By LaKeshia N. Myers
I am exhausted. Literally and figuratively, exhausted. This week has been one for the record books. It was filled with sham committee meetings for rushed, ill-prepared, politically motivated legislation in the state capitol. As election fervor draws nigh, there were discussions about ending local control for school district mask policies, attempts to force DWD to drug test food stamp recipients, and a bill to dissolve Milwaukee Public Schools. All topped off by the Milwaukee mayoral primary where only 30% of registered voters participated.
During Kwanzaa, I focused a lot of my work and organizational efforts around Ujima, the principle of collective work and responsibility. What was evident to me was the fact that we cannot continue to focus solely on what the enemy (the enemy is any organization, person, or institution that is anti-equity and justice) is doing. We must work on coalition building and silo breaking within our greater community.
As part of my week of service for Black History Month, I hosted a screening of the film “Nationtime,” about the 1972 National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana. The parallels, insight and inspiration from that convention live on today. Some of the same issues present then, are present now. What was most striking to me, was the chord of collective community responsibility—Ujima. The confirmation that Ujima is a verb—an action word. Actions that include voting, contacting legislators, speaking up and out on the issues, and teaching what we know to those who don’t know.
Its time out for working in pockets—we must remove ourselves from our comfort zones to enact change. If you go to a meeting and everybody knows you, are members of the same organization, or of the same socioeconomic station—are you really making an impact?
Or are you checking a box to say you did something? We already know what “the man” is going to do—what are we willing to do to change our situation?
We have more than enough community agencies and organizations to do this work, I am committed to helping bridge the gaps and alleviate the divides. We won’t get better until we decide to.