Here are our favorite “12 on Tuesday” answers from 2016 so far.
United Way of Dane County CEO Renee Moe
People of color make up more than one third of the United Way of Dane County Board of Directors. That is abnormally high for Madison at the Board level. Why is diversity on the board important for United Way? Why wouldn’t it be? Diversity of thought, experience and perspective drive better decision making. We can only achieve our mission if diverse points of view and expertise are at the table. Our Board – and board members of the past – is a group of Dane County residents who loves our community and dreams of “the best place to live” reality for all of our community members.
I should note that there is a perception that United Way and our Board are “corporate,” beholden to White business men who don’t get it. Our Board roster will hopefully show that diverse voices have been a priority for many, many years. And, as someone who has worked with the business community and its leadership for over 17 years, my experience is that business men and women are just as interested in equity, and they are involved because they want to make change, too.
Coming together, assuming good intent, getting to know each other, building trust… Changing. That is why people of color – and others from the community and business, public and social sectors – make up our Board. It’s the right thing to do, and the way to make change most effectively…
Wisconsin Council on Children and Families Community Engagement Outreach Coordinator Corinda Rainey-Moore
What are some of the biggest mental health issues facing people of color, based on your professional experience? The biggest mental health challenges people of color are access to services and denial about mental health issues. People of color are the most traumatized. When you look at risk factors for mental health issues, they include all of the things highlighted in the Racial Equity Report, the Tipping Point and the State of Black Madison. These include poverty, lack of education, unemployment, lack of access to transportation. These all impact our health as well. Yet we are the ones that are struggling to get access to services. By the time we do get access it is often when people are at the point where it requires being hospitalized, jailed and or placed on some of the more potent medications which often has severe side effects. We are in denial about the impact that mental health issues have not just on our health but on our families. We are in denial about suicide in our communities. We are in denial about mental illness which is sad because mental illness is treatable. There are several strategies that can be use that we as people of color do not use which are therapy, wellness activities, and yes in some cases medications along with these other treatment also helps.
Madison 365 Radio and Madison in the Morning Host Derrell Connor
What are some of the challenges in each market being a black radio host on WIBA in Madison and in WTMJ in Milwaukee? One challenge has been helping some people to understand that you’re a talk show host who happens to be black, not a black talk show host. You have to be able to talk about a variety of issues and topics, otherwise you won’t last long. The other has been how to approach the subject of race, because race has played a huge role in the headlines, in a number of different ways. Some listeners have accused me of talking about it too much on my show. But what they don’t seem to understand is that if I talk about say, Tamir Rice, I talk about what happened to him as a 12 year old kid, and how a parent would react if it was their child. But because they know that Rice is black, I’m accused of talking about race, when that isn’t the point of the discussion. But I realize that’s their problem, not mine. If they don’t like what I talk about on my show, they can turn the dial. I don’t want or need those types of listeners.
ROUGH Sportswear Founder and Former Badger Trent Jackson
If you have to pick from the all-time men’s Badgers basketball teams, who would be your starting five and who would be your sixth man off the bench? Frank Kaminsky (center), Danny Jones (power forward), Michael Finley (small forward), Ricky Olson (two guard), Devin Harris (point guard) and Me (sixth man). I could be a starter on this team but I would choose to come off the bench.
Rev. Alex Gee
What does it mean to be Black in Madison? For me, being Black in Madison means that you’re bi-cultural.
Being Black and having been educated in Madison means that most likely you have learned from people who have probably never educated people who look like you.
Being Black, having been educated in Madison and obtaining some degree of success here in Madison means that you thrived in the midst of instructors, trainers and teachers who, at times, doubted you could do what makes you successful. It also means you show up first, stay late, represent your firm/agency at every cultural affair, you answer every question about diversity, and you are the living proof that the racism which you stare in the face everyday, does not exist. The force of racism which makes your feats incredible, against the pressure of which you recommit yourself…daily…is invisible to those you outthink, outsmart, outwork and outlive, on a regular basis.
