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Author: Kenneth Cole

Being honest about which kind of America we celebrate on July 4th

This 4th of July as flags unfurl, patriotic music plays and fireworks burst across the darkened skies of our country, which America will you celebrate? Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light, What once proudly was hailed, becoming dark and unseemly. The choice is not a binary one, but it does compel you to take a moment and reconsider what the 4th means to you. Will you celebrate an idealized America, maybe even the one you feel you grew up in? One where the arc of history was long, but always seemed to bend toward justice?...

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Sending a message of hope: Shorewood becomes latest municipality to ban conversion therapy

The Village of Shorewood became the latest Wisconsin municipality after Milwaukee, Madison, Eau Claire, and Cudahy to ban the practice of conversion therapy on June 17. The cumulative and sustained efforts of citizens to pass the ban spanned more than 16 months, but in many ways it embodied what was needed to inspire change on a local and national level. In the small village along the shores of Lake Michigan, there was no involvement by lobbyists, PACs, yard signs, or social memes. Instead, the ban came as a result of a diverse array of individuals across Southeast Wisconsin who...

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I Ain’t Broke, So Don’t Fix Me: The Moral Imperative to Ban Conversion Therapy Across Milwaukee

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This timeless bit of advice should be considered when addressing the unethical and discriminatory practice of conversion therapy. The goal of such alleged treatment is to have the LGBTQ person return to an allegedly healthy, normal, and socially accepted state – i.e. heterosexual. Conversion therapy purports that something is broke when someone is gay, wrong if they are lesbian, or defective if they identify as bisexual or transgendered. From the outside looking in, as parents or friends of those in the LGBTQ community, the philosophy behind conversion therapy is painful enough on...

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The Hidden Resilience of Survivors: Helping our children heal from abuse and indifference

The abuse of children is an insidious equalizer in our society. It knows no boundaries, nor does it discriminate. Whether in subdivisions or subsidized housing, immigrant detention centers or mansions on the lake, child abuse occurs. For some, it is a one-time occurrence, for others, it is ritualistic and ongoing. Whether once or a thousand times, the abuse of a child is brutal, inhumane, and violates the norms of any decent society. And the mere presence of it alone should cause us to question if, in fact, our society is decent. The abuse of a child by physical violence....

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Kenneth Cole: We Are Black History

This February the Wisconsin GOP marked Black History Month by removing the name of Milwaukee native, civil rights activist, and Super Bowl quarterback Colin Kaepernick from a resolution honoring his efforts and those of other African-Americans. As if inspired by the NFL, earlier this month an 11-year-old African-American child in Florida was arrested for refusing to stand for the national anthem. And in Virginia, the Governor and Attorney General marked the occasion by acknowledging they wore blackface during the 1980s. An act channeling the minstrel shows of old that sought to emasculate Black men and fueled the ignorance, disdain,...

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Surfing Comes Home to Milwaukee: Forging friendships in the frigid freshwater waves of Lake Michigan

With Winter upon us and as the ice shelf builds, extending further out into Lake Michigan, for a time thoughts of walks along the beach, playing in the water or surfing seem as alien as the landscape that forms with each subzero day. But in the eyes of hundreds of individuals across Lake Michigan they long for the day when the temperatures rise, ice melts and the waves crash once again. Those who surf put their boards up and the dialogue between them on dryland becomes merely relegated to texts or a familiar name tagged or clicking “like” on...

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