Common Ground with…Quentin Henning

Common Ground with…Quentin Henning

Quentin Henning is a native of Madison, Wisconsin, who has lived in the Capital City his entire life. He is a Unified Communications Engineer for the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Health Clinic Authority in their Information Technology (IT) sector. When things go wrong with computers, telecommunications, conferencing and other areas of IT, Quentin is one of the people on campus who works to fix the problem.  When he is not working his day job, Quentin spends much of his free time in his Fitchburg studio as a record engineer producing and mixing music for himself and various independent artists. Mixing music combines his skill and passion for electronics and music.

What do you think is the biggest challenge our community faces?

Initially, I was thinking big words, broad terms, healing. There is so much that has happened in the Americas that needs to be unpacked. I think there are a lot of generations that didn’t have the opportunity to unpack it. Ultimately, what I would say is realizing it and showing up wherever we are as our complete selves, because I grew up learning to code-switch, as they call it nowadays. I think that hinders my brain. If I have to filter how I explain something to someone or need to maneuver in the workplace or social environments, then I’m limiting my mental capacity because it’s not my whole thought.

What do you wish people in our community understood better?

Our history and accomplishments, both in the Americas and throughout our diaspora. We have inventors. We excel in both the academic and athletic departments, but I feel like respect and kudos only come from respect in the athletic department, and that’s just ridiculous. I’m in my 30s, just figuring out the intricacies of Malcolm X, and I just found out about Dr. Juwanza Kunjufu and that sort of stuff; that’s late. I need to learn that way back. 

What is one change you would make if you could that would make life better for people in our community?

All these questions are super tough and interwoven. I feel like there’s a lot of things; they’re all neck and neck. But one thing that may not be thought about is ownership of our influence. For instance, back in the 80’s, Adidas — I’m sure it does well in some respects, probably wasn’t doing that well at the time, but when Run DMC [refers to his Adidas] in their song, Adidas is suddenly popular. I’m sure they got some sort of check from that, but they didn’t really reap all the benefits of doing that for that company, or having a company that our community owned.  It’s similar with Nike and Jordans. I’ve seen every race wear Jordans. We should own that.  I mean, I’m sure Jordan does really well from that, but we should own that.

What in our community gives you hope?

Our resilience. Our consistent display of love. I remember seeing a picture from the Civil Rights era, [of a black woman,] and she’s protecting a white man [from an attack during a protest].  And I’m like, Wow!  After all the things that they do and [have] done, in that moment  — still able to see past that and do that act of kindness and love. It seems pretty unparalleled.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Quentin Henning in the studio. Photo by Murv Semour.



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