I live in St. Louis, the Gateway to the West. We are known for the 11 World Championship St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Team. The Busch Family and their famous Clydesdale’s live here. In the summertime, residents visit the St. Louis Arch and eat St. Louis Barbecue Ribs (not me, I’m vegan.) Last week, Nelly held his 10th annual Black and White Ball Downtown at the Four Seasons (my invitation got lost in the mail.)
My home is north of downtown. Travel up highway 70 and exit at Broadway Street north. Your senses liven when you drive past the old Wonder Bread factory where the smell of soft baked bread drowns out the inner city, dirty air and instantly makes you hungry. Keep going through the sleepy shopping district of Baden. Pass by the tree-lined town of Riverview and eventually you would end up in my stomping ground, Florissant. I live here. I also teach in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. My neighborhood is five minutes from the now famous Ferguson, Missouri which America watched burn on television. A few businesses within walking distance from me were looted during the riots of 2014 and 2015.
From appearance, Florissant seems to be the perfect place to raise a family. In 2012, Florissant was named 76 in the top 100 list of Money Magazine’s Best Places to Live-America’s Best Small Cities.The population is a little over 52,000. Our Midwestern location allows us to experience the seasons; spring, summer, winter and fall.
Florissant is full of planned communities, built in the late 70’s and early 80’s. One turn into a subdivision and there are usually cul-de-sacs and dead ends with one way in and one way out. We used to be known for our beautiful oak and maple trees until the January 2007 ice storms when the hanging branches knocked out power to over 100,000 St. Louis Residents. Ameren UE butchered the limbs of our tree population after that incident.
Truthfully, I don’t love it here. It’s ‘complicated’ like an old school arranged marriage. Allow me to explain. Our weather is so kooky, we can experience all of the seasons in a 48-hour span.
Most of my frustration comes from what Google doesn’t tell you. It is a challenge it is to live and thrive in this area as an African-American. I need to help this nexxt (spelled wrong on purpose) generation of students who can’t see how connected they need to be to their inner thoughts, their history, and the way they express themselves in a world that will not always embrace them.
So, when I come home at night after being a super mom to a 22 year-old (who’s getting married in September), a eighteen-year-old (who graduates high school next month) and a seven-year-old (who needs all the attention in the world), and bang out words on my laptop until I can barely hold my eyes open, I always hope my words are like the greats who I admire. A few of the writers who I hold in high regards are Toni Morrison, Zora Neal Hurston, Richard Wright, Victoria Christoper Murray, Terry McMillan, Kimberla Lawson Roby and James Patterson (I know…one of these kids is doing his own thing.)
I hope to one day be the person who inspires others to be, do, and have more.