One Church's Plan For Dismantling Racism By: Bia Medious

“Post Trump and Black America” and “African-Centered Education” were two topics comprising four seminars on dismantling racism held last month at the century-old Hartzell Memorial United Methodist Church on the South Side.

L to R: Dr. Richard T. Starks, Dr. Elaine Mosley and Rev. Andrea Davidson

“If you don’t understand white supremacy/racism, everything that you do understand will only confuse you,” said Neely Fuller, Jr. in his book, the United Independent Compensatory Code System. Fuller’s quote on the invitational flyer set the agenda for the 50 attendees at the premiere of the slide presentation.

On February 12, Hartzell’s Church and Society Ministry partnered with the community organizing group, The Black Star Project, to help community members identify the problems of and solutions to racism. It’s the latest program in the church’s 105-year history of social activism, which includes holding forums for aldermanic candidates and bible studies on the politics of Jesus.

“We are damaged because we are traumatized,” said Dr. Elaine Mosley, current educational consultant and former chief educational officer of the Betty Shabazz International Charter School.

“Mama” Mosley, as she is known, said the current educational system prioritizes man-to-object relationships where the focus is on owning things instead of improving lives. She offered up an African-centered education as the solution to racism and racial socialization because it values communities and human relationships.

Cousin to Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, author of the popular book “The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors,” and community organizer, Lauren Love listens intently in the audience.

“There is no reason to ignore culture in our classrooms,” Mosley said. “The centrist paradigm is supported by tons of research showing that the most productive method of teaching [anyone]... is to place us in our group historically within the context of our history, our culture and our creative genius.”

Mosley also said the black community needs to think less about the distractions that President Trump, or “Number 45,” as she referred to him, provides. Instead, the focus should be on how black people can heal and benefit themselves.

“Sister Elaine pointed out that indeed Trump and his family are consumed about owning things,” said Dr. Robert T. Starks, political consultant and professor emeritus at Northeastern Illinois University. “It’s an obsession with possession, and that of course was the springboard of racial segregation and slavery.”

Starks described Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan as a return to pre-1964 America without the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, or integration, and with slavery intact. He said one solution toward the true dismantling of racism is to obtain political power.

According to Starks, the problem is most exposed by Trump and the Republican Party, but he holds Democrats accountable as well. He said there was a presidential candidate who couldn’t motivate people in spite of the opposition. There was a president who didn’t do what he could’ve done to bring federal programs to cities such as Chicago, Gary, or Flint.

Starks detailed what he considered to be assaults against the black community: Chicago’s mayor closed 50 schools in one year as every alderman stood behind him, the Laquan McDonald payment, the selling of the city’s parking meters, and the installing of red light cameras.

Discussing the City of Chicago proposal giving houses in poor neighborhoods to municipal employees who don’t want to live in the units and can afford to purchase them.

Additionally, Starks pointed out that the 2020 U.S. Census planning is happening now and that political districts are being redrawn coincidentally as African Americans are rapidly being pushed out of communities due to massive disinvestment. That puts the community at risk of losing a congressional seat which will further diminish the political power of African Americans.

“What is the Black community to do about this?” Starks asks. “Well obviously, we have to register to vote, but more importantly we have to convince our young people to become part of the political dialogue and action,” Starks said. “They are very, very involved in Black Lives Matter and BYP 100 (the Black Youth Project)… but we have to show them that they have to go beyond the demonstrations to sitting down and working out policy and carrying it out on a daily basis.”

Two elders, or “Babas,” tell some of the youth how proud they are of them for choosing to attend and engaging with the seminar.

According to Mosley, “[Young people] need information, not us running around telling them, ‘Well, you do it my way or the highway’... We have to be the example.”

In response, Starks said, “[Also], I don’t think that we have shared our personal travails in the Civil Rights Movement, and I think to a large extent it might be too painful.”

“But that’s part of our healing… We have been traumatized [by racism],” Mosley said. “And so we all need to understand that there is power in grieving together, because that’s part of the healing process.”

Hartzell is scheduled to host the next seminar in the four-part series on white supremacy on March 12. The topics covered will be the black family and the effects of racism on black people.

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Bia Medious
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