You’re White, in America’s Most Segregated City

So what can you do to improve things?

By - Aug 17th, 2016 03:26 pm
Photo by Garrett Bucks.

Photo by Garrett Bucks.

I’m a white Milwaukeean writing to other white Milwaukeeans (though I hope it’s useful for white folks elsewhere). I write with a heavy dose of humility — I’m not scoring perfect tens here and know darn well that we have to do a heck of a lot more listening. I write though because one of the simplest and most often ignored requests that people of color make of us is to talk to each other.

This past Saturday, the world watched as our city burned. By the time the sun was out Sunday morning our not-so-well-kept secret was clear for all to see… that our fires actually didn’t start this weekend.. You likely know all this… that we’re “the most segregated metro area in the country,” “the worst place in the country for black people” and that coming here is like stepping back “60 years in time.” What’s different this week is that it’s harder to sweep the truth under the rug.

As I write this, the cameras have turned away from Sherman and Burleigh. The park will reopen. We’ll do some furrowed-brow haranguing about our place in the world and move on, but not before wishing that there was something we could do.

And then, seeing nothing immediately satisfactory — no single evil law we can rail against — we’ll go back to our lives.

The thing is, I get it. We’re not bad people. We’re honestly flummoxed by the question.

Part of the problem here is that we often over-simplify what it means to be ‘most segregated.’ It’s actually not as simple as just having half the white folks move to the black side of town and half the black folks move to the white side of town. Yes, different groups ‘round here largely don’t live/socialize/worship/learn around each other. And yes, most white folks don’t actually know more than a token few folks of color. But if the problem were as simple as “we’ve got loving people over here who don’t know the loving people over there — let’s create spaces where they can dialogue and eventually move together and we’re all good” this would be solved by now. This is NOT just about relationships or about people who are fearful of each other. This is about a built-in power differential, borne into the DNA of our city.

That’s the bad news.

But here’s the good news… the depth of this mess also means that if we care about the future of our city, then far from not knowing what to do, we have enough work ahead of us to keep every one of us busy.

The list below is in three parts. Part one focuses on how we support communities of color, part two on how we work on ourselves and part three on the role we play for other Milwaukeeans. There’s levels to this.

As white Milwaukeeans, we have to actively make the choice to support communities of color (especially black Milwaukee) in their work to build power and capacity.

1. Spend your money at businesses owned by people of color.

Did you know that there is a beautiful, easy-to-navigate directory of black-run businesses in the city? It’s true! There’s also a directory of Hmong-run businesses across the whole state. The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s directory of businesses is being updated but it isn’t hard to ask a business that serves the Latino community if they are Latino-run or not. If we are going to create a condition where more small businesses are run by people of color, where every neighborhood in the city has a vibrant commercial district and wealth flows to-and-from everyone, not just to white folks, we have to first support what we’ve got right now.

2. Give your time and money to effective nonprofits run by people of color.

I made a (still growing) list here of organizations that fit both bills. I share not because there isn’t great work being done by white-led nonprofits in our city, but because we are at a moment when transferring as much capacity and resources as possible to organizations that aren’t just doing great work in communities of color but are led by them matters.

3. If you own a successful business in our city, prioritize job creation in our city’s poorest neighborhoods.

As per point number one, I really want more black-run coffeeshops in town. I ALSO want our beloved Colectivo to open a branch, run by folks from the neighborhood, over at Fondy and Locust. I also desperately want a black-run corporation employing hundreds at Century City, but in the meantime I’d love one of the new white-run companies popping up out in ‘Tosa to open there too and start hiring up and down the block. And yes, there are reasons why business development in high poverty black and brown neighborhoods is a “risky” short-term investment. I’m not an economist. I’ve got a gut feeling though, that in the long-term being the “worst place in America for black people” isn’t a good investment either.

That’s just to say, there have been a set of hiring/business-location decisions that have gotten us to this place, so why not try a different set of choices to get us out?

4. When you take political action, prioritize advocacy that supports communities of color instead of predominately white communities.

Our city’s poorest communities, all of them black and brown, desperately need jobs and job training. They deserve basic investments in infrastructure and business development. The kids out at Sherman and Burleigh will tell you directly that there’s not much to do in their neighborhoods and that they feel attacked by police and teachers alike. These are the kinds of things that deserve advocacy… now. And no, not advocacy led by white people but advocacy led by people of color, supported by white people.

