I took a tour of St. Louis, Missouri, Saturday May 9, 2015. I’ve never actually toured a city I lived in. I use to live in Vegas, and on a lot of occasions friends came in to town to see shows I hadn’t seen. I usually wasn’t interested but that doesn’t mean the shows weren’t great. There was always something going on in Vegas. I did go to Lakemead and Hoover Dam. I felt like I had a good grasp on the history.
St. Louis is a city I know very little about. For the tour I expected to go to the Arch. Maybe they would talk about the history of commerce along the Mississippi. As a writer, I’ve fallen in love with St. Louis’ library system.I am in the library a few times a month. I also go to programs there or just go there to write in a different space. Plus, the libraries here are over a hundred years old.
Then there all these people from here: Josephine Baker, Tina Turner, Scott Joplin, Cedric The Entertainer, Dick Gregory, Maya Angelou and so on. I expected to possibly go to historical sites related to people who put St. Louis on the map.
The tour was very different. We went to see all the black neighborhoods that were leveled for “development.” We looked at one black community leveled for the expansion of the airport recently. We went to the memorial of a child killed in the middle of the city, walking distances from Wash U, by wild dogs as he was playing on a play ground in a park. We toured towns that were poor remnants of what they use to be. We discussed “medical deserts.” We discussed how the life expectancy in some areas were less than that of Bangladesh. While a few miles away people lived 20 years longer.
I am still, processing so much information. I feel that even in trying to write this blog and just get it off my chest there are so many layers I couldn’t grasp it all. I’ve learned about systematic racism and experienced some facets of it. However, to see all ways Missouri and St. Louis has consistently destroyed black communities is not only heart breaking and eye opening… It’s hard to believe it’s still happening as I write. As I am writing this blog a city called Kinloch has Stop signs and paved roads in what looks like a forest because the homes have been destroyed. All the people have moved away… There are no businesses unless you want to count churches. One of the churches gave their last service last Sunday.
The question is what do we do? There is so much going on in the world where do we get into the ocean? Do we affect the tide?