Being Black and strong in Madison means you’re constantly measured against and compared to your Black colleagues as if there can only be one strong and intelligent Black representative of our complex community. And if your strength dares to challenge injustice, racism and systemic impediments to the success of other Black people, you are called divisive, a demagogue or arrogant by whites.
Being Black and Christian in Madison means you’re narrow-minded, superstitious, invisible and voiceless. The broader community has an extremely limited concept of the role of faith and the faith community in the history of the success of Black people in this country and in this world.
Being Black and male means that you are expendable, statistical, unemployable, and uneducable. It therefore means society can make money off of you through incarceration, special education, and social services.
Being a Black dad means you’re an anomaly!
Being Black in Madison means you’re angry, even when you’re not.
Being Black in Madison means always explaining what it means to be Black in Madison.
Rank your Top five MCs. I love the Wu-Tang Clan. They’re for the kids, they’re also my favorite group and 36-Chambers is a better album than Illmatic, I stand by that. Listen to them side by side and you’ll know what I mean. But this is about MC’s and I’ll try and respect this rule here cuz I’m sure I’ll break many more as I go on. So let’s see here…my favorites:
- Mos Def. He should be ranked up there with all time greats but he hasn’t put out a lot of material, and he takes a lot of time between projects. At one point, I think I went eight months listening to nothing but Mos Def and Wu-Tang. Speaking of which …
- Tony Starks, also known as Ghostface Killah, has a couple classics that might not rank as high as Liquid Swords (GZA) or Only Built 4 Cuban Linx (Raekown), but has a much better discography than either, and more extensive too. His last few albums are slept on. Plus you can’t mess with his crime stories.
- Black Thought, one of the most slept-on great MCs. Word play, lyrics, flow. No one has enough Black Thought in their lives.
- Kendrick Lamar, who even outside of my favorites I think I put down as a top 5 MC right now. The strength of his few records and where he’s going as an artist are just mind blowing. He embraces the subversiveness of Hip-Hop in a way no other young MC does. He also respects its jazz and funk roots; he’s a transcendent talent. But, he could use a little more woke juice from time to time; he needs to take a Black feminist class.
- 2Pac … who will forever be better than Biggie. The poet wins over a rapper every day; Pac brought the depth of John Coltrane in the mind and body of a young Black male growing up in Reagan’s crack-infused Black America.
…and I’m pulling God’s Son, Nas, off the bench for my 6th man. He’s my Harrison Barnes. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the likes of Erykah Badu, Left Eye, Nicki, and all the underrepresented and underappreciated women artists and MC’s out there in the Hip-Hop world.
Former Badger and NFL wide receiver Brandon Williams
You hold the record at UW Madison for most career receptions. What was the secret to your consistency? It is still crazy to me that I hold records in this program, because I honestly never thought about them until I was on the cusp of breaking them. Especially when you look at the great talent that came before me and after me, it is really an honor. The secret for me, though, was health. I never missed a game during my career. Now I had some significant injuries, even surgeries, but no missed games and I’m very proud to say that. From day one I came in with a mentality that I was going to start as a freshman and I accomplished that.
YWCA Madison CEO Rachel Krinski
What does it mean to be white in Madison? Being white in Madison means that it’s easy to have only superficial contact with people who are of a different race. In fact, you can live, work and play at any time or at almost all times in spaces that are mostly or completely filled with, run by and designed for people of your own race without intending for that to happen. Interracial friendship and other relationships of any depth are unlikely to happen for white people without choosing them on purpose. This is not, of course, true for people of color.
It means that your race is rarely a topic of conversation, unless you raise it. That your race is not what most people (i.e. other white people) notice about you first.
It means that you rarely, if ever, experience assumptions, slights or judgements based on your race unless you choose to place yourself in spaces where most people are of color. And that your children, if they are also white, will be assumed to be smart, good kids unless they demonstrate otherwise.
It means that you don’t have to talk about race or racial justice if you don’t want to and that you can leave the conversation any time – a privilege that people of color are very aware of.
For me, as a home-grown white Madisonian, it means that I need to be aware of my choices related to all of the above and that I feel a particular responsibility to continually learn about race and what it means for people of color. Being white in Madison also means, for me, that I need to continually listen, read, learn, ask questions, talk about racial issues – especially to other white people, and struggle to figure out what it means to be an ally.
