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We use direct actions to interrupt the status quo and bring awareness to key issues and different forms of state violence affecting the root causes of the plight of black and brown people around the world.,


We stand against the many forms of state violence: police killings, mass incarceration, poverty and others.  We stand for justice for Tony Robinson and ALL Black lives lost at the hands of the state. We stand for community and self determination. We will not stop until we are free.


YGB raising awareness and building community

Getting Past the Politics: YGB Interviews Mayoral Candidate Toriana Pettaway
08 Feb 2019

Getting Past the Politics: YGB Interviews Mayoral Candidate Toriana Pettaway

Why are you running?


Part of the reason I’m running is because I don’t see myself in this city. I don’t see myself in the design, the build, or within these places. Where do i go to see people who look like me. Black and Brown communities should be so much further and i’m just not happy with that. Nothing has changed. We see the same people saying the same thing over several years we are still talking about it. These problems should have been dealt with ten years ago. Where is the progress report? We want see so many disparities amongst people in this city and i’m tired of seeing the same disparities within the government. What happens is Black folks in government feal po


Who is Toriana at the core?

First of all, as a person, I’m a woman of God first and foremost. My faith is what grounds me, centers me, and gives me purpose. I’m a mother. I love my children and I love my family. I’m someone who’s passionate about serving others in this community. I hear the residents in a way that they want others to hear them in too. I see people. That’s who I am, I’m the type of person that wants people to know that they are seen. I would like to be the conduit, or the catalyst, to make other people feel like they can thrive and prosper. Everybody wants to have a sense of belonging. I want to operate in a space where I can relate to people and make sure I am my best self to serve other people. I’m compassionate, I’m discerning. People in my work say I give too much and I’m okay with that. That’s what I was created to do and I’m not going to change who I am. I give all of me and it’s to serve other people.

What’s your biggest motivation?

My children are my biggest motivation. My motivation is seeing others who have come before who have made what I can do possible. I have to have hope that if they prevailed and were able to find some means of success through all of the struggles and disappointments and were able to make a way for their family, that I can too. That gives me hope. I have to to continue to do that for my children my family and friends and the community that i’m passionate about. I’m a woman of faith and God has me here for a purpose.


Opinion on new jails? Disproportionality in prison sentences?

I don’t think we should be building more prisons. I think we should be reducing prison complexes. I know the disparities we see in institutions are out of sync. I think how we sentence, how we police, and have people re-enter into society needs to be re-evaluated. Many of the folks don’t belong there and they were unfairly prosecuted and I think non-violent crimes should...I think this needs to constantly be reviewed. The people who brought the unfair penalties should be re-evaluated and prosecuted. We need an overhaul of the criminal justice system. Criminal justice is a business. People profiting off of the backs of Black and Brown people. The inequities in that are another form of slavery and we must name them as that.


How are we going to solve disparities in schools? Student opportunities?

There are several things that need to’s not just up to schools. It should start within the home. My parents equipped me with that knowledge that everyone won’t treat you as family. Parents should educate their children on how to navigate life different for Black and Brown children as well as White children being aware of privileges that they have as well as how to speak up when they see things that are wrong...Everyone teaching their children respect and what equity really is. Awareness also has to happen within the school. We must have culturally competent administrations and teachers. It can’t be transactional, but a transformation. It’s operationalized. The curriculum, the policies, and the procedures have to be lived out in everything done and practiced and rewarded because it’s a lived experience. It needs to be reflected in the hiring of all staff. And reflection of the children amongst the staff is a must as well. It’s a collaborative approach.

I have a vision...There’s a gap of an unmet need in this community for youth 12-26. The mall policy grieved kids, it was one of the last safe zones for kids. You penalize a whole generation of youth for the acts of a few. Reaching out to a few people to get ahead of afforded me the opportunity with kids to talk about how we can adjust the policy. How do you counteract someone trying to implement a policy? We showed the kids a we the people process on a reversing a policy and showed them how to come together and use the same information to counteract this action. When I’m mayor, I plan on organizing a non-profit that will incorporate youth teaching youth, creating their own brand of business for themselves. A Business enterprise designed by kids and not adults. Planning curriculum and reaching kids who aren’t being reached. Anyone who is closest to the issues need to create what they want to do. And you have to have a good facilitator for that. These young folks are lacking belonging and hope. We don’t invest funds into them. We don’t invest resources into them. We don’t invest in spaces for them. They need to see themselves in these spaces. I want to remind them that we are all Madison. If you don’t feel part of the all then you are othered. People want to see themselves and this is the biggest part of inclusion. It’s time and It requires hard choices, getting uncomfortable, talking to someone from a different neighborhood. This is everybody’s city.


