Sen. Taylor Discusses Racism, Social Justice
By Norma Ortiz
Racism, Social Injustices and Sexism were among many of the issues Senator Lena Taylor addressed at the Sista Talk discussion panel Wednesday night.
Sista Talk is an open discussion panel in which UWM students and allies talk about various issues regarding the African-American community. Held every Wednesday since February to the month of May at the UWM Multicultural Student Lounge, organizers such as The Black Cultural Center and The Women’s Resource Center hope to create a safe and confortable environment in which students, particularly minority students can network and communicate with other minorities in the UWM area.
“We want to foster a sense of sisterhood among African-American women,” said Victoria Pryor, a student service coordinator of The Black Cultural Center.
“This is a great opportunity for African-American students to get to know faculty and staff that looks like them,” said Pryor.
Along with Sen. Taylor, others who were part of the panel were Portia Cobb, a professor in the Department of Film, Video and New Genera at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Dr. Joan Prince, Vice- Chancellor for Global Inclusion and Engagement and a Clinical Associate professor of Hematology also at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Sameera A. Hassan, a UWM student majoring in International Studies with her emphasis in International Politics and U.S Foreign Relations. Sexism was a crucial topic discussed in the panel. While it is implied that sexism is associated with mostly white males, Sen. Taylor and the rest of the panel made it clear that sexism is a universal issue committed by all types of people, including African-American men and women as well. Other issues that arose were how African-American women are tainted as angry and aggressive, and how sometimes many people in the African-American community fail to support each other in times of great need. Sameera A. Hassan herself experienced a similar situation on a school trip to London this past summer. She was excited to find out that another African-American student was part of the trip as well. However; when she tried to befriend her, she completely ignored her and gave her the cold shoulder. Hassan felt that she acted that way because she wanted to be the only African-American stealing in the spotlight and perhaps she saw Hassan as a threat.
“People will take a stand quietly and it will possibly cost them something, that is why we have to back our sisters up,” said Taylor.
Sen. Taylor stole the spot light as she spoke about the infamous “Wisconsin 14,” in which 14 Democratic senators of Wisconsin, including herself, left the state in order the prevent the passing of the “Budget Repair Bill” which would eliminate the collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin state workers.
“I did not flee,” said Taylor as the audience agreed and clapped in her favor.
“We all have to make sacrifices and my sacrifice was being away from my son at that moment.”
When she spoke of her son Isaiah’s academic school struggles she began to tear up. Immediately people from the audience rushed to give her tissue.
Sen. Taylor represents the 4th Senate District of Milwaukee, including northern portions of the city of Milwaukee as well as parts of Wauwatosa and Glendale. She is the only African-American woman to serve in the state senate. Also a former student at UWM she also received her law degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. In 2010 she received the National Legislator of the Year Award from the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. She is the first legislator from Wisconsin and the first Democrat to receive that award.