‘IT’S GOING TO TAKE ACCOUNTABILITY’
DR. CRUTCHER DESCRIBES a tangible racial divide that still exists in Tulsa today between the white and Black neighborhoods. In 1921, a set of railroad tracks served as a physical barrier between Greenwood and the rest of the city – between the Black side of town and the white side of town. Almost 100 years later, those railroad tracks symbolize the same thing.
“You can see it today, where a child’s life expectancy on the north side of the tracks is 10 years less than a child’s life expectancy on the south side of the track,” said Dr. Crutcher. “The north side of the tracks is a food desert. We don’t have a quality grocery store. The educational resources are far, few and in between. Black entrepreneurship is far fewer and in between. Gentrification has run rampant. We don’t own anything in that area.”
The ripple effects of the massacre permeated through the passing decades and Dr. Crutcher’s family has experienced that reverberation with each generation. The same racially charged violence her great-grandmother experienced in 1921 is the same that took her twin brother’s life in 2016 at the hands of a white police officer. Five years later, in January of 2021, the Crutcher family suffered another tragic loss as Dr. Crutcher’s mother, Leanna Crutcher, lost her life to COVID-19 ¬– the pandemic that has disproportionately affected minority communities across the country.
“We’ve dealt with every systemic issue in our family, but we’re a faith-based family and we’ve learned how to turn our pain into purpose, and we hope that we can show our youth how to overcome adversity and to keep fighting in spite of whatever comes their way,” said Dr. Crutcher.
Dr. Crutcher and her family have channeled that purpose into action as all eyes will be on Tulsa in May for the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre. Dr. Crutcher has worked to elevate the stories and perspectives of the known living survivors of the massacre and has also begun work on one of the first memorials in Tulsa dedicated to the victims of the attack. Meanwhile, two full-length film projects are in production, the first of which is scheduled for release in May.
“We do have a huge opportunity, especially this year, to acknowledge truth and truly get to a place of healing and reconciliation,” she said.
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