Milwaukee is the most segregated city in the country. The city’s structural inequalities came into focus on the national stage last month as protests swept through the city after Milwaukee PD killed 23-year-old Sylville Smith after a traffic stop. Most in the controversy-averse world of professional sports would not go out of their way to point out such a fact and risk alienating any sect of their fanbase, but Milwaukee Bucks team president Peter Feigin is apparently unafraid to wade into those waters.
While speaking to the Rotary Club in Madison last week, Feigin revealed his grandiose ambitions to make the Bucks an institution on parallel with the Packers, as well as a rallying point for social good. That’s an incredibly ambitious chunk to bite off, but at least Feigin spoke bluntly about the ills that plague his city instead of offering nothing but platitudes about community togetherness and ideating in the urban space.
The New York City native said he’s had his eyes opened to the issues facing Milwaukee and said the team is determined to help wherever it can. Its top three priorities are wellness, education and work development, he said.
“We know we can’t cure the world,” Feigin said. “But we are very determined to get ourselves involved in programs that we can measure a difference in and put our claws into for a long period of time and show a difference.
“Very bluntly, Milwaukee is the most segregated, racist place I’ve ever experienced in my life. It just is a place that is antiquated. It is in desperate need of repair and has happened for a long, long time. One of our messages and one of our goals is to lead by example.”
It’s laudable for Feigin to call out segregation so plainly here. However, this is an interesting stance from a man whose team was the beneficiary of $250 million from the state, city, and Milwaukee County. It’s a noble aim for a team leader to want to help their city out, but there are economic factors to Milwaukee’s segregation and I’m sure a quarter of $1,000,000,000 could be better spent than buying an arena for two hedge fund managers.