County Executive Chris Abele
Press Release

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele Statement on Sup. Rainey’s Resolution Creating Office on African American Affairs

“Study after study, and statistic after statistic, confirms that racial and ethnic disparities exist in Milwaukee and are having a harmful effect on families and communities."

By - Oct 27th, 2015 04:15 pm

MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele today announced his support for a resolution sponsored by Supervisor Khalif Rainey urging the County to develop an Office on African American Affairs.

The resolution, which is expected to be presented to the Health and Human Needs Committee on October 28th, cites several issues of high concern: Wisconsin’s last in the nation ranking for the overall well-being of African American children and 2010 United States Census Bureau data that showed Wisconsin having the highest African American male incarceration rate in the nation, with over half of African American men in their 30s in Milwaukee County having served prison time.

Earlier this month, a study released by 24/7 Wall St ranked Milwaukee as the worst city in the United States for African Americans. The metrics examined in the latest study included median household income, educational attainment, homeownership rates, incarceration rates, mortality rates, percent of people with health insurance, and unemployment rates.

The Economic Policy Institute earlier this year released a study that showed the unemployment rate for African Americans in Wisconsin is the highest in the nation at 19.9 percent. That figure is much worse in many Milwaukee neighborhoods, where the unemployment rate for African American men is more than 50 percent.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele released the following statement:

“I agree with Sup. Rainey that something must be done to address the racial inequalities that exist in Milwaukee County, and while I support and applaud his resolution as a first step in raising awareness, resolutions and press releases won’t solve any of these problems — what we need now is action.

“Study after study, and statistic after statistic, confirms that racial and ethnic disparities exist in Milwaukee and are having a harmful effect on families and communities. For multiple generations, traditional solutions to address racial disparities have not done enough to effect meaningful change.

“Over the last five years, I have been committed to shifting away from the status quo and instead focusing on services that empower people and strengthen communities. Our investments in job training programs like UpLift MKE that serves Milwaukee’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods, a job training center (American Job Center) at the House of Correction, a $1.6 million economic development fund on the Near West Side, and the Fatherhood Initiative that helps men get the skills they need to be involved parents are important and meaningful, but clearly they are not enough.

“That’s why I’m calling on my partners on the County Board to work with me and Sup. Rainey to take action. Let’s take this opportunity to think about what’s really important and what our constituents elected us to do.”

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