A Closer Look

Candid Conversations - Part 2

Local Perspectives on Race & Equality

Story and Interviews by Teresa Nguyen

June, 2020

I don’t think this (movement) is going to go away easily. I pray it doesn’t fizzle out and people don’t forget. I am hopeful that there may be some room for true dialogue. ~ Lonnie Brigham

To read Part 1, with interviews of Dondre Bell, Santo & Jeanne Carfora and Stephanie Gates click here:
Reflections

On May 25th, 2020, racism reared its ugly head when Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, suspected in using a counterfeit bill at a convenience store.
During the arrest, a white police officer knelt on George’s neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, beyond the moment he repeatedly told them, “I can’t breathe”, beyond the moment he cried out to his deceased mother.
 
For the last 3 of those 8 minutes Floyd was motionless, had no pulse and the officer still kept his knee firmly on George’s neck. The officers made no attempt to revive him. 

This act, this horrendous, public lynching of an unarmed Black man on the streets of America, sparked protests across our nation and around the world. The people are saying, "Enough is enough."
 
In this two-part story, I have interviewed seven Janesville area individuals, each with his or her own viewpoints. Interestingly, none of them knew what the other would say, but there are common threads in each of their unique stories. One unfortunate truth is the observation of lingering racism in our community.
 
But the good news is that this is juxtaposed with their observations of positive change. The strongest feeling, which all of these interviewees shared, was one of renewed hope; a stronger hope for the future of our nation, meaningful dialogue, policy changes and more justice for Black Americans.
It is long overdue to hear their voices and to let them speak. No matter how educated, experienced or anti-racist we feel, or how much of an ally we believe we are to our fellow Black Americans, we must keep learning. We must continue to open our minds and hearts even further to make progress in our understanding.
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Street art from the protests on State Street in Madison, WI. Photo by Victor M. Corro
It’s time we all sit down and listen. It may feel uncomfortable. Let it. The time for change is now.

Lonnie Brigham

Chair of the African American Liaison Advisory Committee
Janesville Multicultural Teacher Scholarship Board
Crime Stoppers Committee Member
Community Activist 

Janesville Involvement

 

I’ve been in Rock County now going on 20 years. I’m originally from Chicago, but I fell in love with Janesville. This is my second home. 


As far as involvement goes, I’ve been a community-activist for the past 3 years here in Janesville. I’m the chair of the AALAC (African American Liaison Advisory Committee), I serve on a committee for Crime stoppers and on the board of the Janesville Multicultural Teacher Scholarship. I try to stay busy in the community in all the areas that are close to me, where I can have some input, as they deal with the Black and brown community.

 
I’ve been fortunate to work with Chief Moore. In my background, I was raised by the police, used to hate the police. At one time, I was a paralegal, working for a civil rights attorney suing the police. But now, I have come full circle and I’m an advocate for police. 

Being on the Multicultural Teacher Scholarship Board and working with Tim Cullen is really enjoyable. I get to have some input on trying to help kids and minority graduates eventually get into the School District of Janesville.
Race Relations

We need to improve, we really do. Janesville is still living off of its history, with incidents like when Geraldo Rivera was in town, back in 1992. He was in Janesville to tape a KKK rally, when one of the Klansmen began calling him derogatory names and then physically attacked him. Rivera fought back and they were both arrested.

I moved into an area where there were three families who flew the Confederate flags on their porch. They’d drive around the circuit with their Confederate flags on their trucks.

I see that things have changed. It’s been enlightening and great to work with the police department and the community of Blacks and people of color. I’m proud to work with the chief.
As far as relations are concerned, one has to look at it from this point of view - How many Black teachers do we have in Janesville? 
Lonnie working the JMTS event in 2019.jp
Edna Feldman-Schultz, Sue Conley, Lonnie Brigham and Camilla Owen - board
members of the Janesville Multicultural Teacher Scholarship
How many are on the police force? How many work in City Hall? How many are on the Fire Department? In all those things that make up a city, there should be a minority representation in those entities. I’m not saying these organizations are not trying, but they’re missing the mark. There is a lack of color.