You see, the usual pattern is that white folks come out and mobilize for things that will either predominately help white communities (5000 signatures for bike lanes on the Hoan Bridge) or where the initial idea for activism (even if it purports to be fore communities of color) emerged from white-led organizations (those of us in education witness this all the time… shouts to those nationally working to break this cycle).

I’m not saying to not ever advocate for your bike lanes, but just that we’re all busy people so if we WANT to shift power in our city we should reserve a disproportionate amount of our activism supporting projects that have been developed by and for communities of color .

Not sure where to start? Follow and listen to the groups I listed in point number two. For example, it won’t take much reading about Common Ground before you’d discover that this past Sunday, after months of listening and organizing in near-south side neighborhoods, the veteran organizers kicked off an action for an indoor soccer facility in a neighborhood with a dearth of recreational opportunities. What’s more, they’re actively asking for help!

There is no shortage of activism or projects being led by people of color in our city, but knowing where they are involves listening rather than talking and showing up… consistently.

5. Volunteer on and support campaigns for rising political leaders of color.

Our city has never elected a person of color to be our Mayor. The same pattern holds for County Executive. And while we have elected a black Sheriff, the candidate that we inexplicably continue to re-elect makes his hay with anti-black dog whistles so unsubtle that we should probably just call them ‘actual whistles.’ If we want to disrupt that pattern it’s important to have as strong a bench of candidates of color as possible, particularly young diverse candidates with their ear on the ground in our most disenfranchised zip codes. And no, this isn’t about majority white organizations finding any black or brown candidate who supports their interest in the ‘black district.’ It’s about giving black and brown candidates across the city support because their platforms have emerged from listening to and caring about what the kids throwing rocks on Sherman care about, not based on their ideological purity on a white-run organization’s questionnaire.

6. If you live in the suburbs, petition your community institutions to ensure that people of color could move there/would be welcome there.

Did you read that ‘back in time 60 years’ article from the Toronto Star? One of the most disconcerting parts of it was the section about New Berlin: A suburban mayor receives gun shots to his car and ‘N***** lover’ notes simply because he proposed a low-income apartment complex. Again, that’s the bad news. The good news? If that’s the reality, if you’re a suburban white resident who DOESN’T want your community to be known for exclusion and hate, you have a unique power for action.

How powerful would it be if city council meetings across the burbs were flooded with demands for a city-wide diversity and equity plan? What if realtors were getting calls asking why they never seemed to drive families of color out to check out homes? And what if suburban school boards were filled with white parents concerned not with “discipline issues” as their schools diversified but instead called for more culturally responsive practices and action against opportunity gaps? It would literally flip the script.

Desegregate your home bases

1. If you work in an occupation that gives you the privilege of interfacing with communities of color, clean up your own house first.

Teachers. Doctors. Cops. Social Workers. Loan officers. Store clerks. There are so many of us whose day jobs give the incredible gift of interface with all sides of our divided community. With this privilege, though, comes an intense responsibility.

Let’s use my field (education) as an example — there is a bitter battle across the city (with the loudest voices too often being pretty darn white) between school sectors. Are you for the district? Are you for charters? Are you for voucher schools? And yes, I’ll acknowledge that there are serious policy discussions to be had here (funding, building management, etc.) that shouldn’t be downplayed.

But here’s the rub. I’ve been in dozens upon dozens of our city’s schools — district, charter and choice. And the reason why I’m not likely to raise my voice loudly for one sector over the other is because every single school in every one of those sectors has real urgent work to do when it comes to educating black and brown kids with the dignity they deserve.

I see a lot of classroom settings that are pretty darn sad, period, and a whole lot more that are ‘just OK’ where kids deserve ‘excellent and liberating.’ And, as somebody whose organization coaches teachers, I know and am completely empathetic as to why… being a decent teacher is super hard, let alone being a relationship-rich, culturally responsive teacher with a high bar for rigor. But… if it IS so hard, that means that the urgency of focusing more attention on our own houses, our own biases and our own practices, (ESPECIALLY as white folks teaching other people’s children) is at SUCH a fever pitch that I’m not sure how or why we’re focused anywhere else but our own classrooms and schools. We’ve got a lot of glass houses, so while critical friendship is great, we’re not really in a stone throwing zone. Any of us.

