George Floyd should be alive today. Instead, we are remembering a year gone by without him and left to reflect on how we can better build on the movement his death ignited while honoring his life through real community change.

Our work together depends on us addressing the root causes of the injustice we see. Violent policing tactics cannot be viewed in isolation. Housing discrimination, disparities in access to jobs, health care, quality education – these are all connected through centuries-old beliefs and behaviors codified as practices and policies designed to preserve a hierarchy that prioritizes white safety and prosperity over all others.

As long as racism is embedded in the systems that devalued George Floyd’s life, those systems will continue to produce inequities, including here at home. Without racial equity, our region fails to benefit from the creativity, productivity and experiences of all people.

You might be able to compose a song on a guitar with a missing string, but it will lack proper melody. You might be able to drive a car with one malfunctioning cylinder, but you will lose power and risk long-term damage. You could build a house without shingles, but eventually, the roof will collapse. This is what systemic racism does to a community. It steals our harmony, our effectiveness, our well-being and our potential.

For Milwaukee to thrive, it needs to be a finely tuned guitar, an engine firing on all cylinders, a house built to last. It needs to be a place where no one is left out, and as a result, we all benefit from one another’s contributions. At the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, we call this a Milwaukee for all.

During the last year, the Foundation has accelerated work aimed at making systems in our community more equitable. We are investing in access to high-quality early childhood education so all children, and especially Black and Brown children, receive the foundational learning and healthy start in life they need. We are expanding equitable economic opportunity in multiple ways, including investments in the stability and growth of entrepreneurs and small businesses, particularly in communities of color. We are collaborating with other funders, nonprofits and the public sector to increase access to desirable, affordable housing to close homeownership gaps and prevent evictions.

Most importantly, we are doing this work together, with the perspectives and priorities of the community at the center of our decision-making. We are dreaming big about change, and it will take all of us to see it through. Despite the challenges before us, I feel increasingly hopeful about the future as more people join us in partnership, investment and advocacy.

George Floyd should be alive today. His legacy is now ours to keep through our actions. 

For media inquiries

Please contact: Jeremy PodolskiMarketing and Communications Manager