September 09, 2015
Crump has 3 messages for asset-builders and conference participants
BILOXI—Maxine Crump has a bold mission. “It’s the elimination of racism,” she tells Shreveport, La., radio host Erin McCarty. “It is a system that was constructed, and anything constructed can be dismantled.”
Since 2011, Crump has hosted the “Dialogue on Race Louisiana” forums in Baton Rouge with the single purpose of making institutional change that will rescind racism. But, on October 8, Crump will present an even stronger message in Mississippi to attendees of the 8th annual Southern Regional Asset Building Coalition conference, whose theme is titled “Moving from Talk to Action.”
“Her keynote message and the training around institutional racism are timely for the advocates and researchers attending this conference especially at this time of heightened racial awareness and pressures for economic and social justice across the nation and in the South,” says Gena McClendon, conference coordinator.
Crump says she will share findings at the conference that demonstrate how “race, class, residential segregation and income levels all work together to hamper access to opportunity.” For now, she has three messages for conference attendees:
Message 1: Be proactive and unyielding in addressing policies that create barriers and impact communities of color adversely.
“We need to be vigilant,” Crump says, “vigilant in having all Americans see the issue of race as an American problem ... not a people of color issue. We are all impacted by race. No matter what problem we choose to work on next we will run into racism because it is the most basic fundamental problem we have in this country, and, until we admit it, we will not be as great of a nation as we want to be.”
People often say racism is like any other oppression when, in fact, it is more like any other institutional construction... It operates inside institutions on five levels (that are) empowered by policies and practices structures, Crump says. “I will talk about the myth and misunderstandings that keep us confused about what is racism. I will talk about why people think it can't be solved.”
Message 2: America is losing wealth because of policies designed around race and inequality.
“Here’s what we know: Racism has left a vast legacy of violence. Bigotry in America has marginalized a diverse range of minority culture, [(and)]it dashes the hopes of children,” she says.
“What we didn't know is bias that is based on race costs the United States a shade under $2 trillion a year.”
A W.K. Kellogg Foundation study found an income gap resulting, in part, from racism costs the country $1.9 trillion each year “Fallout from racism is slashing the country's wealth,” she says.
Message 3: Race itself is an economic construct.
Africans who were captured and sold were meant to serve. Their forced, free labor built the economy and enriched the nation. Crump explains, They were not allowed to participate in any of the American economy in an equal way with other Americans. Later, other people of color were victims of these disparities that determined where they would be allowed access in America based on how they looked.
“The practice of color discrimination has been made illegal, but nothing assures us we will not encounter these barriers; we are only assured the right to file suit if we think we are being discriminated against on the basis of color. There is a better practice in place for tracking traffic violators than there is for tracking race discrimination,” says Crump.
Her work has brought conviction and reconciliation to many people who joined her “Dialogue on Race” education series. Using the structure of her Louisiana program, Crump will facilitate an interactive session Thursday, October 8, after delivering the keynote speech that morning. To participate, register here.