Milwaukee is known nationwide as being one of the most segregated cities in the country; segregated both racially and economically.
Being a homeowner is the dream of many Americans, but what if a person cannot afford it because of their income?
There is a wealth divide found throughout the country and it is especially prevalent in Milwaukee. Dr. David J. Pate, associate professor from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Department of Social Work, says that Milwaukee’s divide can be seen in location. There is different access to wealth based on where people live. Many people who are economically unstable cannot afford to move to the job, since they also have to count in living costs.
Milwaukee was a great center for employment with all the businesses that the city had to offer; breweries, factories, transportation. However, the city no longer has that to offer.
“Milwaukee…has been a city has been a city that had significant amount of manufacturing companies that had moved and that people move into middle class, white, black, latino,” says Pate. “Those aren’t here anymore.”
Anne Price, the director of the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap (GRWG) Initiative at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development in Oakland, California, says that it is a national problem. Price’s definition of wealth does not only focus on the present, but also on the future.
“When I am talking about wealth, I really mean how people are able to pass down opportunities to the next generation,” says Price.
If people are not able to pass down opportunities to their offspring, they will not be able to climb the economic ladder, a ladder that is increasingly hard to climb up. This suggests the possibility of an American caste system. Price says that this unofficial caste system was created through some policies, such as home mortgage policies, put into place decades ago.
The racial diversity within Milwaukee and throughout the country also suggests the question “Are you comfortable in your neighborhood because of your race?” If a person is looking for a job and goes where the job is, can they live there? Pate says that is something we all, unfortunately, need to consider.