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In Grief for and Solidarity with Our Black Neighbors

by David Lee on Jun 1, 2020
In Grief for and Solidarity with Our Black Neighbors

Hello, friends. On behalf of Imagine MKE, I’m reaching out to share our grief at the continued loss of innocent black lives, and our solidarity with our neighbors responding to the pain of this unjust world.

Our work is grounded in the fundamental human values of equity and inclusion. We imagine an inclusive and thriving Milwaukee that is powered by arts and culture – because we know that the arts bridge divides, build understanding, and create more equitable opportunity.

We cannot achieve the inclusive Milwaukee we imagine if we cannot break down the legacy of institutional racism that has produced harsh realities for our city and state that we must not turn away from. 

Milwaukee remains one of the most segregated big cities in America.

And our city was home to men like Joel Acevedo, Sylville Smith, Dontre Hamilton, and Derek Williams. Men like George Floyd and many others who have suffered the ultimate price at the hands of a system that was not built to protect them.

In addition to the public health crisis of racism, we have also been dealing with the global public health crisis of COVID-19. Taken together, these last few days - and months - have been extremely difficult for us all.

But it has been much more difficult for our black and brown friends and neighbors, and for much longer than just the last few months.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color. Wisconsin is one of 3 states in the nation where African American communities are more than five times more likely to die from COVID19.

Dismantling institutional racism requires the concerted and aligned efforts of everyone working together. And we must actively and urgently work together. Now is the time for us to lean into this important work and build a more just future for our neighbors.

Throughout history, art has always been an instrument for activism, healing, and rebuilding. It has amplified the stories of marginalized voices and made injustices visible.

We pledge to work to harness this power alongside our city’s artists and arts and culture organizations at this critical time. We stand ready to partner with our community at large to respond to this moment with resolve and intention.

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