Posted by: Gordon on 10/14/2015

In September at an annual banquet celebrating South Suburban Action Conference’s 29th anniversary, the group's president, Deacon LaVonn Traylor (pictured) shared this reflection on the group's struggles and successes, and its future direction.

Deacon LaVonn Traylor

Describing all we have done and faced, the one issue that runs through it all and sticks out like a sore thumb is structural racism. We have been dealing with racism at all levels for years but we have not seen many changes of significance, because racism is still alive and doing well.

I challenged the community leaders and politicians to get involved with the fight to combat structural racism by doing two things differently in our work in the future:

Think about systems AND problems: Winning an issue without changing the systems that brought it about is a short-term win. Issues are important but we at the South Suburban Action Conference will go beyond reacting to and dealing with specific issues. We are going to identify and address laws that allow room for racism to flourish. We will organize and take our demands to the doorsteps of our elected officials.

Change what people believe: There’s a “dominant narrative” – the story that people believe and tell about why we are in these situations we face.  It is the perception that governs how lawmakers and law enforcers write and enforce the laws. To put it plainly, it is the story too many people believe that says white is good and black is bad. This is the fuel that drives racism and the consequences can be seen when people of color get treated one way and whites get treated differently.

We can change the dominant narrative and create an environment where all people will be treated equally and afforded the opportunity to be all that they can be in the United States of America.

It won’t be easy. It will take our community leaders to stand up and organize to take on Goliath; it will take people of color and white allies saying enough is enough. We have to use the power of our vote to put people in office that will stand up for the people of color and be courageous enough to take on the structural racism head on and vote out those who won’t.

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