By Joanna Love, Local Activist, and Guest Blogger
I grew up in Milwaukee, lived right at the border of the Southside and West Allis. In those times, the schools in the neighborhood seemed to be "reserved for white people only," not only because that’s the way I remember but because it is a fact— Milwaukee is the most segregated city in the country.
I attended school on the Northside; middle school and high school were my most fun years. All I remember was there were always Black and Latino children in school with almost nothing in between had it not been for the teachers and staff (the only white people around).
I attended middle school just a couple of blocks up from the old Bradley Center where the new Fiserv Forum is.
In my early adult life, people would hype about the Bucks and it was like I never knew different. The Bucks have always been my team; it’s synonymous with home. I haven't always followed the NBA, but I did notice we had a growing amount of fans and that was awesome. I even heard from people that said they never even knew Wisconsin had a basketball team.
In recent years, the Bucks’ Latino fan base started to grow. I remember a couple of years back, there were stickers going around the community that read, "Los Bucks"
That was pretty interesting and exciting to me. I feel like the basketball court was a special place where Black and Latinos would come together and, in our own way, fight against the system that was constantly trying to divide us; constantly trying to make us believe we’re more different than we are alike.
I could see with my friends that our communities were coming together as a family. There was this big court at Kosciuszko park where I spent many evenings and nights watching my homies playing outside and it's just some of my best memories.
I am not the greatest basketball fan out there, but given the connection, I have with our Milwaukee team and my own experiences, I am so proud to see what I always have considered my team doing so well!
Historically, I’ve seen how (in the last years) the fan base has just exploded. I'm always so proud that our city is finally on the map. I was following the 2021 NBA games very closely, especially towards the end—early June or so—and I just couldn't believe what I was experiencing.
I am so so proud during the games. When we watch them as a family, even my children are screaming, "Go Bucks!"My daughter recently got a basketball. On Tuesday, July 21st, I was driving with my dad and kids back from a small trip we had taken and was surprised that my dad was pretty excited about the games too.
He had taken me to a couple of games when I was a child and when he found out there was going to be a game nearby, he was so excited to take the kids and I. We arrived in Milwaukee and everything was lit up green: the top of the Ho-Chunk casino; the highways, businesses; flags all over; cars all over. You could just tell people were happy and that they didn't care much if the Bucks actually won or lost that night; we had already made it so far.
When we got home, it was the 4th quarter and minute 11, so we had just caught the best time. We were all watching, my entire family. The first half of the game was sooooo stressful, very on and off. The Bucks would be up then they would be back down. When we were finally up and in the last minutes, that was it!
The last three minutes were even more stressful because even though we were up, we couldn't let our guard down. It was such a beautiful but stressful time. The Bucks were up. They stood up and there it was, the last seconds of the game. We were still up, then the Suns scored a point or so, but I was confident that the Bucks would be the champs.
The last seconds were the longest but once it got to about 6, I just remembered the Bucks had the ball bouncing slowly across the court, and then...
I saw Giannis running, and I was like, that was it. The Bucks won!!!
We all started screaming. Fireworks started pounding loudly outside and there were even burning tires!
My kids were like, "Yessss we did it!" It was a beautiful feeling, I almost couldn't believe it but in my heart, I knew it— the Bucks were already winners.
Social media started exploding. It was nothing but, "The Bucks." I headed to Deer District the next day as they were updating the mural outside the Fiserv Forum; from, "History in the making" to "History Made."
I was there. Everyone was still so pumped, people started screaming, "Bucks in Six!” There was a super long line of people trying to get into the Bucks pro-shop. I joined the line too because I needed my trophy.
As a fan and activist, I am very proud that the Bucks are not just making history by winning again in 50 years, but leading the conversation in such an important and long overdue subject—social and racial justice!
We need that. We need to normalize the conversation of social and racial justice so that we can come together, fight together, and win together because we are not that different from each other as the system wants us to think.
We are all humans that breathe and shed red blood. I am hoping that this is a path for change, not just on a basketball court, but within the larger systems at play. I hope that this is a path for change not just for one moment, but that we can come together, fight together, and win together long term.
I am very proud that Latinos are normalizing coming together with other communities, especially with those whom we were told were our enemies, when they have never been.
If this is a way to do so, this is a beautiful way to do it. Sports are a great passion and a way to connect, as should the fight for human rights.
Support Larissa, as her daughter is need of a surgery and Larissa is asking our community for help for the expenses of her living during her time off, please give here: https://gofund.me/dff3c37f
Larissa Joanna, is a Wisconsin activist for social and racial justice and advocate for undocumented workers -10years+ volunteer for Voces de La Frontera -Intake specialist for Workers Justice Wisconsin - Food Industry Worker - Single Mom of two!