There are imperative issues circling the city of St. Louis. In the city of St. Louis, we have over twenty abandoned schools. As of 2014, Beaumont High School was one of the last public high schools in North St. Louis to closed its doors. We are now seeing a generation of millennials graduate high school and entering colleges. Their parents and/or grandparents come out of the age of the Reagan Administration, War on Drugs, the AIDS Epidemic, the aftermath of the Vietnam War, heat of the Cold Wars and a number of other issues. One can only ask how this affected an already marginalized group of people.
At the height of the Great Depression in 1934, the Federal Housing Association (FHA) implemented policies that made it difficult for property to be sold or invested into if they were owned by black people or too close to were black people lived. This in their minds made it financially and economically more beneficial for banks when it comes to property and what seemed to be the “smart investment” to make. This process and policy was known as “Redlining”. At the same time the FHA was subsidizing builders to contract and construct entire neighborhoods for whites with a requirement that they can never be sold to blacks.
Why does this matter? Because with those same policies to housing, the concept of these lack of investments into black neighborhoods spilled over to a lack in accessible public health such as clinics and affordable public health care facilities, quality educations, access to quality and healthy food, etc. And though much progress has happened, one hundred years of system upon system being implemented into the system of the United States does not just happen in a few decades. We must understand that it has only been no more than 70 years since cases like the Brown vs The Board of Education and Shelly vs Cramer. Many millennials’ parents today are baby boomers. This means that that majority of our parents and even more of our grandparents can touch this time of change with their own memory.
What does this mean? This means that inner city communities today like East St. Louis and Old North St. Louis are still feeling the effects of segregation and is experiencing grave disparities caused by our own government. Most importantly, these young people that are coming from these areas are seeking opportunities and higher education. Though making great strides, they still feel the effects of disparities in college. We are feeling these struggles and setbacks. I think it is clear and not grasped enough around a person’s intellect in the 21st Century that people struggle just off the color of their skin. It is even more important for universities like Webster to understand that what they have walking around their dorms, classrooms, university center, library, etc. are minorities who are working twice and three times as hard as their white counterparts. In a setting like this, much of the black population come from places where such traumas like gun violence, police brutality, sexual abuse, HIV/AIDs health disparities and mass incarcerations are normalities. When an individual is born into an oppressed people in an oppressed environment, one does not know one is oppressed until they have come to their awareness of how the counterpart lives.
So what can we do? First, become aware and educated on your local government and the issues that pertain to your individual neighborhood. Secondly, get involved. There are many nonprofits and some for-profit companies and organizations that works effortlessly to ease the pain to these communities. Thirdly, educate yourself then inform others of this information. One of the first tools used in slavery was the withholding of information to their slaves. Understand that regardless of history books we read in school, there is much withheld information that is imperative to this country. The more we learn the more we can blur the lines of segregation and thus end disparities.