On North Avenue, young black men with nothing to do wander past boarded-up buildings and dilapidated shops. It is a sad, desolate landscape. They and other African Americans in Milwaukee contributed to Hillary Clinton’s crushing defeat in the presidential election: not only did they not vote for her, as had been expected, some even backed Donald Trump.
Wisconsin’s largest city is also America’s most racially segregated one, according to a study based on the 2010 census.
And Wisconsin served up one of the biggest surprises of an election day that shocked America and the world: no one thought the midwestern state would fall to the Republican billionaire.
Clinton was so sure of victory she did not even bother to campaign here after the Democratic primaries, instead sending her daughter Chelsea or her husband, former president Bill Clinton.
“She probably thought she had Wisconsin wrapped up,” said Ronald Roberts, a 67 year old retiree, as he left a shop called Bill the Butcher. Its aging sign is missing the R.
“You can’t take the voters for granted because they’ll stay home,” said Roberts, who used to work as an auto mechanic.
That is just what happened here, according to exit polls taken on November 8. Stop anyone in this part of town, where there is not a white person in sight, and they will tell you as much.
“I feel that she is no better than Trump. That’s why I didn’t vote,” said Brittany Mays, a young woman who works in a beauty salon.
Around her decay abounds: empty housing developments or boarded up homes symbolizing the economic woes of families that fell on very hard times.