Vaun Mayes talks about growing up in the South, the importance of empathy and the forces — including racism, profiteering and crime — at work in Milwaukee.
From growing up in one of Milwaukee’s most challenged neighborhoods to running a business of her own, Kathy Kingcaid has lived her life with no regrets.
Devin and Tamio (Tu-miyo) sit on the steps of a home near the corner of 24th and Burleigh, a cigarette in each of the young men’s hands. The two, who have known each other since early childhood, appear unusually comfortable, almost unaware of the other’s presence. “Trust is everything,” Tamio says. “Whatever relationship you have — business, personal … it’s always trust. You don’t trust nobody, shit, ain’t no point in us bein’ around each other.”
Nathaniel Wright leans against a white railing while speaking with family on an Autumn afternoon. Wright wasn’t born in Milwaukee but many of its neighborhoods, like the one he’s standing in, are familiar. Violence, he says, is what links Milwaukee with his birthplace of St. Louis, Missouri. “You tend to follow in the footsteps of the older ones in the neighborhood, and it’s just recycled on down,” says Wright. “You know, some is lucky to get out, some ain’t.” Nathaniel comes from a large family — 13 children, in all. He’s the second youngest. “Just imagine 13 of your siblings all in the same house and you all want something different,” he says. But, from all accounts, his family was a good one. Wright refers to his mom and dad as “workin’ people.” His mother was a registered nurse at the John L. Doyne Hospital, formerly Milwaukee County Hospital; his father got a job at A.O. Smith — where he worked until he retired — after the family moved to Milwaukee when Nathaniel was 9. …