It’s hard to get people to come to Janesville and then to get them to stay. I’ve experienced it myself. When friends or family found out that I was moving here, people would ask, “Are you sure you want to do that?” referring to Janesville’s past. But I said, “Sure, yeah.” I got away from the violence and did not want to raise my children in Chicago, in the Chicago schools, or in those neighborhoods. Anything that was a half-way decent neighborhood, my (then) wife and I could not afford.
She was from around this area and that brought us up to Janesville. The main thing that attracted us to the area, was the school district. My ex-wife was involved in the School District of Rockford, had been a director for day care. Wilson School, in 2000, was the highest-ranking school for minorities, so that drew us here.
Kids Reading Outdoor
"How many Black teachers do we have in Janesville? "
However, since we came here, there has not been a very large percentage of Black teachers. The curriculum was fine and we appreciated what they were being taught. 

Now, as a single adult living in Janesville, I can see the pitfalls and the areas lacking in minority representation. I was actually recruited, along with a prominent, Black, Beloit community leader, for a Rock County organization’s board. However, at the interview, we were basically told, “Thanks, but no thanks.” It was a brick wall. You can also call it systemic or institutionalized racism.

Sometimes they’re looking for the “perfect representation” of a Black man or Black woman or of a brown man or woman. There is no such creature, and each person has his/her own story as well as something only they can bring to the table.
Facing Racism

I have been personally abused by police. I have had friends abused by police. I’m a Black man who faces racism every day, everywhere I go, because I’m Black and I’m there. You might think that every Black person has a right to hate back. But, if we hate, nothing will ever get done.

I believe in “Let’s sit at the table” and don’t just talk, but take action. Back in the sixties, all the elders were saying, “If you want change, then get involved.” So, when the corporations and businesses opened up, the black community joined those places. Sadly, they then faced what we call that ‘brick wall’ or what is known as the ‘glass ceiling’. We need to get involved in the institutions and change it from the inside.
Tim Cullen’s Book

I was fortunate to be asked by Tim Cullen for an interview for his latest book, Disassembled. The book was published in October of 2019. He dedicated a couple of things to me, so I’m thankful to him for that. We had a very candid talk and I was telling him how I would love to be an instrument for the community, someone who could help bring in minorities to the city, to help recruit minority businesses and minority families. 

What I have found out from working with Tim Cullen on the scholarship board is that the Blacks who are here have no support. If there is a Black church, they’re not aware that it exists. If there are cultural activities, they’re not aware of those events, or ethnic restaurants. If there’s an event in a nearby city, they don’t know in which neighboring city it is happening. 

Even with me, what do we do for fun? Where do you go for fun? In Chicago you could throw a rock in any direction and find live jazz, blues, there’s soul food and representation of our culture, movie theaters that show Black movies, etc.

Tim Cullen said something to me about that brick wall. He said that Janesville has a big heart, they want to embrace everything, but it won’t change until a younger generation can sit in powerful positions.
 
Tim's book.JPG
George Floyd 

What happened with George Floyd was, what my grandfather called, “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. Leading up to that was the Ahmaud Arbery shooting, what we called the modernization of public lynching.There was Breonna Taylor, killed by police in her own home, because of a no-knock warrant. It all goes way back, this idea that the police can do whatever they want to minorities and there are no repercussions for their actions.

One thing I will say about the George Floyd incident is if you have any kind of heart, whether you’re white, black, brown, and when you saw the distain on that officer’s face, his body language, his lack of compassion for a fellow human being, you can’t deny that evident reality of racism. And we all saw those fellow officers standing there, just watching it happen, antagonizing the crowd. 
 
I do pay attention to what’s going on and I try to read as much as possible. Together with the police chief here, we are working to avoid those types of situations. We want to create a relationship with law enforcement, what’s called "community policing". When I grew up, we had officers “on the beat”. These officers knew your name, knew your momma’s name and knew your nicknames. That was something I really appreciated.

But that doesn’t happen here because the guys don’t walk the beat anymore because they think it’s too dangerous or they’re wearing 20-25 lbs. of equipment. Sometimes we jump too far ahead and miss the mark. A lot of these departments have missed the mark.
The Protests 

There have not been protests of this magnitude since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And even in his time, the protests were not as big as they are now.
It’s been weeks now. They’re not happening just here, but around the world…around the world!
The turning point for the Civil Rights movement was the invention of television. When the nation was only able to read about those things, they could not put it into true context. But, when it became real time footage and real time images, that changed things and catapulted the Civil Rights movement.

Now, we live in an era where there are body cameras and dashcams that are supposed to be in place to protect the public. Even better than that, now we have “the new dashcam”, which is the cellphone with a video recorder. Something is seen, is recorded, and is sent around the world in less than 20 seconds. You can’t hide anymore.

