Milwaukee’s racial inequities have existed for as long as Milwaukee has had a measurable African American population. While every American metropolitan area struggles with income inequality, concentrated poverty, unequal incarceration rates, disparate health outcomes and poor overall quality of life for African Americans, Milwaukee is unique in the comprehensive issues faced by its African American population. Given this reality, it was critical to create the Office on African American Affairs (OAAA) to initiate a long-term effort to improve the condition of Milwaukee’s African American community.
The Office on African American Affairs serves to support Milwaukee County and empower the community to make the County's vision 'by achieving racial equity, Milwaukee is the healthiest county in Wisconsin' a reality. To achieve this vision, OAAA provides advice, guidance, training and technical assistance to normalize, operationalize and institutionalize racial equity within the county's budget and operations, policy making, community engagement, and program/services delivery.
Since 2017, OAAA has secured and guided Milwaukee County to:
- Become the first jurisdiction in the United States to declare racism a public health crisis
- Support the County in focusing its first strategic plan in 20 years on racial equity
- Develop and implement a racial equity tool to analyze the racial impact of cuts and investments on the 2020 and 2021 budgets
- Establish membership in the national Government Alliance on Race and Equity
- Train more than 3,600 county employees in racial equity and implicit bias
- Launch a Racial Equity Ambassador program to elevate employees at all levels of Milwaukee County’s departments to advance health and racial equity
- Implement a survey of County employees to provide their perspectives on racial equity and inform future policy and strategy
- Build critical community and institutional partnerships
Moving forward, OAAA and Milwaukee County will seek to partner with the City of Milwaukee, the County Intergovernmental Cooperation Council and suburban municipalities, the State of Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Delegation of elected officials, the Milwaukee County Human Rights Commission, Community Justice Council, the County and State COVID-19 Emergency Operations Centers, the business community and more.