How can we create a more accessible city?

What I want to focus on is making sure that the community has more access internally including those who don’t have access to downtown. Why does everyone always have to come downtown? We need to make the government more accessible. I want our leaders in government to be more transparent. I want them to know the community. The leaders in government being able to connect to what local leaders are going through. If you’re a policy maker and can’t relate to the average citizen, then I don’t want you making a decision for me.



Is Madison a truly ‘progressive’ city?

We’ve had the title of progressive, but I think we’re living in an illusion. We’re progressive when it comes to dominant construct, but when it comes down to things that matter most to tough decisions for everyone. We’re living in an illusion. Many people don’t see themselves in the struggle.


YGB Has Just Launched a Movement Fund that rewards partners and makes grants to support social justice work. Learn More and Join the Movement at

YGB Launches Movement Fund
02 Feb 2019

YGB Launches Movement Fund

Since its founding in the Fall of 2014, YGB has helped organize too many direct actions to count, countless freedom schools, education sessions, community conversations, debates, and resource workshops, and has helped raise funds to meet the needs of Black and Brown people in WI and across the U.S.. Still, our organization - labeled "radical," "dangerous," and "unfindable" - has remained at the fringes of financially established organizations and without consistent funding. The community has missed out because of it.

While Madison and the surrounding areas continue to benefit from YGB and collaborator social justice work, the entrenched funding structures continue to avoid committed support that values and sustains real grassroots work. Our experience is not unique.

Throughout the state of Wisconsin and across the nation, initiatives must sacrifice impact and core values in order to become palatable to mainstream funders. This is a big deal, and sheds light on why some of the problems we aim to solve persist in the city with the highest non-profits per capita in the state.


YGB has just launched Movement Fund in an effort to combat this problem. The new organization is a crowdsourced tool to build funding for low-barrier grants that support social good work that may fall outside of the usually supported criteria. Grants focus on key areas including Meeting Needs, Building Awareness, Advocacy and Action.

"We believe that, if we can help improve the bottom line of organizations that get involved, we can build consistent funding for those who are too often forgotten AND create more resources for social good work." said Sed Smith, YGB organizer. "It's our way of bringing independence and consistency to a broken funding world."

The fund has already made grants but plans to use this crowdsourced referral marketing structure to generate a new level of social justice funding for our community.


To join the Movement Fund or learn more about its mission, please click here to go to

Non-Profit Organizer says FCI has Racist, Classist Practices
19 Sep 2018

Non-Profit Organizer says FCI has Racist, Classist Practices

A case in which a Madison non-profit organizer accused Forward Community Investments (FCI) of racial and economic bias raises important questions about how lenders should treat low-income borrowers of color.


On July 16, 2016, Felicia Davis met with two loan specialists from FCI and requested a $250,000 loan in order to purchase a facility to house a daycare center. As someone who lived homeless in Chicago for seven years, Davis told YGB that her dream was to provide a safe place for under-resourced youth in Madison.


“Identifying a location inside the community, providing youth programs and creating community involvement through the participation of the residents is vital to the transformation that is needed in the Brentwood Neighborhood,” Davis wrote in a questionnaire response to FCI.


While Davis lacked a significant funding base, she had a successful track record of providing quality care for children. Within two years, Davis said her non-profit was serving 60 youth on Madison’s north side, providing academic and career support at the Warner Park Community Center, the organization’s temporary base.


From the get-go, Davis believed that she was going to receive a loan from FCI to make her vision of owning a physical space for her own community center a reality. After a site visit on August 3 that FCI described as "wonderful," FCI provided Davis with a Letter of Interest on October 7, stating that FCI may “potentially provide financing to purchase a suitable building for daycare expansion of DSS, contingent on it meeting [certain criteria].”


Although things were looking bright for Davis, they quickly turned sour. In a meeting with FCI staff on April 24, 2017, Davis told YGB that she was asked to provide a guarantee that 50% of her budget was already being provided by other lenders. As a low-income owner of a non-profit, Davis did not have these financial resources.