That was the shot heard around the world! Everybody saw the 8 minutes and 46 seconds, saw that officer with his hand on his hip, holding down and choking George Floyd to death. That is heartbreaking, it is heart-wrenching, and this is what has ignited these protests.
Yes, we can go through the past three years and find an incident of a police officer shooting an unarmed Black man or brown man. The expression on that officer’s face was “I don’t give a damn.” Here was a grown man, on the ground, being hurt and he called out to his deceased mother!

What’s happened is institutionalized racism in this country and it’s been going on for centuries. It is mind boggling. You have people protesting every country, India, across Asia, in Great Britain, in all 50 states and globally, so many cities having some sort of demonstration. This is unheard of; the movement is huge! 

I saw something on social media of this lone man in a small town holding up his sign that said, “I’m sorry. I finally get it.” Wow. Stuff like that brings me to tears.
The Violence

The moment you talk about racism, some people think you’re talking against America. And that is not true.
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A quote by Dr. King on State Street in Madison, WI.
Photo by Victor M. Corro
The perfect storm has been created. Stephen King could not have written this! First, the COVID-19 pandemic hits. People couldn’t believe that… suddenly, city by city, state by state we’re on lockdown. You’re locked up for 12 weeks, you can’t go anywhere, either married or single, you’re stuck in that situation for weeks. The economy takes a downturn and people have lost their incomes. Then on Memorial Day weekend, on top of all that had been happening, George Floyd lost his life on live video at the hands of the police. This was the perfect storm. Things came to a boiling point; people were frustrated from being oppressed for so long and their voices have not been heard!

One of the things that people don’t want to talk about is how people are so afraid that Black people are going to rise up and seek revenge. There has been a long history of oppression and racism toward the Black community. They know what has been done through the power structure.
There are factions who have been taking advantage of this negative energy and who have used it to their own advantage or to advance their own cause. Why are you busting out windows and looting? It seems it’s a combination of all sides of people.
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I do not like the violence, and never understood a protest where you’re burning down your neighborhood. I came from Chicago where this happened and it took decades for them to build back the West Side.

I don’t condone the violence, but people need to understand that there are a lot of angry folks out there. The mob anger that could be generated in the brown and Black community could be off the charts. But I don’t see it like that. I see them being angry and saying, “God damn it, for once, can you listen? Are you listening?”

We’ve been screaming, shouting, we’ve been peaceful, we’ve been passive aggressive, we’ve done everything we possibly could to get people to understand. We are trying to get the world to listen to the question, “Do you see what’s going on here?”

The Younger Generation

I think that started back during the horrible times of the school shootings, especially Parkland. When these young people saw that the government power structure was not going to do anything to help them, they said, “Wait a minute. We’re the ones living this. This is our war zone. We can’t go to school safely and we can’t ask you to stop selling guns and make our environment safer?” So, they stood up! 
There’s Greta Thunberg who, as a teenager, is standing up for our environment. She became the voice for our planet. 
A timeline of Black struggles in America - State St. in Madison
Photo by Victor M. Corro
And it is this generation who is really out there protesting, plus other age groups, all races, the LGBTQ community, the disabled community, the Black, white, Asian, Native American community, that is now coming to the table to talk about racism.
What Does It Mean to You?

It’s kind of hard, sort of bittersweet. We do things like this and then the momentum dies out. This can happen, where we protest and then people forget about it. But I don’t think this is going to go away easily. I pray it doesn’t fizzle out and people don’t forget. I am hopeful that there may be some room for true dialogue.

You’ve seen how these protests have been received negatively by so many law enforcement entities, which makes me think that we won’t see dialogue happening. There’s a producer out there who has put together 600 video clips of police brutality at the protests. The crowd could be 500 feet away from police officers and they’re told to open up on the crowd! That is discouraging.
But what gives me more hope is that now, the heads of certain departments around the country have been coming out in solidarity.
JAALA.jpg
Lonnie (left) with early members of the JAALAC

They've done so in writing and verbally, in full force denouncing those actions. So, there is hope for discussions and I hope it brings people to the table.

 

It’s not about “black and white” necessarily, but about “blue” against anyone else, because the color of law enforcement is blue.

We need serious, gut-wrenching, hard talks and community policing. We need to make progress toward change. We need discussions on who is employed in these agencies. Why is there a need for such militarization and why is the police department considered a quasi-military force in this era? In my time, I’ve seen them go from having a 38 revolver on their hip, to the 9mm, to wearing vests, to body armor to now…armored tanks! 

