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District 13

Alder Tag Evers

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Alder Tag Evers

Contact Information

Home Address:

2329 Keyes Av

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Evers’ Blog

A July 4th Reflection

July 4, 2020 3:56 PM

"You may rejoice, I must mourn."

Hi Everyone.

Yesterday afternoon, I was listening to a conversation between two female anti-racist educators on Instagram when I was struck by the parting words: "Happy not-my-Independence Day Weekend."

Like many of you, I didn't grow up conflicted about the 4th of July. My dad organized our neighborhood parades, and when I was ten my picture was in the Dayton Daily News dressed up as a revolutionary war soldier.  I have fond memories of the parades, the picnics, the oohs and ahs of the fireworks displays that my dad also organized.  It was never a time of reflection, but rather a celebration of our nation's independence.

As I grew older, I became more aware of the contradictions, but still viewed the truths we hold self-evident as promises worth celebrating.

Today it feels less like a time of celebration and more a time of lamentation.  

I encourage you to spend part of this weekend in sober reflection.  Frederick Douglas' famous speech in 1852 about Independence Day is a good place to start. (Here is a video of five of his descendants reciting portions of that speech.)

Another profound expression is found in this video, an update of Douglas' fiery lament.

As a friend of mine pointed out to me recently, the word "lament" is a both a noun and a verb.  We are called "to weep with those who weep."  To feel in our bones the sadness, the anger, the betrayal of all those broken promises.

The protests and unrest in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder connect to a legacy of rage dating back to 1619. 

Ruth Conniff writes tellingly in The Progressive about how Madison's liberal reputation has consistently been embraced from a white perspective, a perspective that has been challenged recently by the unrest. 

The reality is Madison is the capital city of the most racist state in the nation.

Not Mississippi, not Alabama, but Wisconsin.

The racial disparities in educational achievement, incarceration, income and wealth did not arise in a vacuum.

Racial disparities persist due to one thing and that's racism. 

White liberal Madison cannot plead ignorance. The Race To Equity report came out in 2013, followed shortly by Rev. Alex Gee's missive that started the Justified Anger Coalition

But the numbers haven't changed.  

It's not enough to be sad.  It's time to make amends, to embrace a reparations approach to policy.  If our emphasis is merely on repairing the damage caused by the riots as opposed to the reasons behind the riots, we will have failed.

I am working with fellow alders on a resolution to commit our City to a reparations policy. There is much to learn and I confess my ignorance.  However, I have learned that Evanston, IL has a reparations model in place, so it seems we can learn from others. 

There is no going back, there is only the future.

The unfulfilled promises in our founding documents have long come due, as MLK averred in his "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963:

"America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked insufficient funds."

Sadly, the racial wealth gap is as wide today as it was when King spoke those words.

Acquiescence to the status quo and complacency in the face of ongoing disparities are racism. To be anti-racist is to do whatever it takes to ensure the truths we hold self-evident apply equally to all.

We have no choice but to move forward if we want Madison to be a city that works for everyone.

Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly.


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