When I was at my first meeting of the Milwaukee County Recovery Committee, I took careful note at who was and was not at the table. The first thing that struck me was that I was the only African-American male. This was not a good sign because I am older than many of the people who will be considered  for the new Medicaid benefit  known as comprehensive community services. To quote Vice President Joe Biden, this is a big fucking deal.

The program fits somewhere between the community support program, which aids people with severe and persistent mental illness and targeted case management. If you look into the population being served by these programs, you will find a lot of African-American men and women. So, how many of them are at the table for planning what comes next?

There are some African-American case managers and they are making the case for the people they assist. People of all colors. The next step is to look at who are the consumers and where they are and to invite them into these discussions about the future. We now have a young African-American man attending the Recovery Advisory Committee meetings. He works as a certified peer specialist with two community organizations. But the next step is to participate in the revamping of community mental health in Milwaukee. African-Americans need to be educated and gain the credentials and become clinical workers. The county has a group of white women who will be helping to carry out this new benefit. But we need to be training new people in the community Asians, Hispanics, African-Americans and people of different blended origins, to become county workers. And in positions of power at Milwaukee County.

Come, it’s going to be a great meal and the biggest benefit will be better recovery for all that looks like us.

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