By Emma Bonack
How Alumni Felt About Post
A Facebook post continues to stir controversy. In this edition of The 411 Live, Beverly Taylor is joined by Carl Greer, Karon Sims, and Monte Berry, three alumni of Milwaukee Lutheran High School. The trio took umbrage with the school’s published Facebook post about its relationship with its black student body and the Black Lives Matter Movement. The alumni shared that it was disappointing but not surprising to see the post. Carl Greer explains, “It really aligned with my own personal experience at Milwaukee Lutheran and just not having a space where I felt affirmed as a black individual in America. So to read some of the things that they touched on in the statement, it really came off as me being tokenized as a black student in Milwaukee Lutheran.”
When asked about their experiences at Milwaukee Lutheran, each alumni had their own individual story that highlighted the cultural differences. Monte revealed that students had to test into the school. When his guidance counselor met with him to discuss classes, the counselor said, “You tested pretty good for a city boy.” Carl said he felt restricted from being his authentic self. “I definitely could tell there wasn’t really a space for me to be my authentic black self. And typically when folks try to be themselves authentically black, it was met with repercussions. You would get detention or you would get sent to the office, something of that nature when really kids are just being kids. Nobody’s doing anything that really would warrant that type of response.” Karon pointed out a school habit that has been going on for decades, “There was a lot of segregation, at least from my year. There was a lot of segregation like black students on one side and white students on the other side. And, um, I know a book that I read up that kind of talked about, like, why are all the black students sitting together in the cafeteria? It’s tough to talk about because it’s like, dang, we really went through that.”
To have had these experiences, and then to see the school post how much they’ve supported black lives and black families, Monte posted a video response to give a voice for others with experiences similar to his. “We were not trying to end the school. We don’t want the school to close down. We simply want the school to do better.” Monte described the backlash he received from his teachers and peers. “I started getting lots of messages from alumni trying to invalidate our experiences, trying to tell me it wasn’t true, that we were just trying to spark up some stuff.” It led Monte to reach out to the Milwaukee Lutheran administrators for a meeting in person or on Zoom.
Holding MLHS Accountable
Karon, Monte, and Carl met with the school’s principal shortly after a peaceful protest on the school grounds put together by MPS teacher, Angela Harris. Karon thought the meeting was a productive one but pointed out that none of the proposals materialized. A month later, Monte met up with the CEO of Milwaukee Lutheran, who was a lot more candid about what he was and wasn’t willing to do. The Facebook post had initially been reviewed by the CEO and 12 other school members, and the CEO was going to meet with the same people to fix it after their meeting with the alumni. Monte said he attempted to offer guidance with a statement to reconcile with the black community. “This is something that they could seek professional help from like Dr. Liston, who is – in this, she has a nonprofit that would be more than happy that, you know, to help. But they cut her out. They block her from their Facebook page. You know, they aren’t seeking help. They, they’re trying to solve everything within themselves, but they just don’t have the answers. You’re not gonna get it done that way.”
No other statements from Milwaukee Lutheran have been made. Monte reflects, “I think the core of why they didn’t want to do it is because they don’t want to be held accountable. They don’t want people checking in because at the end of the day, they’re not really planning on fixing anything.”