels like, what it allows for opportunity as well as what barriers it forms, and how we want things to change. I know this will be at least a bit uneasy for all of us, for some extremely uneasy. It was for me when I call a past student nurse of mine that I knew would not sugar coat anything. It would be a frank conversation – and it was. Since then I have been talking to people and I have been reading books like Caste by Wilkerson (2020), The Purpose of Power by Garza (2020), So You Want to Talk About Race by Oluo (2018), Dear White America by Wise (2012), and I just started The Conversation: How Seeking and Speaking the Truth About Racism Can Radically Transform Individuals and Organizations by Livingston (2021). All of these authors address the need for us to get uncomfortable, to begin talking to each other within and outside of our social groups.
The all also say we are going to say something wrong or make a mistake. That has to be ok for everyone. We need to point it out and talk about how to do better next time. If we only point fingers, quite talking, yell at each other, shame others, or bully others we are not going to move forward. We must be able to be vulnerable as we speak with – not at – each other. If we witness any of this we must point it out – kindly. If the other person doesn’t listen we just move on. They are not ready, others are, spend your time on them. This is going to take a long time and be an on-going growth process for all of us in Madison. But if we don’t start now, when? We are fortunate to have some great Black leaders in Madison, let us work with them together for all of us.
I really hope to be a part of this grassroots effort for change. I know I am ready to get uncomfortable.
Racial disparities should be of concern to everyone. Why? Because regardless the color of our skin, we are contributing in some way, large or small, to the occurrence of racial disparities. To deny each of us contributes is to racial disparity is in itself part of the problem. To put my comments in context, I need to define racial disparity, for us to have a discussion. And, I want to start this discussion in District 10.
Racial disparities reflect an imbalance in distribution of many things. These include economic resources, wealth, opportunities. These disparities note that while the Black population makes up 13% of the US population, Black income trails that of Whites by 41%. But racial disparity also is seen in terms of incarceration, high school graduation, and health outcomes. Here the numbers sway the other direction. While the Black population is 13% of the total population in the US, it accounts for 38% of incarcerations. These numbers demonstrate the disparity between Black and White. A further investigation will reveal disparity in many categories for Black and Brown populations nationally. Where and how these disparities are experienced involve individual intolerance of skin color and institutional or system intolerances.
For my purposes here today I want to focus on how our individual intolerance of skin color, sometimes blatant, often subtle, contributes to the issues we are experiencing today in Madison. I do not believe we can legislate our way out of these issues. I do think we can impact change through individual change. I want to start a grassroots conversation around the issues of racial disparity in Madison. Change is slow, but it will not get started unless we get it started.
What do you think? I look forward to talking within the Neighborhoods in District 10 as a start. I will be hosting small group discussions in Zoom. Tell me about your experiences and how you want me to represent you in city decision making.