The Greater Milwaukee Foundation's "On The Table" Initiative Is A Vital Step Towards Uniting A Historically Segregated Community

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation's "On The Table" Initiative Is A Vital Step Towards Uniting A Historically Segregated Community

On The Table is focused on fostering important discussions that will begin to break Milwaukee's racial barriers.

James Beard once said, "Food is our common ground, a shared experience." On October 17, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation is inviting everyone in the community to share a meal with a group of 8-12 other people of their choice and discuss ways to resolve issues plaguing the community. The day is part of On The Table, an initiative designed to foster important discussions, build relationships, and encourage action to improve the community. In Milwaukee, a historically segregated city, the initiative is a vital step in conquering racial barriers.

Milwaukee is a bustling metropolis full of vibrant music, culture, and diversity. However, the global city has yet to discover a way to rid itself of segregation. According to a report by the Brookings Institution, Milwaukee is the most segregated metropolitan area in America. On a scale of 0 (complete integration) to 100 (complete segregation), Milwaukee scored an 81. As Professor Mark Levine, the director of the UW Milwaukee's Center for Economic Development noted, "90% of African-Americans households in metropolitan Milwaukee live in the City of Milwaukee. That’s a much higher percentage than in virtually every other metropolitan area in the country." If you examine the area around the city of Milwaukee, Levine notes that over 80 percent of white households live in metropolitan Milwaukee's suburbs. This segregation has resulted in significant racial disparities between blacks and whites, including one of America's biggest gaps in income, incarceration rates, and employment. With these numerous divides, it has become difficult for people living in the Greater Milwaukee area to overcome their differences and cooperate to better the community. On The Table aims to finally change that by encouraging locals to finally have the discussions so vital to breaking down the barriers.

Milwaukee isn't the first city to implement the initiative; Chicago, another highly segregated city, began On The Table in 2014. Since then, the program has garnered so much support and involvement from the community that over 55,000 people participated in discussions in 2016. The result of these discussions were thousands of projects created by Chicago locals to help refugees, mitigate gang violence, and reduce poverty. After witnessing the massive positive impact of On The Table in motivating community members to resolve issues like education, unemployment, safety, and gang violence, the Knight Foundation invested $1.15 million to expand the initiative to cities all across the country, including Miami, Detroit, Charlotte, and Philadelphia.

Milwaukee is a diverse community with much to offer culturally, yet if its people are not united as a community, the issue of segregation will persist for many more decades. The beauty of On The Table is that anyone can begin a discussion. And for each discussion we have, if the people involved utilize their shared ideas and motivation to find a solution, Milwaukee will have a powerful community of driven individuals each working to better their community. If we join together on October 17 to discuss and discover solutions to problems that affect us personally, our community will rapidly transform. On The Table isn't a solution to all of Milwaukee's problems, but it can inspire an entire community to begin solving them, one step at a time.

Cover Image Credit: WUWM

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A New Refugee Crisis Is Brewing, And It Will Start In South Africa

White South African farmers are to be forced off their land by the government.

A lot has been going on in South Africa recently. You may not have heard of any of it though, as the countries issues are apparently not much of a concern for American media. What I am talking about is the planned, legal, massive expropriation of farmlands owned by white South Africans.

The action has been officially sanctioned by South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa. The reasoning for the action lies in the history of the nation itself. White settlers first arrived in the southernmost country in Africa in the 1650’s. After achieving freedom from Britain and official nationhood, a Jim Crow-esque system of racial inequality was established to ensure white-minority dominance over the region. Apartheid, as it was called, ended in 1994 and a black-majority rule was established under the African National Congress party. As such, most of the productive farmland still lay in the hands of old white South African families.

The new president intends to rectify this in a reckless move. All white farmland is slated to be taken by the state and redistributed to black families. This will most likely devastate the country’s economy and severely hurt their chances of staving off the wide-scale droughts that are on their way. One only needs to look to Zimbabwe for proof of these undesirable outcomes. That country’s government tried the same policies against their white farmers years ago. After failed crops, poor management, and major losses for the economy the new government their recently invited all former white farmers to return to their homes. I don’t understand how South Africa cannot learn from Zimbabwe’s mistake.

I understand the reasoning behind it. Centuries under a colonial yoke would make anyone hate their former oppressors. That is the key word, however, former. The current white population of South Africa was born into a system, just like every other human. They live their lives out objectively within that system. Violence does not recompense violence, and the move will surely lead to violence. Ever since the end of apartheid black-on-white violence has steadily increased anyway, with many attacks occurring on farms. Some estimates now put the toll at more than one white South African murdered per week.

If this plan is followed through with, the world will be faced with yet another massive refugee crisis. Tens of thousands will be displaced, and many thousands more will most likely seek refugee status to escape from the prejudice and hatred that they now face in their own country. Thankfully, Australia has a plan in the works to implement a fast-track visa program for displaced South Africans.

Regardless of race, religion, history, whatever, all people deserve to have the rights to pursue happiness and live in peace. This situation is no different.

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Why I Support Walkouts for Gun Control

Our lives are more important.

On Thursday March 15, students from high schools and colleges nationwide arranged a walkout in protest of the lack of stricter gun regulations. I participated in at my school because I believe that we need to enact more stringent gun regulations because our current policies are failing. There should not be this many mass shootings, and children should not be dying from gun violence. In the United States, we have had more mass shooters than any other country. Thoughts and prayers for the victims are not going to make that number go down; policy changes will. I support students walking out of their classrooms because they realize that their lives and their education are more important than someone’s second amendment rights.

Whenever the gun control debate comes up after a mass shooting, we are always told not to get political and that we should only offer thoughts and prayers as a sign of respect for the victims. No, policy changes that make it harder for anyone to obtain a gun in the United States is the ultimate sign of respect for the victims. Policy changes show that we respect the victims enough that we do not want to create more. I think the most tragic shootings are the ones that happen at schools such as Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Stoneman Douglas because these children were at school to get an education and their lives were cut short. We have our priorities backward because we should value a child’s education and life above the ability to easily get a gun. Arming teachers is not the solution because it only creates an environment where students feel unsafe and the teachers may not be able to handle the responsibility of carrying a gun. When your second amendment rights start to interfere with an individual’s right to life we must do something.

Gun control needs to happen, and gun control measures have been useful in countries such as Japan and Australia. Additionally, we need to start changing our mindset about what it means to be an American citizen and what it means to be a man in American society. In our country, guns are tied to being a proud American. However, this cultural mindset has become toxic because we ignore those who lost their lives in mass shootings. We need to stop equating caring about the lives of others with being a bad American. You are an evil American if you choose to ignore how exercising the second amendment affects other people. Our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution in 1789, and our world has changed drastically since then. Since our world has changed drastically, we need to start viewing owning a gun as a privilege, not a right because we have normalized gun violence for too long.

I am glad to see students walk out of their classrooms and stand up not only for their rights but also stand up for what they believe. To those administrators who attempted to prevent students from doing so, shame on you because your students have the right to peaceful protest. Do not stop them from doing so because you disagree with their political beliefs, instead encourage them to protest because they need to be able to advocate for themselves throughout their lives.

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