If you haven’t read my friend Tony Messenger’s recent article on stltoday.com about a canceled kindergarten baseball game or a similar piece at riverfronttimes.com regarding the same, you will or your friends will tell you before long.
Both articles reference, directly and indirectly, the infamous Delmar Divide: St. Louis’ invisible, but clearly defined line of racial demarcation. Most black people in the St. Louis area live north of Delmar Boulevard. Most whites live south of Delmar.
Insert all known stereotypes about race, class, wealth, crime and education here.
We all have fears and concerns. Some are spot-on. Others are overblown. The difference is some of us have the luxury of being able to run away from people and situations that make us uncomfortable…or we can cancel them altogether.
There are others (your friendly neighborhood Sportsmanship Guy is one) who have to accept, confront and overcome situations that make them uncomfortable and/or fearful everyday. Providing for their families, experiencing something new or just enjoying a nicer restaurant forces them across the Delmar Divide.
When I kiss my wife in the morning before heading off to work, she may be the only black person I have any interaction with all day until I get home in the evening and see her and my daughter again. Imagine if I were white, how many black people would I interact with then?
Right! My understanding of black people might be limited to the one black guy who works in my office, the five mugshots they show on the news and the TV show Empire.
How do we fix this? How do we make it so kindergartners from different parts of town can play baseball together without parents freaking out? The solution is simple, but not necessarily easy.
Travel to different neighborhoods. Have lunch somewhere off the beaten path. Go to a kids’ baseball game in Bridgeton or a basketball game at the O’Fallon Park YMCA in St. Louis City.
You’ll find people who aren’t very different from you. They want their kids to go to good schools, have fun, and get the same positive things out of sports we all received.
And if safety is really an issue, then the adults on both teams should work together to keep all of the kids safe. Sports do bring people together, but it’s up to us to foster the love and understanding that will make sure we stay together.