"... And in other news ... a baby died again today after sleeping with an
adult ... and now the weather..."
That's kind of what it seems like. We have become hardened to the fact of life that little babies keep dying in Milwaukee while they sleep with an adult in the same bed, or on the same couch, or in the same chair, or on the same mattress on the floor, or on the floor itself.
We had another one this week. On North 28th Street. One month old. Dead. Sleeping on the same mattress with the mother.
When I read about the death I started to go backward, looking at the news coverage. There have been virtual media orgasms over it. And like any orgasm, then things calm down for quite awhile. Now the orgasms are a lot less ... intense.
Maybe we are tired of the story. Maybe our hearts have turned to lead. Maybe we just can't fact facts.
Here's a fact. The gap in infant mortality rates between black and white babies is just about the biggest gap in the country. It might be No. 1. How about that for a fact?
Remember those startling ads of a couple of years ago? The billboards and bus signs that showed a baby laying on a bed next to a meat cleaver. The message was that sleeping with a baby is very dangerous.
There was a ton of national conversation about the ads. Were they too frank? Would people be shocked? Were they heartless?
Well, those ads are all but gone, the conversation has grown quiet and the babies keep dying.
One of the things we have a lot of trouble dealing with is the fact that the
overwhelming majority of these deaths occur to black babies who are born into poor homes.
I saw a television report of a couple of years ago where the reporter found a
wonderful white family in Brookfield where all six or seven or eight of the children had shared a bed with the parents at one time or another. Then the reporter found a white mother in Milwaukee whose baby had died while sleeping with the father.
I can just hear the conversation where the news director tells the reporter
that "... we don't want to make black viewers angry, so see if you can find a white victim."
I don't have any answers about how to help solve this problem. There are people who have been working on it for a lifetime and they don't have any sure-fire answers either.
But one thing does cross my mind.
Years ago the country decided that a new mother couldn't drive home from the hospital unless she had an infant seat in the car. People who had money bought seats for people who didn't.
How about the same thing now? If you have a baby, you don't get to leave unless you can prove you've got something for your baby to sleep in, besides your bed. If you don't, we'll get people to donate cribs and bassinettes and Pack 'n Plays.
Like I say, no easy answers. But I do know one thing. We can't be afraid to say that there is a huge problem in the black community that is almost exclusively a black community problem.
Once we all understand that, we can get to work.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.