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Op Ed: Racial issues in Milwaukee existed before Trump

Everyone on Facebook is flipping bricks over the election. I’ve been told on more than a few occasions that “I don’t get it” because I’m a white man. Sometimes, I think I’m the only person who gets it.

Are you concerned about racism under Trump?

How many innocent black men have been shot under Obama? I point this out not to blame Obama, but as a reminder that racism does not come from Trump. It is endemic in our society.

Are you concerned Trump will side with big businesses, that he will ignore Americans already oppressed?

There is a situation happening right now at Standing Rock in North Dakota over a pipeline on Native American land that is getting little national attention.

Are you concerned Trump will break LGBT families?

How many youth are abandoned by their parents, how many adults have difficulty sustaining relationships among spouses, family, friends, and church because of homophobia or ignorance?

Are you concerned Trump will ban abortion?

If the only reason that abortion is legal is because of a single, contested SCOTUS ruling from four decades ago, then we have a problem. We cannot expect supportive justices to remain perpetually on the court.

Are you concerned Trump will cause suffering from war?

How many democrats supported invading a country for no reason? How has Obama eased the suffering in Syria? Even while we complain about the election, the Syrian government is taking ground in Aleppo.

Are you concerned Trump will break the ACA?

This is certainly a possibility, but it has always had problems due largely to Republican obstruction. How many people are not covered by the ACA because their state doesn’t support Medicaid up to the FPL? How many people are otherwise failed by the ACA? I don’t want to see it overturned, but we can’t rely on just forcing it past Republicans. We need to build support for health care reform.

What you’re seeing is not Trump breaking a beautiful utopia. Our world is broken. We have an opportunity to make America great, and it doesn’t involve sitting on our hands until the next presidential election.

Start making a difference.

1. End the politics of hate. What I have seen from my fellow progressives in the past several years is a “call out” culture, where you criticize groups that you don’t like and assume you’ve done your civic duty. Try to understand other people. I hate people too, and if I had to name them, the first groups would probably be the people who protest abortion clinics, and the people who don’t vaccinate their kids. Stupid, stupid, decisions. But these are real people, with real problems, and there are reasons they arrived at these poor decisions. Understanding them is necessary to changing them.

2. Get involved in your community. You can make a difference. I take a lot of photos in the course of my volunteer work. One guy told me that he never liked the way he looked, but a photo I took helped him realize his negative self-perception wasn’t accurate. A woman told me that a photo I published inspired her to come out at work, to a positive reception. More recently, I saved one of our students about $1,000. And besides the people that I have personally influenced, I could tell you countless stories of people whose lives have been changed by the organizations I volunteer with. No single person can claim responsibility, but we did it by working together. You can bring change to your community.

3. Stay active in local politics. If Milwaukee cannot carry a liberal candidate for Sheriff, how can we expect the state to carry a liberal candidate for governor or president? At the very least, stay informed on local elections. If you want to do more, pay dues to your county Democratic party or assist them in other ways. A lot of the county parties are neglected, and they lay the framework for a successful campaign.

A Trump presidency doesn’t have to be the end. It can be a beginning. You recognize that there are problems, deep problems. So let’s get to work.

Read the Op Ed and view the photo essay that were produced as companion features for this news report.

© Photo
David Lauersdorf

About The Author

David Lauersdorf

A photographer who documents the lives and struggles of Milwaukee individuals, David Lauersdorf’s images capture our shared humanity especially within the LGBT community and foreign refugees who make a new home in the city.

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Original images published on this news platform are the editorial content and the exclusive property of the Milwaukee Independent LLC. All usage is forbidden.

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