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New Ozaukee Student Group Holds Conversations Around Systemic Racism

Courtesy of Ozaukee Youth United
Ozaukee Youth United held a panel on systematic racism on July 25. (From left) Nathan Baker, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Erica Turner, Tory Lowe, Teon Austin, and Natalie Peters were at the event.

After the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May, there's been an emergence of local activist groups in and around Milwaukee.

They’re working toward raising awareness around racism and fighting for racial equity. One of those groups is Ozaukee Youth United. This group was founded by Natalie Peters and Nathan Baker, both soon-to-be seniors at Grafton High School. It was created to be a bullhorn for student activists for all different issues. 

“Whether that be environmental, mental health issues, or civil rights, Ozaukee Youth United’s mission is to provide a space to aid student activists in the community in whatever issue they chose to concern themselves with," says Baker.

The group's first event, held on July 25, was a panel aided discussion on systemic racism. Audience members were given designated parking spots where they could safely watch the panel and were encouraged to ask questions after.

Here's a clip from the panel: 

Peters says through this work, they have started to connect with students from their high school and others who are interested in joining.

“We’re hoping that as the word spreads and after we advocate for more work that students are doing, that we get a bigger following and more people are interested in joining,” she says.

While Ozaukee county is over 90% white, both Peters and Baker believe racial justice is something their peers should be thinking about.

“Just writing off talking about it all together is refusing to acknowledge that there are people within our own community and community members who do face issues that we might not face. So, it’s just about being a good community member and a good citizen,” says Baker.

Peters agrees that white people have a responsibility to step up and be engaged.

“A lot of the reason we wanted to do something was [because] we saw all of this happening, and we saw protests and we wanted some way to get involved and stay involved and I think our group, Ozaukee Youth United, allows us that chance,” she says.

Ozaukee Youth United has planned a series of three follow-up talks to further discuss systemic racism. The next talk is Tuesday night from 6-8, with more on Aug. 11 and 18.

Angelina Mosher Salazar joined WUWM in 2018 as the Eric Von Broadcast Fellow. She was then a reporter with the station until 2021.
From 2020 to 2021, Jack was WUWM's digital intern and then digital producer.