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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
UW-Madison graduate and mental wellness advocate Ti Banks shared his tactics to succeed in social justice and encouraged others to practice those as well in his Disability Awareness Week talk Tuesday.

UW-Madison graduate and mental wellness advocate Ti Banks shared his tactics to succeed in social justice and encouraged others to practice those as well in his Disability Awareness Week talk Tuesday.

Local community organizer advocates for mental wellness

"Are you angry enough to be that change?" Ti Banks asked the crowd at his talk discussing mental wellness and advocacy Tuesday.

As a black, queer, transgender, differently-abled man, Banks, a poet and UW-Madison graduate, spoke on the importance of being proud of one’s identity, even when one appears or feels different from others, and advocating for those who face similar challenges.

Banks, in discussing his intersectional identity, said growing up he realized “there were some things I wouldn’t be able to do the same [as] others.”

Dealing with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, he said he has found peace in the arts, especially writing. Banks said writing has allowed him to succeed in his passions for social justice and advocating for others.

“I have no choice but to fight and figure how to advocate for others who have challenges just like me,” Banks said.

He has continually used his poetry to advocate for others. During the speech, which was hosted by the Best Buddies at UW-Madison as part of Disability Awareness Week, Banks shared his own poem on Mike Brown. This poem focused on the intent to make a change within a community or culture.

Banks encouraged others to advocate for themselves, as well as others, and reflected on his own personal struggles during his time as an undergraduate at UW-Madison. He took nine years—which included leaving three times to seek help—to get his degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing due to mental health.

He also shared that he felt constantly “misgendered or gender-policed” during his time as a student. However, he says he channeled this pain into helping others, as seen through his movement to get hands-on counseling for First Wave students.

Banks has chosen to stay involved in the community after college in fighting for justice through his work as a community organizer at Freedom Inc. in Madison.

Banks encouraged others to stay true to themselves and strive to make a positive change.

“The only identity not true to me is being labeled something or someone outside of my name,” Banks said.

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