Can your neighborhood pass the trick-or-treating test?
If not, you obviously live in an all-black area, where boarded up houses, dimly lit streets, dead bodies in yards, and scary sights are a year around fact of life instead of front-yard Halloween decorations for the month of October as found in all-white communities.
|From E.T.: Halloween in a white community...|
Nothing builds community relations greater than the ability for parents to send their children unchaperoned into the fall night and knock on strangers doors, ultimately receiving candy for their hard work.
Freely scavenging neighborhoods for the best houses to secure the best candy is a rite of passage for those children who had the privilege of grown up in majority white communities, where the collective morality of individual white families enables an entire city to be a "safe zone" for trick-or-treating.
The same can't be said for majority black cities/communities, where the collective indifference of individual black families (sic) creates an environment unsuitable for children to play in the park or shoot hoops unsupervised, let alone trick-or-treat.
A writer at The American Conservative noted with great fondness the memories he had trick-or-treating in a much different Ferguson, Missouri than the one that now is hemorrhaging its white population (and thus the city's ability to keep the Halloween tradition alive). [Ferguson Falls Apart: A former resident explains why the St. Louis suburb exemplifies a national loss of social trust., 8-25-14]:
So here’s a thought experiment: Imagine the neighborhood where you went trick-or-treating as a child, hurt your knee falling off the jungle gym, or went on your first shy date. Now imagine seeing it yourself one day, the eerily familiar backdrop occupied by violent mobs facing off against troops in camouflage amid clouds of tear gas.Ferguson is 67 percent black, a city remade in the image of its new majority demographic. With the continued fear of violence in Ferguson, even Halloween had to be sacrificed.
And with this makeover in other parts of metropolitan St. Louis, particularly overwhelmingly black North St. Louis, you get the need for extraordinary measures to resurrect trick-or-treating traditions that vanished with white flight.
|Social capital, expressed in Halloween decorations and trick-or-treating|
Enter the "safe zone." [Halloween 'safe zone' near O'Fallon Park gives kids of all ages a trick-or-treat experience, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10-30-14]:
For the seventh Halloween in a row, St. Louis Alderman Antonio French is helping to give hundreds of children a fun part of childhood.
He’s helping to organize a six-block “safe zone” for area children to trick-or-treat from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. The location has varied from year to year, but this year’s is the same as the last: the two blocks of Holly, Red Bud and Athlone avenues, bordering the southwest edge of O’Fallon Park.
There are about 250 houses in the area, and so far about 100 houses have signed up. Last year, about 1,000 children came to the area for trick-or-treating. The safe zones have become a project of The North Campus, French’s tutoring and education program for children in several north St. Louis neighborhoods.
Commmitteewoman Laura Keys, who lives in the 4500 block of Athlone, said the safe zone was an expansion of an effort she made years ago to send letters to her neighbors and encourage her block to participate in Halloween. She remembers one elderly man telling her why he never wanted to give out candy.
“He talked about not feeling safe to open his door. If he doesn’t feel safe, how many of my neighbors don’t feel safe?”
She loves that French has expanded on the effort, she said, adding that she’s putting the finishing touches on her Mad Hatter costume and has yet to drag her cardboard casket out of the basement.
“We do it up,” she said of her family’s decorations and costumes. “We have fog machines, we do the scary music.” Her family tries to give out a lighted treat, such as glow necklaces or finger lights, to make children more visible.
North Campus provides candy to families who have signed up to give it out, and some families supplement with their own. A North Campus shuttle patrols the area, and St. Louis police keep an eye on it, too. Some volunteers will give out candy from the porches of some houses that are vacant but not necessarily abandoned, French says.
Last weekend, neighborhood children got together at The Sanctuary, another part of North Campus, and carved 50 pumpkins to decorate porches in the safe zone.
“It feels really good, to see kids walking up and down the street,” French said. “It gets people feeling really good about their neighborhood.”
Sorry, but such measures are artificial, an ephemeral introduction of peace and stability in an environment where the collective genetic expression of black people permanently disables such activities from being replicated without mass intervention by the police, corporations, and altruistic white people.
Two blocks representing the artificial "safe zone" for black kids to trick or treat, whereas entire communities devoid of black people are safe for hordes of white kids to trick or treat without adult or police supervision to ensure no violence interrupts their fun.
But in the so-called black communities of St. Louis, no such environment can be duplicated.
The first year the "safe zone" was created in St. Louis for blacks to trick-or-treat, gunshots were heard in areas outside the designated safe areas... [Committeeman creates Safe Zone for North Side trick-or-treaters, St. Louis American, 11-6-2008]:
This year Halloween fell on the weekend; me and Geto Boys were trick-or-treating, robbing little kids for bags,” rapped Geto Boys emcee Bushwick Bill in the 1991 rap classic that featured frontman Scarface.
Those few lines in the popular rap record spoke briefly to the ghastly, everyday realities of living in the ‘hood n and not just on Halloween.
Those everyday, scary news stories of crime in North St. Louis spooked 21st Ward Committeeman Antonio D. French into creating Safe Zone, four blocks of police-patrolled Halloween activities.
Safe trick-or-treating last Friday spanned the 4400 and 4500 blocks of Anthone and Holly, bound by West Florissant (near O’Fallon Park) and Rosalie.
Kids went door to door worry-free, collecting their share of three 19 gallon containers of candy that were supplied by 21st Ward Democrats. Contributors, along with French, included 21st Ward Alderman Bennice Jones King, state Rep. Jamilah Nasheed and License Collector Mike McMillan.
