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Black Lives and Spatial MattersPolicing Blackness and Practicing Freedom in Suburban St. Louis$
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Jodi Rios

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501750465

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501750465.001.0001

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Confluence and Contestation

Confluence and Contestation

(p.42) 2 Confluence and Contestation
Black Lives and Spatial Matters

Jodi Rios

Cornell University Press

This chapter highlights some of the moments and patterns that are illustrative of the particularities and peculiarities of the St. Louis region and are therefore important for understanding North St. Louis County. In many ways, the history of St. Louis in the latter part of the twentieth century closely follows the histories of most cities in the rust belt of the United States—in terms of de jure and de facto segregation in housing, education, and the labor force, as well as histories of suburbanization, discriminatory lending, and white flight. Moreover, the genealogies outlined in the chapter reflect the interconnected global histories of chattel slavery, colonial and imperial expansion, and capitalist development. In keeping with these histories, Black residents in the suburbs of North St. Louis County are disciplined as less-than-human, profit-generating bodies by tiny cities that have been stripped of resources and struggle to provide basic services except for an ever-expanding police force. A fierce desire for self-governance and municipal autonomy, a persistent tradition of parochial hierarchies, a peculiar reliance on the local courts, and the perpetual conflation of blackness and risk are legacies that result in specific forms of cultural politics and racialized practices across a highly fragmented geography.

Keywords:   St. Louis region, North St. Louis County, slavery, colonization, capitalist development, Black residents, blackness, cultural politics, racialized practices

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