Over time I’ve recognized that to live in Milwaukee, is to feel like you have to live with the weight of grief forever. Never understanding why, but knowing that grief will follow you, no matter how hard you try to run from it. I have seen firsthand how gun violence can impact not only the grieving family, but also an entire block, neighborhood or community. I know what it feels like to walk outside of your home and have to reconcile with the fact that this may be your last time on this earth. To have our names and our lives immortalized on street corners with teddy bears and deflated balloons, hoping that the loss allows us to realize how hurt we really are as a community. My connection exists beyond just simply being from this city. I am a part of a generation of community members interested in interrogating everything we were taught was normal. We understand that grief is a human process, but we yearn to discover how to heal from these moments. This connection is quite literally my life. A continuous cycle of learning and unlearning, with the intent to heal.
My personal stake in this film is based on the fact I was born and raised in Milwaukee. Not too far from Sherman Park. This city alone has tales and narratives that can stand the test of time, but no one bothers to listen. No one bothers to ask us who we really are? And to be quite honest, a lot of us wouldn’t know how to answer that question in the first place. So I find myself, as a filmmaker, deeply connected to this project because I seek to archive moments that allow our city to speak for itself, on its own terms.
Milwaukee as a city has always been a microcosm for Black American identity. This city incorporates the radical and vigilant energy of the coasts, to the earnest and soulful religious attitudes of the south, with the angst and expression that comes from Detroit or Chicago, and our own unique history with orchestral musicianship, but it is still difficult to conceptualize what this place really is. So, for Milwaukee to birth this kind of response to violence through music, is in a way cathartic. To tell this story cinematically will add to the ever growing archive of dialogues happening nationally about what communities actually need. Continually and constantly begging the question of, “how do we move forward,” and attempting to answer it in real time.