My name is Jonathan Jackson, and I have led Milwaukee Film since our first Festival in 2009.
What I want to say today is simple, but not easy: As CEO of Milwaukee Film, I have failed to do my part in dismantling the segregation and systemic racism that plague both our community and our organization.
For that, I apologize today to my community, to my organization, and especially to my employees of color.
I have been in a state of emotional wreckage for several reasons over the past week. I thought one of them was over a feeling of powerlessness to do anything meaningful to change our society. I realize now that was not one of the reasons.
I was in emotional wreckage because I was not doing my part to change society.
I thought I was doing enough in part because of my pride in Milwaukee Film’s Black Lens program, which was co-founded by Geraud Blanks and Dr. Donte McFadden in 2014. That incredible program seemed like proof that I was doing what I could to battle systemic racism and injustice in our community.
I was wrong, and that stops today.
I am sharing this publicly so that I am held accountable.
We have so much work to do at Milwaukee Film, and this work starts with the fact that our organization is based in a majority minority city and our organization does not reflect that. Not even close. This must change.
This work we are embarking on is going to be uncomfortable for me and for our organization, but I personally welcome that discomfort.
In the coming days, weeks, months, and years, Milwaukee Film will and must take meaningful action on racial justice and all forms of equity, diversity, and inclusion work in order to not just make our own organization more equitable, but to make Milwaukee, the film industry, and America more just.
Otherwise these words mean nothing: Black Lives Matter.