Office on African American Affairs

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African American Affairs

Bridging the Gap and Investing in Equity

Milwaukee County is taking an all-hands approach to realizing its vision that by achieving racial equity, Milwaukee is the healthiest county in Wisconsin. We are committed to dismantling institutional racism in our organization and building up policies, practices and a culture that ensures race no longer predicts health outcomes, and outcomes for everyone improve.

The Milwaukee County Office of Equity (OOE, formerly known as the Office on African American Affairs) brings a higher level of leadership, expertise, and accountability to advance the county’s strategic goals of creating intentional inclusion, bridging the gap, and investing in equity to help fulfill this vision and serve as a resource to the greater Milwaukee community.

We define racial equity as the just and fair inclusion of people of color in a society where all people can participate, prosper, and reach their full human potential. OOE makes this definition a reality by:

  • Building the capacity of county leaders, departments, and municipalities.
  • Socializing shared language, definitions, and concepts to apply a racial equity lens to all decision-making.
  • Engaging county residents and community partners across sectors and systems.
  • Making possible the collective impact to assess and transform policies, practice, and power structures to make Milwaukee a region where every citizen is welcomed, healthy and thriving.

OOE is committed to putting African Americans at the center of shaping the county's racial equity work given the unique and wide-ranging challenges faced by Black residents in Milwaukee. Our Strengthening African American Families Imperative is designed to uplift and support community work being done in the African American community to directly impact Black children, youth, and families through the lens of Black culture, public policy, and economic empowerment.

Wealth Building

Support efforts to build financial literacy, spur wealth creation, and expose Black residents and government leaders to models of economic development that lead to more equitable economic growth for African American residents.

Areas of Focus:

  • Putting OWNERSHIP of resources and land into the hands of Black residents through strategies that increase investment in Black businesses and representation of African Americans in County procurement and hiring.
  • Working with business resource partners to connect African American business owners to opportunities and technical assistance
  • Empowering Black residents, workers, and entrepreneurs with the knowledge and tools to own their homes, start their own businesses or advance in their careers, and cooperatively organize to bargain, pool resources, and build community institutions.

Policy Advocacy

Ensure African American communities can effectively organize and pursue needed policy changes to improve quality of life outcomes for Black residents, including engaging legislators in addressing the root causes of disparities found across the social determinants of health.

Areas of Focus:

  • Make certain the interests of African American citizens are equitably represented in decision-making and that legislative action is taken to address those interests at the local, county, and state levels.
  • Work closely with community practitioners and advocates to develop a statewide Black policy agenda.
  • Engage with legislative Black Caucus members to research issues, write policy recommendations, and advise policy making to directly impact the lives of Black residents.  

Health & Healing

OOE will identify and support efforts that promote culturally relevant approaches to community health, wellness, and healing to improve outcomes of African American residents in Milwaukee.

Areas of focus:

  • Examine the intersections of race, gender, poverty, and policy making across key social determinant of health areas and work to directly connect Black-led community health resource providers with healthcare system and local and statewide public health leaders to address the disproportionate effects of:
    • Chronic illnesses and diseases like asthma, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension as well as transmissible viruses like COVID-19, Monkeypox, and STD-HIV.
    • Homicide, suicide, and other forms of violence.
    • And infant mortality on Black communities.
  • Work with partners to address community mental health challenges and various forms of stigma rooted in historical trauma.
  • Help lift campaigns focused on African American residents who experience the brunt of health disparity, specifically Black LGBTQ+, Black men, the elderly, homeless, and un/underinsured.

Cultural Pride

Elevate and honor the histories and contributions of African Americans in society, and the institutions that are key to uplifting the vibrancy of Black culture in Milwaukee.

Areas of Focus:

  • Working with Milwaukee County leaders to establish a more visible presence of African American culture and art in existing County cultural institutions (Zoo, War Memorial, Public Museum, etc.).
  • Building framework to ensure that Milwaukee’s Black arts and cultural institutions are well-maintained for generations to come.
  • This includes allocating funds to support key cultural institutions such as Wisconsin Black Historical Society, America’s Black Holocaust Museum, and the annual Juneteenth Day and community Kwanzaa celebrations.

Capacity Building

Engage, support, and be a bridge to connect African American community leaders working to improve quality of life for Black residents across the non-profit, religious, government, and other sectors in Milwaukee County.

Areas of Focus:

  • Support community agents working to directly address the African American community’s most pressing concerns: lowering crime, improving access to mental health services and healthcare, improving educational outcomes and to name a few.
  • Provide the groundwork and support systems to improve the living conditions of Black children, youth, and families in Milwaukee by uplifting African American leaders and organizations with technical assistance and connecting them to resources and funding.
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