Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Letter to the Editor: Madison is the best place to live … if you’re white and rich


Every few weeks my (former) Facebook friends post some official list declaring Madison “THe Best CITAYY in the WorLD. GO BAdGERSSSS!”

And indeed it is. For white people who live on the University of Wisconsin campus and within a mile of the Capitol. Outside of that, things aren’t so sunny. A 2011 study by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families discovered that three-quarters of Dane County’s African-American children live in poverty, half of black high school students don’t graduate on time and African-Americans are “six times more likely to be arrested.” I LOVE MADISON! BEST PLACE EVER!!

Madison ranked top mid-sized city nationwide to live in

The most recent list came from the puzzlingly ‘authoritative’ organization Livability. The following are their reasons Madison is 2015’s “Best Place to Live.


 1. It’s a vibrant cultural hub of art, music, food and beer —

We have large numbers of high-end restaurants and top chefs! Wowzers! That totally cancels out the un-mentioned WCCF statistic — “In 2011, the unemployment rate was 25.2 percent for blacks compared to just 4.8 percent for whites.”

But we have more concerts per capita than anywhere else! If you can afford to go! Yay!

 2. A college town where students actively support the community —

This claim is supported by a picture of a large snowball fight “organized by students.” Prompting struggling families everywhere to declare, “HEY KIDS WHILE I’M AT MY MINIMUM WAGE JOB WHY DON’T YOU SKIP SCHOOL AND JOIN A CAMPUS ORGANIZED SNOWBALL FIGHT!!! THOSE COLLEGE KIDS SURE DO CARE!!”

Another neat facet of a college town is that the 40,000 students take “retail, hospitality, personal service, construction, manufacturing and transportation jobs which ‘creates more obstacles for other, less-credentialed job-seekers looking for full time employment.’” Which creates vast income disparities!! GO BADGERS GO!!

3. Naturally beautiful city with plenty of outdoor activities —

This section talks entirely about State Street. Which certainly is the perfect place to funnel visitors and well-to-do residents. As long as they contemptuously ignore the pervasive homeless community right up alongside expensive high-rise apartments. Livability also seems keen on ignoring the rest (i.e. the majority) of Madison’s very existence. Probably due to the fact that “Many African-Americans live in geographically isolated neighborhoods in and around Madison that lack basic infrastructure including a major employer, a church or a social gathering spot.” There seems to be no mention about the poverty stricken south side of Madison.

4. There is very little concentrated poverty —

Um say what again? If you’ve ever been to the Allied Housing Project you’d probably vomit after reading this line.

But actually Livability is technically correct. You see, “Concentrated Poverty” is a lovely statistic for Livability to twist because it means there aren’t entire neighborhoods of poverty. Which is true. Instead, Madison has almost completely gentrified itself and cordoned poor African-Americans in very small pockets, consisting of just one or two low-cost apartment buildings surrounded by predominantly white middle class neighborhoods. YAY! WE DID IT YOU GUYS! WE BEAT STATISTICS!! LIBERALS UNITE!!

5. Most accommodating cities for cyclists —

NEAT! COOL! This helps single mothers get to work! Thanks progressives for caring about the majority who work miles away from their jobs and live in situations where it would be completely unfeasible to bike to work!! ON WISCONSIN!!

 6. Young professionals are benefiting from a boom in downtown housing development —

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Young professionals are benefiting while (according to the WCCF) African-American adolescents, though only 9 percent of the youth population, make up 80 percent of youths in jail! But expensive high rise apartments!!! SO PRETTY TO LOOK AT!! YOU CAN LOOK BUT YOU CANNOT RENT!!

The cutest part is that Mayor Paul Soglin, when told of Madison’s new Livability ranking, bragged how his administration has “focused on strengthening the bus system. We’ve opened up a number of new bicycle paths and several critical bridges.” AWESOME! Definitely the first step in reducing poverty!! And he adds, “Madison schools are good and getting better.”

Certainly he’s referring to the WCCF’s heartwarming revelation that “black students in Dane County schools are 15 times more likely to be suspended than white students” even though they make up 17 percent of the student population.

But at least they have some bike paths so they can get home quicker after being wrongly kicked out of school! PROGRESS! FORWARD!

So, let’s re-post all those lists as “MADISON, I MEAN CAMPUS AND THE CAPITOL AREA, IS THE BEST PLACE, USUALLY FOR WHITE PEOPLE, TO LIVE!! YAY!!” And maybe for a moment stop blindly protesting against Gov. Scott Walker and consider the endemic, bi-partisan institutional racism of Dane County.

Geoffrey Asmus ( is a recent graduate of UW with degrees in religious studies and history.

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