Recently, a sharp increase in violence has galvanized Milwaukee communities to look for solutions. Another perennial hot button topic in the city is racism, and the segregation it often causes.
It’s a topic Jennifer Morales knows well. Morales lived in Milwaukee for more than 20 years. It is where she raised her family, and where she was the first Hispanic to serve on the Milwaukee School Board.
Morales has since moved to Viroqua, but her new book, Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories, explores themes of racism, gender inequality, ageism and segregation in a collection of connected short stories.
Although recording the stories young Milwaukeeans had to tell about their experiences surrounding various prejudices growing up in the city was difficult, Morales found strength and inspiration in their determination.
"My heart was always getting broken for the things they have to struggle through just to be who they are and just to follow their dreams," she says. "Milwaukee is a really tough place for children to come up, and I just have learned so much from watching young people work their way through the barriers we've put up...I have learned so much about what it means to bloom where you're planted. We're always encouraging people to do that, but these kids are doing that everyday."
Jennifer Morales' book, Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories, was chosen as the 2015 UW-Milwaukee Common Read Experience selection. All incoming first-year students will read and discuss the book with faculty and staff during their first week on campus this fall.