“A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.” – Robert A. Heinlein
Whether in the gym, during the first semester of law school, or somewhere else, everyone learns that the key to improving or doing anything great is to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
TR Edwards, Marquette 2019, located in Milwaukee, is a political strategist and lobbyist for a large labor union.
Many in our nation, unfortunately, are choosing comfort over healing and true “greatness.”
I have spent the past decade of my life in politics and as a self-described “rabble rouser.” As of late, my life has come to focus on public education and the need to support students and educators financially and socially. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, unprecedented pressure has been heaved on our educational system. Educators have been forced to adapt and lead on the fly. For a moment, their true value as the stewards of our future and crucial backbone of our economy was being understood. Then something happened.
After the murder of George Floyd, efforts to better understand race, disparity, and brutality became en vogue in unprecedented ways. In particular, I have been in awe of the efforts of the educators I serve because they have been teaching our nation’s story in a way that edified all students. Educators have been expounding upon Black stories year-round and have focused on the contributions and challenges faced by Black Americans beyond just the familiar stories of Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass.
Whether as backlash or the paradoxical pendulum of change, public education and educators in the United States have come under fire for their intention to create more equitable and honest classrooms. Accusations of politicization and shaming have been pervasive. Educators and education leaders have been verbally and sometimes physically attacked or threatened for what I personally consider to be a commitment to honesty and truth. There even have been book burnings commenced in state legislatures around the country in response to these teachings. Many people have replaced a desire to include and understand with a zealotry and fervor meant to oust any discussion that makes the majority feel uncomfortable.
This discomfort and accompanying pushback are markers that we are close to change. However, for positive change to occur in our society, we cannot hide from our nation’s past. We must honestly and truthfully understand it and embrace it, which will mean being uncomfortable.
For this Black History Month (and for all months to follow), I ask that you choose to be uncomfortable. Please embrace the conversations and history that cause you to question your reality. Read an author you haven’t heard of before or about a topic you’ve never thought of. Focus on understanding the perspective of someone different from you. This is how we eradicate the idea of other for the hope of one (nation).
Please embrace the conversations and history that cause you to question your reality.
Meet Our Contributors
You’re an investor and you produce financial education materials for young people. Tell us about that.
I truly believe that financial freedom is a goal that is attainable for all of us and that it is integral if we are going to make our society safer and healthier. I invest and teach because I want to demystify personal finance and show that anyone, even working-class kids from Milwaukee’s north side, can improve their station. In the past, I worked on projects to teach basic principles of finance: planning, budgeting, and investing. In the future, I hope to create spaces within the community to have conversations about the psychology of money and how we can break the cycles of the past.
I believe that to improve our society, we must become more stable and literate financially. I have seen how financial woes and worries can rip a family and a community apart. A community’s financial duress often correlates to higher crime rates, higher divorce rates, educational disparities, health disparities, and a lack of political power.
In the end, I hope that part of my legacy will be that I led my family, and hopefully many others, out of the cycles of poverty that have trapped us. To do this we will have to build our knowledge base and normalize conversations around money. I believe we can come together to leverage our current resources for future success.
TR Edwards, Milwaukee.
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» Cite this article: 95 Wis. Law. 72 (February 2022).