12 on Tuesday: Corinda Rainey-Moore

12 on Tuesday: Corinda Rainey-Moore
Corinda Rainey-Moore

Corinda Rainey-Moore brings more than 25 years of experience to her role as a clinical team manager at the nonprofit Journey Mental Health Center. She has worked and taught in the areas of substance abuse, crisis management, case management, group facilitation, stigma and advocacy. She has been a tireless advocate for people of color, making sure their unique health care needs are met. She holds a master’s degree in community mental health and is working toward her PhD.

Name your top 5 MCs:

2 Pac because he was way ahead of his time. His music is something that still rings true today. Jay-Z because he seems to not only master not just the music scene, but he is a real entrepreneur on multiple levels. MC Lyte. As a female artist, I don’t think she gets the credit she deserves. I had the chance to meet her in person and she is so authentic. LL Cool Jay seems to master family and career in a way that is awesome to see. He also has been able to stay relevant even today. You never hear anything negative about him. He can keep his lyrics true without all the profanity. Common because he is from Chicago but his music is off the chain. His lyrics speaks to me.

What motivates you more, doubters or supporters?

I think you need both doubters and supporters. You need doubters because they cause you to think deeper and fuel that fire in you. I am more propelled by people who support me. I have always been that person who only hangs around people who are positive, who believe in you even when you doubt yourself. These are the people that will push you to be greater than you can imagine but will be there to catch you if you need it. I think people often get confused, and forget that even when people support you, they will tell you the truth when you need to hear it.

What does it mean to be Black in Madison?

For me, it means that you carry a heavy burden. Though that burden is heavy, you must carry it until others can help lighten the burden. It means that you are always being judged in one way or another. It means you are always having to fight against injustice (not all perpetuated by whites, some even by People of Color) and often that means that you will stand alone. It means that you have to listen to whites who always try to justify not doing the right thing because they did not like the way you said something or the way it came out. If it is the right thing to do, you do it because it is the right thing to do. It means that you have to watch others get promoted and hired even though they are less qualified for the job than you are while keeping your faith and hope that this too will change. It means that as an African-American you have to work harder and longer hours while you still do not get the raise or the promotion. It means that you watch those whom you have trained be promoted while you do not.

You must not let others’ judgment of who or what they think you are cloud your knowledge of who you are and what you have overcome. It means that you are your brothers and my sisters’ keeper. It means that you have an obligation and a responsibility to open the doors for others who so many doors have been slammed on. It means that as you gain knowledge and awareness of how to navigate systems and resources you must be that bridge to show others the way ensuring that all blacks have access to opportunities.

It means that though the data show that Blacks are not achieving, I would argue there is also another side to the data. I would also argue that you don’t have to be what the data say you are. You have the ability to change and to shape your outcomes. More importantly, it means that your work is never done. To be black in Madison means you are not invisible. We see you, we hear you, we love you and we support you.

Now is a great opportunity to be Black in Madison. You might ask why I say this. The demographics of Madison are changing. Madison is now more diverse than it has ever been. People of Color are now positioning themselves to have a seat in the kitchen. As a Black in Madison, you must not only be at the table when decisions are made, you must be in the kitchen because a lot of decisions are made before they actually get to the table. Another reason is because people in Madison are now willing to listen to what we have been saying and what we as blacks in this community have known all along. People are not just willing to listen, but many of them are willing to do the work that is needed to make this the best place for all. Madison can no longer go on as status quo. The world is looking at us. What we do have the potential for national impact. We can no longer afford to be the tale of two cities. We must make this a place where everyone can thrive. There is no better opportunity than now.

What three leaders in Madison under 50 have impressed you the most?

There are way too many people to name. This is the question I struggled with the most because of the number of people that inspire me. I am inspired by those who most walk in their truths while at the same time uplifting others.

