New Greater Milwaukee Foundation Series Aims To Bring Together Milwaukeeans Around Issues Of Racism
Milwaukee is known for being one of the most segregated cities in the United States. Historic practices like redlining and racial covenants forced Milwaukeeans of color into specific neighborhoods and gave more desirable housing to white Milwaukeeans. The effects of these practices are still felt today as Wisconsin has one of the lowest Black homeownership rates in the nation.
The Greater Milwaukee Foundation (GMF) is holding a three-part series aimed at bringing people from across the Milwaukee community together and talking about issues of racism and structural inequity. Laura Glawe is the vice president of marketing and communications for the GMF. She says the series is an opportunity for community members to make a difference in how Milwaukee addresses issues of racial inequity.
“No one can take on a challenge like this alone, no individual, no institution, no neighborhood. It will really, truly take all of us and that’s where the Greater Milwaukee Foundation feels that this series is going to allow community to lean in together,” says Glawe.
The first event is going to be held on June 25 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and will feature educator and author Andre Perry, Ph.D. His book Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives And Property In America’s Black Cities focuses on the effects of the deliberate devaluation of six majority Black communities in different parts of the United States.
“What we found was that homes in Black neighborhoods compared to their equivalent homes in the same kind of social circumstances are valued at 23% less than their white counterparts,” says Perry.
In Milwaukee, according to Perry, the gap is even wider with the difference in home value averaging at 34% less. He says often people blame behavioral factors like education and crime for lower home prices in majority Black neighborhoods but instead he says structural barriers which take resources out of Black communities are to blame.
“Whenever something goes wrong in Black communities, we blame Black people and, in my research, shows that there’s systems that devalue and extract wealth from those communities, prohibiting the kind of growth that you should see,” he says.
He says people in the communities have ideas of how to fix this issue but often they aren’t invested in. That’s why Perry has helped create a program that awards up to $1 million to people with innovative solutions on the issue on Black home devaluation.
Glawe says she wants the virtual event to help community members come together and share ideas to start moving Milwaukee forward to achieve a more equitable future.
“What we’re hoping comes out of this is that our community stakeholders really engage in a way that creates a vision that’s a reality, our pace will be faster, our resolve is going to be sharper and our urgency greater,” she says.