Monday, April 15, 2013

Report: Milwaukee Is The Most Racially Segregated Urban Area In America

This is nothing to be proud of:
Nationwide, blacks have been concentrated in the inner city, far away from where new jobs are created. Yet the case of Milwaukee is extreme: 90 percent of the metro area’s black population lives in the city. Making matters worse, suburban whites are notably hostile to building any form of public transit to connect city people to suburban jobs, further exacerbating segregation’s ill effects.

If you’re wondering if this can somehow, some way, be blamed on union-busting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the answer is yes. Walker took the lead in a campaign against public transit to connect the suburbs to the city during his time as county executive. He thought the funds would be better spent on highways.

“There is virulent opposition in these exurban counties to any kind of regional transit system, particularly a regional rail system. There have been proposals over the years, but they’re always DOA,” says Levine. “Governor Walker’s big issue as state representative and county executive was ‘Over my dead body light rail,’ and he fought with Milwaukee’s mayor over funds for regional rail. He very much represents that suburban and exurban base.”
Oh, and it keeps getting worse:
Milwaukee sticks out in another way: Civic boosters have mounted a major campaign to deny the city’s segregation. In 2002, a group of job training researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, released a study contending that nationally recognized measures of segregation are “racially biased” and, using a new measure, argued that Milwaukee was actually the tenth most integrated of the largest 50 cities.

While people everywhere — especially whites — find it hard to talk about race, the methodological contortions undertaken in Milwaukee are striking.

“It’s not really controversial in Milwaukee. No one seriously doubts we’re a highly segregated place. It’s only controversial because this work, which has never been published, never been peer reviewed, and isn’t taken seriously by any academic experts, purported to show something that some local political leaders wanted to tout in order to make Milwaukee look better,” says Levine. “These non-faculty contract researchers got a grant from a local foundation whose president said, ‘I don’t think Milwaukee is really as segregated as all these studies have shown. Can you run some numbers that show that?’”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered the findings extensively, despite their lack of academic rigor.

“Milwaukee ranks across the board as among the most segregated metropolises in the nation. It has among the highest rates of racial inequality across a whole range of indicators: black-white joblessness, black-white poverty and black-white ownership of businesses. There’s a bit of civic embarrassment and sensitivity to it,” says Levine.
And for the reading impaired, they have included this graphic showing just how segregated the Milwaukee area is:

To be fair though, Scott Walker didn't invent the segregation and underlying racism in Milwaukee.  He only enhanced it.

As mentioned in the article, Walker did indeed do his best to decimate the transit system, cutting it by more than 20% in his time as county executive, cutting off many people from jobs.  Of course, Walker also didn't want "those people" bothering the good folks in Brookfield and other suburbs.

Walker's separate and unequal approach was apparent in other areas as well.  Many years ago, lefty bloggers, including myself, showed the disparity in the way parks in the inner city were being neglected while suburban parks were in much better shape.

It should also be pointed out that it's just not Walker that is trying to keep segregation intact.  Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan is a good example of that. After an incident involving some black youths at State Fair, Donovan and fellow Alderman Joe Dudzik sent out a blatantly racist press release that blamed black people for everything but the clogs in their kitchen sinks.  Not done being an ass, Donovan also proposed a plan where black kids would be gathered up and locked away in boarding schools and orphanages.  The ultimate in segregation!

Don't look for the transit system in Milwaukee to get any better in the near future.  Walker, as governor, as made transit funding much more scarce by moving it out of the transportation fund.  Walker tried to justify this move by claiming that mass transit wasn't really transportation, but a social program like food stamps, energy assistance and Badger Care.

Locally, with the Milwaukee County Transit System on the verge of collapse, and with a long list of reasons why the community needs it, the current county executive, Chris Abele, would rather see a dedicated sales tax go to build a new arena instead of restoring and sustaining the transit system.  Why should thousands of blacks have access to transportation to jobs when he can have his own court side seat to watch Bucks games?

And that is not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars Abele is willing to spend on 44 story tall Bic Lighters and moving freeway ramps a few feet to make things easier for his fellow plutocrats. Then our dear elected leaders tell us that there is not enough money to fix the roads, provide decent education for our children or proper health care for our poor.  They have to make sure that the right people get what they want and the wrong people get to stay put.

Segregation was wrong then. It's even
more wrong now.