FCI, which lists racial and economic equity as one of their top priorities, says on their website: “At FCI we believe that racial equity exists when people of color are able to fully participate in the political, cultural, and economic decisions of their community [and] are guaranteed fair treatment and access to the opportunities necessary to satisfy their essential needs, to advance their well-being, achieve their potential, and realize their vision of success.”


To Davis, FCI failed to realize this mission. As a woman of color without sufficient funds, she felt that she didn’t receive “fair treatment” due to her low economic starting point and her skin color as well.


“You sit in my face and you tell me that you don’t wanna help me because I don’t have a million dollars in the bank?” Davis told YGB. “And you claim that you believe in racial equity, social justice?”


 In a letter sent on April 2, 2017, Salli Martyniak, the president of FCI, conceded that her organization made mistakes in communicating with Davis.


"What did we do wrong? Lots!", she wrote. "We didn't tell her 10 months ago that this funding plan was not good for either FCI or DSS...we should have told her that we would consider a gap loan if she wasn't able to raise all of the money prior to opening...[additionally], we didn't help her with solid advice about running a daycare center. This would have been a perfect place to ask our credit analyst, Jenn Wendtland, to sit in on a meeting a talk about daycare centers and what a solid budget should incorporate."


However, in an interview with YGB, Martyniak defended the organization’s decision to have strong capital requirements for awarding loans.



According to Martyniak, FCI regularly ensures that a company has sufficient financial reserves - whether in cash on hand or through pledges for loans and grants - before awarding loans. This practice is an attempt to maintain low default rates among FCI’s loans, something that Martyniak says is essential to pleasing its philanthropist donor base.


Due to FCI’s capital requirements for receiving loans, Martyniak said that Davis would be better off seeking other sources of funding like grants, which FCI awards at $3,000 per month to smaller and less financially stable organizations.


“The last thing that we want to ever do is to provide a loan, to provide a debt, to a non-profit that cannot afford to maintain that debt, to pay us back, or to really be a sustainable non-profit,” Martyniak told YGB. “Because, if they’re not successful, it’s not just a matter of the fact that we don’t get paid back - the fact is that we’ve seen non-profits go out of business and we’ve seen what that does to the community and the people that they’re serving.”


This response seems inadequate to Davis, who notes that under-resourced organizations often go out of business because of practices that discriminate against those with less financial backing from donors, investors, and organizations like FCI.


The case of Davis and Martyniak raises important questions about how we should view lending as a society. How do we provide financial opportunities to those most at risk like Felicia, while also allowing organizations like FCI to be fiscally responsible and satisfy their donors? How can we level the playing field for loan access without leading to high default rates for lending agencies?



Perhaps the solution lies in organizations like the Madison Alliance for Black Economic Empowerment (MABEE), which grants tens thousands of dollars in low-barrier grants to low-income entrepreneurs of color every year. It may also lie in affordable governmental assistance to emerging non-profits, financed through tax dollars. Or perhaps the solution is a policy or initiative that no one is discussing.



What are your thoughts on how we can capitalize our most marginalized? Let us know by sending us an email.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">


We at YGB are trying to answer these questions as well, and we are trying to find ways to help out low-income people of color like Felicia Davis.


To learn more about YGB, please click here. To help support our work and leave a donation, please click here.

Wisconsin Sees a Doubling in Failed GPS Monitoring Program Since 2013
15 Jul 2018

Wisconsin Sees a Doubling in Failed GPS Monitoring Program Since 2013

The use of GPS monitoring for people on parole is ineffective, expensive, and oftentimes sends people to jail for doing nothing wrong.


In May 2017 alone, there were 52 arrests for wearers of ankle bracelets. Of these, 13 were a direct result of a malfunction in the GPS bracelet - with no violations of parole whatsoever. In other words, a quarter of those arrested did absolutely nothing wrong.


But in spite of cases like these, the Wisconsin state government has stood idly by as the use of GPS monitoring has roughly doubled in Wisconsin since 2013. This has led to a massive waste of Wisconsin tax dollars and lots of unnecessary jail time for people who did nothing wrong.


While it’s surely valuable for incarcerated people to be able to go to work and see their family while on parole, a much better way to do that would be simply to incarcerate less people by legalizing marijuana and implementing community control over the police. At the very least, we should place people on parole without any GPS tracking. There are plenty of ways to combat mass incarceration without replacing it with bad technologies like ankle bracelets.


