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Hidden Gems: Meet Crystal Perry of Melanated Pearl Corporation

Today we’d like to introduce you to Crystal Perry.

Hi Crystal, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Melanated PEARL Corporation, located in Hampton, Georgia, is a non-profit organization that aids women in Clayton County and the surrounding Metro Atlanta area. Since November 2018, Melanated PEARL Corporation has helped women learn valuable skills and become more education-focused to improve their ability to live fulfilling lives. P.E.A.R.L. is an acronym that stands for Passionate Engaged Activists, Resisting Limitations – our organization aims to speak to our audience’s passions, engage them, give them a call to action, and show them how to resist the idea that they are limited in any way.

As an educator, trainer, and leader in professional development, I know and understand that staying stifled in old practices and fixed mindsets can cause businesses to languish. The way businesses and organizations educate and train employees to advance along their career paths continually changes. That said, my most significant obstacle in 2018 was becoming “21st century capable”. Despite twenty years of activism and professional work, I realized that if I was going to be successful in the latter part of my career, I needed additional skills. So in the Fall of 2018, I enrolled in the Writing and Digital Communication at Agnes College College. Shortly after enrolling, I started to experience several personal traumas that caused an immediate negative impact in my life and the life of the Black Women around me. I realized that there is this assumption that the conversation about Black women and girls is happening at a nonprofit somewhere, in some community, or at some other organization. It turns out that just hasn’t happened and or isn’t happening enough. Black women are often credited with supporting other groups, movements, missions, issues, and organizations; yet when it comes to issues directly impacting women of color we get into the habit of deferring conversation about women and girls into perpetuity.

The Melanated Pearl Corporation was created to play a vital role in building a healthy community by providing critical services that contribute to economic stability and mobility of women. Our organization offers targeted services for Black Women in the Metro Atlanta area. When we started in 2018, our vision was to simply to help Black women accomplish personal and professional success by providing a virtual safe space to seek advice and share stories of triumph, assisting in the destroying stereotypes typically associated with women of color. We started because we believe there is nothing on earth more valuable, beautiful, innovative and determined than women collectively working together, like a string of P.E.A.R.L.S. Completing the Masters of Arts program in Writing and Digital Communication at Agnes College College helped me develop the necessary skills in website design, technical writing, social media, and digital design methodologies required to launch and manage the Melanated PEARL Corporation.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Our Target Area: Melanated Pearl Corporation is located in a region where one’s zip code is a significant predictor of life chances and life span. Throughout our history, we’ve grown accustomed to thinking and talking about the interests of the Black community almost exclusively in terms of the challenges faced by Black men; our brothers, our fathers and our sons. We have conversations about African-American men and boys without anyone ever pausing to understand and provide solutions for what is happening to the women and girls around them. Despite all of the evidence to prove that Black Women and WOC are influential and important workers for grassroots movements and nonprofits, they tend to receive the least amount of funding from both governmental grants and philanthropic donations. In Clayton County, 84 percent of children live in communities with low or very low child well-being and need immediate services. Without collective nonprofit advocacy, Black female-led nonprofits will continue to be left out of the major state and federal relief funding and legislation. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the United States in 2020, many nonprofit organizations grappled with its devastating impacts on public health and the global economy and the varied ways in which it deepened longstanding disparities along racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and gender lines. The pandemic has created an unprecedented increase in the need for nonprofit services. At the same time, loss of personal income from individual donors and economic uncertainty has translated into less giving.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Melanated Pearl Corporation?
At The Melanated Pearl Corporation, our mission is to empower, educate and uplift women, with a particular focus on Black Women. Educate: We create a safe space to share knowledge. We teach, instruct, educate, train, discipline, and school; which means to acquire knowledge or skill. We believe in imparting information so that others may learn. Uplift: We believe in the power and promise of Black women. We purposely uplift and support PEARL girls and women in and around our community. Empower: We celebrate the melanin and minds of Black females and encourage Black women to be their authentic selves. We encourage women to proudly exist in their own skin and on their own terms. “There is power in numbers and there is power in unity.” The letter A that lies in the center of PEARL is a reminder that our mere presence is a demonstration of activism. The Melanated PEARL Corp community influences social change in the communities where our PEARLs live, work, raise families, and go to school. When we come together, they are the agents of change. In year four, Melanated Pearl Corporation is excited to launch and implement a NEW Collective Impact Program entitled The OysterShell CCCII: Collaborative Community Collective Initiative. We need to shift our philosophy around grantmaking from equality to equity.

Equality is about assuming everyone has the same resources so therefore can fairly compete for grants, while equity is about figuring out which communities have the most pressing need and ensuring significant resources and power are concentrated within those communities. With a common agenda, shared measurement system, and continuous communication among a cohort of grantees that provide direct services, the ultimate outcome of the OysterShell Initiative is to create large-scale community change. By working with an extensive network of partners, Melanated PEARL, via the proposed initiative, can achieve the greatest impact and amass a strong collection of programs and services to help the Southern Crescent’s nonprofit community in its recovery and growth. By reallocating the time, energy, and resources nonprofit leaders spend writing and searching grants processes into meaningful services and strategic planning and fundraising efforts. CCCII will bring together and fund as ONE individual Black female-owned organizations to help address economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, communities, and impacted industries in the metropolitan Atlanta area.

How do you think about happiness?
Helping others truly makes me happy. You can say I’m addicted to assisting others find their potential. I believe each person was placed here to serve a very specific and meaningful purpose. We become distracted and disheartened by the negative experiences and trials in life, but I’ve learned that you have to use everything to create your path to greatness. That requires collecting all your life experiences, failures, pain, trials, and rejections and using them as tools rather than weight. I was raised in the Georgia South by both parents during a time when drugs and alcohol were strategically placed in communities of color. I’ve experienced the pressures of being a first-generation college student while being a teen mother of multiple children (twins) with various learning difficulties and medical needs. I’ve experienced racism, sexism, discrimination, self-doubt, academic pitfalls and business failures and learned an immense amount from it. Those experiences were preparing and developing me as I transitioned into a P.E.A.R.L. – Passionate Engaged Activist Resisting Limitations.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
#SHAREBCC Best of Clayton County credit Trina Ko #ikhanic IKhanic Photos @kahnscience

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