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WUWM's Teran Powell reports on race and ethnicity in southeastern Wisconsin.

8th annual Milwaukee Black Restaurant Week, celebrates Black-owned businesses

Symphony Swan

It's Black Restaurant Week here in Milwaukee, and 17 Black-owned businesses are participating in this 8th annual event.

The idea is to bring people out to Black owned restaurants in the city and show them love and support. The week is hosted by Blank Space MKE, an organization founded by two Black women creatives working to marry the concept of art and activism.

Blank Space co-founder Bridget Whitaker says her organization sees food entrepreneurs as artists and creatives. They believe food brings people together.

Blank Space MKE founder, Symphony Swan- Zawadi (left) and Bridget Whitaker.
JaQai Ali
Blank Space MKE founder, Symphony Swan- Zawadi (left) and Bridget Whitaker.

"One thing that we've learned over the years is that you got to start early, you wanna be able to give restaurants an opportunity to plan for hopefully a great week of revenue and folks coming in the doors — new and hopefully, longstanding customers that will come around and want to support," Whitaker says.

Restaurants participating in the week don't have to pay a fee to join the celebration; there's no limit on how many restaurants can join.

"We tell folks all the time, if it sounds too good to be true, it might be because we really just want to market, amplify and get folks to learn about what's happening," Whitaker says.

Whitaker says Blank Space MKE uses its platform to share about the good that's happening in Milwaukee that doesn't always get the spotlight.

"And so what better way than to encourage people to check out a new restaurant, you know, breakfast, lunch, or dinner and bring family together," Whitaker says.

"Our goal with Milwaukee Black Restaurant Week is to really be able to highlight the fact that our dollar matters where we spend our money, how we spend our money, who we support and who we show up," Whitaker says. "[It] really matters in terms of our ability to be able to create a legacy of young people saying I wanna be an entrepreneur or I wanna learn this new skill."

"When we think about the idea of building power, building wealth and the concept of cooperative economics, it is really built on this premise that we need to be working together to build social cohesion," Whitaker says.

Teran is WUWM's race & ethnicity reporter.
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