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Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012

Issue of the Week: Judging Candidates on Merit

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The color of a person's skin is no way to choose a candidate.

At the predominantly black monthly Community Brainstorming Conference on Saturday, state Rep. Elizabeth Coggs, a candidate for state Senate, told the audience to vote for someone who “looks like you.” That sentiment flies in the face of everything that good and honorable people, black and white, have fought for over the past 60 years. Racism is racism whether it comes from someone who is white or African American.

The civil rights movement, which literally cost some people their lives, fought to create a colorblind society in which, to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., people are judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Whether it is a Southern white racist or an African-American Wisconsin state legislator, the sentiment of voting by race is not only wrong, but also equally disgusting.

Eliminating people as potential candidates simply because of their race is completely unfair. It hurts more than those candidates; our society as a whole suffers greatly. We need the best qualified people to be elected, just like we need the best qualified people to be hired for jobs based on education, accomplishment and experience—not on the color of their skin.

Milwaukee's great civil rights leader Vel Phillips has endorsed Rep. Coggs in her Senate race. After Coggs' statement, which stands contrary to everything that Phillips has spent her life fighting for, the question is: Will Ms. Phillips take back her endorsement?

Heroes of the Week
: Above the Clouds Instructors and Volunteers

Above the Clouds (510 E. Burleigh St.) is an after-school oasis for disadvantaged Milwaukee children ages 5-17 that offers free creative arts education for those who would otherwise not have the means or opportunity to participate. This faith-based nonprofit held its first class in 2002 and now has multiple locations hosting a variety of programs, including drawing, martial arts, music and drama, to name just a few. Above the Clouds promotes parent involvement and frequently suggests parents join their children during program field trips to help strengthen family bonds and share exciting learning experiences. Classes are offered year round in safe, positive environments where instructors and volunteers help kids learn social skills while encouraging individual creativity.

“We have wonderful instructors and the best staff and volunteers who love all the children,” said Linda Wade, president of Above the Clouds. “We could not do what we do without them.”

Currently, Above the Clouds is in need of portable ballet barres and sponsors to help cover spring recital costs. In addition, the organization is seeking passionate volunteers to fill five available board member positions. For more information about volunteer opportunities, donations or programs, call Linda Wade at 414-344-3019 or visit www.abovethecloudsmilwaukee.com.

Event of the Week
: Lanterns for Peace

Each August, Peace Action Wisconsin commemorates the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by creating origami cranes and Japanese lanterns and floating them on the Milwaukee River. This year's celebration will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4, at Pere Marquette Park at Kilbourn Avenue and Old World Third Street. Participants will make cranes and lanterns as the Youth Dance Company and KT's Universal Love Band perform. The commemorative peace program will begin at 7:30 p.m., featuring a presentation by Dr. Jeffrey Patterson of Physicians for Social Responsibility and music by Glenn Asch and Charles Asch. The Japanese lanterns will float on the Milwaukee River at 8:30 p.m. Food is available, but please bring blankets or chairs. For more information, go to www.peaceactionwi.org or call 414-964-5158.
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