Racism | St. Louis Public Radio

Racism

 This image is from Sarah Paulsen's film White by Law which is part of her The Invention of Whiteness exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum.
Sarah Paulsen

For most of her life, St. Louis artist Sarah Paulsen was oblivious to what it means to be white, and the privilege it confers.

Then in 2008, Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton shot and killed six people at Kirkwood City Hall.  Thornton was a black man; his victims were white. The tragedy threw a spotlight on the racial, class and wealth divide that had long existed in the St. Louis suburb. It also prompted Paulsen to begin exploring the social construct of race in America and how being white means never having to think about it.

Good Service Is A Coin Toss For Those 'Dining While Black'

Mar 27, 2018

When many black diners go out to eat, it’s not uncommon for them to question if race plays a part in the service they receive.

Turns out, that’s not paranoia.

Zach Brewster is an assistant professor of sociology at Wayne State University in Michigan. He has conducted several national research studies on the experience of dining and restaurant discrimination. In his 2015 survey of approximately 1,000 waiters and waitresses across the country, 53 percent of the participants admitted to not giving black diners their best service.

Left to right. Chorus members Samantha Madison, Kelli Lowe, Melissa Pickens, Khalid McGhee, De-Rance Blaylock, Robert Crenshaw, Duane Martin Foster, a NYC chorus member and Gheremi Clay in the October production of The Drum Major Instinct.
Provided | Theater of War

A theatrical performance coming to St. Louis on Friday ties the words of Martin Luther King Jr. to recent protests here, with the goal of getting people to talk about racism, gun violence and policing.

“The Drum Major Instinct” is based on a sermon King delivered in  February 1968, in which he encouraged followers to work not for individual glory, but collective justice. The New York company Theater of War Productions is staging the dramatic reading and choral event.

Affton High School seniors Malahja Smith (left) and Isabella Millen participate in a discussion in their cultural studies class, Other Voices, Other Rooms on Aug. 23, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

An uncomfortable silence broke up the thriving discussion about race in Affton High School teacher Brian Jennings’ class this week.

He had just asked the dozen or so white male teenagers in the room how they’d feel if all monuments of people who looked like them were taken down across the United States.

The question was one of several Jennings posed to his senior cultural studies English class, which he’d always used to address race and prejudice. But the current political climate and this month’s violent white nationalist event in Charlottesville, Virginia, forced the conversation to happen as school began.

Archbishop Robert Carlson, Brother Emile of the Taizé Community and Rev. Starsky Wilson joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss an upcoming pilgrimage in St. Louis over Memorial Day weekend.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Several years ago, the archbishop of St. Louis, Robert Carlson, had a discussion with a group of black pastors about an idea for people of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds to come together and talk to each other. Unfortunately, that effort failed.

And then, events unfolded in Ferguson. After the police shooting death of Michael Brown and the protests that followed, Carlson said, “I knew in my heart that we needed to get people to sit down and talk to each other, to understand and to know one another.”

The artist Agnes Denes stands in the middle of a wheat field she planted in a landfill.
Provided by CAM

Update 05/08 10:01 - This article was updated to include local artist Juan William Chavez's contribution to the show and better reflect Kelly Shindler's curatorial trajectory. 

The Contemporary Art Museum’s CAM’s new exhibit, “Urban Planning: Art and the City 1967–2017,” features images of burning buildings, wheat fields planted on landfills, and whole lot of history.

By combining works by emerging and established artists, the project explores themes of architectural failure, racist housing practices, and the depopulation of St. Louis. 

For artists, the themes are design currents that flow beneath the city’s physical spaces, visiting curator Kelly Shindler said.

Students stand together as sophomore Ali Brock speaks to Ladue schools Superintendent Donna Jahnke at a student protest on Nov. 16, 2016.
File photo, Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When students at Ladue Horton Watkins High School staged two walkouts in November, they called for a stronger response to racial aggressions on campus — particularly an incident after the presidential election. A little over a month later, 16-year-old Niesha Ireland says the atmosphere at school still isn't perfect, but it's gotten a whole lot better.

“I still get those remarks in the hallway that aren’t too racist, but when you think about them, it’s like, ughhh,” Ireland said, rolling her eyes. “But at the same time it was way worse [before] — and the teachers wouldn’t catch it. Now the teacher will be like, ‘Excuse me, what did you just say?’ Maybe not all of the staff, but I do feel like they are hearing us out.”

Friends comfort each other outside Ladue Horton Watkins High School as students gather to support the mother of a student who was burned with a hot glue gun.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 21 with town hall meeting information — Ladue School District officials are "hopeful" after a meeting Friday with members of the St. Louis County NAACP, according to a district spokesperson.

The discussions came after two days of student protests over recent racially charged incidents against black students at Ladue Horton Watkins High School. Three students were disciplined.

