Speaking Up

Not In Our Name...A Rally to Push for Progress in Clayton, MO

Not In Our Name...A Rally to Push for Progress in Clayton, MO

I have three messages I want to share today: the importance of defining problems, the power of apology, and the role of community in supporting action.

As anyone will tell you, you can’t solve a problem until you’ve defined the problem.  Or as Nicole Hudson, one of the most consistent and courageous voices for racial equity in our region has put it - “diagnosis determines treatment.” 

I spent a lot of time preparing for this rally by conducting imagined conversations in my head with quite a number of white folks - folks who worry that a rally is divisive, who bristle at the word racial profiling, who think this topic has been given far too much time and attention already, who use their position or power to wonder aloud if racism is OR isn’t a problem holding our region back, and who with equal fervor declare that they could not, would not, are not racist as if their individual intent alone is all that truly matters.

So let’s be clear…

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Segregation in St. Louis hurts whites too

 Segregation in St. Louis hurts whites too

St. Louis is truly a tale of two cities. Neighborhoods of high crime and high poverty eerily exist in a region that also contains communities with family-friendly attractions, beautiful housing, and good schools. This divide is well-known and historically accepted in our region.

One city deals with disinvestment so devastating, it is regularly and nationally recognized as a worst place to live. This is adjacent to another city so enriched and safe that it’s regularly and nationally recognized as a best place to raise a family.

It is this contrast that we tend to focus on most when we talk about segregation. And we should. It’s real. It’s startling. It’s damaging to our region and the people who live here.

This reality alone should be enough to muster the political will to change it. But it's not. And that has everything to do with the shadow of racial bias in the city of abundance. This shadow blinds people from seeing a national and local history of policy advantages that got them inside this bubble. It makes them complicit in policies and ways of life that put this region among the 10 most segregated in the country.

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Who Will You Become in the Meantime?

Who Will You Become in the Meantime?

“But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I HAD to say yes. Because in the 6 years I’ve lived in St. Louis, I have learned something important, and I do want to share it with you today.

What I have learned is that everyday people, citizens, parents, and students can make a big difference.

I think intellectually, I always knew that. I think intellectually, you probably all know that, too. But my experience has made that idea real to me in ways I never expected when I first moved here…”

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The Moment I Knew I Had to Talk to My Kids About Race

The Moment I Knew I Had to Talk to My Kids About Race

Days after Michael Brown was shot and killed I stood on my front porch staring at the street in front of my house. I was pushing my then 6 month old son in a swing and watching my two year old son and four year old daughter run around in the front yard. I was nauseous thinking about Michael Brown’s body on the pavement and the hours that he lay still in the street. I was nauseous knowing that that wouldn’t happen to my white boys. I knew that someone like me would never be held back by law enforcement from my wounded child, as Michael Brown’s mother was. I couldn’t pretend it was a normal day. I couldn’t pretend I was fine...or that this was fine.

It was then that I first knew that I had to talk to my kids about race. Actually it was really then that I fully confronted the truth that I HADN’T yet talked to my kids about race.

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Securing Justice for All in St. Louis

Securing Justice for All in St. Louis

On Friday, September 15, a local judge in St. Louis City ruled that Jason Stockley, the former SLMPD officer who killed city resident, Anthony Lamar Smith, would not be found guilty of any charges from the case. As region-wide protests and economic direct actions ensued, Forward through Ferguson co-chairs wrote an open statement to the region—reminding us of the history and tools we embody to catalyze change and inviting regional civic and social organizations to help forward efforts to racial equity and police reform. 

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Talking to Kids About Protesting: 5 Things I Want My Kids to Know

Talking to Kids About Protesting: 5 Things I Want My Kids to Know

As the protests continue in Charlotte, NC we are seeing the familiar and racially biased messages about protesting surface again. Many have critiqued our media reporting and our national conversation on protesting, pointing out the disparities in language and escalation tactics that are used depending upon the race of the protestors. As a parent, I’m particularly mindful of the potency of the words and images that are widely shared at a time like this. They are impossible to escape.

Instead of shielding my children from these images and conversations I seek to both:

Point out that the way these protestors are treated and talked about is different because of the color of their skin AND expand our conversation and narrative about the act of protesting.                                                 

Here are the things that I want my kids to know