There have to be some hard questions and discussions. Both sides have to be able to take the harsh questions and be able to handle it.
 

 

Angela Moore

Executive Director of the YWCA Rock County
Former CEO of Girl Scouts of Badger Council

Dealing with Racism


Every Black person has a concern for their family. It is part of the norm. We teach our children from birth, particularly our little boys, what to do, how to act…how to stay alive.


We have what we call “The Talk”. It is not just a one-time talk. It is ongoing. Ultimately, it is to keep our children safe and alive. We teach them what to do, what not to do, what to say, how to act. That’s “The Talk”.

 

It is sad, but it has become a natural fabric of Black parenting. I’m certain it has been in existence since slavery and has continued in different forms to keep us safe and alive. 

On Systemic Racism

Racism has affected every fabric of our lives. It affects the recipient of racism as well as the perpetrators, whether directly or indirectly. Our whole society is affected by systemic racism.

Some are affected more so than others. The whole poverty cycle, generational poverty, has been perpetrated and supported by systemic racism. It’s really sad. Depending on where you live, your zip code, that can affect whether you have clean water or air, the crime rate, how responsive medical and law enforcement people are - and that’s just one example. 

Racism is alive and well. But it’s something we are now addressing. I’m excited about it and encouraged.
Have we made progress in Rock County?

I’ve been in Rock County for 27 years, beginning with my position as the Girl Scout CEO. I did that for 16 years, then took an early retirement, and I’ve been with the YWCA for seven years now.

Since I’ve been here, I can sense a difference. It has changed. We still have a long way to go, but I can tell there is a difference.

When I first arrived in 1993, we had just had the KKK rally with Geraldo Rivera and it was fresh on people's minds. Look at how we’ve evolved and now we are truly, openly talking about race and what we can do to improve our community.
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Accepting a recent donation to the YWCA from ADT, Janesville
The Protests

I think protest is very healthy for any change around the world. Historically, protests have been the way that we have made systemic change. There are hundreds of examples of historical protests. Healthy protest is in the fabric of our country.

However, some people are blending and confusing the looting and the rioters with protests. Those are different and you can’t blend everybody into one. 

People are listening. And the exciting part of what’s going on now is how you are seeing so many young people in the protests. We’re seeing so many different races in the protests and different socioeconomic levels. There are protests all over the world…it is incredible. 
 
31 years ago, when people in Tiananmen Square were singing “We Shall Overcome”, it gave me chills. Now I have chills again with these protests by people all over the world identifying with George Floyd, asking for an end to police brutality and protesting in solidarity with us needing racial justice. It is incredible.

New Conversations

I have had people reaching out to me on a professional level. 

People have spoken to me on the phone for hours, wanting to understand it, wanting to know what can be done. I’ve had people requesting me to speak to staff at a corporate level and at the board level. It’s been great.

My schedule has been very busy lately.
Steps We Can Take

What we’re doing now, by engaging in dialogue and conversation is the first step toward understanding each other and each other’s needs.
Protest art on State Street in Madison, WI.
Photo by Victor M. Corro
It is important to include at the table the people we are talking about or that we serve when we are making decisions or formulating policy. One of the worst things we can do is to try to decide for a group of people, a group that we don’t truly understand. It’s important we don’t exclude these groups from the table or the process when we are making decisions.
Racial Justice Conference - JB,RJ,SL,HE.
The YWCA Rock County
2019 Racial Justice Conference
Speakers were (clockwise from top left):
* Jacqueline Battalora, D. and Professor of Sociology at Saint Xavier University, Chicago
* Reggie Jackson, author and consultant with Nurturing Diversity Partners in Milwaukee
* Huda Essa, founder of Culture Links LLC, author and speaker from Dearborn, Michigan
*Sagashus T. Levingston, D. and English Professor at UW Madison. Founder of Infamous Mothers
Our environment and our organizations must be inclusive, to include everybody that we serve. We also need to look at best practices from around the world who’ve gotten it right, and to see those that have failed and to learn from that. If we do that, we will have the best community that we can have.
Turning Point with Hope

I do think it is a turning point. People are listening now, we are ripe for criminal justice reform, law enforcement reform…all kinds of reform. I think we have people’s attention and now we can sit down and negotiate some changes.

