Creativity in Ferguson

By Becca Polinsky and Peter Schmidt

Although only six miles apart, Ferguson and Clayton can sometimes feel light-years away. However, in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting and the lack of an indictment, many Clayton students reached out in various ways, and found that the “two worlds” are not as separate as Clayton residents tend to think.

For freshman Reimi Carter, the shooting of Michael Brown struck a nerve. “The reason I started protesting is mainly because I am a person of color, and I’m tired of this happening daily and people not recognizing the problem,” Carter said.

Carter’s involvement in the protests led her to empathize with the members of the Ferguson community.

“Once I got involved, I saw police officers doing things that should be considered illegal,” Carter said. “They wore riot gear and attacked peaceful protesters and incarcerated people unfairly.”

After numerous protests, Carter found many parallels between the Ferguson conflict and her experiences at CHS. “We are even harassed by students at school. I’ve experienced a lot of colorism because [of] the lightness of my skin,” Carter said.

For Carter, being able to relate to the Ferguson crisis brought the issues of systematic racism and brutality close to home.  “I’ve realized I can’t just sit here while my people are dying,” she said.

Freshman Maggie Baugh found a different way to connect with the members of Ferguson. The day following the indictment, she began helping students catch up on school work at the Ferguson library.

For Baugh, the most rewarding part of the process was having the ability to connect to the other kids. “They’re students, so I was able to relate,” Baugh said. “It felt like a better way to use my time; to help out and be with them.”

Meanwhile, junior Bebe and senior Noah Engel volunteered through the I Heart Ferguson group by painting boarded-up shop fronts.

“I was very fortunate to work with another high schooler from Florissant High named Darius,” Noah said. “Most of the stuff we painted was inspired by his sketches.”

The experience gave Bebe a hopeful perspective on Ferguson’s future. “It was really sad to see all the looted shops, but also amazing to see a variety of people fighting peacefully for justice,” she said.

Ultimately, Noah believes that the experience humanized the city of Ferguson in a way that media portrayals never would.

“Spending time there made it feel like more than the dystopian battlefield it is portrayed as in the media,” he said. “Being in the town itself, with Darius and his friends, made the place more real, like any other neighborhood.”