WE NEED TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP NOW!
BY STEPHANIE DEENA FINDLEY
The days of just getting by have long passed us. The Black community in the City of Milwaukee housed in the county of Milwaukee is not going to make it without transformational leaders. The definition of transformational leaders is their ability to provide the necessary ingredients required to make change happen.
Being involved in statewide politics for the last 15 years has truly been an eye opening experience for me. I have always led with my heart and pulse on the community. I have always looked out those who could not look out or voice what they were experiencing. It has become abundantly clear there are people who could care less what happens to the Black community. I attended a reception last week and a lady said to me that since she retired she can now say what is on her mind. It made me think about how systems are set up to prevent us from saying anything for fear of not being able to take care of our families. I AM DONE WITH THIS WAY OF THINKING. I refuse to sell out my community for a dollar. I refuse to allow others to put me in a position where I cannot walk away because I am afraid to lose my job or my status in this community. There will be no community if we keep allowing what is happening to continue.
Social Development Commission (SDC) is a quasi-governmental agency which is part of Community Action Agencies (CAA), a national organization housed in our community for over 50 years. CAA has assisted in the development of non-profits and several businesses in our community to this day. CAA was birthed out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. This legislation was administered to fight the war on America’s poverty. SDC was formed in Milwaukee County during this time and legislation was created to position SDC as a quasi-governmental agency for the sole purpose of helping people help themselves towards self-sufficiency.
In order to fight the war on poverty in Milwaukee County, SDC has taken several hits over the years fueled by negative newspaper articles led by former journalist Georgia Pabst of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Georgia’s main purpose was to assist in bringing down SDC because for most of the downtown business elite, SDC is too Black. I disagree. SDC is a countywide agency whose job is to help move residents beyond poverty. In Milwaukee County, the majority of those in poverty just so happens to be Black. When it comes to the dollars and resources administered to the Black community it becomes non-existent. For the last five years, we have watched as the system move all the resources out of our community and place them on the south side of the city. If you drive through the central city of Milwaukee you will see helplessness and hopelessness of the people who do not know how to fight off the systems that are keeping them poor.
Where are our leaders? We have community leaders, we have church leaders and we have political leaders but no one is sounding the alarm as resources and services are steadily being moved from our communities. It appears all of the leaders are receiving income off the backs of the poor but no one will stand up for what is right for fear of having their positions taken. Or, some of them have so much dirty laundry that the system is able to keep them in check and silent, rendering the voice that is supposed to speak on behalf of the community silent.
SDC is the last agency representing the poor that is still standing in our community. When the system came for OIC we all watched in horror as an agency built to assist our community was crippled and put to death. We did not say a word because the systems made the leadership look like crooks. Now they are coming for SDC and there is really no one left to fight off the system but a few.
What am I proposing to assist us? We need to get rid of the complacent elected officials who are not providing us with the leadership skills we need to move our community forward. We continue to elect people who do not have a clue or cannot find a way to make this community better. They get into office off the backs of the people and are not well verse in the resources to adequately uplift this community. Our elected leaders lack intellectual capital to help assist this community. Election cycle after election cycle I have seen people outside our communities choose leaders for us that do not have the wherewithal to get the job done for this community. How much longer are we going to suffer at the hands plaguing us? This is all by design. What we need are bold leaders who can work with our community to develop a plan and bring it into existence. We need more leaders to listen versus showing up trying to outtalk everyone in the room. We need more leaders who can bring resources to the table. We need more leaders who can be outspoken and not afraid of their own shadows. If you know leaders of this caliber I would like for you to bring them to the table so we can begin the work to help eradicate poverty in the Black community. Did you know four out five Black kids in Wisconsin live in poverty? This is tragic.
Let’s continue to support SDC and the programs and services provided to help move Milwaukee County residents beyond poverty. We need everyone to participate. The conditions are bleak but it will take an entire village to get this done. So, let’s be bold and innovative in developing a strategy to help lift our community out of this rut called poverty. We need to continue to support agencies like SDC who assist us in these efforts and we need to elect people who are willing to help us versus hinder us.