Instead, unlike many states like Wisconsin’s neighbor, Minnesota, which don’t have a GPS monitoring system, Wisconsin dishes out $9.7 million every year to the flawed system.


These arrests of innocent people are in part a result of the poor GPS reception of the ankle bracelets, an issue that is especially pronounced in rural areas. Due to these technological errors, many innocent people are locked up for violating their parole because the GPS signaled they went to a prohibited place, even if they didn’t actually go there. These arrests further damage their family and social life, as well as their opportunity for employment.


And it could get even worse. A bill was proposed in Wisconsin in February that would punish bracelet wearers with a felony if they intentionally failed to charge their ankle bracelets, which targets people with low incomes and long work hours and expands our epidemic of mass incarceration. This draconian move could tarnish the lives and career opportunities for many people who wear the bracelets.


We don’t need to spend $9.7 million a year on this failed system. Instead, we should spend our funds to provide services, economic and mental health resources to our communities of color in order to give people power, not chains.




In order to make any progress, we have to Build our collective understanding and Build collective analysis to advocate for better collaborative solutions.


You can help by Joining our Coalition of Supporters, or by donating here.


If you have any personal stories of racial violence to share, please reach out to us at YGB by sending us a Facebook message or emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

#NoMuslimBanEver: Independence Day for Whom?
11 Jul 2018

#NoMuslimBanEver: Independence Day for Whom?

And so Trump is getting the wall he wanted after all.


Although it isn’t a physical wall, it is a barrier even harder to climb than concrete and barbed wire. It now takes the form of a Congress-approved policy. As July 4th has come and gone, many people of color in the United States question what there is to celebrate while videos of children of immigrants representing themselves in courtrooms or crying out for their parents in cages on the border spread across social media like wildfire. Across the United States, protests calling for #FamiliesBelongTogether and #NoMuslimBanEver have been ongoing.


On June 26, the US Supreme Court approved in a 5-4 decision Executive Order 13769, colloquially called the Muslim Ban or Travel Ban. The order, titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”, singles out mainly Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, and also countries with sizable Arab-speaking diasporic communities such as Venezuela. It is important to note that this is not the first time the Supreme Court has approved this policy. On December 4, 2017, the Supreme Court allowed Trump’s order to go into effect even though there were still legal challenges in the process of being addressed.


Although the policy-makers approving the order claim it is for safe vetting procedures and due to a lack of collaboration with the U.S.’s security restrictions, these banned countries have had very little, if any, terrorist activity in the United States. In fact, since 9/11, white Americans are the biggest terrorist threats we see today.


Many Muslims, whom many attest to already being targeted at airports, now live with an institutionalized order that brings those fears to the forefront, especially for those who have family in affected countries.


Hana Alasry, a Yemeni-American Muslim community organizer based in Detroit, said, “I think the biggest thing that I’ve been reflecting on is as the lawmakers, courts... are debating back and forth with several iterations of the ban coming through, the complexity of the back and forth really doesn’t mean much to immigrants from that country, most of whom aren’t familiar with how the US laws work.”


“They know one thing and one thing only: here’s a national ban that says they’re not human enough to enter this country. That’s that. They’re not interested in higher-level debates about this versus that part of the legislation. They just want humanity,” Alasry said.


Locally in Madison, Muslims and faith leaders have spoken out against the Muslim ban in recent days.


Maria Ahmad, co-founder of Book-A-Muslim, mentioned in a phone-interview how her husband, Syed Umar Warsi, is concerned about going to visit his family in Pakistan, a country that had formerly been on the ban list. She added that because of his long beard and name, his profile makes him all the more susceptible to additional targeting.


Ahmad, speaking to Muslim youth seeking guidance, advised: “Realize this is where you live. There is no need to apologize.”


Ahmad added that Muslims will “always be othered unless you’re a white, Christian male.”


She encouraged youth to find community in order to find other people to go through this together.  Echoing the feelings of many POC communities in the U.S right now, Ahmad mentioned that the “America for the people by the people” doesn’t seem too accurate right now, but if we engage and get involved politically and locally, we can make change happen.”


She also encouraged community organizers to be more accommodating as Muslim allies in the movement, and gave an example of a rally in DC for Muslim rights where no prayer times or spaces were accommodated for. (One of the five pillars of Islam is prayer, and Muslims are encouraged to pray five times a day).


She concluded with: “Learn about the people you are being an ally with versus simply doing what you think is the right thing to do.”


