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Resettled Syrians Prefer Refugee Camps over This Predominantly Black St. Louis Neighborhood

St. Louis’ Northwest side, particularly Hodiamont Avenue has found itself at the center of controversy yet again, as it has garnered a reputation for poverty and crime over the years and deemed a war zone of its own by many natives of St. Louis. 

Just last year, 16-year-old Brandon Claxton was shot and left paralyzed by police, which resulted in coverage of a Hodiamont Avenue apartment complex where many residents feel trapped with no way out. 

And as of this week, Syrian refugees living in another apartment complex on Hodiamont Avenue are not at all pleased about their living conditions. The newly resettled Syrians report high crime, bug infestation, and an array of other issues. 

As a result, many things have come into question regarding both Syrian refugees as well as lingering issues that have plagued African-Americans for generations in St. Louis.

Credit: The New York Times
A northwest St. Louis resident stands on her porch. Credit: The New York Times

According to an article published by CBS St. Louis this week, refugees are warning their loved ones back home to avoid coming to St. Louis at all costs. They even claim that refugee camps in their war-torn homeland are much more livable than St. Louis’ northwest side. 

There are some who claim that this outcry by Syrian refugees and almost immediate response by local politicians is nothing more them exercising their “POC privilege” and serves as more unrelenting proof that African Americans are purposely marginalized and forgotten.

A very vocal St. Louis Activist, Nyota Uhura said via her Facebook page:

“North St. Louis County’s is so bad refugees fleeing from war torn Syria are warning friends not to come.

Yet this is the same blight, neglect and urban warzone black citizens have been forced to endure as a result of bad policies, unaccredited schools, lack of opportunity and not being protected or served.”

St. Louis Pastor and community leader Traci Blackmon wrote about the issuevia her Facebook page:

This is infuriating. Not only for the lived reality of these Syrians, but even more so for the suggestion that as they integrate into St. Louis, they will be able to move on to a better living environment.

With absolutely no acknowledgment that these are also the living conditions of black families who are not going anywhere. Why not put resources into these neighborhoods so everyone can thrive…instead of promising refugees they won’t have to stay long? Or better yet….move them all to Ball Park Village!!!!”

Facebook user Nicole Hudson also posted in response:

This article is a perfect synthesis of how our region is comfortable and intentional about prioritizing the well-being of our immigrant population but complacent and blatantly ignores our black population. Super supportive of immigrants and St. Louis support of immigration and livid that St. Louis is not embarrassed to publicly flaunt how little it cares about its black population.”

There are also responses from other social media users ridiculing the refugees for their complaints insinuating that they should be grateful to be anywhere but Syria. To be fair, prior to the Syrian uprising in 2011 — which many suggest the U.S instigated — the nation’s leading cities, such as Aleppo, were not only metropolitan comparable to populous cities in the U.S.

Damascus, formerly one of Syria’s most promising and ancient cities, for example, was “a place where you could walk the streets with your girlfriend or grab a beer without a second thought,” said Alaa Alderie, a former Syrian banker who is now a refugee and St. Louis resident.


This article published by The Guardian shows the contrasting before and afters as pictured below.

Credit: The Guardian
Credit: The Guardian

As a result of the conflicts, Syrians have been resettled in St. Louis thanks to an initiative called “Bring Them Here.” But according to Syrians themselves, the U.S. isn’t as welcoming as they’ve imagined.

St. Louis alderman Jeffery Boyd, assigned to the 22nd Ward where the housing complex is located, didn’t offer much relief but says:

“I hear it far too often myself, my family is tired of hearing it. [Also] some of the new refugees are leaving their doors open and they have food on the floor, maybe crumbs whatsoever.

If you leave your door open out in an area where there’s field mice potentially, then they’ll be in your house before you know it”

He also admitted that he received a financial contribution from its landlordbut that his views on the residents’ living conditions are unaffected by the contribution. Boyd has also been called “questionable” and has previously come under fire during his tenure.

In poor attempts to make sense of the deplorable conditions of both Syrian refugees and Black residents, St. Louis reporter Jason Aubry says:

“They have the same problems anyone else would have, including children who seem unintentionally determined to find ways to get into trouble.

Ultimately, these refugees are like a lot of us who have been here for generations; just struggling to get by.

And while gunfire can be a common nighttime sound, at least they have found a place where rockets and mortars and bombs are not exploding. They have traded those dangers for our brand of first-world-problems plaguing renters all over the country, like bed bugs, and other pests.”