I gave an education example because I know it best. Goodness knows there’s a law enforcement parallel, a health parallel, a financial systems parallel, a social work parallel. All of us — we have all the time in the world, but none to spare.

2. Push your workplace to have a real plan for diversity and equity (emphasis on ‘a real plan’).

Truly diverse workplaces do a whole lot for our community. They make organizations better and smarter. They ensure a consistent transfer of economic and social power. They give opportunities for relationship-building and empathy. They’re just doper in general.

But they don’t just happen. They definitely won’t happen by opening a hiring pool, seeing that only one person of color applies and then saying “well, we didn’t have enough qualified candidates.” But they also won’t happen even if you technically diversify, if more people of color are hired but they aren’t listened to, if the way you work isn’t open to change, if conversations about equity in the workplace are limited to occasional workshops.

Building a diverse and equitable workforce is a lifelong project that starts with a long view on hiring (new approaches towards recruitment, internships, relationships with students of color at universities and even high schools), continues with rigorous, mandatory training/workshops/conversations on workplace equity, modeled by non-defensive leadership, fueled by succession plans that ensure that ‘diversity’ isn’t concentrated at lower levels of the organization… the list goes on. Most of all, it involves listening to and actually valuing the voices and experience of people of color.

3. Desegregate your news and information sources.

This one should be obvious, as long as you do so critically and constructively. Yes, it’s worth tuning into 860 AM, but you shouldn’t assume that something you hear there represents ‘the black community.’ Same too when you read theCommunity Journal or the Courier or, if you’re Spanish-speaking, El Conquistador. More generally though, it’s worth asking yourself, how much of where I spend my time, where I get my news and who I listen to is pretty darn white and what voices am I missing?

4. Yes, join and participate in more diverse communities, but DON’T TAKE OVER .

Yeah, it probably would do you a ton of good if you went to a church that was predominately non-white, sidled up to a bar where folks didn’t look like you and held your cookout somewhere other than Lake or Humboldt Park. BUT (and this is a big but), don’t assume that your presence is naturally a helpful or even welcome one. Yes, step outside of your zone, but be cool. If you ARE welcome in a space don’t take it over or wait to be complimented for being there. And of course, if folks say “hey, this might not be the best move for you right now” and ask you to move on, respect that.

5. Side note — a quick thought on ‘moving to a non-white neighborhood’

You might find it odd that I’ve gotten this far through a list of “what you should do” about an issue like segregation without explicitly saying “just move!” First up, as noted above, this isn’t just about whether or not white and black/brown Milwaukeeans like living together, it’s about differential power. Secondly, too often, when those power dynamics are not taken into consideration, we know full well that white folks moving to communities of color doesn’t result in integration, but gentrification.

Here’s an example. I’m a Riverwester. On one hand, I moved into a neighborhood that is less segregated than Bayview or the East Side. I’m doing good, right? But… I’m been a part of a decades-long progression of fellow white folks who’ve moved to this diverse neighborhood but primarily supported white-run/white-serving institutions. As a result, every year,Riverwest gets a little bit wealthier and whiter. So, while I WOULD love for an integrated Lindsay Heights or Clarke Square or Metcalfe Park, I don’t want those neighborhoods to undergo a few years of integration and an influx of increasingly ‘hip’ (read: white) restaurants preceding a gradual exodus of black and brown folks.

The message then? Yes, think critically about where to live, but NOT without also analyzing the institutions you’re supporting (in particular financially), your relationship with your neighbors of color… the whole kit and caboodle.

Talk with other white people. Talk with other white people. Talk with other white people. All the time.

I feel that when us white folks get advice, this one triggers intense eye-rolling. It can feel like a cop-out. I firmly believe though that loving/challenging/being challenged by other white people isn’t accessory or side nonsense, a runners-up prize for those who don’t get to hold the megaphone… it’s life or death work. I’ve written about this here, but it’s particularly true in MKE. In every conversation, every article, what’s clear time and time again is that people of color in our town don’t JUST feel isolated because of nasty systems at a high level but because our fear/distrust/paternalism/you-name-it as white people is visceral.

The jewelry store clerk who locks the door and calls the cops on one of the NBA’s best shot blockers will only change if his friends challenge his biases. So too for the teacher who just happens to tell all his black students’ parents that their children are “too loud” or the work team that ‘randomly’ ignores contributions from people of color, then praises those same contributions from white staffers. Every day, every single one of us makes our town less welcoming to people of color and unless we love each other enough to take that on together (humbly learning together, not competing for wokeness but also not standing for each other’s nonsense),every single other action on this list won’t do a lick of good.

