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St. Louis American, Wash U embark on editorial endeavor to change narrative for black males

Left, Chris King and Sean Joe oversee the effort to produce “Homegrown Black Males” in the St. Louis American.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
Left, Chris King and Sean Joe oversee the effort to produce “Homegrown Black Males” in the St. Louis American.";s:

All too often the narrative that surrounds the lives of young black males nationally and locally is a negative one. However, the St. Louis American has plans to influence that with “Homegrown Black Males.”

“We’re gonna provide a series of stories by young black men about this issue, about changing the narrative of young black males,” Chris King said on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

King, the news outlet’s managing editor, continued by saying, “We’ll, on the one hand, present a series of voices showing excellence and showing black men rethinking St. Louis as a place where young black males want to grow up and live. And also we’ll report a series of feature stories about organizations that are already doing the work.”

King joined host Don Marsh along with Sean Joe, Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor and associate dean at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. They discussed the editorial partnership between HomeGrown STL at the Brown School and the St. Louis American, and the conversation yielded reasons why these stories are so necessary for our region.

“It’s critically important that St. Louis as a region understands that the region’s health, the region’s economic prosperity is directly tied to black males, particularly this generation of 12 to 29-year-olds,” Joe said.

“The more we can engage them and help support and invest in them, the better position our region will be in economically,” Joe continued. “You don’t do that without people beginning first to understand that. And on the way to understand that is to understand how dynamic the black male experience is in St. Louis and then we can work collectively to really understand that we all want them to thrive and be healthy and to contribute, but you have to start with believing that they can.”

The year-long series launched Aug. 9, 2018 – the four-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, to whom the series is dedicated. The first guest writer featured was local leader Starsky Wilson, who composed a piece titled “I. Am. A. BLACK. Man.”

“I don’t weep much on the job, but I wept reading it,” King said. “It was just an amazingly powerful personal narrative.”

According to Joe, “[Wilson] showed that there [are] dynamics to this experience – that black males have challenges, but they also have great resources. And his mother’s investment in him, and others’ investment on top of her investment, made him the man who he is today. And that’s the idea: that we have to invest deeply if we understand how important this population is.”

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Caitlin Lally give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Caitlin Lally is thrilled to join St. Louis Public Radio as the summer production intern for "St. Louis on the Air." With a bachelor's degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Caitlin also freelances for area publications like Sauce Magazine and the Belleville News-Democrat. In her career, she's covered topics such as Trump's travel ban, political protests and community activism. When she's not producing audio segments or transcribing interviews, Caitlin enjoys practicing yoga, seeing live music, and cooking plant-based meals.