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Milwaukee black leaders start group to help black professionals

Posted at 6:37 PM, Nov 18, 2019

MILWAUKEE — Nearly two weeks after a study named Milwaukee the worst city for African Americans, a new group looks to tackle the problem.

The African American Leadership Alliance, Milwaukee (AALAM) is made up of some 80 local leaders and allies. Their goal is to increase African American leadership across all sectors to help drive equity, improve the quality of life and provide better business outcomes. Something business owners at the Sherman Phoenix are hoping will help.

"It's a little more difficult," Marc Taylor, Co-Owner of Lush Gourmet Popcorn said. "Being out here is definitely segregated."

"People don't realize there are black and brown people inside the city of Milwaukee," Chrishella Roché, Owner of Vibez Creative Arts Space said.

The study by 24/7 Wall St. marked three key metrics to Milwaukee being worse for black people; pay, unemployment and homeownership rates.

"If there is a better way of life, means to live, better living situation for African Americans in Milwaukee, that also means it translates to a better Milwaukee as a whole," Kalan Haywood Sr. said. "Period."

Haywood, a local real estate developer, is also a part of AALAM. Growing up, he says those who helped him in the field were all white. He has become successful through his hard work, but says having a a black mentor would have meant the world. So he's paying it forward.

"It's important to give opportunity to people behind me," Haywood said. "To be exposed. Exposure is key. It's very hard to be something you've never seen."

Something those at the Sherman Phoenix are well aware of in their positions.

"If we stick to the stereotypes that African American people can only be the borrower and not the lender, we'll continue to be that way," Adija Smith, Owner of Confectionately Yours Bakery said. "The narrative is up to us to change. We do that by showing our worth and hitting the ground running and being a part of the solution in changing the narrative."