That’s all to say…

You all, I love the heck out of our city. I’ve lived across the country and moving to Milwaukee was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. This town has been unspeakably good to me. And for white folks reading this, I have a feeling that it’s a pretty common assessment. It’s why we our dressers are 80% filled with ‘Milwaukee Home’ shirts. And you know what? That love matters.

We’ve got a choice to make though, because it doesn’t matter how much we love our city if the fires are still raging across town. The barrier to this becoming a community worthy of every Milwaukeean’s love isn’t a lack of work to be done, it’s our willingness to do it. It’s about our neighbors of color being trusted to lead this city to a better place and our willingness to give up the power, comfort and space that we’ve grown accustomed to taking. This is gonna be damn hard work, the work of a lifetime. But for those of us who love this city you know there’s no place in the world more worth it.

This story by Garrett Bucks was originally published on Bucks’ medium site.

Categories: Op-Ed

53 thoughts on “You’re White, in America’s Most Segregated City”

  1. Jason says:

    If you listen to many of the shouts from the rioters, what they really want is your money or more specifically white people’s supposed money trees . So maybe we can institute that more. Let us tax all classes more to give to the rioters. On a different note, if you know a black owner that owns a starbuck’s I will be there.

  2. tyrell track master says:

    Outstanding article! I will share this widely.

    Sadly, as indicated by the first comment here, there remain some seriously ignorant and sheltered white people in the Milwaukee area (yeah, I’m looking at the suburbs here) so I’d like to add that we should do our best to reach out to the good people of Waukesha county from time to time to convince them they have nothing to fear.

  3. Jason says:

    Tyrell we cannot all live in Alice in Wonderland. When rioter’s shout out look for white people and attack them. Your probably not going to see more white people near Sherman park. Face the facts.

  4. Juli Kaufmann says:

    Thank you for writing this. Thank you for publishing this. I hear you. I feel you. I empathize. I am white and you inspire me to be this change. Every day. One step at a time. It starts with me. And these ideas. Now time to share.

  5. Vincent Hanna says:

    Actually Tyrell lives around here. Aren’t you in Hawaii Jason? I know white people who live in Sherman Park and have no plans to move so you have no idea what you are talking about. As usual.

  6. Brandon Methu says:

    I absolutely agree with this article. We have to put black and brown folks in an equity position, to truly stabilize these communities. To often empowerment initiatives are not led by folks who understand the issues most.

  7. Jason says:

    Vince, maybe your right. All these white hipsters will suddenly change their minds. It seems every other week a plan is put out to build high end apartments downtown. I am sure by 2018 all those big cranes downtown will be out in Sherman Park. This kind of reminds me of all those young African girls captured by Boku Harem and Michelle Obama pouts and states save those poor girls. When in fact Michelle’s husband has the power to save those girls but instead does nothing

  8. Vincent Hanna says:

    Ah OK then Jason. Hipsters and high-end apartments and Obama and Boko Haram. Maybe it’s time for a nap. And no conservative media for a week. You’ll feel better and start making more sense. Win-win.

  9. Robert says:

    Blather from a guy who talks and can’t seem to find his way out of every coffee shop in Milwaukee. Full of Blather is GB.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if he did write this after our troubles in our city from Hawaii.

    Time for him to move on or start working hard.

  10. Jk Side says:

    Nitpicking I’m sure. And not to say getting out of Bay View and visiting other parks isn’t a great idea – it is. But my last visit to Humboldt, I saw about 10 cookouts/parties happening and only one of them was predominantly white. At playground, it was same – lots of diversity and multiple languages being spoken.

  11. Vincent Hanna says:

    Hey Jason in Hawaii looks like there’s still a lot going on in Sherman Park and nearby neighborhoods. Imagine that.

  12. Gary Rebholz says:

    Today’s racial bigotry and segregation in Milwaukee is very real, but you’ve also got to consider digging beyond skin deep.

    Since jumping into local genealogy and history research in 1997, I’ve regularly come up against a wall that predates Milwaukee’s racial bigotry and segregation — first seen in the white-on-white bigotry and segregation based of historic orthodox religious communities in the area. The caste system they developed: the “educated” versus “uneducated”; and the “haves” versus “have nots” both become a pathetic measure of character and can be experienced in places like our libraries and other places.

