The words “I can‘t breathe” will never again have a simple meaning in our country. For many of us, regardless of race, those words will symbolize something far different. They are symptomatic of a pandemic that has taken – not just the more than 100,000 lives claimed by COVID-19, but a pandemic that has altered the lives of hundreds of thousands of members of our minority communities.
Milwaukee has often been referred to as “the most segregated community in America.” And if we have done a poor job of working with members of our Black community, how much better have we done in dealing with members of our Hispanic community, or other minority communities? Very little in my opinion.
As we’ve seen with the tragedy in Minneapolis and similar tragedies in Milwaukee, Los Angles, Columbia, Missouri, Atlanta and elsewhere, this condition cannot simply be dealt with locally. We need a leader willing to empanel a national commission to address the wider issues tearing apart the fabric of our country. At the very least, we must demand that such a commission happens in Wisconsin and Milwaukee County.
Such a commission must be bipartisan, have significant membership from all minority communities, and be composed of men and women whose thoughts echo the words from the movie “Network:” “I’m mad as hell and I am not going to take this anymore.” Solutions must lie in reformatting education, training and perhaps new national legislation.
Our first Black President didn’t empanel such a commission. And, I do not believe that our current President would willingly delegate matters of this importance to an entity outside of his personal control.
So, when will we breathe again? Not until we acknowledge that the history of tragedies relating to members of our minority communities is not only unacceptable going forward and the continuing tragedy is of a magnitude that can only be addressed from a national perspective. Lives are hanging in balance and the clock is ticking!