Ti Banks—a UW-Madison graduate and poet—returned to campus Wednesday to deliver a talk explaining gender, race and gender-biased violence in Wisconsin, which was largely focused on his personal experiences.
After a brief open mic, the event began
After showing a glimpse of his poetry, Banks’ then took to reflecting on his past experiences that have shaped him into who he is today and the work he does.
Although Banks identifies as a “poet first and foremost,” he also works for Freedom Inc., which is a local activist organization aimed at ending “violence within and against [Madison’s] communities of color in low-income or no income areas.”
The UW-Madison grad then opened up about his experience in this area of work. Banks focused on state violence, intimate partner violence, surviving poverty and surviving violence. Banks originally talked about the gender and race biases against black queer transgender people before turning to the racial biases in the state. Banks used a series of statistics to illustrate the biases present in Wisconsin, especially Madison.
According to Banks, Madison is only 6 percent black, but 50 percent of those in the Dane County Jail are black. And 45 percent of those in jail have a bail set at less than $1,000, which Banks said most people simply cannot afford to pay.
Throughout his talk—which was hosted by the student organization Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment—Banks emphasized the importance of his intersecting identities as a black, transgender, queer, differently abled man as well as the significance of poetry and art throughout his life.
After transferring from the University of Iowa to UW-Madison, Banks said that he “felt like on stage was really the only time people heard” him.
After sharing some poetry and wisdom, Banks turned his attention to address the audience, who was primarily white. Banks stressed the importance of considering other viewpoints—especially the perspectives most pertinent to the problem at hand—and the importance of being aware of the responsibility that accompanies privilege.
“When you have an opportunity to go to school or advocate or you’re in a privileged position, you should know that you should not take that lightly.”