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From Missouri to Spain, I’ve called many places my temporary home. But I always come back to you, my forever home. We grew up together. I can still hear the sounds of basketballs rattling aluminum on the sidewalk as I played “cans” with my brothers. I can still see the dance battles at block parties, sweet 16s, and basketball games. I can still smell the barbecue from Speed Queen on my bus ride home. And I can still feel the nerves in my stomach as I moved away from you for the first time at 17.
People always told me “you gotta get out of Milwaukee,” but the truth is, you never left me. No matter in a backpack, suitcase, or in my heart, I carry our memories and our struggles everywhere I go. You shaped me to be the Black woman and the traveler I am today. We are not perfect, and our flaws normally make national headlines. Yet, we’re still here. Every day straddling the lines of grinding, surviving, and thriving. I think our resilience is unmatched.
Now, it seems as if the country wants to love us for that resilience. Kind of. Due to Black voters and community organizing done by Black Leaders Organizing Communities and Leaders Igniting Transformation, we're being thanked for saving America from four more years of you know who. It’s a conflicting feeling: to be celebrated for saving a country from itself. To save a country that conveniently only remembers there are Black people in battleground states every four years. To save a country that has not always felt like the most welcoming home. But we did. We can celebrate today, because we know you are our forever home, Milwaukee, and the real work has only just begun.
Photograph: Courtesy Sojourner White