“Something like this could save the world, we are at the tip of being able to cure racism and discrimination,” said Lewis Lee who servel multiple prison sentences in Milwaukee.
53206 is the zip code that possesses one of the highest incarceration rates in the country. This is the zip code for Milwaukee Wisconsin, where 812 citizens are incarcerated for every 100,000 individuals. In the 2010 census Milwaukee had the highest percentage of black men who are incarcerated. With one out of every eight working age black men are behind bars.
This is where Lewis Lee lives. Lee has several prison sentences in the Milwaukee prison system and is now part of the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative. According to the official website ‘the purpose is to bring men, fathers and future father’s together to identity solutions and resources for support in promoting positive activity in the father role,’
“I believe that racism and discrimination comes from a lack of understanding culture, I believe the device like a portal can allow us to understand culture and have other cultural experiences with the everyday person like we need to to find out how the world really works,” Lee said.
Lee has also had the opportunity to speak to others from around the world just like the students at WHS. According to Lee everyone wants the same thing, they want peace, they want good opportunities for their families.’The world needs to communicate face-to-face on a daily basis we can heal the world’.
“Shared studios is a project focused on creating human connections between communities separated by geographic distance and culture differences,” W.H.S. history teacher and shared studios organizer Ross Phillips said.
WHS got the money to have the portable room that students get to do the connection in from a grant that the school applied for. The rates vary depending on how long its booked for, if it's for educational purposes or if it's for a workplace. WHS has had the opportunity to talk to many different countries including Iraq, Rwanda, Afghanistan and Bolivia.
“It's really easy and it's kind of human nature for us to get trapped talking with like minded people and it's not an intentional thing but we want that validation, and this is a really good opportunity to get exposure to people from other walks of life and points of view,” Phillips said.
Junior Lainey Parrott was one of the students that had the opportunity to speak with Lewis about the incarceration rate in Milwaukee as well as what his life was like. She also has sat in on other connections that the school has had.
“I learned just how much the prison system is a part of their community. Having siblings or family members all who have been incarcerated,” Parrott said. “Also that a person can easily be a repeat offender by breaking their parole even if it's as simple as being at the wrong place at the wrong time.”