Unfortunately, the riots seem to be spreading nationwide in America. It’s so discouraging to see how many blacks in America still feel marginalized, discriminated against, and angry, so many years after civil rights legislation in the ’60s dismantled institutionalized discrimination.
I grew up in Clayton, where the county courthouse is located and the grand jury decision was announced, so I care about what’s happening in a very personal way. Some important personal historical memories—I still remember walking past the Attucks school in Clayton as an 8-year-old girl and somehow knowing that it was a grade school for black kids only. It was closed only after the 1954 Supreme Court decision that “separate is not equal” and therefore segregated schools are illegal according to the U.S. Constitution (Brown v. the Board of Education).
After that decision, we had one black girl in my grade school class, Beatrice, whose mother lived in the back of the home of a wealthy family and worked as a maid. She was trying so hard to lift her children out of poverty by making sure they got the good education offered in the Clayton schools. Eventually they moved back to St. Louis before Beatrice started high school, and I lost contact with her.
We never had many blacks in our Clayton schools due to the high prices of houses, although now about 20 percent of the high school students are black students that are bused in from the northern (black) neighborhoods of North St. Louis.
My grandfather, Ernest Elmer Colvin, worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and covered the race riots in 1917 in which whites from St. Louis crossed the Mississippi River to East St. Louis, Ill., in order to join whites from East St. Louis who were attacking blacks “because” they were working in a factory having government contracts. The whites wanted a “white only” employment policy!
The race riots swelled to include thousands of whites stabbing, clubbing, and lynching blacks. Six thousand black homes were burned. This had a formative effect on my grandfather, who was appalled at the depth of white violence against blacks and saw the horrible things mobs can do when they get out of control.
When Obama was elected president, it seemed to mark the ultimate sign that blacks were fully accepted into American society. It seems that educated blacks are now accepted and doing well, but those trapped in the cycle of poverty in “black neighborhoods” see no way out of their predicament.
There also seem to be no easy solutions when the nation is so divided politically, investment in education and social welfare is decreasing, and blue-collar jobs are disappearing.
Obama and America now have so many national and international problems to handle! We hope that the American leadership and people have the wisdom to move forward in a positive direction.
As the Israeli saying goes, “When America catches a cold, we get pneumonia.” I believe that a healthy American society is crucial for the health of the world. May America heal itself quickly.
The writer is the mother-in-law of Epoch Times reporter Genevieve Belmaker.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.