Home Health “We Matter.” Community conversation on Black men’s health and voting set for...

“We Matter.” Community conversation on Black men’s health and voting set for Sunday at the Milwaukee Improv

(Clockwise from left): Mandela Barnes, Dannon Green, Aaron Perry, and D.L. Hughley (Photos supplied.)

D.L. Hughley, an actor, stand-up comedian, star of the television sitcom The Hughleys, and famous for being one of the “Big Four” comedians in “The Original Kings of Comedy,” will be one of the featured guests this Sunday, Feb. 4 at the Milwaukee Improv in Brookfield, Wis., as the Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association hosts a private statewide discussion centered on Black men’s health and Black men voting.

Aaron Perry, the founder of Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association, will be the host of the event and will lead a health-related discussion with Hughley and additional special guests that will include his longtime good friend, comedian Dannon Green, and former U.S. Senate candidate and Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. The event, titled “We Matter,” will feature a panel discussion with the four men with the goal of “centering the voices and voting strength among thousands of Black men throughout Wisconsin.”

Aaron Perry

“I’ve reached out to a lot of men and so it looks like we’re gonna have guys coming in from Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Madison and then from pretty much every place else around the state for this event,” Perry tells Madison365. “Mainly, we want Black men to really focus on their health because what we’re seeing is that Black men get to [the age of] 40 or 45 and we’re starting to see a decline in their health and we’re saying, ‘Wait a minute, we’re not supposed to see that decline until we get in our 70s and 80s.’

“So for this event, we’re going to get back to the basics and we will talk about some of the things that we can do to prevent some of these negative things from happening and to keep our health together,” Perry adds. “And that’s really what this event is going to be about. It’s a community conversation not just about health, but it’s very important that we also get out and vote, regardless of who you represent. We still want you to show up at the polls.”

Because voting could potentially affect your health at some point.

Dannon Green

“Or at least your health insurance,” laughs Green, talking to Madison365 via a Zoom from Los Angeles. Green, a good friend of Perry and DL Hughley, regularly travels to Wisconsin or appears online to help Perry with many of his initiatives to improve Black men’s health. “I’ve known Aaron since we were 19 years old and we were in college. So I’m very happy to be involved in this big event and happy to be the liaison for Aaron out here in LA. I’m around a lot of celebrities from all walks of life. I’ve seen it with my own health, as well as other people, how important it is to have good health, definitely amongst African American males, because we are the most likely not to want to go see the doctor or have medical insurance.”

Green says that he has dealt with more and more health issues as he gets older and that he is fortunate to have health insurance and regular checkups.

“I know if I didn’t have good medical insurance and if I didn’t stay on top of my health, I would be in trouble. I really feel that it’s important for men to find out about how to better your health,” Green says. “But I think when it’s a situation where you’re not pushed to get health insurance or you’re not pushed to go to get checkups, I think that’s what makes Aaron’s program more inviting for me to be involved in. I think it’s really important that we emphasize to men across the board, but definitely African American males, that you got stay up on your health, you’ve got to get your checkups, you’ve got to go get your blood pressure checked.

“And what Aaron has been doing is reaching a lot of people and changing lives and I’m so happy to be a part of it,” he adds.




Perry is the world’s first African American insulin-dependent diabetic to complete an Ironman Triathlon and a popular community health advocate for African American men. Perry has appeared on the Megyn Kelly Show and has been honored as one of Time Magazine’s 2018 “50 Most Influential People in Health Care.” In Men’s Health, the world’s largest men’s magazine brand, Perry was featured as one of five global leaders who are changing the world of health.

Perry opened the RLWA Men’s Health & Education Center, located inside of Madison’s largest Black barbershop JP Hair Design, which is a new innovative health model for reducing health disparities and improving the social & health conditions of Black men in Dane County.

“We have nursing students who come in and do anywhere from an eight-week to 16-week internship with us and these are our future nurses that will be in hospitals across the nation,” Perry says. “They do an aggregate report after their internship and for the past three to four years, we have averaged anywhere from 78-84% of the men who get their blood pressure checked in our barbershop health centers having numbers that are in the above-normal range. Many of them are stroke-level. We know that by having blood pressure checked at preventative screenings in the barbershop where men go, we’re able to connect with them.”

Perry would always encourage guys with elevated blood pressure to go and get themselves checked out at a clinic or a hospital, but many felt that it was too costly to do so.

“Many men were like, ‘I’ll take my chances.’  So I talked to my board [of directors] and we said, ‘Let’s go ahead and open up our free clinic.’ So now when those guys come back and they’re diagnosed with clear hypertension, they can come to our free clinic and they can be under the care of our nursing and medical staff and it’s all free of charge.”

Through the men’s clinic and numerous initiatives and programs where Black men get together to run, hike, bike and more, Perry has created opportunities for men to talk about their health with each other on a regular basis; something that has historically been an uncomfortable conversation.

“Oftentimes when men do talk about health it’s after we’ve already experienced a major health problem,” Green says. “A friend of mine who I hadn’t heard from in a long time, he just hit me up on social media this morning. I said to him, ‘By the way, where have you been? I haven’t seen you!’ And he sends me these pictures. I guess they had opened up his chest and he was in the hospital for a bit. So I never knew. A lot of times as men, we don’t talk about it until after the fact. 

“So what I tell people — both men and women — is to go to the doctor while you feel good. Don’t miss no checkups … go while you feel good,” Green adds. “Then if there is something there or something that may be coming they may be able to catch it before it’s serious. That’s what I try to emphasize … especially on preventable things.”

Perry adds that’s what they are trying to do with his barbershop health model. He calls it “Brothercare Health.”

“This is a new health model that I’m rolling out and basically what it does is it brings together Black barbershops, free clinics, free dental clinics, and a free behavioral health clinic,” he says. “And so all of those together make up this BrotherCare Health model and we want to pitch this everywhere, not just in Wisconsin. We want this to be a nationwide model because right now the current model is not working for Black men … simply, it’s not connecting.”

A variety of health-related topics will be tackled on Sunday at “We Matter.” For Madisonians wishing to go, Perry has chartered a bus to take them to Milwaukee and back.

“Right now, the registration is roughly about at 75 [men]. I think we’re gonna hit 150, maybe more,” Perry says. “We have a luxury bus that’s going to be picking everyone up at the Urban League [in South Madison] at 10 a.m. So guys can just jump on the bus and it’ll take them down to the improv. And then we’ll do the community discussion and the bus will bring them back.

“We just want to make it as convenient as possible because with Dan and DL and Mandela and we rarely get an opportunity to have this kind of panel. And you know Dan and DL will already be in town performing, so this was a perfect opportunity for us to do something great with very high-caliber individuals. We just want to really take advantage of having their presence there. And so I think it’s gonna be a good turnout and a good conversation.”

“We Matter” will be held Sunday, Feb. 4, noon-2 p.m., at the Milwaukee Improv, 20110 Lower Union Street in Brookfield. To register for the event, click here.