PAREN(T)HESIS — Milwaukee Pride

July 2, 2018

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

Drive along any residential street in Bay View and you’re likely to see a U.S. flag or two displayed on a porch or flag pole. These aren’t up only this month for Independence Day but sway in the lake breeze spring, summer, and fall. You might also see the Milwaukee People’s Flag, though not everybody recognizes it yet.

A 2016 contest resulted in over 1,000 entries and professional judges narrowed the choices. Citizen voting eventually finalized the selection that shows a white sun rising in a golden sky above blue Lake Michigan. Bay View resident Robert Lenz designed the popular flag, which is not yet official because the Milwaukee Common Council has not designated it a replacement for the official flag.

Cases for iPhones, tumblers, pillows, shirts, and more are emblazoned with the symbol. The site Milwaukeeflag.com contains links to merchandise. The design has even found its way onto a cap that incorporates the flag design with the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team’s glove logo. All this merchandise is fair game and no royalties are necessary because the flag is in the public domain.

The enthusiasm for the new unofficial flag and its related merchandise, plus shirts like the popular style displaying “MILWAUKEE HOME,” make me glad to see our hometown pride front and center. Milwaukee does have some very serious issues that it needs to make progress on, such as income disparities and other inequalities along racial lines, police-community relations, lead pipes that affect the water supply, prevalent human trafficking, and terribly unhealthy birth outcomes for those who live in some of the city’s neighborhoods. 

Yet Milwaukee and its surrounding communities also have huge potential.

I live in Bay View now but grew up in Waukesha County. Many people there did not have a great opinion of the city and rarely ventured into it except for festivals and events at the Mecca Arena or, later, the Bradley Center. My sense now is that Milwaukee is more accepted by suburbanites, and Bay View is certainly known as a destination for great restaurants and a place to get a good salon haircut. 

When I asked our daughter whether she thinks most kids would be proud to say they are from Milwaukee, she replied, “Yeah, I guess so.” I hope Milwaukee makes progress on its significant challenges. Some day her kids, when asked a similar question, can reply, “Of course!”

The author is a freelance writer and mother of one. Reach her with comments or suggestions at jill@bayviewcompass.com.

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