“Row your boat gently down the stream.”
By: Ashley Winters
DELUX Magazine sat down one-on-one with some of St. Louis’ most vigilant community organizers. Since the re-awakening of injustice within our city and across the country, there have been people who have stepped up, and spoken out.
People equipped with bold, unapologetic voices, ready to create an equal playing field for everyone who calls themselves a citizen of the United States. These people stand on the front lines, hoping to effect change today and for the future. Activism is not easy, nor is it for the faint at heart. Still, these young people grab it by the reigns and stand strong in the face of adversity.
Check out who we caught up with next in our series of VOICES OF THIS GENERATION.
DELUX: Tell our readers who you are and the role you have been playing in the community organizing and protesting?
JP: I am a member of Tribe X, an organization that was birthed after the death of Michael Brown. The mission is to educate, empower, and organize around issues that stem from white supremacy. Previous actions include the St. Louis Galleria Mall Shut Down, Occupation of Saint Louis University, and Bob McCulloch SLU Law Disruption between 2014 and 2016 that’s featured in local and national news networks.
Since the Stockley Verdict, I have been promoting the #STLVerdict planning committee events and the Coalition for Human Rights essay contest. Ongoing charges from the Ferguson uprising make me less inclined to risk arrest so I have not been as involved in on-the-ground activities. I lift the names of seen and unseen #STLVerdict planning team members such as Lashell Eikerenkoetter, Cori Bush, Rasheen Aldridge, Bruce Franks, and others that have been holding it down.
DELUX: What prompted you to become involved with community organizing and social justice issues?
JP: As a lifelong resident of St. Louis, I have always been involved with community organizing and social justice issues. My mother, Lola Zasaretti, started a community garden which addresses the food desert suffocating my community. As a member of Metro St. Louis Coalition for Inclusion and Equity, we organize around public health issues. For example, we planned block parties to address gun violence. As a student at Saint Louis University, we organized programming around black culture and issues. For example, we planned a Race, Faith, and Justice conference addressing the Ferguson crisis that is recorded and available on YouTube.
DELUX: What are some things or actions you feel will need to take place here in St. Louis before real change can be seen?
JP: The demands that the #STLVerdict planning committee and supporters have presented needs to be considered and addressed seriously. The reasons why there are ongoing disruptions is because the voices of this task force are not being heard.
DELUX: What are your thoughts about the culture of St. Louis? The police department? City Hall?
JP: St. Louis City has a culture of ignoring those suffering the most using the police and city hall as its enforcers. Scholar Derrick Bell describes black people as the faces at the bottom of America’s well. Due to years of neglect and abuse, the black community in St. Louis face herculean challenges on their route to gain opportunity and access. Instead of job and collegiate opportunities, we get bullets from the Police and half fulfilled promises from City Hall.
DELUX: If you have one, tell DELUX what your favorite quote is?
JP: “Row your boat gently down the stream.” In a world of white supremacy and police brutality, black people have got to be gentle and resilient as we row to freedom.