Paranoia

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“I had never seen a black man before,” says Ellen Hess, 66, remembering when she moved to the city from a small northern Wisconsin town.

“The only thing I had ever heard of them was from Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

Ellen remembers being scared the first time she saw a man of African descent. All she knew was the stereotype. She says she remembers her first day in the city of Milwaukee, and what an awakening it was.

It didn’t help her to overcome the stereotype of the black man, that every night she was followed from her second shift job onto the city bus. She worked this job to support her 4 sisters and parents. Then every night a strange man stalked her onto the bus and watched her every move.

Almost a year later she married John. As most newlyweds do, they moved into a house of they own: a duplex on the corner of Atkinson and Greenbay roads.

She says that even back then it was not the greatest place for a small town girl and her new husband to be living. But it was the best they could do.

Time passed. The attacks on her privacy did not.

Not long after birthing her first child, Lisa, Ellen says she took her out for the day. It was a normal December day, a trip to the doctor, lunch, a little shopping. But the normality disappeared when John came home after his day at work.

While Ellen was out, someone had broken in their window and took every piece of clothing out of her dresser and neatly spread them across the room.

She still doesn’t know if it was the same man following her at night. Now she says if it would happen again, she would “Bust his ass, and get the police there.”

Today she won’t drove through the city alone she won’t leave a door unlocked. And, she won’t go anywhere alone. But after hear what she has been through, I don’t blame her.





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