Stephanie Daniels, Features Editor
There is this common theme that all states in America share. It resides in the policies passed, the ideals shared within communities, the news that’s broadcast. It is what lingers like a fog in the air and chokes only those aware of it. This theme is that of the history of what has transpired on this soil. The blood that stains the soil, the screams from those who have fallen to the hands of their captors fill the air. But only to those aware of it.
Those aware are those of dark skin, coarse hair, wide noses. With the spirit of the ancestor as their guide, the history as their reminder, and the law as their new-aged shackle. It seems as though when one way of slavery was “abolished,” the thread of racism was woven into the law even deeper. Although the shackles have been taken from around the necks of the descendants of Africans, the government has managed to still keep the hands of them bound. This binding occurs in various ways, possibly in a very normalized way through the lens of society but is very much choking to those affected. It takes the form of incarceration, poverty, education, health care and the sheer right to live.
Sadly, the way the government curates the view of the descendants of Africans in America is in direct correlation with the relationship that lied between them and Africans from the very beginning of its inception. Often the media following the footsteps of the government’s views. This is apparent in history. African people have been depicted as rapist, murders, unclean, unworthy and even inhuman in America. But why?
Historically, Africans were the rulers of kingdoms. The builders of great societies that we learn about present day. Whole areas of science were built around civilizations that they grew, such as Egyptology. Why is it that the ancestors of those shot dead in the street with no justice are regarded with such detail in areas like science? Where lies the disconnect?
But black people are criminals. Wait, let’s try our hand at some facts. 1 out of every 3 black men will see the inside of a prison cell. In comparison of 1 out of every 17 of their white counterparts, there is a clear disparity. The notion of opportunity rears its heavy head when discussing disparities in St. Louis. Looking historically, the state of Missouri had the highest rate of lynching’s outside the totality of the South. This only serves to support the framework that is now what we know. It all starts with the foundation. Africa’s descendants have never been considered as an inclusive part of the U.S., let alone Missouri. And when it comes to the justice system, very seldom do they get fair trials, or a trial at all.
Black people are uneducated. According to Data USA, in 2015 there were 3.83 times more white graduates in St. Louis than black—5,797 in comparison to 1,514. The access to quality schooling plays a large role in the enrollment rates within the Black community. More and more we see schools within black communities having lost, or on the cusp of losing accreditation, like Normandy and Riverview Gardens Schools. These communities have a vast majority of black students. Looking at the median income for black people in St. Louis, the majority lies in the teens and low 20s. One could infer the implications. Success anywhere starts with the financial status of an individual or family. How could you send your child off to college when making ends meet is a struggle? Taking it a step further, what if you find yourself in jail? How effective do you think that public defender with a work load well into two weeks sitting on their desk will be in your case?
Even in 2019, there is still a fight going on in America. A fight that is four centuries strong. Met with little headway, efforts continue to keep movement toward equality alive and well. There is still so much to be done. If the issue of the treatment of black people in America were just linked to an opinion, and not so deeply engraved into the fabric of what we call our “justice system” and the laws it makes, maybe there would be room for a different narrative. But for now, the descendants of those thousands of Africans stolen from their homeland will struggle for breath relentlessly, because death is the only alternative.