Talk of the Towns

Talk of the Towns: 8.12.20

st. louis | What starts in the city, ends in the county, has at least three neighborhoods associated with it, and is lined with Black- and women-owned businesses along both sides? Why, the Delmar Loop, of course! It starts in the 5800 block of Delmar in St. Louis. Once westbound drivers cross Skinker, they find themselves in the world-famous U. City Loop. But that’s just geography, really. What’s important is that August is Black Business Month, and the Loop has more Black- and women-owned boutiques, hair salons, restaurants, services, etc., etc., etc., than you could shake a stick at. Typically, one might expect a sidewalk sale or discounted products and services to mark BBM. But “the new normal” seems to change daily. Business, however, is brisk at The T, an enterprise like no other. LJ Punch, M.D., a trauma surgeon, founded the healthcare collective of professionals and volunteers to help heal the trauma people suffer every day from bullets, COVID-19, opiates or homelessness. Find out more at the collective’s grand reopening on Saturday, Aug. 22, when the T’s products, services and training opportunities will be available to experience, learn about or purchase at 7874 Delmar Blvd. Here’s a pitch you can afford: Reusable cloth masks, plain or with the T logo, are available for $3. Visit

the metro
You may be a lucky postal customer in a ZIP code scientifically determined by an expensive direct-marketing agency to receive a newspaper addressed to “Current Resident” recently. But The Epoch Times loftily assumes much apart from the recipient’s actual name, akin to the political fliers that have continued to jam our recycling bin since the Aug. 4 primary. (We’d already voted by mail, using an absentee ballot we may not have been officially qualified to use. But that’s quite another story.) The paper also assumes that we’ll eat up this combination of headline, subhead, italicized what-all: “A Long Awaited” … the absence of a hyphen made this former copyeditor’s eyes bug out … “Gift to Americans” …that’s an OK headline, I guess. And then this subhead … “Who Cherish Freedom.” I was sort of flattered, because I cherish freedom as much as the next American, especially freedom of the press. Full stop. This sneaky rag hasn’t been awaited for long, or at all. Falun Gong, a spiritual practice repressed in its home country, Communist China, is behind it. The publication claims, without irony, to be “Covering the Trump Presidency With Fairness and Honesty.” And, “Inside you’ll find traditional, honest journalism without any spin, false narratives or hidden agendas. It’s real news…” Are there “alternative facts”? Hmm, maybe. But, wait! This very thinly veiled propaganda costs only $39 monthly (a discount from $59). No, thanks. I prefer my news, fake or otherwise, from our esteemed metro dailies, The Washington Post and The New York Times. None is nearly as pricey as The Epoch Times. In this economy, however, why pay anything? Anyone can watch TV news, 24-7, for free, whether it’s “Fair and Balanced,” or not.

A red-faced, football-coach hulk of a man without a face mask strode into Schnucks right behind me. I’d paused momentarily to look for a small cart, in lieu of one of those red baskets they no longer have out. (Men hate cart—we’ll overload a basket and, once in the checkout line, wish we’d used a cart.) Anyhow, football coach pulled out a large cart, became agitated, indicated the cart was for me, turned on his heel and left. Meanwhile, a store employee pointed me to a small cart he’d just wiped off. As I was inside picking out items that weren’t on my wife’s list, I spotted football coach again. He must have retrieved a store-mandated mask from his vehicle or received one. I was flabbergasted. He was wearing it, but below one of his chins. I read his mind: “Pandemic, schmandemic. Isn’t it a Democrat hoax? So, you think you can make me put a mask on? OK—but I’ll wear it my own damn way!” Full disclosure: I can’t read minds, but he gave me the creeps. Yeah, my mask fogs up my specs going in and out of the car, but I’m faintly proud to do something nice for everybody else. Fair question: Did football coach put on a seatbelt before he drove to the store? None of this is altruism, of course. It’s simply public safety. But football coach didn’t go to extremes, unlike the mask-free woman turned away last week from a South County pizzeria—she returned to use pepper spray on workers and was charged with assault. For goodness’ sake, why not make your mask make a statement? Bright-red masks could say “MAGA!” Love the StL? Wear one emblazoned with the city flag. Green Bay Packers fan? Sorry. Go for it, anyway! I’ve seen “I Can’t Breathe!” covering the mouth and nose of a Black Lives Matter protester. I’ve ordered two new ones from Dianne Isbell, our favorite mask maker, late of St. Louis Fashion Fund. One reads: “Science Doesn’t Care What You Think!” The other, white lettering on black: “ERACISM.”

notable neighbors
webster groves
On university campuses and in corporate boardrooms, in the public and private sector, diversity officers are a force to be reckoned with. Many of these men and women may not bring quite as much to the table as Terrell Carter, who holds not one, but two doctoral degrees and is vice president and chief diversity officer at Greenville University in Illinois, just shy of an hour’s drive from his south St. Louis home. Meanwhile, Carter is pastor of Webster Groves Baptist Church. Plus, as a former police officer in the City of St. Louis, he’s experienced firsthand the realities of racial profiling and how harshly police treat Black people. Carter’s books directly target these inequities: Healing Racial Divides addresses the problem at large; Walking the Blue Line details the challenges he faced as a Black man with deep ethical convictions working with officers who routinely cut corners, lied and worse. His writings provoke unsettling thoughts and feelings. From Healing…: “We must try to understand why police shootings of Black men, whether armed or unarmed, continue to represent what Black people believe is most wrong with the United States. We must try to understand why images of Black people in criminal activity continue to be the ones primarily highlighted and pushed through various media platforms.” Another of Carter’s books is Police on a Pedestal: Responsible Policing in a Culture of Worship. “It is very hard to stay within the lines,” recalls Carter, who was called to the ministry when still a teenager. “It was such a struggle to honor my faith.” A cop is expected to back up his partner, no matter what. Carter, however, often declined to co-sign the other officer’s reports. In 2002 he resigned his police job that, while it paid well with full benefits, kept him up at night. His challenges are quite different in Greenville, a rural town with a college enrolling more than 950 undergrads, where Carter has commuted for a year and a half. Has his presence been necessary? In 2016, players on the NCAA Division III football team wanted to “take a knee” during the National Anthem, à la former pro quarterback Colin Kaepernick, to honor the Black Lives Matter movement. A compromise was worked out between board members with opposing views: Players could make the controversial gesture if a local VFW color guard were also invited to make an appearance. Then a group of patriotic bikers showed up, unannounced. “Navigating the process” in such unique circumstances can be stressful, Carter says, but he’s relished his role so far. Now, back to those doctorates in theology and ministry earned by this Renaissance man, who—by the way—has created an art show titled 10 Commandments for Good Negroes, with an accompanying volume detailing 42 of them. Carter laughs, which comes easily nowadays. He does, after all, have wife Melinda and daughter Victoria, 15, whom he credits in his books for “life more abundantly.” Not to mention son Malik, 23, who lives in Atlanta. “My wife and my daughter wanted me to stop learning and go do something, already!” For more information, visit