As of late, I struggle with my feelings about St. Louis—the place I call home. While I love my city, I battle with the many pitfalls it often succumbs to. Even though St. Louis has some wonderful people, attractions, and opportunities within its borders—there are some dark and ugly characteristics we suffocate and try to ignore. Yes, I love the city that raised me, but the racism that many are blind to, the pitfalls of jealousy & backwards thinking, and the egregious violence we inflict upon ourselves—sometimes makes me loathe this place I call home.

On Sunday, during what should have been a chill party scene, someone was killed. Corey Hall, a young man who was out celebrating his birthday, was shot in the head by a bullet allegedly intended for someone else during a day party at Ballpark Village. In a crowded venue, panic broke out as bullets flew and Hall lay on the ground—fighting for his life. As the news and pictures spread across Facebook, I sat and thought, here we go again. For most people in St. Louis, the ultimate sign that warm weather is on the horizon is the shootings begin and the bodies start dropping. Social media timelines are filled with RIP posts, declarations of relocation are posted one after the other, and frustrations regarding the senseless killings peak, as another family mourns the death of a loved one.

For years, summer’s arrival in our city is welcomed with bullets accumulating lives, one black person after the next. But, what follows is equally disturbing. The streets go dark and the code of silence spreads like wildfire.

I’ll be the first to say—I am not from the streets, nor do I pretend to be. Still, like most people I believe therein lies the problem. I am in no way advocating for anyone to be the neighborhood Benita Butrell, but at some point, we need to value a person’s life over some stupid, delusional, watered down idealism of loyalty. We need to care less about taking a goddamn picture or going live while someone is fighting for their life. At some point, we need to stand up and say, “I’m tired of this shit!” There has to be  somebody who is fed up enough to speak up and stop this cycle of violence. At what point, do we begin to hold ourselves accountable? How long will we let our city bleed before we decide to fix what’s broken? The black community cannot keep standing by and allowing our own to kill us, and then we pitch a fit when they mistreat and gun us down.

It’s not right and it’s hypocritical.

Let me say this—under no circumstances do I agree with white people’s convenient use of the black on black crime card. I am in no way saying I am okay with the abuse and exploitations of the problems within black communities to shield and dismiss their corrupt and racist acts. I will never agree with the suppression of other race’s crimes to keep ours front and center. But, if we are being honest—black people we have a problem. We continue to shield to our own from murder, molestation, rape, and other heinous acts, for the sake of not being labeled a snitch. Yet, we want people from a different race held accountable for the same thing. We want the Harvey Weinstein’s, Darren Wilson’s, and Dylan Roof’s prosecuted (as they should be), but we are tight-lipped when Uncle Damon, grandpa and Ray-Ray—rape, molest and kill in our communities. We care more about snitching than we do a mother burying her child after being murdered.

We want police officers to abandon their code of silence when they know foul shit is occurring, but we say nothing about the chaos on our streets. We expect these invisible good officers to take a stand and risk their livelihoods to dismantle a corrupt system, but we aren’t willing to risk being labeled a sellout. We want justice for lives taken at the hands of the police but refuse to identify a shooter who shot up our street.

Black people, there are too many of us being killed and too many of us being imprisoned for it. Yes, there are underlying factors that contribute to the origin of these problems. We can contribute them to several things like poverty, generational abuse and rape, drugs, ignored mental illness, neglect, racial inequalities, and a host of other things. However, the truth of the matter is some of these people are soulless. Some of them are evil. They act without a conscience, and they have no regard for life.

So why do we keep protecting them? Why do we keep remaining silent? Because they’re black? Is this why we keep giving them passes?

Just like Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, Nas and Fabolous—are we blindly silent about their misdeeds because they are black? Are we now excusing and taking up for pedophiles, rapists, and abusers because they are black? Are we really going to keep protecting that creepy ass uncle we know has raped generations of women in the family, or the neighborhood killer because he’s black? 

If a criminal is black, does that automatically place tape over our mouths in times we should speak up? Does being black exempt a person from being held accountable for their wrong doing? Is there an immediate pass for the protection of monsters if they are black? 

I get it—we don’t trust the police or the justice system. For years and even now, they have proven to us that we are of no value to them. They have caused so much discord between the community and themselves—we don’t feel moved to help them. So is this why we remain silent? Is this why we develop sudden cases of amnesia when we know who gunned down an individual? Is this why we dismiss the behaviors of criminals? And if so, does it make it right? 

When do we wake up and see that a life is far more valuable than a secret kept. Will we ever open our eyes to the fact this code of silence is destroying our communities. At what point, do the RIP hashtags become tiresome, the black on black crime stats stop increasing, or the tears from mothers burying their children weigh heavy on our hearts.

St. Louis, when do we look in the mirror and realize that with every blind eye turned and every closed mouth—we aid in this repetitious cycle of death we can’t seem to cleanse our City of? When do we make it stop?

 

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Shadress Denise

Editor-in-Chief at DELUX Magazine
Editor-in-Chief @DELUX, author, foodie, and a culture junkie who just happens to be the blackest person you will ever meet.
Shadress Denise
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