UW–Madison’s Jackson shares thoughts on Kenosha protests with Diverse Issues

Diverse Issues in Higher Education utilized the expertise of UW–Madison’s Jerlando Jackson in an article examining the causes of the recent protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the shooting of a Black man, 29-year-old Jacob Blake, by a police officer on Aug. 23.

Jackson is a Vilas Distinguished Professor and chair of the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, as well as the director and chief research scientist at Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory. He noted a 2013 study from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee found that Wisconsin incarcerated the most Black men in the United States, which in turn has the highest incarceration rate of any country.

Jackson said that he feels the Midwest is “often overlooked” in national conversations about racism.

Wisconsin isn’t a “sexy place to discuss,” he said, so it avoids the public eye. However, he continued that “we should not be left off any policy discourse when it comes to policing, and particularly policing Black males.”

Jackson described Wisconsin as a “laboratory for understanding what’s wrong with policing” and a “laboratory for recognizing that you can live among it and not even know it exists.” But “you don’t get to be the worst at something by accident.”

As for the protests in Kenosha, Jackson said they are “more than a continuation of the national anti-racism protests ignited by the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minnesota.” He said that “it’s a cry to be seen after years of neglect.”

This is the result of “many, many decades of pent-up frustration — to be in a place where perhaps you’re living under conditions that you know are among the worse in our country, and no one is really talking about it…” he said. These protesters are people who are “continuing being ignored, continuing being overlooked but also carrying on the same energy — and might I add, positive energy — to bring this greater awareness (that) racial discrimination and inequity needs to stop in our country. (Blake is) yet another example that didn’t have to happen.”

For more insights from Jackson and other experts on this critical issue, check out the full article on the Diverse Issues in Higher Education website, here.