Madison ranked most livable mid-size city in the U.S. – Wisconsin State Journal

As a lifelong resident of Madison, it does my heart good to hear good things about my community. As a lifelong African American resident of Madison, I read headlines like these with a great deal of cynicism and frustration. I wonder, which Madison are they talking about?

I own a home in this community. Of course I want it to be viewed and valued appropriately. I have nephews, nieces, congregants, godchildren and many loved ones in this community.  I want them and their needs to be viewed and valued appropriately as well. I long for a day when everyone in this community will celebrate headlines like the one above and everyone will cringe at headlines like this one: ‘Alarming’ racial disparities continue to plague Dane County – Wisconsin State Journal.
tale of two madisons
I do want Madison to be recognized for its bike trails, beautiful lakes and historic Farmer’s Market. My angst is that Madison will use this a
ccolade to celebrate its own press and will turn its attention away from the ugly and unacceptable issues that we must face and resource together.

I am torn and I don’t want to be. As I write this email from my office, I am looking out of my window at Badger Road where balloons and beer cans remain in memory of a young man who was gunned down at that spot a few weeks ago – 100 yards from my desk and 30 feet from what will be our South Madison Field of Dreams basketball court and soccer field.

Here are just a few of Madison’s “other” realities as reported in the recent Race to Equity report by Wisconsin Council for Children and Families:

  • High school drop out for young African American males is at an all time high in this community – over 40%.
  • The academic disparity between African American and White 4th and 8th graders is the greatest in the county.
  • 50% of young African American males (18-24) are caught up in the criminal justice snare (incarcerated, on probation or parole). 50 percent!
  • Our state incarcerates more African American males than any other state in the U.S..
  • The unemployment rate for African Americans is 5 times higher than for whites.

Hopelessness abounds unnecessarily. When my staff, coalition and trusted colleagues (of all ethnic backgrounds) say that we love the community, we mean everyone in Our Madison.

Our coalition has been up to some amazing things lately. I will update you early next week on where we are and what you can be expecting. We need your collaboration now more that ever. Thanks for journeying with us.

Working for hope, transformation and justice,

Rev. Dr. Alex Gee, Jr.

tale of two citiesIt was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. . . .

~Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens