The Heal the Hood Milwaukee Block Party and Resource Fair returns to the city this weekend for its 11th annual celebration on May 27 between 8th and 12th and Burleigh Street.
Since 2012, Heal the Hood has developed a unique approach at building community collaborations with the end goal of creating a more progressive and peaceful Milwaukee.
The block parties offer a family vibe with food, music, and entertainment. But they also support the community with several resources for residents, such as housing, job, mental health resources, and youth support, to name a few.
Heal the Hood founder, Ajamou Butler, says the block party creates a certain atmosphere in Milwaukee.
“You can smell Heal the Hood blocks away. You can hear Heal the Hood. You can feel the vibration going into the air of goodness, you know what I’m saying,” says Butler.
More with Heal the Hood founder Ajamou Butler
WUWM’s Race & Ethnicity Reporter Teran Powell has an extended conversation with Heal the Hood founder, Ajamou Butler, about what the annual block parties offer the Milwaukee community.
Butler says Heal the Hood has set a precedent, “we are all safe, we are all family, we are all connected, and we are trying to find a solution to the same pollution.”
People can always expect entertainment at the Heal the Hood block parties, from African drumming to spoken word and Hip Hop performances. And there’s a children’s corner where kids can design their own Heal the Hood t-shirts to wear for the festivities. They can get their faces painted, get some books to take home from a mobile bookstore, and more.
“It’s a big family reunion at Heal the Hood you know we keep safety as a priority, and we keep community as a priority, and I think that’s what’s making Heal the Hood continue to flourish how it is,” Butler says.
Butler adds that Heal the Hood block parties have become a breeding ground for unity and connection. He says anyone who supports the mission of Heal the Hood can come celebrate.
And he says the block parties do a great job of demonstrating the intersectionalities of Black culture.
“I think all too often we get caught up in — and I was a victim thereof right one of the ones saying if you don’t look like this, you’re not Black enough. If you don’t talk like this you’re not Black enough,” Butler says. “So, we all have our own definition of what Blackness looks like right, but when you come to Heal the Hood, you’re going to see Black boys who like to watch anime and ride skateboards you understand what I’m saying and listen to rock’n’roll.”
“You gon’ see Black boys who gang bang. You gon’ to see Black men, Black women who are politicians. You gon’ to see Black doctors, Black dancers, Black lawyers, Black teachers, and preachers. From the streets to political seats is what I always be saying you’re going to see — a cross breed of a beautiful sea of Blackness.”
Butler says what he appreciates about that is it shows that with a common mission at large we can all tap in and play our role.