Sheikh Alhagie Jallow, Islamic leader in Madison, said that the Supreme Court -decision was very unfortunate and sad, and that every Muslim “is affected either directly or indirectly”. He noted: “Most of the countries that are being banned are also being targeted. They have nowhere to escape to.” He added that the mentality of many of those who are fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria or Yemen is that of saving their own lives.


Jallow remained optimistic, however. “Whatever Allah (Arabic term for God) puts, a good result will come out of it, insha’Allah (God-willing).” He continued by saying, “As Muslims, we must always be positive, and look to the story of the Prophet (Muhammad).” The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was persecuted in his own home city of Mecca and forced to flee. The Quraysh, the most powerful tribe in Mecca, had forced Muhammad and the early Muslims to leave because they saw Islamic beliefs and values as a threat to their own political reign. Jallow ended on on a hopeful note, “What were the results after 20 years?” Islam had become successful and accepted by many. “The situation is either with us or against us… let’s just be positive.”


Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, President of Wisconsin Voices for Justice, issued a press release on June 26, declaring that the organization is “dismayed and distressed” at the Supreme Court’s decision. She concluded with, “As people of many different faiths, many of whom have ourselves faced discriminatory immigration policies throughout  history...proclaim solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters. We will continue to work for understanding and to build bridges among our various faith communities and to work against the forces of discrimination and hate.”


“We are living in dark times”, Margulis said in a phone interview. Yet, she, too approached it with optimism in encouraging others to “know each other, learn about each other’s faith” as well as to remember that “no one is alone in this.”


If you are interested in becoming involved in issues relating to social justice, community organizing, and human rights, please consider donating and/or joining the Young, Gifted, and Black Coalition (YGB). YGB is a grassroots organization based out of Madison, WI, dedicated to assessing and addressing the needs of people of color locally through various mediums including journalism, workshops, and networking. For more information, visit

From the YGB Black Curriculum: The Black Panthers Speak
06 May 2018

From the YGB Black Curriculum: The Black Panthers Speak

Support YGB when you purchase The Black Panthers Speak.


The book, “The Black Panthers Speak,” edited by Philip S. Foner, provides readers with a “sweeping collection of the most vital and representative writings of the Black Panther party.” The book includes excerpts from Huey P. Newton, Fred Hampton, and Panther women like Kathleen Cleaver, as well as perspectives on the party’s court battles and our country’s power structures.


Support YGB when you purchase The Black Panthers Speak by clicking on the image below.


If you would like to see our entire list of book recommendations, please click here.


From the YGB Black Curriculum: From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
15 Apr 2018

From the YGB Black Curriculum: From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation

Support YGB when you purchase From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.


The book, “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation” by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, recounts the shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York City and the protests against police impunity that followed. In response to the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor argues that, given the long history of structural racism in the United States, we should initiate a broaden push for Black liberation movement as a whole.


Support YGB when you purchase From #BlackLivesMatter to Black LIberation by clicking on the image below.


If you would like to see our entire list of book recommendations, please click here.


From the YGB Black Curriculum - Detroit: I Do Mind Dying
30 Mar 2018

From the YGB Black Curriculum - Detroit: I Do Mind Dying

Support YGB when you purchase Detroit: I Do Mind Dying.


The book, “Detroit: I Do Mind Dying” by Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin, documents the history of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement, an organization of Black workers at a Chrysler plant in Detroit, and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, a group of Black Marxists that was also based in Detroit. The book chronicles the movement for Black liberation led by these groups and its importance in the fight for workers rights for people of color.


Support YGB when you purchase Detroit: I Do Mind Dying by clicking on the image below.


If you would like to see our entire list of book recommendations, please click here.



YGB needs your voice in order to get an investigation by the United Nations as we elevate the conversation of of racial disparities in Madison and fight for justice for Tony Robinson, the unarmed black teen murdered at the hands of officer Matt Kenny of the Madison Police Department  



YGB demands that Matt Kenny, the murderer of Tony Robinson, be fired. Far to often are killer cops left unpunished, and we want Kenny off the streets.



The Young Gifted and Black Coalition is a circle of young leaders determined to end state violence and raise the voice of communities of color. We are young Black Women, Queer Folks, Straight Folks and Feminist Men who are fighting for Black Liberation. Our focus is on the low income black communities that our core members call home. 




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