Nia Trammell: I think Nia is not only a powerful woman, she is smart and she leads quietly yet boldly. She is an Administrative Judge. She is the President of the Board of The Urban League of Greater Madison, she is community and civic minded. She is a founding member of Urban League Young Professionals. She is on the Police and Fire Commission Task Force. This task force has the ability to shape and influence policy around the Madison Police Department. This is crucial right now when so much is happening in our city and across the nation around how police engage and interact with communities of color. Lisa Peyton Caire: She is a wife and mother of five. She keeps it real. She is visionary. She came to Madison and sparked the can-do attitude in everyone. She also brought with her a vision to make Madison a better place. I love the work she is doing around disparities of African-American women in healthcare. We as women have to change our narrative around healthcare. This is something that we can change we can do something about. I love that she proved to all in Madison that there are causes that we as African-American care about and that we can come together on issues important to us. She has the tendency to inspire and motivates others to be their best self. She also has the attitude that if you want something in Madison that does not exist then create it yourself. I love that. Brandi Grayson: Brandi was willing to step out and be a voice against the system when so many others were not. She was willing to say what needed to be said despite the negative consequences and the negative reactions she received from others. She also was a prime example of how you do not have to be powerful to influence change. She led from grass roots efforts and was able to influence change. She and YGB were able to stop a new jail from being built, proving that you can make a difference. She changed the narrative on what it means to be black and started a shift in how Madison makes decisions on a variety of levels.

I also have to mention people like Michael Johnson, who thinks it and figures out a way to make it happen. Kaleem Caire who was so vocal about the needs of our children but who did not let his dream of having a school die just because he was voted down. He figured out a way to make it happen. He can also sit on the sidelines and watch others work and give kudos to them for their work. People like Percy Brown who leads often quietly. Percy has began to make big changes for our children in a big way. I have to mention Joe Maldonado, Christian Ariel, Derek Johnson, Mayra Medano.

What’s the biggest stumbling block in Madison to turning the corner on our racial disparities?

There are many stumbling blocks to turning the corner on racial disparities. For one, you have those people, including some People of Color, who want to deny that racism does not exist. For those who deny that it does exist, my question then becomes, why had there not been any outrage prior to the Race to Equity Report coming out? I know that my kids were educated in the Madison school system. I remember what it was like when they were in the schools. I remember their being one of a few students of Color in the advanced classes. I remember both my husband and I meeting with the teachers about low expectations for our children. We were in the schools two or three times a week, so the lack of parent involvement was not the issue, as I often hear people say today. The truth is that there are a multitude of ways for parents to be involved with their students. It is not always showing up at the schools. I think people make the assumptions that parents always have to be in the schools to be involved. If I am home helping my child with their homework or making sure the homework is done, then I am involved. If I am writing a letter or email to the teacher checking in as to how my child is doing, then I am involved. If I am getting my kids dressed and making sure they get to school daily and on time, I am involved.  Not everyone has a job that allows them to take off work and be in the schools. My husband and I were fortunate that we had jobs that allowed for flexibility.

The other question I ask is why was there or has there not been people who have been angry about the unemployment of People of Color, particularly African-Americans, before the Race to Equity Report? For African-Americans , the unemployment rate has been in the double digits for way too long. At one point I think it was 25 percent for African-Americans while for whites it was five percent. Yet there was no outcry about this. We did not see an outcry about the unemployment rate until the economy crashed and whites were experiencing unemployment an increase in unemployment.

You also have some who want to blame people for their own circumstances. While some of this is valid, I would say that the issues surrounding the disparities are more complex than just one issue or one solution. When you look at the historical context, it has not been that long since slavery ended. For some there is a sense of hopelessness. For others, it is the lack of seeing people who look like you in successful roles. For some it is not having the tools to be able to deal with people who are different. I am not just talking about whites who do not know how to deal with blacks, you also have blacks who are not able to navigate systems in a way that yield positive outcomes for themselves. You also have a lack of mentors. If you don’t have mentors, someone who is able to be not just a sounding block for you but someone that you trust who is able to help guide you as to how to navigate systems. The mentor is also someone who believes in you and who will carry the hope for you even when you are not able to carry this hope for yourself.

What are your top three priorities at this point in your life?

