In the Shadows of Ferguson: Structural Racism in Housing and Urban Policy

This project has been funded by the Institute for Arts and Humanities Social Justice and Arts Grant, the Office of the Provost (Performing Arts Special Activities Fund), and the Department of City & Regional Planning.  Support has also been provided from the Digital Innovations Lab and the Data Hub at Davis Library

Where You Live Matters. 

The murder of one young man, Mike Brown Jr., in a suburb of St. Louis illuminated the reality of life for many African-Americans living in the shadow of 120 years racist housing and urban policies.

From the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling in 1896 that legalized “separate but equal” to the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, what defines many Americans’ opportunities is where they are allowed to live. Your housing and neighborhood often determines if you have access to good work, schools, transportation, safety and a police force that wants to protect and serve you.

Planners, politicians, housing industry leaders, and wealthy homeowners have intentionally sought to contain Black communities from “encroaching” on white neighborhoods.  The Black community has been systematically characterized as criminal and undesirable and relegated to the worse areas in the city. The St. Louis metro area is one of the most segregated in the U.S. and this is no accident.

This immersive multi-media installation bears witness to the separate and unequal lives of Black and White in one of America’s most misunderstood places, St. Louis, Missouri. Through photography, performance, audio recordings, data visualization and mapping, this project brings together art, data visualization, and historical archives to contextualize the pattern of housing, economic, and social policies that have intentionally segregated society by race. A book manuscript on this topic is also in the works.

Trailer Performance