One man’s house in the 4500 block of Anthlone was dark and spooky with its front porch dreadfully decorated like a haunted house. Frightful music played, and the man scared children away after first giving them candy.
Front Yard Features provided its gigantic outdoor projection screen on a vacant lot in the 4500 block of Holly. Neighbors sat on haystacks to watch the featured horror flick, Scream.
One neighbor threw a Halloween party, inviting all neighborhood kids.“Kids can run up to any house they want to, so it gives them what was taken away from them,” said Linda Green, who lives in the 4500 block of Anthlone.
Gunshots rang out while Green talked, but she wasn’t worried, knowing they weren’t in the Safe Zone.
“It doesn’t just make it safe for kids, but it also makes it safe for grownups who want to participate,” Green said. “Cops put a stop to a lot of things that usually go on, and eyes are everywhere.”
Resident Talvin Moore called the Safe Zone a beautiful thing. “With everything going on on the North Side, there are some bad people out there, but this is safe,” he said.
Another Resident Terrence Little said, “The kids get to have fun like we did when we were growing up.”
French said he collaborated with Laura Keys, an Anthlone resident who had organized safe trick-or-treating on her block for several years.
“My vision was to have a larger block and invite kids from all wards,” said French, noting that some trick-or-treaters came from the county.
“It got people out as a community, and people were sociable and got to know one another,” French said.
Another good thing, he said, was that families had a chance to enjoy the streets like they used to, instead of surrendering to criminals, as many inner city residents often do.
Blacks - many of whom say they are fleeing drugs, crime and deteriorating housing - are continuing to leave north St. Louis and moving into historically white neighborhoods in south St. Louis and in north St. Louis County, 1990 census figures indicate.
During the 1980s, the figures show, the number of blacks in north St. Louis dropped by about 27,000 - a number equal to the population of Kirkwood. Several North Side neighborhoods lost more than 20 percent of their population during the decade.
''Moving here was a blessing,'' said Rhonda Williams, a 27-year-old black mother of four children aged 5 to 9, who moved from the North Side into a South Side apartment near Nebraska Avenue and Wyoming Street in February 1990.
''Up there, there were just too many drugs; I had to get away,'' she said. Williams holds down jobs as a restaurant cook and as a packer for a chili company.
''If the drugs get worse down here, I'll move farther south,'' she said.
Like Williams, Rickey Grant Sr. also grew up on the city's North Side. And like Williams, he decided to leave.
Grant, 30, a black and the father of three, moved from the city's Fairground Park area two years ago into the Hathaway Trails Subdivision just north of Interstate 270 in North County.
''There was a lot of gang activity in the city,'' said Grant. ''This is better here; I don't feel threatened here. I wanted my children to have better than what I had.''
The census figures show that many of the heavily black neighborhoods of north St. Louis have been losing population at a staggering rate. At the same time, other parts of the city are becoming more integrated.
A census tract that takes in a portion of the Cabanne neighborhood (a tract bounded roughly by Page Boulevard on the north, Enright Avenue on the south, Goodfellow Boulevard on the west and Academy Avenue on the east) saw its black population drop by 29 percent - to 4,391 in 1990 from 6,150 in 1980.
Farther east, a census tract that takes in a part of the Vandeventer neighborhood (a tract bounded by Page and Enright, Taylor Avenue and North Grand Boulevard) lost 31 percent of its black population during the decade - to 2,977 from 4,310.Meanwhile, the black population of some areas of North County is steadily on the rise.
A census tract just north of Interstate 270 and east of Lewis and Clark Boulevard (Highway 367) has seen its black population nearly triple since 1980 - to 3,228 from 1,161. The area was 91 percent white in 1980; it was about 76 percent white in 1990.
Directly to the west, a tract bounded by Parker Road on the north, I-270 on the south, New Halls Ferry Road on the west and Lewis and Clark on the east, saw black population jump to 7,561 from 4,390. The percentage of blacks rose to 53 percent from 30 percent.
Other North County areas that showed sharp increases in black population included tracts that take in the city of Jennings and a section of the city of Ferguson.
Hugh Barlow, chairman of the sociology department at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, said the continuing migration of blacks into North County is both predictable and understandable.
''People tend to move into areas where they already know people and where they feel comfortable,'' he said. Barlow also said he has no doubt that there is some racial ''steering'' of black homebuyers into the area by real estate companies, although the realty companies adamantly deny it.
A local real estate executive who asked not to be identified called the continued movement of black families into North County ''just a normal geographic movement of people from older, cheaper housing into newer, more expensive housing.''
He said there is no reason to believe that the racial change will result in a deterioration of North County neighborhoods similar to the deterioration that took place in some areas of north St. Louis.
''That was a different time; those were different circumstances,'' he said. The people moving to North County are people wanting to upgrade their standard of living. They want to take care of their property, protect their equity.''
The only metric necessary to measure social capital is if your community can spontaneously hold trick-or-treating without the need to create artificial "safe zones," where police and adults designate a few blocks a momentary refuge from the everyday carnage of life normally found in the area.
Not one all-white (or overwhelmingly white) community/neighborhood/city in America has ever had the need to have a few blocks designated a "safe zone" for trick-or-treating.
In St. Louis, areas devoid of whiteness and overflowing with black pride lack the basic neighborly congeniality to keep a grocery store open; how do you expect a 'food desert' to be a temporary oasis for nocturnal candy gathering?
Enter the 'safe zone'... yet another reminder the black people are among us.