(2017 to Present) Returning to Milwaukee: My Conversations Inside the Housing Redlines
Raised in a blue-collar family and growing up in an all-white upper-middle-class Milwaukee suburb shaped my childhood, but as I grew older and traveled, I came to realize our neighborhood was, for reasons I was yet to understand, segregated.
I’ve spent much of my life as a U.S. Army soldier, deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. There I befriended a young Iraqi man named Mustafa. He was one of our language translators inside the red and green zones.
A few days before I departed from Iraq, Mustafa asked me a question: Sergeant Hautala, how do you reconcile what your country has done to Black people?
The gravity of his question made me start thinking about my childhood and the complicities of my own biases and assumptions about what racism and classism meant to me. My intent with this project is to confront the systemic racism and classism in Milwaukee, to see the effects and impact of redlining and segregation, and to document the people who live inside these redlines.
Now, as a Veteran, I started going back to Milwaukee in 2017 to examine the impact of police brutality, white privilege, segregation, and redlining. I’ve been engaging with the All People’s Church, Brother Rashad Scott, and the Black Panthers in the city, walking the North and Southside neighborhoods trying to experience the intimacy of a community I had not been exposed to as an adolescent, and to consider how history, race, and class shapes the relationship to oneself, to other people, space, and time.