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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
10. Milwaukee, WisconsinUnsurprisingly, people like the race baiters at White Wisconsin used this to take jabs at Mayor Tom Barrett. Lefties are turning around and trying to put the blame on Scott Walker and the Teapublican legislature.
> Population: 599,000 (28th largest)
> Credit rating: Aa2, stable
> Violent crime per 100,000: 1,294 (10th highest)
>; 2012 Unemployment rate: 10.1% (27th highest)
Milwaukee struggles with poverty and high crime rates. Last year, a typical household made just over $34,000, and nearly 30% of people lived beneath the poverty line, considerably worse than the country’s figures. There were nearly 1,300 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2012, more than three times the national rate of 387 violent crimes per 100,000 people. The city’s socioeconomic problems were among the reasons Moody’s assigned Milwaukee a Aa2 rating. The agency also expressed management-related concerns, specifically highlighting the city’s debt burden and the complexity of its debt financing.
But to lay this at the feet of any one individual is terribly naive and ignorant. This has been happening for generations and has a root that is deeper on the right than on the left, although it is very pervasive on both sides.
The problems listed in the report has a lot to do with the ongoing racism in this city and this state.
In April 2013, Milwaukee was found to be the most segregated area of the nation. I pointed out at that time that the segregation was happening on more than just a geographical level.
For decades, Milwaukee school children have been getting set apart by having a large portion of their education funding diverted to support the education privatizers and profiteers, even though these private schools have been repeatedly been shown to be worse than public education. Not only has the problem never been corrected, in recent years, the siphoning of funds has been greater, making it even more difficult for children to get a good education.
Milwaukee is also segregated electorally. First there is Scot Walker and the Teapublican legislature reinstating Jim Crow laws and poll taxes, making it harder for many minorities to vote. Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele furthered the problem by diminishing the representative government the county once enjoyed. At least locally, it's now harder to vote and you have less of a voice even when you do vote.
Speaking of losing one's voice, let us not forget the bias in the media. Radio station aimed at a black audience can't stay on the air while WTMJ teams up with the Koch-funded Club for Growth to keep spewing their race baiting.
Along the same line, a gas station in Washington County can make the news in Milwaukee, but the escalated wave of crime in the city itself barely gets mentioned. It's as if the corporate media wants people to believe that the money from a exurban gas station is more important than the life of a young black man in the inner city. Oh, wait, that's exactly what they are doing.
Milwaukee's segregation is also economical. Abele fights any and all efforts to have a minimum wage come to Milwaukee. Mayor Tom Barrett went against the will of the people and squashed the law requiring paid sick time for workers in the city. On top of that, there are the Teapublicans that are looking for any chance they get to cut people off of unemployment, food stamps and Badger Care.
And when one considers the other constant issues of segregation, like how a black man has a one in three chance of being incarcerated, it's not surprising that things are going to hell in a handbasket.
All of this ingrained racism, segregation and oppression is really brought home in a blog post written by a former Milwaukeean who eloquently speaks of her experiences here:
I am fully aware that what plagues my family and so many people in Milwaukee is a combination of poor public policy, mass segregation, over incarceration and an even poorer education system. I chose to move away from Milwaukee not the work. I choose to focus my energy and adult working life on public policies where zip code doesn’t dictate destiny, where parental income doesn’t so easily transfer, where schoolhouses can be an oasis of hope.Things can get better, but only when we start raising all of our boats and not those of a select few. The majority of citizens in the City of Milwaukee are African American. It is utter foolishness to think that you can hold down the majority of the population and have any kind of success.
I left my burden somewhere on the sidewalk cracks of Hadley Street on the north side of Milwaukee just as I would in the torn up rubble of the Cabrini Green housing projects in Chicago. I’ll never get Milwaukee tattooed on my chest. I probably will never be able to vacation with my family members in some incredible safari resort in Kenya and many of them will likely never board a plane to see what life is like for their cousin, sister, friend in Brooklyn. And while I continue to mourn that Huxatble dream of going back ‘home’ to a place that is safe, supportive, and where people understand me, I’ve learned that the best I could do is be safe, supportive, and understanding to them.
I learned from Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie that: stories matter. I learned that stories empower, humanize and can also repair broken dignity. But, as Ms. Adichie often says, this is just one story. It is just one story of Milwaukee and the memories I bury at the airport each and every time I board my plane back to my home where my friends, job and family await me on the East Coast. I will reminiscence about Milwaukee as my grandparents once did of Mississippi, as a place with much history but with no future for me.
We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. We need to allow people to take off for sick children without fear of losing their jobs or their homes. We need to allow all people to have an equal voice and has an equal chance. Most of all, we need to call out and condemn the racism that permeates almost every aspect and region of not only Milwaukee but all of Wisconsin.
And if our elected officials - regardless of what party they are in- refuse to make these things happen, we need new leaders who will. The corporatization of our country has gone too far. We need to start taking our city, our county, our state and our country back.
But as long as we keep electing politicians that are more worried about the corporate special interests and their money than the people they're supposed to be representing, don't expect things to get better. They would rather play the same game of finger pointing every time one of these reports comes out instead of actually leading.