    Local historian J. Gurda touches very lightly on this history in the “Making of Milwaukee” series. Which means it was important enough that he couldn’t ignore it entirely. It’s also touched on in Ken Burn’s series “Prohibition” (the success of that horrific conservative religious project well known, sometimes glamorized, and gradually being deconstructed to include it’s component of working-class discrimination).

    Some people will even talk about Milwaukee’s historic bigotry and segregation in casual conversation. In local genealogy parlance, people still talk about “mixed marriage” denoting a marriage of a white couple from different religious denominations; conversations about family history may come to an abrupt halt when religious or fraternal org. connections are clarified; requests for historic facts may be withheld pending screening of the requestor based on religious affiliation; you may even be subtley screened at public offices and institutions to only receive partial help or partial information. I’ve seen or experienced all of it. It’s fascinating and explains so much about Milwaukee.

  13. Tim says:

    Gary, that’s a great insight into all our history, unfortunately that’s not just the tale of Milwaukee’s history but our country as a whole.

  14. Virginia Small says:

    Thanks for writing these very specific suggestions.

    Here’s one more. There are numerous opportunities to become a volunteer tutor for students of all ages, including adults studying for the GED. Places that provide free tutoring include the Milwaukee Public Library, The Literacy Center and many community organizations. MPS also recruits volunteers to read to elementary students.

    Tutoring is a great way to engage directly and address a civic need.

  15. Mike says:

    Perhaps there should be more articles / information about black residents that overcame obstacles and/or were fortunate to grow up in a healthy environment? There are many successful black people that followed the basic formula – get educated and make yourself a value to society. Excluding tactics that have clearly failed and essentially created the current problems, how does society help people that don’t have basic life skills (besides the current incarceration model)?

  16. Diane says:

    The belief that Milwaukee is the most segregated city has been debunked. Wake up. Get current. As long as people hold onto a belief that does NOT serve them (and one that isn’t even true), they will create even worse conditions for themselves. Why? Because humans think, feel, and make choices based on their beliefs. They box themselves in with their beliefs.

    I’m not saying that people of color have no beef against our predominantly white society, but I really wish people would stop making it worse by crying about how bad it is. The effect of holding onto the belief that Milwaukee is the most segregated city makes white people angry and it makes black people angry. Gee, that’s constructive (I say sarcastically).

    The average white person who can’t do anything about racism is told to feel guilty. Because NO ONE wants to feel guilty, they start resenting the people who try to make them feel guilty. Eventually they will demonize those same people, especially when they see those people burning their own neighborhoods.

    The average black person hears some guilt-ridden white apologist (who isn’t current on the facts) screaming that Milwaukee is the most segregated city in the nation, and that black individual feels angry and begins to believe even more than white are oppressors and that he will never amount to anything because everyone is holding him back. He begins to believe this so much, that he begins to make choices based on his beliefs.

    This is all basic psychology, guys. Real basic. There are a lot of good fine black people who are doing very well in our society. Why not focus on them? Hold them up to be examples to young blacks who are looking for role models and looking also for their chosen identity.

  17. Vincent Hanna says:

    Diane ignoring reality doesn’t help either. Does it matter if Milwaukee is #1 or #2 on the list of the nation’s most segregated cities? It’s extremely segregated. How does ignoring that fact help?

    How do you reach people like those attending a recent political rally in West Bend who declared that people there don’t care about Milwaukee?

    Success stories are shared. The media does write about them. But those alone can’t solve everything.

  18. Diane says:

    In honor of the unrest, Vincent, I suggest that 25,000 white apologists donate all their money to Sherman Park and then douse themselves with gasoline and light a match. That’ll fix it.


  19. Vincent Hanna says:

    What are you talking about Diane? I said nothing about white guilt. That’s your response to legitimate questions and an attempt at an adult discussion? I apologize for misunderstanding your intentions. I thought you wanted adult conversation and not puerile flame-throwing. If you’re not, please don’t pollute UM. Take it elsewhere.

  20. will says:

    Why dont we just listen to the rioters in Sherman Park and burn down the suburbs and empty our bank accounts? Seems reasonable to me.

  21. Vincent Hanna says:

    Why not go to Sherman Park and talk to people there will? I bet you’d find way more people working diligently to clean up the area and demonstrate a commitment to spreading peace than people saying burn down the suburbs. Stop listening to talk radio.

