‘It’s about survival’: Panel describes what it feels like to be black in America today, how to move forward

Three local black figures are hoping that this conversation continues to happen and serious action comes out of it

MADISON, Wis. — News 3 Now’s Mark Koehn, Susan Siman and Jamie Perez sat down with a panel of local black figures in the Madison community to address the murder charges against the officer involved in George Floyd’s death, the tension between black and white communities and what we can all do to take action to improve our world.

“It’s about survival,” said former assistant dean for diversity officer at Edgewood College Glenna Scholle-Malone. “I’m an avid runner and for the first time, I saw a white man come in the opposite direction of me and I froze. I literally felt my heart stop. I thought what if he just came out and shot me.”

Fear is not the only thing we are seeing play out right now. It’s the hundreds of years of black history at the root of the riots in Minneapolis.

“The anger is there and so where do we release it? How is it channeled? That’s what we are seeing now. Not just what happened Monday. That’s just not the cause of it. Like Pastor Gee said, what happened for years, hundreds of years that continue to happen in our community is whats really being presented and coming out of these people,” said Pastor at Mount Zion Baptist Church Dr. Marcus Allen.

Allen’s feelings are shared throughout the black community. While many of us look at this situation and figure out how to move towards a better future where this stops happening, the black community wants everyone to think about how we can put our words into action.

“We figured out technology, we figured out how to still broadcast and stay six feet from each other,” Reverend Dr. Alex Gee of Nehemiah said. “White people are pretty astute and you figure out a lot of things. You may not have to understand what’s happening to me, but you have to help me understand what’s going on in the mind of that officer. I don’t need you to understand black people, but I need you to help me understand white people.”

Gee said he knows the problem can’t be solved in one day, and all three of these panelists said the trust in this country has been broken. But time is long overdue and we need to do something.

“I need to hear white people talk about that because we are going to say I’m numb, I’m beleaguered, I’m sad, I’m heartbroken, I’m discouraged, I’m frustrated, I’m alienated.You all know how I feel but what we don’t know is how you all feel,” Gee said. “What we don’t know is how white power structures and how white leaders feel. Because when we say we gotta fix it, then when it happens, our colleagues want to know how we are feeling but we have no idea how they’re feeling knowing they have not listened. ”