My three top priorities at this point in my life are first and foremost making sure my family is okay, particularly, making sure that my marriage continues to be strong, my kids and grandkids are doing well. Particularly, making sure my grandkids successfully get through the Madison and Sun Prairie school districts and attend college. I do not want them to be a statistics for those not doing good because there is another statistics that we do not always hear about and that is of those students, particularly those students of color, who are doing well in school.

Secondly, my next priority is completing my dissertation. This will allow me the opportunity to further the work that I am doing to be a voice in the community for those who have not always had a voice. It will also allow me to continue to change the trajectory for my family. As a child from a single mom of six children growing up in the inner city of Chicago, and the first in my family to complete college, I want others in my family and in the community to know that if I can do it so can you. I know this sounds cliché but my life is a mirror image of some of their lives. I want them to know that education can change your circumstance but can also put you in a position to leverage the types of jobs you want.

Thirdly, my last priority is to make sure that I am living my life in God’s purpose. This means that I continue to work to make my community a better place. I would like do whatever I can to help others find their voice, to help others break the cycle of poverty, to help Madison become a thriving place for all people. This means helping our community and workforce embrace diversity.

You’re the Interim President of the Urban League Young Professionals and the Vice President of the Madison Network of Black Professionals. What makes these groups different from each other?

First I would like to talk about that makes these groups similar is that both groups want to help African-American thrive in terms of their careers and in terms of social aspects of their lives. Both have networking opportunities that allow the space for African-Americans to get to know other professionals. Both also have a component to them on professional development. We provide people with tools and opportunities to enhance their skills so that they can go out and leverage those skills to get the land the job of their choice. They both believe in partnering and collaborating with other programs and agencies to enhance the work we are doing.

I would say the difference is how we go about executing our programs. Another difference is that Madison Network of Black Professionals is its own entity. It is a local organization. While Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals operates under the umbrella of the Urban League of Greater Madison. The Urban League Young Professionals is part of a national movement.

You are a member of the Sisters with a Book club. What three books would you recommend every black women should read?

Happiness by Choice by Marilyn Tam.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. I think everyone should read this book. It will change the way you see the world. The Mis-Education of The Negro by Carter G. Woodson.

What are some of the biggest mental health issues facing people of color, based on your professional experience?

The biggest mental health challenges people of color are access to services and denial about mental health issues. People of color are the most traumatized. When you look at risk factors for mental health issues, they include all of the things highlighted in the Racial Equity Report, the Tipping Point and the State of Black Madison. These include poverty, lack of education, unemployment, lack of access to transportation. These all impact our health as well. Yet we are the ones that are struggling to get access to services. By the time we do get access it is often when people are at the point where it requires being hospitalized, jailed and or placed on some of the more potent medications which often has severe side effects. We are in denial about the impact that mental health issues have not just on our health but on our families. We are in denial about suicide in our communities. We are in denial about mental illness which is sad because mental illness is treatable. There are several strategies that can be use that we as people of color do not use which are therapy, wellness activities, and yes in some cases medications along with these other treatment also helps.

Star Trek or Star Wars? Why?

Star Trek. I grew up watching Star Trek with my family. It was something we did together as a family unit. Star Trek revolved around technology that was far advanced than its time. Star Trek showed us that we could reach for the stars. I have never watched a Star Wars series unfortunately.

If you could meet with anyone in Madison, who would that person be and why?

I would love to meet Dr. Carla Pugh. Not only is she great at her work but she is also responsible for training and educating the next generation of doctors. She is leading in a field that has predominantly been led by men. I would also love to meet and talk with Governor Walker. I know people might ask why. I would really like to sit down and hear from his perspective about why he makes some of the decisions that he does that are impacting so many in a negative way.

You are involved with a lot of different groups in Madison. How do you prioritize your time and decide which things you should participate in?

Most of the things that I am involved in center around helping people of color thrive. The work that I do are in alignment with my values. I also prioritize based on my family priorities and obligations. I also love work that work directly with individuals one on one; that way you get to build lasting relationships and help others on a more personal note. I always had a mentor so it is important to me that I give back.