  22. Virginia Small says:


    “The belief that Milwaukee is the most segregated city has been debunked.”

    What specific research are you citing?

    There are also other stats noted in recent stories (nationwide) that cite research about Milwaukee by UWM professors, much within the past 2-3 years.

  23. Robert says:

    Maybe the “author” Garrett Bucks could hold a meeting at several coffee shops in well to do neighborhoods he frequents instead of dong his day job with Teach for America as Executive Director so we can all learn from him just as soon as he gets back from his vacation in Hawaii.

    When are people going to wake up this guy is scamming people?

  24. Concerned about Milwaukee says:

    You need to look back at the history of all Milwaukee governments for the past 60 years. Not one was not either Socialist or Democratic. The mayors you’ve had in the past 60 years had no ideas of how to govern this community. If you can look at this with an open mind, you will see Democratic policies have done this to you. Governor Lucy, remember him?, didn’t help when he provided more welfare for Wisconsinites and went as far as saying you didn’t have to have a job to collect. People from Illinois and all over the country swarmed to Wisconsin to collect their free money. It was more profitable for a woman to have kids and not work and have no husband that worked. The more children, the more money. Those children have now grown up. You’ve seen some of them on tv last Saturday night. And the voters in Milwaukee keep electing the same people claiming it’s the system that is failing them. Don’t you get it? The people you are voting for ARE the system you say is not doing it. And your vote for Hillary this November will change what? Only make things worse. All a vote for her will do is give her more money and power to do whatever she wants and will put Bill into the White House to “interview” more female interns.

  25. Sean says:

    It is amazing how the media is overlooked on issues like this. The source if information for “white folks in the burbs” is the Fox 6’s and the 620’s of the world. All they report on is black crime and extremist white politics. There are positive stories that get buried on the back page of the sentinel. If not for Urban Milwaukee, Milwaukee Record, Shepard Express… non major media outlets it would look like what people in the burbs sometimes believe is true. BTW a white veteran with severe PTSD who was neglected by the VA was shot and killed by a cop in Sheboygan the other week and that story disappeared pretty quick, didn’t fit the agenda.

  26. Vincent Hanna says:

    Also a West Allis man, white, pointed a loaded gun at police officers and for some reason wasn’t shot. That’s barely been in the news at all. Never saw it in print media, just local news.

  27. steve says:

    Concerning Education, while it is true that MPS has fewer teachers of color than optimal, the opposite is far more salient. Many suburban districts are completely devoid of teachers of color. This creates a lifelong DISABILITY in all the students of such districts! (We focus too much on the % of white vs color of students, while ignoring the diversity of teaching staffs.)
    Experiencing talented and knowledgeable teachers of color has been one of the most empowering aspects of my own children’s MPS education.
    I worked for more than 10 years in a suburban district that despite much annual turnover in staff, hired ONE teacher of color (physical education for 2 years) in that period. It may be hard for young people to believe that all peoples can be smart, intelligent, and accomplished if their everyday experience gives them no actual evidence.
    White police officers with honorable intentions and even deliberate effort at sensitivity may be truly hindered in their perceptions and critical judgements simply due to their lack of any authentic inspirational experience with responsible adult individuals of color.
    Suburban readers of this article can ACT by going to their school board and DEMANDING that their children be given a diverse educational staff, and countering the current prevailing antipathy and often hostility toward the idea of non-white teachers. Thanks all you caring people who have read and commented.

  28. Jerry says:

    We have a large immigrant population from Congo at our church. These people are respectful, working people. Why is it that they can come to the U.S. and quickly become integrated contributing citizens? I think that it has to do with what is in a person’s head and NOT their skin color! These people act respectful and receive respect in return.

    Recent population statistics show that the U.S. is now more than 50% non-white, with a rapidly growing population of people who are multiple races. This trend will continue with people identifying as having 3 or more races.

    For all of the white people who want to see more diversity in their neighborhoods, what is stopping you from moving to Sherman Park? Having more white people (many complaining about segregated Milwaukee on this thread) move to Sherman Park is the answer to segregation in Milwaukee.

  29. Robert says:

    GB lives in a pretty darn good place and not walking his talk.

    If you want to talk to GB, find an upscale coffee shop and look for the guy on his computer with one eye on who he can talk to next.