Mentoring Positives Founder Will Green
Why did you start the business called Off the Block Salsa? Off the Block Salsa is a program of Mentoring Positives. Mentoring Positive mission is committed to: Building strong and trusting relationships, positive attitudes, and life skills in youth through mentoring and entrepreneurship. Our vision is to: Inspire positive changes in youth and families. Seven years ago Off the Block Salsa was born as an idea to help give the teens something positive to do during the spring/summer. A community activist suggested that we make salsa. I took some of the teens in my basketball group and put them to work in the garden growing our own tomatoes and peppers for Off the Block Salsa. Holy Cross Church had donated Mentoring Positives an acre of land to grow our produce. The Salvation Army also donated their kitchen to MP and the kitchen was approved to make our Off the Block Salsa in it.
The boys always dreamed of our Off the Block Salsa product being sold in stores when we first started the program. Not knowing if we ever would get OTB salsa in stores I told the boys it would happen. Shortly after promising the boys OTB salsa would be in stores, Tim Metcalfe from Metcalfe Markets sent me a message wanting to know if we would like to get OTB salsa in his stores and of course we said “yes.” Now that we have OTB salsa in the stores, we were introduced to the Farm Market Kitchen who now helps us produce the salsa. We created the salsa program so that it became a revenue generating mechanism for the mentoring program. Many nonprofits have to raise moneys each year to sustain funding. We are hoping that OTB salsa sales will help Mentoring Positives become a financial self-sustaining organization. Off the Block Salsa is a win-win situation for individuals who purchase the product. All proceeds goes back to Mentoring Positives to support the youth programming. Off the Block Salsa is really not about the salsa its about teaching tangible life skills for our youth and families we work with in the program and community.
Right now, Mentoring Positives is in a $100,000 dollar campaign and we have raised 50 percent of those funds so far. We will be looking to hire teens and young adults in the OTB program to do more in store demos. We know our salsa sales increase when we have the boys in the store for demos.
What’s the biggest stumbling block in Madison to turning the corner on our racial disparities? One of the biggest has to be this idea of not wanting to be uncomfortable or cause others to be uncomfortable. Madison seems to want to ride off into the sunset with things remaining just as they are. Folks will talk, meet, brainstorm and expel hours of energy discussing the racial disparities but when it’s time to show up to actually ACT — in Future’s voice, “where ya at?” Acting is more than showing up to a rally. It’s more than selfies on the square. It’s more than hashtagging #blacklivesmatter. It’s more than ordering another t-shirt. Acting means checking yourself and your own biases. It means calling racist practices out and demanding they be stopped at your job, church, university, club, etc. It means more than simply calling yourself an ally.
There are plenty of diverse groups of folks doing the work to turn that corner but we’re creeping real slow around that corner because there’s too much worrying about saying the wrong thing. Too much time spent trying to tone down one’s message to keep dollars coming through. Too much shutting down folks whose truth makes the wider Madison community feel uncomfortable. Too much money pitting Black folks against each other. There’s just too much being cool with mediocrity.
What has been a bigger barrier in your professional life: being a woman or being from the LGBQT community? I love this question, because no one’s had the insight or sensitivity to ask it!
Let’s level-set. No matter what people want to believe, America is historically stacked towards white dudes. They wrote the constitution in 1787 and prevented others from having the right to vote for a LOOOOONG time. Free African American men weren’t allowed to vote until 1870, women didn’t have the right to vote until 1920 and racial minorities until 1965. So let’s be honest: white dudes had a massive head start in stacking the country in their favor.
That said, I think being a woman has been harder than being a lesbian. Dudes don’t seem as threatened by my sexuality, but they do have implicit bias towards other men, and therefore against women.
Hedi Lamarr Rudd
Which dance were you the best at growing up…the prep, break dancing, the Reebok, or the cabbage patch? I sucked at them all and I later learned that grandmas should not do the Stankey Leg because they might dislocate their knee. True story.