Deadly Zip Codes in St. Louis

Decades Stolen from the Lives of Black People

September 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?


After Black people in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson rose up against the police murder of Michael Brown, the governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, ordered a commission to investigate racial inequality in the St. Louis area. On September 14, the commission released a 189-page report which includes this fact:

Life expectancy for people born in some mainly Black zip codes are not just years, but DECADES less than those of people living in nearby, prosperous and virtually all-white suburbs.

This means:

If you are born in the 92 percent white suburb of Wildwood, you can expect to live 91.4 years.

But if you are born in the 95 percent Black suburb of Kinloch, 21 miles away, you can expect to live only 55.9 years—a little over 35 years LESS!

DECADES of life are being stolen from Black people.

What leads to early deaths for Black people in these neighborhoods? It’s things rooted in the historic and current oppression of Black people:

It’s low-paying, exploitative jobs and sky-high unemployment; poor and unreliable public transportation that make it hard to get to jobs, grocery stores, and hospitals. It’s being constantly harassed and ticketed by police (Black people are 75 percent more likely than whites to be pulled over in traffic stops) and ever-mounting fines that lead to being jailed, losing your car, your job.

It’s living in neighborhoods with no access to fresh fruits or vegetables, run down and overcrowded schools where Black children are 10 times more likely than whites to be suspended. It’s the lack of access to medical care and discrimination by health care providers.

It’s mass incarceration, vicious police murder and brutality, and violence among the people that comes as a result of being brutalized, degraded, disrespected, and given no chance for a decent life from the day you are born.

Black people don’t “choose” to live in these deadly zip codes. There has been a system of segregation at work here since 1916, when a law was passed in St. Louis making interracial communities illegal. That law was eventually struck down. But segregation has continued to be enforced through conscious racist policies of banks and real estate companies. Even after segregation became formally illegal in the 1960s, the government failed to enforce anti-segregation laws and segregation and inequality is alive and killing Black people today.

The truth of the situation is that no matter what changes this system has gone through, no matter what “reforms” have been instituted to address “racial inequality”—the workings of this system have widened and deepened the systematic oppression of Black people.

This system is LITERALLY killing Black people—stealing decades from their lives. This is a system that is totally illegitimate and needs to be gotten rid of through revolution, nothing less!



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