  30. A Bus Driver says:

    Immigrants of color do not have the same experience as people of color born in the United States. The history of race relations in this country does not effect them as much yet.

  31. Jerry says:

    @ A Bus Driver

    There could be something to your comment that is legitimate, BUT people cannot continue to live in the past.

    To all the people who are putting teachers in the spotlight. You are definitely not teachers.

    The problem with Sherman Park and really any problem area is PARENTING! It doesn’t matter what the skin color is!

    A friend of mine from Spain signed a contract to come to the U.S. to teach Spanish in MPS. Yes, she was clueless. The students would hurl expletives at her and even threats to her person daily.

    These kids didn’t deserve a high-caliber teacher like my friend, so I helped her quickly re-apply within MPS to be transferred to another school. She was approved and yes that school is in a predominately white part of the City. I’m glad that I could help her get out of the hellhole where she was.

  32. James says:

    @ Diane (#17) You might be interested in this article from today’s New York Times, and the population map towards the end.

  33. Jim Klisch says:

    I never understood the methodology that made Milwaukee the most segregated City in America. Outside of the East Side and Bay View, Milwaukee is very Minority populated or integrated. Are you including the inner ring Suburbs Like Shorewood and Wauwatosa? Is this a regional comparison? All the places I travel to seem to mirror the City of Milwaukee regarding racial living patterns.

  34. A Bus Driver says:

    @ Jerry the solution to these problems are not so simple. The one thing I can say for sure is dismissing it as just parenting is very naive. It did not get to this point over night.

  35. Vincent Hanna says:

    For people claiming it’s all parenting, do you seriously not believe there are plenty of terrible middle class and rich parents?

  36. Jerry says:

    @A Bus Driver: As I said before, parenting is the problem. A good parent, parents a child since birth. When it gets tough, you step up your game and do what is necessary. Good parenting does not happen in one night. It is a LONG steady process.

    @Vincent: I do believe that there are parents not doing their jobs who are middle- and upper-class. However, popping out kids to get another welfare check, when you don’t have the skills or intelligence to raise them is the problem, i.e. no parenting.

    These young rioters were time bombs waiting to go off. Instead of burning the buildings and causing chaos, they should have gone home and slapped their pos parent(s) across the face for not doing their job.

    When will people start taking responsibility for their actions and stop blaming white people, the system etc.?

    The USA is minority white society now. White people are the MINORITY!

    European Americans have 3 or less children and spend their lives devoted to raising them correctly. They have earned their middle- and upper-class place in society.

  37. Vincent Hanna says:

    That is a horrible stereotype Jerry. And racist. Dear lord. Do you actually personally know people who had a child for no reason but a welfare check?

    Did you happen to see all of the people, of all ages, helping to clean up Sherman Park? Did you read about all of the black people who went there to try to keep the peace? They directly prevented things from getting worse.

    Actually white people are still the majority. That won’t change for another couple decades. So relax Jerry. Still plenty of white people in America. You sad man.

  38. AG says:

    Wha the…. “They have earned their middle- and upper-class place in society” Please tell me Jerry is just a lefty troll trying to stir the pot! No one but the kkk actually thinks things like this, right??? You can’t be that blind to history… that’s impossible.

    I’m all on the parenting train. It’s true the African American inner city culture lacks the expectation of a stable two parent household and that severely hurts in both economic terms and when it comes to increasing the odds of raising well-adjusted children. No, it doesn’t solve all the problems by itself, but I think it’s the number one thing that can take the biggest dent out of the struggles of the inner city as it would bring down crime, improve schools, have less kids in poverty, improve nutrition (through higher income), and so much more.

    People certainly are not dumb or lazy just because they are poor and live in the inner city. In fact, I believe that a life wasted without a job or getting an education is not just a disservice to the individual but also robs the rest of society of that individuals real talents, abilities, and what they could have contributed.

  39. Jerry says:

    @Vincent: Yes, I actually do know people who had children for no other reason than a welfare check. If you worked in the “system”, you might know some too.

    Okay, so there are good people in Sherman Park. Apparently, not enough though to keep their neighborhood from being torched. The people who had to clean up all of that mess should be pressing charges against the parents of the rioters. Of course, my hard-earned taxes will foot the bill.

    In regard to race statstics, if I spoke too soon, I’ll wait two decades, but it won’t be two decades, more like one decade, if that. My point is: white people are not the problem.

