Part of what I’ll remind an audience this weekend is the increasing inaccuracy - and irrelevance - of the terms "North St. Louis" and "South St. Louis" to describe a City resident’s race. If you drive or walk around the City’s many neighborhoods, you’ll find that we have more whites moving into the north side and more African-Americans living on the south side than ever before.
One consequence of this development is the growing awareness that most of us want the same exact things: safe neighborhoods, good jobs, secure retirements; parents want their children to grow up educated, safe, and productive citizens. And with that awareness comes another: that many of our differences - of culture, ethnicity, sensibilities, expressions, and experiences - are fascinating and worthy of celebration.
None of this is to say that we have successfully addressed all of race’s most divisive talking points. The crime rate is still higher in neighborhoods with predominantly African-American populations. African-Americans still have disproportionately higher rates of cancer, diabetes, AIDS, and hypertension than other populations. And the levels of educational attainment, employment, and home ownership among African Americans are still much lower.
But, the solutions to those pressing issues - unlike the rhetoric - may turn out to be colorblind in the sense that Dr. King used the term.
The world is already a place in which the differences between black and white St. Louisans are irrelevant. The world is already a place in which all St. Louisans will be left behind, unless we compete in a global economy with the sum of the talents that our City can muster. In such a world, how unimportant is the color of our neighbor’s skin!
And what St. Louisan, when you get right down to it, doesn’t already know this?