A photograph of an interracial couple kissing that ran in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is causing some controversy.
The photo, which ran in an insert with an article “The 7 Best Places to Smooch,” apparently spurred some unfortunate commenting on the Post Dispatch’s Web site and the paper responded with a blog entry. A few commenters said they were offended by the pictures, in not-so-polite terms. One mentioned that race relations are tense in the city.
The couple photographed are a real couple who happen to be friends with someone at the paper.
Anyway, this obviously reflects poorly on the community, not to mention indicates some level of racial intolerance. Gawker.com called covered the story using the phrase “Missouri rednecks,” which I use hesitantly because redneck in itself can be considered an objectionable epithet.
It got me thinking about when I worked at the Youngstown newspaper, all the awful, racist comments we’d get. It’s shocking and sad that people still feel comfortable voicing these opinions in a public forum, or think them at all. I was hanging out with a young, progressive group and I was largely shielded from that perspective. But it was definitely there, below the surface and it would bubble up on our message boards.
I wonder is there something about former industrial cities, with older, blue-collar populations, often divided along ethnic lines, that is synonymous with racism. To me, these attitudes can be one of the more negative aspects of living in the Rust Belt. It’s this type of backwardness drives young people to Chicago and New York.
The people I know from St. Louis embody the exact opposite views as those displayed in the paper’s message board this week. I wonder, what can a younger person with a more modern set of ideals living in such a city do?