But will Syrian refugees and Black residents on the north side of St. Louis get the help they need?

For the refugees, Suzanne LeLaurin, a representative of International Institute of St. Louis, vows to meet with city police to possibly get more off-duty police patrols in the area. She also suggested the refugees focus on learning English, getting a job, buying a car and enrolling their children in local school. 

The International Institute has also announced plans to meet with the landlord of the apartment complex on behalf of the refugees.

But for the Black residents, besides vocal community activists and residents, municipal leaders have largely remained silent.

TAGS bring them here st louis hodiamont apartments st louis International Institute of St. Louisnorth side st louisst louis alderman jeffery boydst louis hood Suzanne LeLaurin Syrian RefugeesTraci Blackmon st Louis









"I'm just trying to make a way out of no way, for my people" -Modejeska Monteith Simpkins









Original Post

Now, this is very interesting, and very predictable on the part of a predominately republican southern state.

I'm sure the refugees were deliberately put there out of racism against them and at the same time to etch into their psychi a skewed picture of African Americans and/or predominately Black communities in America.  

It's not coincidence that they found a Black woman standing [or to stand] on the porch of likely the worse looking house in that area, so that that picture could be beamed all across America, Syria and the entire world as 'the norm' for all African Americans and/or African American homes.  

I do hope that the Syrian refugees can appreciate the fact that they are in a country [so far, though the political climate is rapidly being changed here too] where they can complain about their condition without being imprisoned or murdered.

I do agree with the woman in the article that is offended that help getting out of such an area is being promised to refugees fleeing a war-torn country, while no help has been offered the predomiantely Black people living there already.  Not that I have anything against the refugees being helped to find somewhere better and safer to live in America, because I really hope they do; but it is extremely offensive, and racist, that such 'help' has not been offered to any African Americans that were already trapped in such delapidated, dangerous neighborhoods.  



Last edited by sunnubian

Are Syrians considered "white?" I had a Syrian friend for a second when I was small, her parents were prejudiced as hell. I was too young to notice, but I knew something was wrong with them. They're not the color of European Snow Balls. They're covered with a "tinge" of melanin from some group or another. Guess it's kind of hard to move from a bombed city that speaks Syrian to a European city with black neighbors and bugs crawling up your walls. Like Koco says, you should be sent back or stay where you are all bombed and Syrian spoken. It's not a piece of cake either way, but you'll have your togetherness.

Blacks have more than enough to contend with WITHOUT anyone else's added BULL SHIT. Lord knows, we do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last edited by Norland

  No they're considered semites or Asiatic...maybe even middle eastern.  Still...they need to take their asses back to their war torn country since they don't wanna LIVE  next to blacks.  They are nationless....washed ashore by the turbulent mediterrean[sp]   sea....cold without food or water.  They fell on the sand of Greece.....who didn't want their asses.   And now?  They THINK they get to pick and choose where they live in America?  Take yall asses back.  We got ENOUGH trouble here.  But! 

Last edited by Kocolicious

And so it goes moving westward.  If they think it's bad now, wait until the fog rolls in so thick they can't see a few feet in front of them; when it rains and sleets at the same time and it starts to freeze as soon as it hits the ground; when they are caught in blizzards; when the wind blows so hard, it will lift them up and/or push them forward; when the temperature drops below zero and the wind chill factor is minus 20 degrees; and, when the heat in the house suddenly stops working, the water freezes and the toilets stop working.  But, somebody will fix it all for them and assure them they will be happy when they move into their new house in a wonderful neighborhood that may be even better than home.      

Kocolicious posted:

  No they're considered semites or Asiatic...maybe even middle eastern.  Still...they need to take their asses back to their war torn country since they don't wanna LIVE  next to blacks.  They are nationless....washed ashore by the turbulent mediterrean[sp]   sea....cold without food or water.  They fell on the sand of Greece.....who didn't want their asses.   And now?  They THINK they get to pick and choose where they live in America?  Take yall asses back.  We got ENOUGH trouble here.  But! 


I don't think the article said the Syrians didn't want to live next to Black people, but that they were disappointed/upset, etc., that because  they were relegated to living quarters that are just as bad and/or worse than the worn-torn refugee camps they left.  

I think the article's main point was the fact that Black people are living in such quarters [neighborhood that is worse than a war-torn Syrian refugee camp] with no government officials ever promising to help them find better living quarters, but these same officials are promising to help the refugees find better living quarters.  





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