    And for the record, there are plenty of non-white parents, who are also doing their job and have also earned their place in middle- and upper-class society.

    Vincent, so where do you live in Sherman Park? Yeah, I didn’t think so. I would like to know when you plan to move to Sherman Park? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Watch who you call a racist when you’re looking in a mirror.

  40. Sean says:

    @Jerry, be careful with the parent talk, for some reason in UM forums you’re immediately a racist if you bring up parenting. I got an earful for suggesting that 14-15 y/o kids view babies as an accessory rather than a life long commitment.

  41. Tom D says:

    Jerry, you’ve been visiting too many right-wing web sites.

    The US is majority white and will remain so for decades.

    Here is the white percentage of the US for the last 2 censuses:

    2000 75.1% white
    2010 72.4%

    The next largest race is black:

    2000 12.3% of the US population
    2010 12.6%

  42. Vincent Hanna says:

    Jerry see AG’s post, and he’s conservative. Yours are the comments of the racist. If that hurts, well, too bad.

  43. Vincent Hanna says:

    Cry a river Sean. No one has been called a racist for simply saying parenting is important (see AG, who isn’t racist).

  44. AG says:

    Vincent, I swear you thought I was a racist… 😉

    Sean, believing there needs to be a cultural shift in the view of a stable family in the inner city does not automatically make someone a racist. The other comments Jerry made is what makes someone racist. My god, it’s hard enough trying to shut down the left’s cries of dog-whistle BS racism without having actual racist comments joining the discussion…

  45. A Bus Driver says:

    @ Jerry you need to stop the lying about you know someone that had a baby to get more welfare. That went away in the 90’s ever heard of Welfare Reform? Your former governor Tommy Thompson was the catalyst of that. Clinton signed the bill in 1996. You are the stereo-typical racist shooting off your mouth about what you think you know. You talk all your trash but, you really like the status quo. Changes to improve things for poor people somehow feels threatening to you. You don’t get it nor do you & many others like you.

  46. Vincent Hanna says:

    I do not AG. Whatever disagreements we have, I do not think you are racist. You’ve certainly never said anything like what Jerry says above. I don’t think even WCD has said anything like that. It crosses the line, as you succinctly say above.

  47. Robert says:

    Bucks is your typical white do gooder. He is banking over 150k a year – all of it raised and paid for by white do gooders.

    This Milwaukee Teach for America at work for Bucks.

  48. Virginia Small says:

    Jim (#33), an interesting NYT feature about Milwaukee and why some people choose to live in predominantly black neighborhoods. A graphic depicting current demographics shows the city is still very segregated. Some neighborhoods may “feel” more integrated because of the diversity of people frequenting businesses and such.

  49. John says:

    It’s sad! At the root of it all is the reflex action of fearing anyone different than me. We don’t seem to like the way some people dress, talk, wear their hair and we are often terrified by anyone who’s skin is a different color. As a result the different are forced to congregate where we don’t go and have to worry about them. They, in turn, will cooperate with this herding because they don’t want to be among those who prefer not to be near them. Economics favors the generally accepted group. This is how prejudice produces low income neighborhoods. When things get bad enough economically and socially, anger takes over creating impass. Now, the fix will be very difficult. The change that is needed is a change in the way we think! “We have met the enemy and he is us”!

  50. A Bee says:

    Great article, well written and more practical than most of what has been flying around lately. Everything starts with dialogue and thought and the comments here reflect some of the issues people have with those things. The problems and the solutions start with each of us individually

  51. Ryan N says:

    I believe Milwaukee as a city isn’t as bad for segregation as the metro is as a hole. I don’t think the city is the most segregated in the nation but I know the metro definitely is.

  52. Milwaukee Native says:

    Ryan N, besides the demographic issues, Metro Milwaukee does not attempt to address issues as a region. That aggravates and isolates problems as being just city of Milwaukee issues. People in MKE Co suburbs as well as WOW counties put on blinders, even if they depend on Milwaukee for their jobs, culture, entertainment.

    That’s partly what keeps MKE in a time warp. It helps that the city is repopulating, but there’s been far too little emphasis on revitalizing beyond a few neighborhoods or trying to address issues like transit and support for major cultural institutions as a region.

  53. Robert says:

    Why is Bucks on all sides working to back up MPS and then saying he working to blow up MPS to others?

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