West Milwaukee resident Melvette Scott tells UpNorthNews why she spent Tuesday helping Milwaukee’s black community
[Editor’s Note: UpNorthNews is reporting on positive things Wisconsin residents did during an unprecedented, dangerous election on Tuesday. This story is delivered in an as-told-to format and has been edited for length, context, and clarity.]
I’m Melvette Scott, a 52-year-old substance abuse counselor from West Milwaukee. As thousands of Milwaukee voters waited in lines hundreds of people long on Tuesday, I was handing out bandanas to those without anything to shield their faces.
By the time the polls closed, I had given out 50 bandanas at all five of the city’s voting sites.
I started out thinking this was probably going to be impossible. I remember praying, just asking that I could find something. I went to like five different stores, but they were out of bandanas. Something told me to go toward the South Side. I started going, and I got to 24th and Lincoln in the Layton Park neighborhood and there was a Walgreens.
I went in there, and I looked around and I didn’t see any, so I went to leave. But I asked an employee if she knew where I could find any bandanas, and she was just about to put some out. I bought them all.
I wanted to make sure people were protected, since they were forced to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote. I wanted to be the example of what I feel we should be as human beings and representative of what Milwaukee should be like.
This pandemic is shining a light, exposing the segregation and the racism in Milwaukee, the disparity within the healthcare system. Forty-two of Milwaukee County’s 59 coronavirus deaths so far have been African Americans, and 658 of the county’s almost 1,500 infected residents are African Americans.
As African Americans, we have a sense of resiliency. We’ve learned to play the hand we’re dealt. And that’s just been in our DNA through history. We’ve overcome worse times than these. Nothing surprises us, and we just try to continue being God-loving, God-fearing people and try to treat people how we want to be treated.
The only thing that kept coming to my mind was Michelle Obama when she said, “When they go low, we go high.”
It’s just interesting how you can politicize the value of human life, and I’m talking about both parties. Whether Gov. Tony Evers should have done something sooner, or you want to blame the state Supreme Court for overturning his emergency order, I just don’t see how that was a bargaining piece, period. They say, “This is democracy at its finest.” This was democracy at its worst.
If I played you in a game of basketball, and every time you played me, I cheated, you shouldn’t feel like giving up. No, you should figure out how I keep cheating and how you can win, even with me cheating. And that’s how I see the vote for the African American people.
We have to believe in the right to exercise our vote, even if we feel like it’s not fair. With voter suppression, they’re going to be cheating. But you don’t give up.