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Two Milwaukee artists on the meaning of these protests, in their own words


Radio Milwaukee reached out to two Milwaukee artists on the frontlines of the city's Black Lives Matter protests, Kenzy and WebsterX, to share their thoughts. Here they are, in their own words.

From Kenzy

Kenzy | Courtesy of the artist

i’m tired.

i’m tired even after a full night of sleep, because when i wake up and open my phone, the first thing i see is that another soul’s been taken from a black body that’s now being laid to rest by the hands of the police officers we’re conditioned to believe we can rely on when we’re in our most vulnerable states.

when these same police are making no effort to deescalate the situations they’re being paid thousands to resolve, barging through our doors, shooting us with no warning, arresting us for crimes we didn’t commit, and kneeling on our necks for 8 minutes, till we call out for our mamas in desperation because 

we can’t breathe, 

we can’t breathe, 

we cannot breathe, 

acab, abolish all of them

i’m tired of having to wait for a “got home safe” text from my friends, because a minor traffic stop or walking home after curfew could escalate to the end of their life.

i’m tired of my black trans siblings being treated as if they’re invisible, especially after we’ve passed, because we’ve been fighting our whole lives to feel safe in our skin and be recognized for who we actually are.

i’m tired of the constant ignorance that is spewed from the crusty lips of the artificially orange faced man that dictates the country i grew up in.

“land of the free”

how can we be free when black people are being incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites, having to navigate unsafe and overcrowded  living conditions where they’re being exploited for labor by big corporations who do not value their work or livelihood.

i’m tired of black youth being seen as a threat because their schools are not being funded to give them the resources and guidance they need to express their emotional needs and struggles safely

because when they do express their emotions it results in them being suspended and expelled, at rates 3 times more than their white peers

i’m tired of having my skin, my father's skin, my partner’s skin, be viewed as a weapon.

skin that we spend life times learning to love, after having european beauty standards shoved down our throats by mainstream media and the beauty industry

i’m tired of white silence and performative allyship, if you really want to be an “ally” to the movement,

use your bodies to create a barrier between black people and harmful police at protests.

donate money to bail funds, blm community events, homeless black people, black led organizations, black trans people, and black businesses.

uplift black voices at protests, on social media, and in your everyday lives, rather than speaking over them.

educate and call out your bigoted cousins and racist uncle, and pay attention to your friends and family who have been silent

and reflect on your ingrained and learned prejudice and racist mindsets, and how you treat the black people you encounter on the daily

i’m tired of having to march in the streets to fight for the safety of my people, because we are being killed every day by people who believe our lives lack value, for something as simple and uncontrollable as the color of our skin.

i’m tired of y’all not realizing that

black lives are not less than

black lives have divine purpose

black lives deserve opportunity and success

black lives should be guaranteed safety

black lives deserve to heal from the trauma that’s being carried through generations

black lives are beautiful

black lives need to be protected

and i’ll never get tired of fighting for black people to be able to coexist without our worth being questioned by the crumbling corporate system of white supremacy that we exist within.

wishing love and healing to my black community,

kenzy (they/them or he/him) is an artist in Milwaukee.

From WebsterX

WebsterX | Photo credit: Damien Blue

Black Diary entry 001

Let me start this by saying Black Lives Matter, period. If you're sick of seeing that phrase then I want you to remove yourself from reading the rest of this. I want Black Lives Matter to be engraved in everyone's brains as much as saying a simple "thank you" is. Fun fact, a Black woman coined that phrase in a Facebook post from 2013 following the acquittal of Trayvon Martin's killer, George Zimmerman. Her and two other Black women went on to create the hashtag and the rest was history. I felt like that was important to highlight. 

Listen, right now it feels like the weight of the world is on all of our shoulders, especially Black people. Some of us are being asked way too many questions by white people of what to do and others are dealing with resurfacing trauma of run-ins with police and racism alike. If you ask me, I'll tell you, leave Black people alone right now. Don't ask us for anything besides how to support us and how to help amplify our voices. In one sense, it's amazing to finally see non-Black people realize the many advantages they've had their entire life by not having Black skin, in another, it's incredibly sad it took you this long to fully realize it. This movement is nothing new, we've sent out warning sign after warning sign and most of you ignored it. But that's OK, you'll learn now, we hope. Black people do not need to be out marching right now, that is non-Black's jobs. Black people do not need to be educating anyone, it is non-Black's jobs to educate themselves. Education on Black matters is a click away these days so spend some time doing that. We got the same internet. 

I also have a message to My People. Now more than ever it's important that we hold space for each other to have private conversations in processing all of this and how we will move forward as a People. That means ALL of us, ALL Black Lives Matter. There's still so much to unpack, I read somewhere that "Black Lives Matter is not a summer festival," I couldn't agree more. I don't have all the answers, Sway. I'm open to being wrong and I do not consider myself a leader or an activist. I simply have enough passion in my everyday heart to assess information, pass it along and to use my platform to amplify the things I feel need to be seen. Everything feels different this time around, we can't stop now. 

WebsterX is a local musician turned community organizer over the past couple weeks. He is working on a new album right now. He also has co-organized a huge Black Is Beautiful Ride this Sunday at Reservoir Park at 1 p.m.