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Author: Kenneth Cole

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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When Meaning Well Is Not Enough: The Devolution of Our Society and the Road to Hope

Kenneth Cole Milwaukee Independent For those who love America 2018 draws to a close not with a whimper, or a bang but with tearful regret. The highest gun death rate in our nation’s history, death by dehydration of seven-year-old Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin in U.S. custody, the elevation of men accused of sexual assault to the highest office in the land, and a spike in hate crimes and assassinations of people of color like never before. If nothing else, 2018 has proven that the devolution of American society was a rather easy task. Not done at the hands...

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Turning a blind eye to the silent embrace of hate

SILENCE. More than 10,000 spectators crowded around a tree on a hot summer night in Indiana, 1930. Some smile, a few stare blankly into the camera, while countless others marvel with silent and sadistic awe at the sight of two Black men hanging by a rope. The line between witness and perpetrator blurred, but the depravity remains in sharp focus. The silence haunts. Those in the photograph are tintype evidence of crimes committed nearly one hundred years ago in the name of justice and white supremacy. Their faces unfamiliar, but the setting, pace, and rhythm of the atrocities on...

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Helping those exercise their Constitutional right to vote is what Democracy looks like

Shortly after sunrise on November 6, cars began pulling into the grass and gravel parking lot of St. Timothy’s Baptist church in Milwaukee to participle first hand in the process of American democracy. A rainy and overcast day, folding tables in a church basement, sharpies, handmade signs and name tags were all simple markers that belied the profound sense of community. It was a shared vision and purpose that formed within minutes of the first volunteer’s arrival. For a solid 12 hours, volunteers across Milwaukee and those from the Shorewood Solidarity Network supported Rev. Greg Lewis and this year’s...

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To Censor a Mockingbird: We are better than Atticus Finch

“What White people have to do is try to find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place. Cause I’m not a nigger, I’m a man. But if you think I’m a nigger it means you need him. The question you gotta ask yourself, the White population of this country has got to ask itself, if I’m not the nigger here and you invented him – you, the white people, invented him – then you have to find out why. And the future of the country depends on that.” –...

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