I am very hopeful that we will continue to have a great community. I didn’t say a “perfect” community, but a great community. I am very hopeful that we will.
 

Sam Liebert

Administrative Services Director - Village of Sussex
Former Assistant City Administrator - City of Monroe
Former Janesville City Council Member 

Rock County

I was raised in Rock County, in Janesville. We moved to Janesville in 1990, when I was in kindergarten. I attended Harrison School, on the east side.


Outside of Rock County, I did some traveling while working on now Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown’s political campaign and then worked on President Barak Obama’s campaign for three years. My mailing address was always my mom’s place here in Wisconsin when I traveled.

 

Then, in 2010, I returned to Wisconsin to work on Mayor Tom Barrett’s gubernatorial campaign.

Race Relations in America

Some people think that racism ended when we elected Barak Obama as president, but I could not find that any further from the truth. If anything, the election of Barak Obama was a huge watershed moment for our country. It stirred up the bees’ nest of racial intolerance in our nation and we saw the culmination of that with the election of President Trump.

Even when a candidate says they’re not racist, but folks from the KKK openly endorse the candidate, that speaks volumes. You are a reflection of the people who support you.
I do think we’ve come a long way. I’ve been really moved by seeing the “young people” out on the street leading the charge.  Even in Sussex, which is majority white, I saw two white teenaged girls with signs reading, “Black Lives Matter”. I think this is a turning point. The young people are waking up, educating us, the older generations who sat on their laurels too long, waiting for change.
Facing Racism in Rock County

As far as Rock County goes, it’s a mixed bag. With the yin comes the yang. Growing up in Janesville, I was the only Black kid in my grade or in my class. When we were more predominantly white, blue collar, the racism was definitely there.
 
But, over time, we became more diverse. I taught for a year in the school district before working in the City of Monroe, and I taught some Black and Latinx students, whose parents were my classmates. Statistics are showing higher percentages of minorities now in Rock County.

When I served on City Council, I got a lot of pushback when I would propose things or speak up during a meeting. I realized that, at age 25, I was one of the youngest candidates elected.
 
Sam Leibert.jpg
Campaign signs from Liebert's successful run for Janesville City Council
I would get, “Oh, you’re young,” or “Wait your turn and get more experience.” Sometimes, though, I felt there was an undertone to it like, “You don’t know your place.” 
So, I was alone for a while there until some other, likeminded people came on board like Yuri Rashkin, or Tom McDonald, whose ideas were more left of center, open-minded and they had a younger perspective. For so long there was always that majority, all white and older, who would push back, where the status quo was the “order of the day”. 

Later, there were a few more, younger and open-minded people elected. We passed a non-discrimination ordinance and protections for transgender people, which is now a nationwide law. We tried to get fair labor practices into place, especially since collective bargaining was dismantled in 2010, which historically had been a part of our state’s progressive history. I think sometimes people forget about where we came from. They forget how bad things were, which led to collective bargaining to help all employees and labor’s relationship with management. 
Sam with his wife, Elizabeth, and their young daughter
I don’t speak publicly about it too much, but a big reason as to why I didn’t run for a fourth term on City Council was because I received a lot of threats. They were from pro-Trump supporters. I had campaigned publicly for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and once Trump won, I feel like there was sort of this “green light” for racism in our country and in our community.

My wife and I talked about it. She saw some of the emails I got and, at this time, she was pregnant and we were getting ready to start a family. It was no longer just about me, but it’s about my wife and my unborn daughter. So, I decided to make the switch towards a professional municipal position as opposed to an elected one. 

New Work Position

After working in Monroe as the Assistant City Manager for a couple of years, I spoke to my boss when this opportunity in Sussex came up.

He encouraged me to go for it, so I made the career move. It was a chance to go from a more rural community to a more affluent and growing community. Waukesha County made sense professionally. We also have family in the surrounding area.

My wife, daughter and I have a home in the village of Pewaukee, close to a lake and the beach, so my daughter will become a beach baby (haha).

In my current work, I also hold the statutory position of Village Clerk and Treasurer, overseeing the elections, overseeing the collection of property taxes and a lot of financial aspects of the village budget.  The Parks and Recreation Department is part of administrative services. The Village of Sussex is really growing with younger families now and it’s been a priority of the village board to put more money into the parks, into this growing community, so that’s been great.

