MISSION & HISTORY.
Social change starts when our exhaustion of societal injustice connects us to others who share our pain. In a region so deeply affected by structural racism and hyper-segregation, it was the combination of many events that defined Tosa Together.
Our two founders connected in the summer of 2016. In June a Black man named Jay Anderson was shot by a Wauwatosa Police Officer in Madison Park and then in August, Sylville Smith was shot by a Milwaukee Police officer in Sherman Park. These were both places where our founders had deep ties. Phone calls turned into meetings regarding racial tensions within Wauwatosa and increasing frustration with inadequate government response. Developing a considerate response to these tragedies brought them and five other women together. They began by developing ways to collaborate with and support Jay Anderson’s family in their quest for justice. This work became the foundation of Tosa Together’s mission to create a community that welcomes everyone. We believe that Wauwatosa is best served by seeing diversity as a strength and embracing it.
Addressing how to achieve racial equity has been a large part of our work. But as an organization, we define our goals more broadly. We are driven by the history of our region but also by specifics of our city where deeds have been written to exclude Blacks and Jews, where housing has been built primarily to serve the economically privileged, and where moving to the city "for the schools" has become a coded term for discomfort with multicultural communities.
We aim to teach and research the history of Wauwatosa’s exclusionary past, we aim to learn from Wauwatosa residents of color, we aim to converse with and challenge public officials who have the power to enact change, and we aim to perpetually dream about where our city could be someday. This goal is no small feat, and so we require as many hands and hearts as possible to walk alongside us.
We have made progress in the past few years. Our most significant accomplishment has been imagining and advocating for the establishment of the Equity and Inclusion Commission, an innovative approach to developing structural change in our city.
Other accomplishments include:
We established the annual Wauwatosa Black History Celebration
We spearheaded MLK and BHM activities for youth in the library
We advocated for students of color within the school district
We have encouraged review of the city’s strategic plan to include equity goals
We have hosted community dialogues around issues of equity and inclusion
But although our projects are important, the heart of our work is building relationships with each other. We cannot reach our goal of being a community that is welcoming to all unless we reach out to others who do not look or think the way we do. When we listen to each other and lift up our voices as a group, we understand that WE are called to be the change that Tosa needs and that we are therefore the change that Tosa seeks.
In order to complete this mission, we need your help. Please join us.