We didn't mindfully move to an integrated neighborhood. We just moved to St. Louis (back home for me) from Detroit and wanted to live in neighborhood like Royal Oak. But now, 23 years, 2 houses only miles apart, and 3 kids later, I wouldn't live anywhere else.
We live in one of the many tiny towns that make up North St. Louis County and live less than a mile from Ferguson Missouri. We eat, shop, and gather there. Our kids played in leagues there...too many games to count. We ride our bikes from our house to get ice cream there. Every Sunday morning, one of my boys drives his grandma to church there. My Mom lives there.
Why? We all know each other and care about each other. My kids have grown up in a real place; sheltered in some ways (what are granite counter tops?) and exposed to some harsh realities at the same time. They've never lived anywhere else and they are not really all that aware of race. Just like the kids in my class when we study the Civil Rights Movement, they are like "Really? That happened? Schools were segregated? That is sooo weird".
So my point? Ferguson is an integrated city; probably one of the most integrated in the country. We live here. We love it. We can't be routinely ignored by the rest of St. Louis. We can't let our schools fail one- by-one and be ignored by our state. We know how to help each other but we could use some support...that whole "it takes a village" thing.
In our meetings before the start of school, we talked about a book called "Riding the Dragon" (do not look up that term on urban dictionary; trust me). The idea is that you don't hide your dragons or fears but face them head-on...you ride the dragon. I keep saying I'm "riding the dragon" (in the same voice as Donkey when he tells Shrek "I'm lookin' down"). Some dragon riding from the last few weeks:
- Ross and I walked to the NAACP gathering at a church by our house. He recorded snap chats (or whatever kids are doing these days) and loved giving directions to people that were lost.
- I went to my Aldi and Target only to discover that is was the command center for all the press and police activity. Nobody stopped me so I went to both stores. They guy ahead of me in line paid part of the bill for the family in front of him that was a little short on cash.
- I didn't watch any of our local news reports because I knew it would infuriate me; now I'm a fan of Chris Hayes because that guy landed in the middle of Ferguson, asked all the right questions, and got to the heart of the issue.
- My mom loves Ferguson and her neighbors but is (reluctantly) moving closer to us. In what could be perceived as bad timing, she listed her house for sale on the day that looting took place about a mile from her house. She had two excellent offers on the house and accepted one last week.
We live here. And we love it.