Is Everything Ok?

It took about 10 seconds to find an article depicting some of the negative characteristics of my zip code.

Below is an excerpt from the article linked above. In red are a couple of comments about the statistics mentioned.

Here are five fast facts about 53206:

1. A 2013 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study found it was the most incarcerated ZIP code in the state, with a majority of its men having spent time in jail or prison. Experts say little has happened since to suggest the ranking has changed. This story was told in the film 53206. Over half of males above 18 are currently in or have spent time in prison.

2. A third of Milwaukee’s 2,940 vacant lots are located in 53206. Vacant lots are the direct result of houses being torn down. Houses are torn down by the city only after years of sitting in disrepair. Before a property becomes a vacant lot, a house sits on it deteriorating rapidly.

3. Two-thirds of the children in 53206 live in poverty, compared with 42 percent of all children 18 and under city-wide. Think about a child you know that lives in poverty, it is a sad way to grow up.

4. Nearly 95 percent of its residents are black. No other ZIP code has a greater percentage of African Americans.  I don’t know how this isn’t seen as a direct result of racism that has manifested itself as segregation.

5. Residents received the lowest rating for health outcomes from the Center for Urban Population Health in 2009. The rating was based on access to quality healthcare; health behaviors; physical environment; poverty and education. This also deals with quality of life. The quality of life for a resident here is significantly lower than that of a person living 2 miles away. 

So what we have is a highly segregated and concentrated area of poverty which produces adults who likely grew up in poverty and have basically a coin flips chance of going to prison at some point in their lives.  We chose to stay here because this isn’t ok. Everything isn’t fine. I don’t understand why there is no outrage about what takes place here. When I say no outrage, I mean almost nothing. When I hear someone say black lives matter, and then I go for a run and see those five statistics listed above played out in front of me it is hard to believe that the black lives in 53206 matter to anyone. Injustice inundates this place. It seeps from our blocks. It’s 1000 decisions for others to gain at the expense of the poor, black that live here. Even if that gain is that you don’t have to look at them because you never bothered to go where they are. Every person living in the metro Milwaukee area is responsible for what happens here. Collectively, the 1.5 million residents of metro Milwaukee let this happen. We are all microscopically responsible. Segregation is the result of racial discrimination and our general distaste for those that have less wealth than us. That is what created a zip code like ours. Unless a critical mass of those residents start seeing what happens here as not ok and start using their microscopic levels of influence to fix the injustices that take place here, we will continue to be taking poor, black kids and turning them into poor, black adults that have a 50/50 chance of heading to prison, are more likely to die young, and are stuck living in a place where no one else choses to go.

So no, everything is not ok. We need other voices saying this. We need white voices saying this. I know we are not the only white people that care, but it feels that way. I don’t hear them and I actively look for them. And if I am saying that, as a white person living in 53206, why would the average black family think that any white family out there would care about what goes on here.