Milwaukee is a cool midwestern city. Its proximity to Chicago (and Wisconsin’s generous welfare program) meant it was a magnet for black people fleeing the consequences of blackness in the Windy City.
What happened to Milwaukee? It was inundated with blacks from Chicago. The result? Basically what happened to Chicago when it was inundated with blacks courtesy of the Great Migration. [In one of America’s most segregated cities, there’s unequal violence and unequal justice, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, July 10, 2019]:
Brenda Hines carries three small stones in her purse.
One for hope.
One for healing.
And one for justice.
She reaches for the clear, smooth stones every day, sometimes tumbling them in her hand for more than an hour, other times gripping them tightly for a few seconds.
She holds the stones as an act of prayer. They might disappear into her purse, but she can still feel their weight.
Devoted to God and her family, Brenda’s life has been guided by forces she cannot always see.
At 13, she boarded a Greyhound bus to Milwaukee to take care of her great-aunt. At 21, she became a mother and raised four sons in the deeply segregated city, which some experts call one of the worst places in the nation to raise a black family.
She thought her family had defied the odds through faith, hard work and love.
Then, on a cold November night, someone fired a dozen shots into a car.
The driver, Brenda’s 23-year-old son Donovan, was hit by multiple bullets.
He crashed into a nearby house and died.
Unequal cities, unequal violence
Violent crime in Milwaukee is unequal, victimizing African American residents more often than their white counterparts.
Criminologists and other academics have long focused on individual choices and risk factors, such as illegally carrying a gun or selling drugs, when it came to explaining who gets shot and why — but a growing body of research is showing systemic factors may matter more.
When public health experts wanted to figure out how violent crime is linked with structural racism, they looked at decades-old housing maps. Their results were published last year in the journal Social Science and Medicine.
The maps, created by the federal government in the 1930s, explicitly used race to determine creditworthiness and investment risk within neighborhoods. Areas deemed “unworthy of economic investment by virtue of the races, ethnicities, and religions of their residents” were shaded red, the study said.
The researchers examined Philadelphia and found those redlined areas today are more likely to be the places where violence is most common.
In Milwaukee, the same pattern appears.
Present-day census tracts don’t match up perfectly with the historic redlined neighborhoods.
But of the tracts that fall mostly within the old red boundary, 36% of residents’ incomes are below the poverty line — 9 percentage points worse than the citywide poverty rate of 27%.
From 2014 to 2018, the homicide rate in these neighborhoods was 13% worse than the number for the city as a whole, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analysis found. The nonfatal shooting rate was 28% worse than the citywide average.
The researchers in Philadelphia carefully noted their work did not prove the “insidious confluence” of structural racism and concentrated violence.
But, they said, it gave “historical dimension” to earlier studies that found racial disparities are “as much an issue of place as they are of people.”
The maps reinforced and deepened segregation that persists today. That segregation is connected with poverty and crime. And it leads to unequal victimization.
Last year, a black resident in Milwaukee was eight times as likely as a white resident to be shot and killed, according to the Journal Sentinel analysis.
Isn’t this just an admission of a simple statement: where you have blacks in Milwaukee, you have violence; where you have whites in Milwaukee, you have peace?
Again, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tells us segregation is too blame for blacks killing/shooting other black people, as if proximity/access to whiteness is a deterrent to violence; conversely, the phrase “unequal violence” seems to indicate the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel desires more white people to be victims of the type of violence black people uniquely create in Milwaukee… and Chicago. Baltimore as well.
Exposing white people to be victims of violence is the type of true equality the good writers at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel seem to be advocating, as they inadvertently admit communities lacking vibrancy and color (boring old, all-white communities) are safe havens for civilization and social capital.
The TL;DR version of this story: black communities are full of violence, which journalists blame on segregation; white communities are full of peace and prosperity, which journalists blame also on the legacy of segregation. To remedy this “unequal violence,” it would appear journalists hope to redistribute black violence by integrating neighborhoods, and letting whites see the world they long ago via white flight.