Despite endorsing Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, the editorial staff of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had some nice things to say about Barrett’s opponent, businessman Tim John:
But we write today not so much to recommend Barrett in a race that he is assured of winning Tuesday. We write because his opponent has raised an issue that gets short shrift and is nearly always drowned out in the traditional, election-cycle back-and-forth on taxes, budget, spending and . . . whatever your top issue is.
John’s key – some would say, only – issue is the plight of African-American men in Wisconsin. It is an issue that is at once singularly important yet touches virtually every top economic issue out there. John is white.
John’s point, paraphrased, is that Wisconsin is not running on all cylinders. And it never will be unless the state gets serious about helping African-American men more than it has. The distressing indicators are all too familiar.
Nationally, the unemployment rate for African-American males 20 years or older is 17.3%, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s nearly double the rate for white males.
Incarceration rates are even more appalling. About one in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars, but that figure is one in nine for black males in that age group.
Wisconsin, we know, is not bucking those trends. In fact, the education achievement gaps between whites and blacks here yawns wider than most places.
Barrett gets our nod for Tuesday. But John’s message is worth talking about in the upcoming election and in both parties. Our thanks to him for raising it.
I’m glad to see Tim John get some positive press for an issue that he – and he alone – has been willing to address during the 2010 election.