Six months after the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, “St. Louis on the Air” talked about how the region has changed. We also asked listeners what changes they hope will be made in the next year. Here are some of those responses, edited for length and clarity.
Edward B.: One thing we need is to have a better way of understanding and discussing racial economic disparities. Our region needs to face and erase lingering racial and class divides and work toward ensuring that everyone can apply their talents, creativity and efforts to building a thriving regional economy. We have to move beyond the promotion of equality and fairness as moral imperatives and more fully embrace the reality that a more equitable economy is one that’s growing and thriving.
The most important thing the region can do is spend more energy looking ahead versus looking back. I understand well the history and the lingering issues of racial prejudice, but I want to spend more time articulating and building toward the “ideal.” We know things are NOT the way they are ought to be … Let's take this moment and build toward the way things should be.
Alice B.: I hope white people like me will invest some time in becoming aware of how they contribute to the problem of inequality and injustice in our community. Maybe watch some videos like "Racism: A History" on YouTube or read a book like "Waking Up White" by Debby Irving.
Charles B.: Racial assumptions are responsible for the so-called “race problems.” These are code words for the broken society of lower-class blacks. The answers are black fathers taking responsibility for their children, paying the cost of their care and education and preferably creating and committing to the resulting “family.” Jobs is the next component. Unfortunately this is tied inversely to the third and most important component and that is education. There are no jobs for people without college (legitimate, real) education. There are no jobs for high school graduates and dropouts; forget it. Education, jobs and fathering is the answer.
Vinay P.: In the coming year, I hope to see this conversation continue to grow rather than to fade away. I think there are many people who still connect these demonstrations to an isolated incident and are wondering when it will all finally come to an end. I'd like to see those people engaged in meaningful conversations about institutionalized racism in our country and in our communities in a way that helps them to better understand that this is a human rights issue that affects the lives of everyone, and not just a few individuals in one community angered by a single incident.
Cathy R.: I hope there are policies that will end the oppression of black people in this area. End of the municipal debt prisons, end of shooting first if the police are afraid, end of closing schools. Have the white male dominated politicians call in people of color to advise them on what they want and need in their communities and stop assuming everything can start from equal when the inequities of the past 400 years haven’t been addressed.
Stephen B.: 1. That citizens will register to vote, and vote in local, state, and national primaries. 2. Citizens will nominate themselves or others so entrenched groups do not continue to control municipalities. 3. That municipalities are forced to hire police officers who passed the police academy. 4. Municipalities are forced to provide continuing education for their police officers. 5. Any municipality that cannot or will not reform its court system will be forced to unincorporate or merge with other municipalities. 6. Any municipality that cannot reasonably provide its citizens with minimal services will be disbanded or merged into other municipalities.
Gary W.: Instead of moving students to accredited schools, wealthier county schools should fund one or two chairs for really good teachers, especially where schools like Normandy are short-handed. Standard police procedures to forbid lethal force except when an assailant has shot or killed someone, and not then if he can be disabled or disarmed by some other means. Until local representative leadership is developed or imported, respect the leaders you have, and ask school officials or clergy to speak for the unrepresented. The school-to-prison pipeline must be stopped. Parents should be motivated (either positively or negatively) for children’s police offenses. Focus on the teachings of Jesus, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tended to do.
Margaret F.: I hope that the system of municipalities will be crushed. They have apparently been propping themselves up on the backs of minorities who cannot defend themselves. I am hopeful that the lawsuit recently filed in the federal court will expose the legal system that has been in play as what it is — an unconstitutional charade that allows a debtors’ prison to exist for those that cannot pay these ridiculous fines levied by unscrupulous elected and appointed individuals.
Mike W.: I wish that the public would differentiate between those who protest peacefully and those who destroy property. Lumping all together is another form or profiling, in my opinion.
What do you hope has changed a year from now? Leave a comment below.
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“St. Louis on the Air” discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.