Refusing to Participate in Segregation – 2 Minute Version

Segregation is the most commonly accepted and perpetuated form of racism that still exists in America. As an upper middle class white person living in 53206, the poorest zip code in Wisconsin, which happens to be 0.8% white, for the last 14 years, my family and I have witnessed the effects of people repeatedly separating themselves based on wealth, which at least in Milwaukee, means you are separating based on race.

I say that it is socially accepted, because racial segregation has now been reframed to be a separation based on wealth instead of skin color.

In an article published recently by the Brookings Institute examining the gap in white and black wealth, the median white family’s net worth in 2016 was $178,000. That is ten times that of the median black family ($17,150).

While it is no longer socially acceptable to publicly declare separation based on race. There is nothing wrong with saying one place to live is better than another because of “safety” and “good schools”. What someone that says these things really means, is that the people living there are in the same part of the spectrum of the socio economic class they identify with or wish to identify with in the foreseeable future.

Almost no one stops and thinks about how their economic status impacts the area in which they choose to live or places they choose to avoid when deciding where to live. We have spent the last 14 years observing what happens when people living in poverty are systematically avoided and subsequently looked down upon for their poverty. The disdain for the poor is often justified by non-poor whites, creating swirls of cyclical poverty. Rather than intentionally geographically aligning with people in poverty, they are avoided at a high cost. The avoidance of the poor, which in my neighborhood means poor and black, is so pervasive the idea that a 36 year old white man and his family would willingly live and stay living there is shocking to both the non-poor whites living in the suburbs and the poor black living down the street.