Police Relations in Janesville

I was honored to work with Chief Moore on the African American Liaison Advisory Committee. When it was formed, I was one of the first on the committee along with Officer Rau, and we went on the radio, on social media, trying to recruit members. We wanted the committee to be as diverse as possible. There are also some white folks on the committee, who are allies to the Black community, and who care about the relationship between the police and people of color.
 
It’s a good group of people. Sometimes they have a lot of good ideas, but not enough resources.

I give Chief Moore a lot of credit for being proactive in policing. Our community is trying to be proactive, not reactive, and that says a lot.
 
 "I condemn the actions of the Minneapolis police officers that caused the death of Mr. George Floyd. What we witnessed was not some type of questionable police activity. What we witnessed was a crime." - Chief David Moore
The Protests

I think these protests are a great thing. It’s been long overdue. I see a lot of signs that say, “It’s not just about George Floyd…we’ve been mad since Emmett Till.”  

It goes way back, even before that. Slavery is our nation’s original sin. The Civil War didn’t end that, the Civil Rights Movement didn’t end that and the election of Barak Obama didn’t end that. It’s an ongoing struggle, a battle of hearts and minds. 

Our culture reflects the changes. In popular media Blacks are more represented now, we have more Black elected representatives. Wisconsin has its first Black Lieutenant Governor; Milwaukee County has its first Black County Executive. So, things are changing.
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The marquee at the Orpheum in Madison during the protests
Photo by Victor M. Corro
 
Young people are waking up and the older guard is moving on. I agree with the protests and hope the peaceful protests continue. We also need to organize, mobilize and run candidates who support our viewpoints and cause. 

A lot of policing decisions are made at the local level – it’s your city council, it’s your county sheriff, your county DA. You need to know if your DA is not prosecuting officers, or your chief is not providing adequate training, or if your city council is overfunding or not funding other priorities, like mental health or homeless initiatives. Even at the State level – they create laws for the police departments through the laws.

I think people are becoming more educated about these matters. Now, a place like Rock County is returning to its progressive roots.

What can we do?

The institutions that tell us what to do, how to live that create policy that shapes our community need to be representative of the people they are responsible for.

We need a county board, a city council and a school board that is more diverse and reflective.
Even deeper, we need to have a more diverse representation in our city employees. Janesville has several hundred city employees with very few minorities in those jobs. People need to see more black public works employees, Black and Latino parks employees, HR people and clerks. We need people of color in management, as well. Currently, it’s mostly white, mostly men in positions of power.

I’m hoping this moment will encourage people to get more involved, to support candidates in charge of policies. Allied groups and organizations need to listen and to follow up and go forward with more inclusive actions.

There’s a lot that folks can do.
Hope in an Election Year

We’re in a presidential election year, so everything is viewed through the lens of that right now. 

When Joe Biden officially got the nomination, he said he would likely choose a woman as his running mate. I kind of hope this has forced his hand to choose a Black woman as his running mate.

I think the Black community feels that they’ve been taken advantage of by the political system, where promises have been made. A lot of Black folks have supported Biden. And at this moment, within one lifetime, I will have hopefully seen a Black president and a vice president and hopefully a woman, just a heartbeat away from the presidency.  
 
Hopefully, my daughter will come into consciousness knowing there can be a Black woman in the highest office in the land.  

I don’t want her to experience all the bias and nastiness that’s been happening with this current administration.

I believe the majority of America is not racist. I believe the majority of Americans want to see a better future for everyone, especially minorities.

Times are changing.​

Art on a doorway on State St. in Madison
Photo by Victor M. Corro
A Turning Point

Every time the cops kill a Black person and people protest; you always hope that this is the last one. But, there’s something different about this time.
 
I don’t know if it’s because of the lack of empathy from the president. When people are protesting police violence and, in the protests, the police response is more violence, that doesn’t end well.
 

There’s a video circulating out there by a young Black woman who was saying that people are lucky that Black folks aren’t out for retribution, they’re out for justice. It’s not an eye for an eye, it’s about being treated fairly.

I hope this is a turning point. I think it is. It’s not the end, but a continuation, a march. Every time one new person protests or a new voter votes, and exercises that constitutional right, "the arch of the universe bends toward justice", as Dr. King once said.

I hate these moments, because someone dies. The symbol for opportunity in Chinese is the same symbol for crisis. If we can take this crisis and turn it into opportunity, then maybe this man’s death was not in vain and we can seize the moment to do something about it.

To read Part 1, with interviews of Dondre Bell, Santo & Jeanne Carfora and Stephanie Gates click here: