In the 20th Century, people from around the world came to Wisconsin and the Midwest, seeking opportunity in the industrial boom. Manufacturing and unions helped create good jobs for many black workers, but discrimination and segregation limited that sharply. When industrial jobs declined, black Midwesterners suffered the most. Over the last 40 years, opportunity and outcomes for black residents in Wisconsin have fallen below national averages. As a result, black Wisconsinites face stubborn barriers and road blocks that many white people don’t even know are there. Racial disparity in Wisconsin is not inevitable, but closing the gap will require a broad focus and multifaceted approach.
‘Wisconsin’s Extreme Racial Disparity’ provides a Wisconsin-focused summary to ‘Race in the Heartland‘, which shows the persistence of racial disparities in the Midwest and what can be done about them.
Wisconsin has the regrettable distinction of ranking among the worst states in the nation for racial inequality. Disparities among black and white residents of our state – spanning poverty, unemployment, educational attainment, and incarceration – have been documented consistently for more than a decade. Although activists and policymakers have increasingly focused on addressing these issues, they remain pressing.
‘Race in the Heartland’ and ‘Wisconsin’s Extreme Racial Disparity’ provide a careful historical context and a broadly informed policy framework that are critical to winning greater racial equity throughout this region.