Power 2 Change: Robin Tinnon of We All Rise

Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 7:19 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 20, 2020 at 9:50 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - As a community resource, WBAY-TV2 knows we need to do more, to advance the conversation about race in Northeast Wisconsin.

This is the Power 2 Change.

We All Rise-African American Resource Center is filling a need in the community by connecting families with education, resources, and emotional support. After working for the Green Bay school district, We All Rise Executive Director Robin Tinnon realized that families could benefit from a permanent place that offered culturally specific services.

Tinnon also has a leadership role in Black Lives United, a local group that creates a voice for change. She talks about her work with families and tells us how the community can support a vision of equity.

“My name is Robin Tinnon, I am a longtime community member in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I am also Executive Director of We All Rise African American Resource Center. I grew up in this community, I went to Lombardi Middle School, Southwest High School, I am a graduate of UWGB in human development and psychology. And right now I am finishing up my masters in clinical mental health at Lakeland University here in Green Bay. And so when I went to school, even here in Green Bay, I remember messages from leaders that thought, would say things like, ‘you’re a lot different than those other kids’ and ‘you’re a lot smarter than them.’ And ‘I wish that they were all like you, and behaved like you.’ Um. Those messages were not only harmful for me, but also really harmful messages for the other kids that had grown up, in the same environments, but did not have the language to talk about what their needs were, talk about the realities that poverty and homelessness and things that we know have systemically happened in black communities. And historically happened in black communities that have led to those circumstances and situations.

“At We All Rise, we talk about the soul of Black people. We talk about the realities that they are so strong, so beautiful and so resilient. We talk about the realities that most of our kids suffer from postpartum depression because of systemic things that have happened in neighborhoods. That they have, without any fault of their own, grown up in. In Green Bay, we started Black Lives United in 2016 after the murder of Philando Castile in Minnesota. A lot of folks in our community were just called to action, called to protest, and to raise awareness about such issues as police brutality that’s how it came about, and so we have the mission to unite folks of color and our comrades in building a beloved community. I feel like when we started, that back in 2016—we really had been crawling to get the momentum, and get our messaging across to folks in Green Bay. But specifically in the last couple months, and after the pandemic and what we see now is that folks are paying attention.

“And so when we say ‘Black Lives Matter’ it’s really for folks across our globe to be intentional about investing in, and loving Black folks. And doing what they need to help them be successful, to provide equity, to invest in things that actually work for the Black community. This savior mentality that we’ve created as a culture—Black folks don’t need to be saved. They need to be loved, they need to be invested in, they need to be provided resources that will help them to be successful. And when I say investment, it means not just giving of clothes, or giving of a gas card. It means to really think about how as a nation we need to make sure our schools and communities that are ridden with poverty, where the war on drugs has affected us for years, have the books that they need to be successful.

“I want people to realize that the different systems of change, means that in your own sphere of influence, doing what you can to be of direct support to Black folks. Not creating policies and practices and decisions for them. But actually asking Black people, ‘What is it that you need? What is it that we need to be doing in our city to make sure that you are living equitable lives?’ And knowing that if you help those folks, folks that are most under-served, and underrepresented that everybody wins.”

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