Brianna Anderson of Colgate said she gets dirty looks or comments on her vehicle for having Black Lives Matter or Say Their Names on a sign on her vehicle. She has marched in various peaceful protests to spread awareness of racism. (Photo: Submitted)
When Brianna Anderson of Colgate became vocal in the Black Lives Matter movement, she said, she noticed an increase in racist comments and insensitivity toward issues of race.
“It just came out of the woodwork,” said Anderson, who attended high school in Menomonee Falls for three years and graduated from Germantown High School in 2011.
People have given her dirty looks or have flipped her off for having a Black Lives Matter or a Say Their Names sign on her car. Some have told Anderson, who is biracial, to “go back to Milwaukee.”
In addition, Anderson noted that anti-racist messages drawn with chalk on pavement outside her Menomonee Falls workplace has drawn fire from some as vandalism. She said that similar chalk messages drawn during the coronavirus pandemic were widely accepted without comment.
“When people’s feathers start to get ruffled, people who may not have said things out loud are voicing their opinion,” she said.
The increased racism and dialogue is why Anderson said there needs to be still more peaceful marches in Menomonee Falls as well as the other suburbs.
Every Friday at 6 p.m., there will be a protest march in a different suburb. Menomonee Falls will have a rally June 26 at Lime Kiln Park, south of Main Street and East of Appleton Avenue. (Photo: Submitted)
“We want to open people’s eyes,” said Anderson.
Silence in the Suburbs rallies
Toward that end, a series of rallies are planned at 6 p.m. every Friday through October, each in a different suburb.
The June 26 Silence in the Suburbs march will be at Menomonee Falls’ Lime Kiln Park, south of Main Street and east of Appleton Avenue.
Additional events are planned July 3 in Pewaukee, July 17 in Brookfield, July 24 in Cedarburg, Aug. 14 in Waukesha, Aug. 28 in Germantown, Sept. 4 in New Berlin, Sept. 18 in Muskego, Oct. 2 in Wauwatosa, Oct. 9 in Franklin, Oct. 16 in Sussex and Oct. 30 in Fox Point.
A full schedule and location details are available on the group’s Facebook page, Break the Silence in the Burbs. It is a private page, but people can join by answering a few questions.
‘Solidarity in the suburbs’
“We want to have solidarity in the ‘burbs,” said Brittany Vulich, organizer of the Silence in the Suburbs marches.
“I was finding myself having to go to Milwaukee (to protest),” said Vulich, who is white, explaining how she came up with the idea for the marches.
“We try to prioritize locations with recent incidents of racism,” she added.
She said organizers are attempting to get speakers for each event who have experienced racism in the community. The rallies will also include songs or prayers and a 2- to 3-mile march. They will also include resources and a way for people to take action.
“We are inviting people of color to elevate their voices,” said Vulich. “I am tired of seeing posts or hashtags when a black or brown person is murdered by law enforcement. This is enough. We need to take action and to do something. I said I am not going to share one more post until I do something.”
Another coordinator, Dan Larsen, who lives in the town of Cedarburg, said he had only had about five Black classmates in his 2010 graduating class.
“We want to help elevate local black voices by giving POC a platform where they feel comfortable and empowered to share their stories, said Larsen, who is white. “And to use those stories as a way to help educate folks in our communities on systemic racism.”
‘I just wish people understand’
Anderson said that one of the goals for the events is for people to understand some of the deeper issues of race.
She said for instance, that “Black Lives Matter” does not mean that other lives do not. For instance, she said, if there is a breast cancer walk, it does not mean that other cancers are not important.
“But this is the group that needs that extra love right now,” she said.
She said she feels that when she talks this out with people, they are beginning to understand and say, “No one explained it like that.”
“I just wish people understand,” said Anderson.
She added “there is more work to be done. Until there is some sort of reform or turning point, it can’t stop.”
Cathy Kozlowicz can be reached at 262-361-9132 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @KozlowiczCathy.
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