Midtown United for Justice

On Thursday, June 11, 2020, 25 Midtown community members, supporters and donors gathered together to discuss inequality and injustice as well as the steps we can take together to break down the barriers to equity in St. Louis and across the nation.

 

The three questions we need to address

 

  1. Is America at a real crossroads this election year?

  2. What does defunding the police really mean?

  3. How do we help end systemic racism together?

 

The background

  • White people make up 77% of the population, but control 90% of the wealth in the U.S. Black people make up 13%, but control only 2.6%.

  • For every $100 a white employee earns, a black employee only makes $57.30. Black individuals are also twice as likely to be unemployed.

  • Black students are 3 times as likely to be suspended, and 27% of discipline issues at school are redirected to law enforcement.

  • Black males are 18 times more likely to be sentenced to prison than whites and make up 40% of the prison population. 7.4% of black adults cannot vote due to felony convictions.

  • Black drivers are 30% more likely to be pulled over by law enforcement.

  • 67% of medical professionals admit biases against African-American patients in healthcare settings.

 

Issues that impact our ability to unite for the betterment of society

 

  • White micro-aggression – when we only have a not-me attitude or say “But I have black friends,” it diminishes part of the struggle.

  • White people often want to be educated by black peers rather than educating themselves first before they come to the table for an equitable conversation.

  • It’s hard and uncomfortable to acknowledge racism and prejudice, but it is needed to bridge the gap in America.

  • Too often, we force the black community into a conversation instead of allowing them to lead it. It can be triggering when someone is asked about their experiences over and over again.

 

Racism and policing

 

The background

 

  • 45% of black homicides are never solved by the police compared to more than 90% of white crimes.

  • Black men are twice as likely as white men to be killed by law enforcement. 17% of those killed were unarmed.

  • Between 2013-2019, 1,000 Americans were killed by police.

  • In terms of protest, many Americans point to the destruction and looting by a few rather than focus on the message of the protesters.

 

“When white people point out black-on-black crime, they fail to see this level of violence was forced on us. When schools don’t meet kids where they are, when there’s a lack of resources, people are often forced to make life choices they usually wouldn’t. When someone is arrested, we look at their crime and not back through the trauma that led them here.”

What defunding police really means

 

Police are still important to overall safety, but funding needs to be pulled from militarizing police and allocated toward the populace in need, include access to safe spaces, social workers, and resources to address mental health issues

 

What white individuals can do to become better allies

 

  • We are all responsible to use the privilege we have to drive change. Each person should show up in spaces where African-Americans cannot and use their voice to make a difference.

  • We must look into the resources available to understand the issues—books, online research, etc.—rather than expecting our black friends to educate us on everything.

  • We need to have uncomfortable conversations with families and friends to address the issues we see in our own lives.

  • The youth of today are making their frustration with the status quo heard loud and clear. The older generation needs to step up and play a similar role.

  • We cannot expect African-American community leaders and business owners to do all the work for social justice. It is not the duty of the oppressed to change things for the better, but for those who have done the oppressing to take responsibility to improve society.

  • Instead of telling the black community what they need, the white community needs to ask, “What can we do to help you?”

  • We need to ensure black entrepreneurs have the foundation to grow their business opportunities and make it a point to patronize those businesses.

  • Help ensure anyone who wants to vote has the means to get to the voting booth.

 

What we can do at Midtown

 

  • We need to make our networks accessible to those at Midtown and leverage our resources and tools in this space. For instance, what connections can we use to help our community members gain employment or better provide our children with the education they need?

  • Ensure cultural diversity training for staff, board and volunteers.

  • Expand our reach to ensure we have black representation on our board, in our staff and volunteers, and at our events. Midtown especially needs to provide roles to black men to serve as mentors for the kids we serve.

  • When funding allows, look at more ways to look at building opportunities for the community—for instance, can we revisit GED programs and job training as we did in the past?

  • We all have the talents and resources to make Midtown a better place.

Resources for Change

Midtown Career Connections & Professional Directory - Elevate your connections to support our Midtown community. 

We Stories St. Louis - Programs to help white families talk about race and racism with children ages 2-10.

Left Bank Books Antiracist Resources -This St. Louis bookstore has curated a list of antiracist books for both adults and children.

EyeSeeMe - Specializes in children's books that highlight African-American images and stories.

Business Insider 18 books on race and white privilege that will show you what's really happening in America right now

Los Angeles Times - Free movies about race in America to watch and learn from

Netflix Black Lives Matter Series - Learn more about the Black experience in America with a collection of films, series and documentaries.

Anti-Racism Daily - A daily email that offers tactical actions you can take to practice anti-racism and tangible resources to support your education.

 

Midtown Neighborhood Opportunities Corporation

D.B.A. Midtown Community Services

1202 S Boyle

St. Louis, MO 63110

(314) 534-1180

St Louis Charity, Midtown Charity, St Louis Community Center