Among the many not so funny April Fools “news” stories circulating in Milwaukee today, two were especially telling. One said that the Mitchell Park Conservatory, something of a landmark that has been closed due to four hundred million dollars of deferred maintenance being needed, would be rebuilt with Lego blocks. It’s supposed to be funny, but it actually reflects the economic truth of the State of Wisconsin after being horribly mismanaged by Scott Walker and the State of Milwaukee County after being mismanaged by County Executive Chris Abele and his predecessor – guess who – Scott Walker, of course!
If the first story was stupid, the second was in extremely poor taste and reflected a much larger problem in Milwaukee. It claimed that the Milwaukee Art Museum was going to purchase the property of the former Northridge Mall on Milwaukee’s far north side. The mall has been closed for the better part of two decades, and most of the attempts at retail development along this once vibrant corridor that has fallen into decay have failed as well while crime and unemployment have risen.
There’s nothing funny about the fact that Milwaukee has plenty of money for things well off white folks want to do, plenty of money to build the Milwaukee Bucks a new, ugly arena in the heart of downtown, plenty of money to build a streetcar that will serve those living in the high rent districts adjacent to downtown and taken them to work – downtown – while not being able to support the city’s infrastructure, address rampant violence (if we exclude extremely small towns, only St. Louis has more violent crimes per capita than Milwaukee), ever-growing unemployment and poverty, blighted neighborhoods, or the fact that Milwaukee has the greatest despairity in economic opportunity between white and black people in America.
So tell me again why it was funny to joke about whitey at the art museum helping in a black neighborhood.