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Love Letter Milwaukee
Image: Time Out

Dear Milwaukee: A love letter to one of four cities that saved America

Milwaukee finally steps into the national spotlight: Check out these Black-owned spots in the city and show them some love.

Written by
Sojourner White
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Dear Milwaukee,

From Missouri to Spain, I’ve called many places my temporary home. But I always come back to you, my forever home. We grew up together. I can still hear the sounds of basketballs rattling aluminum on the sidewalk as I played “cans” with my brothers. I can still see the dance battles at block parties, sweet 16s, and basketball games. I can still smell the barbecue from Speed Queen on my bus ride home. And I can still feel the nerves in my stomach as I moved away from you for the first time at 17. 

People always told me “you gotta get out of Milwaukee,” but the truth is, you never left me. No matter in a backpack, suitcase, or in my heart, I carry our memories and our struggles everywhere I go. You shaped me to be the Black woman and the traveler I am today. We are not perfect, and our flaws normally make national headlines. Yet, we’re still here. Every day straddling the lines of grinding, surviving, and thriving. I think our resilience is unmatched. 

Now, it seems as if the country wants to love us for that resilience. Kind of. Due to Black voters and community organizing done by Black Leaders Organizing Communities and Leaders Igniting Transformation, we're being thanked for saving America from four more years of you know who. It’s a conflicting feeling: to be celebrated for saving a country from itself. To save a country that conveniently only remembers there are Black people in battleground states every four years. To save a country that has not always felt like the most welcoming home. But we did. We can celebrate today, because we know you are our forever home, Milwaukee, and the real work has only just begun.

With love,

Sojourner

Photograph: Courtesy Sojourner White

Black-owned businesses shaping Milwaukee right now

TrueMan McGee is the owner and healthy community hypeman behind Funky Fresh Spring Rolls. Originally created for his personal training clients, TrueMan now cooks for us all. With a mix of speciality and core rolls, guests can choose from community-favorites such as chicken club, buffalo cauliflower, and sweet potato black bean. 

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Opening in spring 2021, Niche Book Bar is a book bike turned bookstore committed to showcasing Black books and perspectives. Niche was founded by Cetonia Weston-Roy, a life-long reader who wondered why it was so hard to find Black literature in a wide variety of genres. Now, she has them and she wants you to read them.  

Owned by Paul Whigham, and also located in the Bronzeville neighborhood, is Mi Casa Su CafeWhigham treats his customers as if they were eating dinner at his house, hence the name. On their menu you can find gourmet burgers, pasta, salads, smoothies, and other items from brunch to dinner.

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Located in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood is the Bronzeville Collective, a shopping hub of local makers. At the collective, you can shop for handmade jewelry, journals, body products, books, clothing, and other local goods. Founders Tiffany Miller and Lilo Allen brought 25 local creators together to create the collaboration.   

Read all the letters

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