The struggle to decide who we are
By Senator Lena C. Taylor
This week left me in shock. Story after story, socially and politically, locally and nationally, has challenged everything I have in me. As a lawmaker, lawyer and former public defender, I have seen many. But this weekâ¦ has been one punch after another.
As a city, Milwaukee continues to face an increase in incidents of violence. As we prayerfully await news of the fate of a missing 3-year-old, Major Harris, we openly mourn the gruesome loss of Sunita Balogun, a 47-year-old woman, who was killed while she was was trying to stop a car theft. In disbelief, we are required to deal with the eighth grade student responsible for his death. And now I am forced to make a correction. While writing this column, I learned that the body of Major Harris, 3, had been found. Major now joins his mother, Mallery Muenzenberger, who are the latest homicide victims in our state. The insane wave of crimes begs the question: who are we?
Who are we as a nation, as a people, and more worryingly, what are we doing? While it may sound alarmist, a recent situation in Philadelphia has exacerbated my fears. After listening to media reports that a woman was raped in the “City of Brotherly Love” while on a train this week, I was stunned. Unfortunately, it was not this act of violence that shook my faith in who we are as a country.
I was unprepared to learn that this nastiness happened over the course of 12 train stops, with passengers on board and watching the onslaught. No one used their phone to call 911, but instead used it to record the horrific attack. Once again, I was forced to ask: who are we?
We are a nation that flirts with civil war. Dancing on the brink of racial and social unrest, we caress old fires. Not wanting to learn from our past, we seemed determined to burn everything down. The January 6 attack on the United States Capitol, the dismantling of voting rights, attacks on women’s reproductive freedom and the deliberate seeds of mistrust surrounding our elections are the starting point.
Elected leaders ready to steal voting power from already disenfranchised groups, disgruntled people striving to rewrite history and crush discussions of diversity, fairness and race, supremacy white woman emerging comfortably from the shadows and the manipulation of a nation through algorithms are the sparks that ignite discontent.
In the fire and haze of uncontrolled behavior, there is little light between localized crime and assaults on humanity, physical violence over a mask or vaccine warrant, and the political dysfunction that permeates the ethics of good and fair government. All of this is harmful and a lot of our people are in trouble. America was formed on the “idea” that all men (peoples) were created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. Even if that was not true, when his riding was created, we had 245 years to get it right. It is time that we stop fighting with who we are and decide to be what we say we are: an indivisible nation, where freedom and justice are granted to all of us.