Last night I heard the renowned Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King speak at my university. As expected when listening to the message of someone you greatly admire, it was an immensely powerful experience. The message of his talk was that it is important for us to recognize the true nature of the moment we are in in history in order for us to move forward, pointing out that oftentimes humans operate under the inaccurate perception that we are constantly improving and the world around us is constantly getting incrementally better. Rather, he said, the pattern is much more fluctuating and that we have "dips" in our history. He alluded to the fact that we are on our way down into a "dip" now, and that when people ask, "What is this, the 60s?" they are ignoring the fact that we could actually be living in such strenuous times in the year 2017.
His visual aids were telling and also inspiring for our ambitions of creating striking and illustrative data visualization, especially in regards to my area of research, the change in incarceration and how it has impacted people in Milwaukee depending on where they live.
Wisconsin, and Milwaukee in particular, incarcerates black men at a higher rate than anywhere else in the country. This has devastating effects on families, communities, economics, and the health of our local democracy for innumerable reasons.
As a jumping off point for our research, I found some information regarding how ZIP codes are disproportionately impacted by incarceration, how young people are affected by the juvenile justice system, how racial disparity manifests in incarceration, what this looks like in Wisconsin, how that affects the workforce and economic development (and this), how it impacts children, families and the community's wellbeing as a whole, and other important data around the incarceration of primarily black men in Milwaukee.
As NPR and other sources have investigated, this is one area where Milwaukee has gotten worse not better since the marches in 1967.
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I am a senior studying journalism and international affairs at Marquette University. I am a Milwaukee-dweller and a storyteller passionate about exploring the intersection between community-building and communication. I'd love for you to learn alongside me!