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By Nehemiah D. Frank
Tulsa, Okla. ? Richard Zobon Baxter, 35, is a paralegal and the founder and CEO of Racism Stinks, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating racism in America and centered on unity, racial justice, and reconciliation.
He founded the organization when demonstrations ? namely, All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter ? arose to counter Black Lives Matter, a multifaceted movement often misunderstood by a vast majority of White America.
“Both movements were supposed to be helping our country and helping our community to end the racial division,” said Baxter, “so Black Lives Matter was like, ‘Hey! You may not know or understand what’s happening to black people in this country, but we want you to know and understand that our lives have value.’”
He also explained that the intersectionality of race and class weaves through all three movements and is the cause for the divide and misunderstandings.
Baxter is a native Tulsan who envisions a unified and inclusive city ? a society that doesn’t judge people based on the color of their color, but forms opinions based on an individual’s character.
While attending Tulsa Community College, Baxter took a trip with the college to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. He never realized how many white advocates for black lives participated during the Civil Rights Movement. He charged himself with the task of joining the movement for racial justice and reconciliation. And until that day arrives, Baxter will continue leading his hometown in the annual Racism Stinks 5K Race in the heart of downtown Tulsa ? the Arts District.
Recently, the organization received support from two of Tulsa’s city councilors, Phil Lakin and Ben Kimbro. Lakin and Kimbro have pledged to help Baxter’s annual event become a Tulsa tradition, considering that Tulsa witnessed one of the worst race massacres in American history nearly a century ago. The race inspires neighborhoods from both sides of the Frisco tracks, both sides of I-244 to come together as one Tulsa for dialogue, understanding, and continued generational healing.
Angel investors from around the city have donated funds to help Racism Stinks. One local teacher, who would rather remain anonymous, sponsored $1,000 (i.e., twenty runners).
Beginning at 8am on Saturday, June 23, 2018, Tulsa will kick off its 4th Annual 5K Skunk Run followed by a 2.5K at 10am and a Junior Olympics for children shortly thereafter. Registration begins at 7:30 am at Guthrie Green.
A presentation by The University of Tulsa researcher and historian Marc Carlson will give attendees a history lesson on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and the remarkable resilience the Greenwood residents showed after racial hatred decimated their neighborhoods, business, and loved ones.
“This is not about one person. Racism affects everybody,” said Baxter. “It affects some people a lot more than others. But we all need to work together. We all have a role to play.”
To register for the race or to donate to Racism Stinks, click here: RacismStinks
Photo Courtesy of the Black Wall Street Times
Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder and executive editor of The Black Wall Street Times. He graduated from Harold Washington College in Chicago, IL, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Oklahoma State University. A rising voice in America and an emerging leader in the education reform movement, Nehemiah frequently travels for speaking engagements around the country, is a blogger for Education Post, and has been featured on NBC as well as in Blavity and Tulsa People. Nehemiah is also a teacher at Sankofa School of the Performing Arts in Tulsa, OK, a 2017 Terence Crutcher Foundation honoree, a recipient of the 2017 METCares Foundation Community Impact Award, and a 2018 Oluko Fellow. He gave a TED Talk at The University of Tulsa in the spring of 2018.