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My name is La’Tanya Campbell, and I wanted to take a moment to express the impact this community has had on my life, and the life of other people of color. Ordinarily I would qualify myself by providing you with my resume and playing into the politics of respectability, but today I am not going to do that. I am speaking to you as a Black Woman. I have a job I love, and a passion for helping others and elevating their voice. I have awesome friends here and I have met some amazing people who inspire to make this world, this community welcoming, inclusive, and diverse. I moved here in 2008 and in that time I have been able to raise my children and work on my educational and career goals. I have been able to network and establish strong professional relationships.
With that being said, I do not feel as safe in this community as some. The crime rate in Wausau is low compared to the state and national average. But those in the human service industry or are trauma informed recognize safety means different things to different people.
My version of safety includes physical, mental, emotional, and financial well-being. It is impacted by present day, vicarious, and historical trauma. No one should tell someone what they experienced is not true, it was not that bad, or that that should just get over it, or move. People do not get to invalidate my life or the life of others who are simple just trying to get them to understand, and act with compassion. People do not get to use the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr to explain away their bigotry or complacency and further perpetuate racism. They do not get to use God as a means to continue the cycle of oppression. Where is the love in that?
It is well documented and researched that there are disparities in health, education, housing, employment, financial, and criminal justice institutions. Marathon County is not an anomaly and traditionally marginalized communities especially people of color have learned to adapt, survive, and navigate through those systems of oppression. My children and I have experienced instances of overt racism and systemic oppression.
My children’s father died on June 29, 2017; five days later, my children and I were attempting to pick up the shattered pieces of our heart and soul and celebrate the 4th of July. My son just wanted to put a smile on his sister’s faces, which were stained from tears. He lit a couple of sparklers, and a truck drove by, screaming out “you N****.”
That was more than we could take. We went back inside the house. One day I came home from work, checked my mail; I was greeted with a red handwritten card in my mailbox; I thought, oh wow, my baby must have wanted to send me something, so she stuck it in the mailbox. I opened up the card, and it says “every N*** must die.” These are two of many instances that my family has experienced.
Racism is not always overt. I provide advocacy to victims fleeing abuse, and I have had to have my white co-workers advocate on behalf of a client to get them into permanent housing. The landlord would see that the client and I are black and deny their application.
I have gone to social service appointments with clients, and they have assumed that I was the client. On another occasion, I put a client in a transitional living program, and my director received calls that I was housing my sister because the client was black.
I believe most of the citizens of Marathon County want everyone to feel safe, seen, and valued. I believe the majority of the community welcomes and embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion. I believe the majority of the people in Marathon County can open their ears to hear, open their eyes to see, and open their hearts to show empathy and compassion. Am I wrong? Is this A Community for All?
Please show your support on Thursday, May 13 at 4:30 p.m. in favor of Marathon County’s A Community for All Resolution.
La’Tanya Campbell, Wausau