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Tell me Why you love Racine is often heard by many in this community. And many people talk about the lake, access to some entertainment, good schools etc. Honestly, this question is not for ethnic minorities and others who daily must jump through barriers for the smallest of things. Those in the black and Hispanic communities, especially those in the know, see this city as stratified. We speak what we know in the presence of business and civic leaders and often it seems that what we say do not have credence.

Some say we do not have the capacity to make a difference. Why capacity? Resources, understanding, and commitment make capacity possible. The black community continues to be marginalized. Why? Look in the mirror Racine and you can discern why. I do not talk race and my work says it all. What I see every day makes me wonder if there is a concern for the uplift of all the people irrespective of race, gender, national origin or orientation.

What we say matters. However when what we say is repeated by others in the larger community, many jump on the bandwagon and give it credence because the idea or thought came from that person that we know from a cultural perspective. Some of us no longer speak given this experience. We go about what we can do to make Racine a city where minorities can be fulfilled. There is distrust. and action is what is required and not this feel good “we are doing something to advance all the people” There are many perspectives on the underlying rationale for the challenges in the black community. Trauma is one hurdle some are addressing. The unspoken truth is that from the school system to employment opportunities minorities are the ‘permanent underclass. No matter how you shake it or bake it, the outcomes remain the same. One wonders why the majority of cleaning and other nonskilled jobs are done by this population.

We no longer speak knowing that our voices do not matter. A few individuals are vociferous and their voices matter. Some of us have used persuasion but to no avail. No wonder the minority population is reticent when we are told you are at the table. Where is the table? I see unfairness and inequity in my daily work and those who seem to care continue to be reduced in number because of age. These persons made a difference from fair housing to health care services, homelessness, and substance abuse remediation. Frailty inhibits their full participation in the advancement of all the people.

The perception that minorities do not want to work is snake oil to deny opportunities for advancement. Where did that come from? When you deny job training to people who may become valuable employees and their children see that their parents go from one temporary assignment job to another with breaks of up to 6 weeks or more, what do you think this child will become? A burden to all of society is what they become. We should no longer accept the premise that one can pick themselves up by their bootstraps. That day is gone. Who you know is now the norm. The community enables the non-performance of the children and you ask why there is an achievement gap or why are the graduation rates below the majority population.

The other day somebody told me that we have the solution but they are not interested in empowering the people for family-sustaining wage and income. That is a shame. No wonder Racine is the 4th worst city for black people.

Ola Baiyewu