Saturday, April 23, 2011

Maybe We Could Build This Really Big Wall...

For the past couple weeks, the PD has been covering how white people have been getting really upset and demanding action on a very pressing issue: black kids are walking around the Loop and being all scary and shit. Between the articles themselves and the plentiful comments, it's hard to pick what ridiculous racism to highlight. But one thing really caught my attention and seems worth discussing on the internet: there is a commonly held belief among people who are scared by black kids that black kids should not be allowed to go to the same places that white people go to. Metrolink gets rather absurdly roped into this, and people end up essentially arguing for the deliberate creation of racial ghettos and the racial segregation of the St. Louis area.

First, though, let me address the obviously absurd comment of Blair Stiles in this article. Blair is 21 years old, and she lives in south St. Louis. Blair is young and lives in the city. Yet Blair tells the PD, with no apparent irony or self-awareness whatsoever, that "crowds of young, urban youth [redundancy sic]" are "pretty intimidating." By any reasonable (i.e. non-racialized) interpretation of the term, Blair Stiles is, herself, an urban youth. So unless Blair bizarrely felt like telling the newspaper that she is intimidated by her own peers, Blair means something by "urban youth" other than "young people who live in the city." Now, Blair probably doesn't mean "niggers," but she most definitely means "black kids," and when she's telling us how much they intimidate her with their mere presence, is there really much of a distinction there? I think Blair's comment is the most important one in all of the articles because it lets us really see the feelings that are at the heart of this issue: THERE ARE BLACK KIDS RUNNING FREE ON THE LOOP. And that makes white folks really uncomfortable!

So. Black kids - and we are talking about black kids here, even if only Blair Stiles, and even she indirectly, will come right out and say it - are showing up in the Loop in big groups, and this is bothering the patrons of the local businesses. After all, no one wants to be intimidated by the presence of "urban youths" while they're trying to see art-house movies, buy Wilco records, and eat frozen yogurt. Business owners don't want their patrons to be bothered because then they stop being patrons and business owners stop making money. Notice the dichotomy that emerges: we have the kids, and we have the patrons. One business owner makes it explicit in the article: "[The 'urban youth'] don't buy anything. They just ruin the experience for people who do come here to shop and support the loop." I have no idea if this is true or not, and I doubt whether anyone else really does either, but this whole discussion takes place in a context where it's assumed that the kids in question aren't spending any money in the Loop, just wandering around and harassing the good, American, paying consumers. This is a problem the consumers and the merchants want solved. And solving this problem means eliminating black kids from the Loop.

Two main ways to make this happen come up over and over again in the comment section and the articles themselves: a police crackdown on black kids on the Loop and making it more difficult for black kids to get to the Loop in the first place. The police crackdown obviously supports an idea I've pushed on this blog before: that racists are generally very authoritarian. The second solution is more bothersome to me (at least for today). It's basically an argument that says St. Louis is not segregated enough. If we can just keep the black kids in the ghettos on the North Side, we'll all be better off because we'll be able to go and see Rascal Flatts at the Pageant without having to feel that terrible feeling that comes with seeing black kids out and about.

MrSmith comes right out and says it: black kids shouldn't be allowed on the Loop.

MrSmith April 17 2011.png  on Aviary

This is so insane. I assume there are other areas of the city that black kids shouldn't be allowed in, according to MrSmith. And I suppose we'd have to install checkpoints at the entrances to these neighborhoods in order to make sure that "black youths were stopped from comming [sic] to" our new, pristine white-only neighborhoods. The existence of these checkpoints would raise all sorts of interesting logistical issues, most of which will be familiar to anyone who has thought critically about the Jim Crow laws of the past: Who decides whether or not a kid is black? Is it just up to a police officer to decide, based on how the kid looks? What about kids who appear racially ambiguous? Would you have to present papers proving your race? Do bi-racial kids get to come in? What if we draw a line around a new, white-only neighborhood and discover that a black family lives there? Did we get rid of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act? Can white people still go to "black" neighborhoods? Will there be Footlockers in the white neighborhoods?

I mean, wow. This is a person, in 2011, expressly arguing for the segregation of public areas! I'm sure that in the Jim Crow era there were plenty of streets a black person would not have been comfortable or safe walking down, but were there ever any that they were explicitly banned from? "Sorry, boy, can't come in here. This is the Loop, and its streets are just for white folks." Yeesh.

Some of the slightly more tactful racist motherfuckers who want to keep black kids from bothering the nice white consumers have found a convenient entity on which to blame the problem: Metrolink.
Here is just a sample of the comments that blame Metrolink for the presence of scary "urban youths" on the Loop, and / or explicitly argue that Metrolink is a bad thing because it allows black people to get out of the ghetto:

Captain Spaulding April 17 2011.png  on Aviary

I wish I knew what business intheloop owns, so that I could go loiter in front of it:

See, if only we didn't have public transit, the hoodlums would be stuck in the hood, and nice white folks would be able to go to the mall and walk down the streets without ever having to acknowledge that there was a ghetto in their city. The ghetto isn't a problem in and of itself, after all, it's only when people get out of the ghetto and scare me that its existence becomes a problem. So the solution is emphatically not to get rid of the ghetto. No, what we need to do is get rid of Metrolink and further ghettoize the north side. Maybe if we built a really big wall like Pat Buchannan wants to do with the Mexicans...

Where Is the PD's Racism Threshold?

I'm working on a longer post on this topic, but something struck me as I was reading through the comments on the various PD articles about the roving bands of "urban youth" terrorizing the white folks who just want some peace and quiet on the loop.

This thread is closed to further comments because there were too many racist comments being made. Here, look:

Bantam Weight Shutdown April 13 2011.png  on Aviary

There are other comments in that thread that the editor has removed because of racism. The editorial foot has been put down. Certain things are not acceptable and won't be allowed to stand on the PD's website.

What the editors let fly, though, makes me terrified of one day actually managing to read one of the things they delete. In the comments section of another article about the "Black Kids On The Loop!!!" controversey, this comment was allowed to remain:

Lancelot April 17 2011.png  on Aviary

I mean, Jesus. We all know what "thugs" really means, and I'm just not sure there is anything more obviously and explicitly racist than literally advocating shooting a particular group of people in the streets.

What could the racists who got the first thread shut down have possibly said to get their comments removed if that one is apparently acceptable?