Community advocates Markasa Tucker, Andre Lee Ellis and Vaun Mayes repeatedly stressed the importance of black people empowering themselves and each other to solve the community’s problems at a panel discussion Wednesday evening.
“View from the Street: Grassroots Activism in the Black Community” was moderated by Jabril Faraj, a reporter at Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, which sponsored the event at the Innovations & Wellness Commons, 1617 W. North Ave.
“We’re not in Milwaukee for no reason, just to go to work and pay bills and go back and go to the club and hang out on the block. There’s way more to us than that,” Tucker said. “We are black excellence, and I want to make sure people know that about themselves.”
Outside individuals and groups are not able to stop the cycles of oppression, poverty and crime that harm the community, the panelists said. Rather, black people themselves must be leaders by realizing their potential, paying attention and organizing for change. Others can support them by being allies and spreading the message, they agreed.
“We have to take our own fight into our own hands,” Mayes said.
The panelists expressed frustrations that regardless how often these problems are discussed, real change rarely occurs.
“And we’re sitting here — and I have to be honest — what the hell for? What are we going to do with this discussion?” Ellis said.
The discussion can be viewed on the NNS Facebook page.