How does one describe the seemingly insignificant moment in their life that propelled them to fame and infamy?
What makes that one moment, that one action that others have probably taken countless times throughout history significant at that point in time?
And the fact that it took that much blood from communities of color to lift a Black voice in Kenosha, Wis., is both disheartening and extremely motivating.
Make no mistake; I’m no Koerri Washington (on Twitter as @KoerriElijah). I didn’t rush into harm’s way every night during protests and the curfew put into effect by Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian armed only with a cellphone and a skateboard, and who successfully defended the Dinosaur Discovery Museum against rioters with only those items (long live Koer’Ronasoraus, king of the dinosaur museum).
I’m also no Frank Nitty. Nitty literally marched to Washington, putting his physical safety at significant risk in the process. I did not put in that much effort.
I am no hero.
I simply and quickly let go of something that meant a lot to me for something else that meant more.
Now, that something was my job and, effectively, my career in print journalism. And truth be told, I’ve recounted the story of my resignation so many times on the national and even international stage that I have no desire to do so, nor do I feel it necessary to do it here. Rory Linnane of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has a lovely story on it.
Why recount a story that has already been told? That’s not what everyone wants to know. You all want to know the answers to the questions that I’ve been asked over and over again lately: “What now?”; “What’s next?”
So, here’s the “what now” and the “what is next” of everything.
Thompson to join forces with Kenosha Lens, Racine County Eye
I’ll be partnering with Denise Lockwood of Racine County Eye. For now, will use her website to house the beginning of my venture, The Uptown Observer.
The name stems from Uptown being the area of Kenosha that has drawn my focus and my heart since a fire that destroyed the building at the east corner of 63rd Street and 22nd Avenue that housed multiple businesses – and even more so after more Uptown businesses burned down and were damaged by out-of-town rioters looking to cause trouble and use our community as a playground in the nights following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
The “Observer” portion comes from the name of the first paper I ever worked at as a full-time reporter after I graduated from college: The Western Nebraska Observer in Kimball, Neb.
As I begin this venture, you can find me under the new Kenosha Lens section of the Racine County Eye website. Simply click on Kenosha Lens and then click on “The Uptown Observer” to see my stories, columns, and photography from my coverage of the Kenosha community as an independent journalist, as well as other coverage of the Kenosha area. On Oct. 5, we’ll roll out a brand new website called the Kenosha Lens.
Now, I want to make it clear to those who have supported me. I do not work for anyone in this situation but myself and you. At no point will anyone other than myself own my stories, my photography, The Uptown Observer, or my voice.
And at the moment that this or any situation becomes unmanageable or shifts from what my vision is or what I want something with my name on it to be, I’ll do what I’m now known for best: Walk away.
However, the best part about this partnership with Denise is that she is a former Kenosha News employee and former journalist working within corporate journalism before breaking out on her own as an independent. While I have eight years of experience in the corporate/print journalism industry, I am entering a new side. I will significantly benefit from Denise’s knowledge of working through it herself.
Mission: Grow locally with the support of Racine County Eye
I have a lot to learn real quickly.
This is only the short-term, six-month plan at this point. In my mind, I’ve already created a network that spans the entire United States and possibly the globe over a period of years.
However, for now, I’m going to start right here in Kenosha, and specifically in Uptown.
And from these small beginnings, I will grow my empire.
From this fertile soil, I will reap the fruit of my dreams.
Thank you for all of your support. It has meant more to me than I could ever express in the words available to me in the English, or any, language. So I will have to settle for the inadequate and disappointingly vague “thank you for everything” for now.
But I will thank you all as I go along, and we encounter each other in person, that I promise.
I also have one more promise: I will try my best every day to not let you all down.
Take care. And please, stay safe out there.