Panel Discusses Ways To Boost Racial Equity In St. Louis

Brett Blume (@brettblumekmox)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – As Stockley protestors were once again making their voices, and their instruments, heard in the Central West End Thursday evening, just down the street a related panel discussion was being held.

The theme of the event sposored by the Incarnate Word Foundation and hosted by the Nine Network in Grand Center was “Moving toward racial equity in St. Louis”.

Among the five panelists was St. Louis mayor Lyda Krewson.

“Well we certainly have to make changes in St. Louis,” the mayor acknowledged. “But it’s very concerning and in some ways discouraging to me when I think about what our national policy is with regard to education, with regard to incarceration. And that’s not an excuse, it’s just part of the world that we’re living in.”

Krewson did say that she believes the weeks of protesting in the wake of the Sept. 15th release of the Jason Stockley verdict have begun to sink in for many local residents.

“I think that we are seeing more white people begin to understand a little bit of what their black and brown neighbors (are going through),” she told a hand-picked audience of about fifty people. “When I say neighbors I’m using the term loosely, you know, seven miles away or twenty miles away.”

But another panelist warned that anyone who believes St. Louis can work through its deep racial divide in three years, five years or even a decade from now is living in a fantasy world.

Charli Cooksey with the group Forward Through Ferguson talked about their recent launch of a Twitter site, #STL2039.

“The year 2039 is actually twenty-five years after the death of Michael Brown,” Cooksey pointed out. “And we chose this year because research shows that it takes at least a generation to see racially equitable change within a region.

She said on Saturday, Oct. 28th Forward Through Ferguson members will be conducting a canvass within the Promise Zone, with a goal of knocking on 4,000 doors and doing some “radical listening” to residents about their most pressing community concerns.

The Promise Zone takes in portions of north St. Louis city and north county and includes nearly 200,000 residents.

Also on the panel was Dr. Jason Purnell, associate professor at Washington University’s Brown School.

Like others before him, Purnell said it’s time to stop talking and undertake real change.

“We can’t just keep doing things because it feels right to do them,” he said. “We can’t just keep doing things because it’s the new, shiny object — whether that’s a stadium or some other thing that’s going to somehow magically save St. Louis. We have to begin to do things that actually work.”

Other panel members included Fr. Christopher Collins, S.J., assistant to the president for mission and identity at St. Louis University, and Rabbi Andrea Goldstein with Congregation Shaare Emeth.

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