It's not only geographically that people are trying to keep Milwaukee segregated.  They are also attempting it politically as well, such as with AB 85/SB 95, the bill that would greatly reduce representative government in Milwaukee, effectively silencing the majority of minorities in Milwaukee County.  As one might hope, it is being met with fierce resistance from local civic leaders, community groups and political leaders.

It should also be pointed out that Milwaukee is the home base for the Bradley Foundation.  The Bradley Foundation has been involved with similar acts by trying to infringe the rights of blacks to even vote.

I have heard some say that Milwaukee will never make the "big time" unless we have all sorts of new buildings, arenas for our sports teams and other cultural attractions.

I say that we could have all those and still not hit the big time until we address the inherent racism and sexism that is still all too prevalent in our community.


  1. gee, capper, not too long ago you were shamelessly andw mercilessly slandering an African American senator -- one that overwhelmingly is supported by the very area of Milwaukee you now pretend to be so concerned about.

    You even falsely used a pic of this senator on a tv set as if somehow that made her a walker ally -- shameless propagada!

    You don't seem to think that African Americans deserve a voice in government and now want to be their BFF on economic issues?

    Dude you jumped the shark and now have no integrity to be the voice of equity, justice, and reason.

    1. Gee, you mean Lena Taylor, who is a cosponsor of AB 85/SB 95? The one that has been selling her constituents out? The one that was confronted at a public hearing by her constituents you claim support her so much?

      But no fears, I have been given more proof of how well she represents her district. I'm sure that it will send you into conniptions all over again.

  2. You guys are such now pointing out factually and correctly that she is in the pocket of GMC thus advocating for less representation of Milwaukee is now slandering?

    Gee maybe we should be like you Knotsies and just sit with our head in the sands and support people strictly by the letter AFTER their name.....

  3. The last paragraph sums it up perfectly. Milwaukee's racism and segregation are a main reason it's stagnating, and losing talent to Madison, Chicago and Minneapolis.

    And the GMC and AM radio are more than happy to keep things this wAy, so they can keep their little boys and girls clubs. So the cycle of mediocrity continues.

    Well done, capper

  4. I think a symptom of the racism are the allegations of voter fraud every time there is an election. When I first moved to Wisconsin, I was a little shocked by the blatant racism in suggesting that minorities and urban areas were the most likely to have voter fraud. Every time there is large voter turnout in high minority areas there are claims of voter fraud and people being bussed in from other "minority" cities, even when those cities are from very far away (Detroit).

    This is very sad and the problem is worsened by the denial. Racism of one kind or another is everywhere, but sometimes it seems like Wisconsin is the new South when it comes to this. People have all these assumptions about "urban" people based on stereotypes.

    I don't know how these things will be fixed, especially given the segregation. People have to open their hearts. Maybe we need some divine intervention. It would help a lot if our politicians would legislate in ways that would help end segregation and income inequality. It would also help if more people voted in all the elections.

  5. "And the GMC and AM radio are more than happy to keep things this wAy, so they can keep their little boys and girls clubs. So the cycle of mediocrity continues."

    Say Wht? MPS is the driving force followed by those who excuse their results.

  6. Lifelong Californian, new to this city, quite flabbergasted by how segregated it is. The waterfront area is beautiful. But seeing exclusively white clientele served by exclusively black servers, newcomers and visitors cannot help but to see this as a ridiculous Southern plantation... or some science fiction dystopia. Can people NOT see this happening here? Does this not bother you?!

    This city is in stagnation, frozen by fear of fellow Milwaukeeans right down the street. There is an obvious lack of courage from all sides to be alone in crossing the color lines. Fear will turn this wonderfully characteristic city into a second-rate laughing stock.

    1. I agree completely. I am a native Milwaukean, who was fortunate enough to live in California for 15 years. It saddened me to return to a state where very litlle, if any progress has been regarding racial equality. There is a tremendous amount if fear here, and if you dare start a conversation about it, you might as well declare war. They eithercannot accept the truth or don't want their 'dirty little secret' exposed.

  7. As a white, former Milwaukeean I fully agree. Unfortunately you can't brainwash people to get rid of their prejudice. What needs to happen is a complete overhaul in the way ALL Milwaukeeans approach race relations. There is a lot of pent up animosity on the part of African-Americans, but how can you blame them? Opportunities for advancement just don't exist, and the suburbs are afraid of letting too many blacks or poor people in least it turn into a "another Brown Deer".