Posted on: February 19, 2021 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Kaitlyn Davies, JRN 111 Student

This moment in history—and our part in it—represent just one step in a larger journey from racism to inclusion. That was the focus of a Moraine Library Live event Wednesday featuring Saint Xavier professor Tracy Crump.

“It’s a relay. It’s a marathon,” Crump said. “Think back to our parents and the journeys they had. Their journeys were not the same as our journeys, and our journeys aren’t going to be the same as the people who come behind us. But here today, our step is to begin to think about inclusive spaces.”

Crump discussed historical causes of racial tensions and how to create inclusive spaces to combat them. Troy Swanson, library department chair, organized and oversaw the event.

“One of the things we try to do is to offer discussions and special events that faculty members can use to enhance the things that they teach in their curriculum,” Swanson said in an interview before the event. “Our lives become richer through understanding the culture of others.”

Tracy Crump

Swanson was present to ask questions and include statements that viewers had left for him in a short Q&A portion of the WebEx session. The event was related to the One Book One College selection for this year. It was titled “Revisiting the Past and Looking Toward the Future: How Society Has Dealt with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 1919-2021.”

The talk was held from 11 a.m. to noon on a sunny and warm morning that was a welcome change from the blizzard that had closed campus the day before.

Armed with an informative PowerPoint and years of experience in sociology, anthropology, and criminal justice, Dr. Crump guided viewers through the events that led to the Red Summer 1919 Race Riots, and then showed how prejudice has still made its way into today’s society.

Redlining and blockbusting were common during the early part of the 20th century. Redlining kept African Americans from moving out of so-called “red” zones in the Chicagoland area, while blockbusting scared whites into moving away from minoritized areas. The realtors then sold those houses to the low income Black community at greatly increased prices. This left people trapped in their circumstances, unable to leave the cage that white Chicago had put them in.

Tracy Crump shows a map of Chicago that reveals the practice of creating ‘red zones.’

“There was little room for any kind of intercultural dialogue,” Crump said, explaining, “If Black people are located in one area and white people are located in another area, there’s very little opportunity for them to share an experience. You can see how that could create a space where there isn’t a lot of information for clarity, with regard to gaining cultural competence.”

This space, along with labor shortages, caused tension to continue building until it finally boiled over on July 27, 1919. One hot summer day, 17-year-old Eugene Williams went to Lake Michigan to cool down with his friends. His raft drifted past an invisible line segregating the lake, where he was then stoned by George Stauber, a 24-year-old white man. Williams subsequently drowned, but the first police officer on the scene, Daniel Callahan, refused to make any arrests.

Crump paints a picture of what it was like to be there on that day: “Imagine that. You have a beach with thousands of people who are potential witnesses, who saw what happened, who requested that they get help, who they identified the person who allegedly caused the injury that caused the drowning… And the police officer refused to take that person into custody.”

The Black community’s anger led to a full-fledged riot that lasted a week, ending on Aug. 3. There were 23 Black casualties and 15 white, with at least 500 injured.

A government organization called the Chicago Commission on Race Relations was created to try to fix the damage that systematic racism had caused. The commission released 59 recommendations to improve the tense environment that the Red Summer set in motion, a move that slightly improved race relations locally.

However, Crump said, to this day, “unfortunately Chicago is still one of the most segregated cities in this geographical location.”

To combat this segregation, Crump provides a three-step foundation to creating inclusive spaces, where experiences can be exchanged in a healthy manner.

It starts with self-assessment: understanding yourself and your biases. It is impossible to begin a conversation on racism without understanding what your predispositions are, she said.

“We need to start with ourselves…We are the experts in our own narratives,” Crump pointed out, saying that once a person knows their weaknesses, they’re able to manage them.

Viewer and Saint Xavier student Albino Gonzalez agreed, commenting, “Self-assessment is extremely important when trying to create change.”

Then comes education, which Crump explained in detail: “These conversations are hard sometimes. These conversations require a lot of people to dredge up historical traumas that they may have experienced, that their loved ones have experienced, or that their community has experienced. And because of this, we need to be able to engage in these conversations with some level of competence. And to gain that competence, we need to do the research.”

Tracy Crump outlines three steps toward inclusion.

The last part of the foundation is commitment. Decades of oppression will not be solved overnight, Crump said. It will be a long time before the system starts to show any signs of equity or fairness, so for those who are fighting, it’s important to not lose sight of the common goal and keep at it.

“Once you’re on this journey, it doesn’t stop,” she said. “I have been engaged in this kind of self-discovery and outward expression of understanding and sharing in inclusive spaces since 1993. And I’m still learning. I’m still sharing.”