Ladue police investigating black student's claim of being burned; high school students protest

Nov 16, 2016
During a Nov. 15 Ladue school board meeting, Tajah Walker discussed being the victim of racist harassment at Ladue Horton Watkins High School.
Lawrence Bryant | St. Louis American

Ladue police are investigating an incident where a black student at Ladue Horton Watkins High School was allegedly burned by a white student with a glue gun at school on  Nov. 10, two days after Donald Trump was elected U.S. president following a racially divisive campaign.

Ladue Police Chief Rich Wooten told The American that the youth’s mother, Lynette Hamilton, reported the incident and police are “currently investigating.”

Juxtaposing "the talk" given to white children versus black children is just one example of the types of illustrations on the plates at a Dysfunctionware dinner. Oct. 20, 2016 file photo.
Aaron McMullin | Dysfunctionalware

A few days after a grand jury declined to indict the police officer who shot Michael Brown in 2014, Tara O’Nay’s family sat down for Thanksgiving dinner. For the first time the St. Louis interdisciplinary artist could remember, her relatives talked about race over a meal.

Author Shelly Tochluk joined "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss race, racism and white privilege.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

“The world doesn’t operate for everybody the way we often think that it does,” said author Shelly Tochluk on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air.

The author of “Witnessing Whiteness,” which has been the focus of many YWCA Metro St. Louis workshops, and “Living in the Tension: The Quest For Spiritualized Racial Justice,” Tochluk reflected on race, racism and white privilege with host Don Marsh.

Outgoing SBC president Ronnie Floyd (center, sixth from left) leads the panel discussion on racial unity, including two St. Louis pastors.
Van Payne | Southern Baptist Convention

Updated Wednesday, June 15 with presidential election results – The Southern Baptist Convention has selected Steve Gaines, a Memphis pastor, as its next president. 

Church representatives, or messengers, voted twice Tuesday after a close count caused a runoff election. By the next morning, North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear dropped out of the race to keep the convention "united."  The announcement came the day after the convention representing the country's largest Evangelical Christian denomination notably called on its members to "discontinue the display of the Confederate Battle Flag."

Facilitators from the National Conference for Community and Justice-St. Louis joined St. Louis on the Air to dicuss ways to "interrupt racism." Left to right: Sally Beth Lyon, Stefani Weeden-Smith and Dewitt Campbell.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

We've all been there: Someone says or does something racist. The question is: what do you do next?

Do you stay silent? Do you interject? What if it is a close family member? What if it is a perfect stranger you see doing something offensive on the street? Are there situations where you should not engage?

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

New insight from a Washington University study could improve access to mental health care for African-American men. 

St. Louis County Library

A new local organization wants to get the conversation about race and racism started with a group you may not expect: young, white families in St. Louis. We Stories: Raising Big-Hearted Kids is using children’s literature to “create conversation, change and hope in St. Louis” with the aim of making St. Louis more inclusive.

Editorial Room of the Westliche Post newspaper. Carl Schurz is seated lower left next to the table, c. 1868.
Missouri History Museum

Why would anyone invite thousands of 19th-century German immigrants to join us in the middle of February, the month dedicated to American black history?

Isn’t the idea of formalizing a black history month a way to shift emphasis away from Americans of European descent, the better to shine the light of achievement on African Americans’ stories? 

Students from the Science Center's YES program examine the slave hold at the Griot Museum of Black History. Notice the rat near the baby on the upper right-hand side.
Nancy Fowler / St. Louis Public Radio

Fifteen-year-old Chassidy Buckner thought she had already learned all about slavery from school and her mother. But at the Griot Museum of Black History, the lesson became personal.

"Because it is my ancestors,” Buckner said.

Looking at the life-sized figures chained together in the hold beneath a slave ship is different than seeing pictures in a book.

"I didn’t know it was that cramped and with, like, blood everywhere," Buckner said.

Protesters in Ferguson in August 2014
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Recent incidents from Ferguson to Baltimore regarding police and community relationships have fostered other uncomfortable truths on the state of racial affairs in America. Many wonder what can be done to address the age-old issue or if there is any one particular act that will solve it.

What about the “truth?”

Hillary Clinton at Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant June 23 2015.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Although her comments about race and racism were national in scope, Hillary Clinton spent much of Tuesday’s visit at a Florissant church listening to the local challenges that many in her audience grapple with daily.

The Rev. Traci Blackmon talked of the “tale of two cities,’’ where some St. Louisans easily partake of some of the best education and health care that the nation has to offer. But others only have access to the worst.

Charleston SC shooting suspect
Charleston Police Department/NPR

Earl Holt III, a former member of the St. Louis School Board who figured in a controversy 25 years ago over his ties to a white-rights group, is in the spotlight again over accusations that his writings influenced the actions of Dylann Roof, the suspect in last week’s murder of nine African-Americans in a Charleston, S.C., church.

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