By Nyesha Stone
Which area of Milwaukee are you from? The Northside, East, South or downtown? No matter which area you reside in, you know that segregation clouds every part of the city. So, 88Nine Radio Milwaukee decided to use their platform—which consist of a majority white audience—to bring attention to the underlying nasty truths of the city with their feature-length documentary “Invisible Lines” that revolves around one question: What does segregation feel like?
Directors Nathan Imig, Vianca Fuster and Laura Kezman interviewed 10 Milwaukeeans, and throughout the documentary powerful conversations were held.
According to the directors, this was the first time most of the interviewees had this type of conversation. Each interview, more so discussion, consisted of two people who were associated in some way, whether it was through blood or just friendship, discussing their experiences with segregation.
Yes, everyone knows segregation exist in Milwaukee, but do we all know what that really looks like?
Kezman said this was one of the questions that lead to the idea of Invisible Lines. She said the 88Nine crew knew they always wanted to address segregation but wasn’t for sure which approach to take.
“You only hear the statistics,” said Kezman. “But what does that mean for the people experiencing it?”
And, out of that thought process came the series Invisible Lines, which was then turned into a documentary, but they’re completely different from one another.
Imig and Kezman said the making of the documentary was life-changing, while Fuster said it was a refreshing feeling.
The documentary was so powerful that it even effected the ones who made it. The goal of Invisible Lines is to give a face to segregation, and to show how differently it looks in people’s lives. Invisible Lines is shining light onto the actual issues of Milwaukee by just actually letting the people speak for themselves.
Kezman and Imig both agreed that they thought they were individuals who were in other terms “woke,” or very conscious of the world around them.
“[Invisible Lines] made me realize to understand things conceptually,” said Kezman. “I’ve never experienced these things my friends have. It’s stuff I wouldn’t even have recognized.”
And all it took was for everyone to sit down and listen.
“Listening is the core of this whole thing. Listening to someone’s experience as a human being,” said Imig. “There’s something powerful in that. [Invisible Lines] is an incredible first step,” towards change.
As a proud Latina, Fuster was happy to be a part of something that speaks to a part of her truth. She too has experienced segregation and now she’s using her platform to make a difference in a city that needs a lot of help.
“I grew up not having these conversations,” Fuster said. “[Invisible Lines] has allowed me to have those conversations with my mom for the first time.”
The crew held two listening sessions where they did just that and listened to what the community had to say. Through this event, they begin to find people they wanted to cast in the documentary.
Imig recalls the first time they met community activist Latoya who later became a part of the documentary. Just a few days prior, an individual was killed, so many Black youth and adults surrounded the memorial tree where the individual was shot. Imig and Kezman wanted to understand the situation but didn’t want to seem like the journalists who just want the story, so they put their equipment down.
Imig remembers the tension between them and the Black youth. As two white individuals, at a time like that, created confusion and suspicion. Then they met Latoya who eventually let the directors into her world. No last names were used in the documentary except one case.
“We crossed that line and Latoya trusted us,” said Imig.
Invisible Lines is meant to erase those invisible lines and bring awareness to Milwaukee’s issues, but you have to see for yourself.
The demand to see Invisible Lines is so high that 88Nine is currently working on securing more screenings of it before the year’s over.
To stay updated visit their site at https://radiomilwaukee.org/