In St. Louis, A Long & Troubled Past with Race


Garrett Duncan​, PhD, associate professor of education and of African and African-American Studies in Arts & Sciences

A lot of what has gone on in St. Louis, as well as East St. Louis, is similar to what is happening in other Northern cities. It goes way back to reconstruction, when the state began operating in support of the white property ownership, and whites in general. We still see that going on, where the imperatives, especially for the white elite, are met and the African-American communities are actually excluded.

This is not something that just happened. Part of what’s going on, very specifically as it relates today, is the industrialization. If you go to north St. Louis, which is a code word for ‘black,’ you see all of these vacant buildings. There used to be a prosperous, predominately black community. But when our economy shifted and manufacturers left, you had vacant buildings, a loss of jobs, and the inability of black residents to go into the suburbs or predominately white communities to get jobs. There’s always an economic twist to this.

Some of the destructive behavior is actually from outside of Ferguson. You have folks coming in to exploit a situation that has nothing to do with Michael Brown. But everything is being conflated because no one knows who’s who. In many ways, it’s inflaming this notion of black criminality. But the fact of the matter is, if you watch carefully, those associated with the death of the young man are pleading for peace.

Listen to interview on The Takeaway

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