As we approach the 100th anniversary of the worst race riot in America’s history, it seems we have learned nothing.
Removing racism begins with restoration. Instead, what we see is rehearsing and re-enforcing of the past.
Racism: have we learned anything?
Tulsa, Oklahoma was once home to the most prosperous African-American community in America, the Greenwood District. Dubbed by Booker T. Washington as “Negro Wall Street,” it was later renamed “Black Wall Street.”
According to History.com, it was comprised of luxury shops, restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, jewelry and clothing stores, movie theaters, barbershops/salons, a library, pool halls, night clubs, and offices for doctors, lawyers and dentists.
Less affluent African-Americans lived there as well and worked as janitors, dishwashers and domestics. It had its own school system, post office, bank and hospital. Money earned outside of Greenwood was spent within the district, where every dollar changed hands approximately nineteen times before it left the community.
But on May 31, 1921, everything changed.
According to Tulsa author Janice Ponds, “Greenwood was ravaged by a white mob. A black teen shoe shiner was accused of sexually assaulting a white female elevator operator. The story spread quickly and almost immediately escalated to violence.
The shoe shiner was jailed. As word circulated of plans to lynch him, a crowd showed up at the courthouse. A confrontation between the white community and black community quickly spread to the Greenwood District. In a mere eighteen hours, virtually every building in a forty-two-square-block area of the community was destroyed.
Homes, schools, churches and businesses were burned to the ground. Thousands were left homeless.
Over 1,200 homes were destroyed. Reports estimated 300 black Tulsans were killed and approximately 8,000 left homeless and penniless.”
Initially called the Tulsa Race Riot, the name was changed to the Tulsa Race Massacre in 2018.
At that time, Tulsa’s mayor, G.T. Bynum hired a task force to search for mass graves. To date, no mass graves have been found. But even if they were, how would it help?
There is no denying the tragedy of what happened. But is the discovery of mass graves going to help?
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Wouldn’t that money be better spent rebuilding and restoring what was stolen?
Tulsa historian Hannibal Johnson said in an interview regarding the horrific tragedy, “We can never reconcile unless we acknowledge our true history.”
Our history reveals that the prosperous Black Wall Street was decimated and never restored. Without insurance money, Greenwood became destitute.
Thousands of displaced families spent the winter of 1921-1922 living in tents. In the end, no charges were filed against the African-American teen. Although reports vary, it is believed he tripped and bumped into the female elevator operator, causing her to scream, leading to a sexual assault allegation.
The resulting news story sparked hysteria and a rampage for “justice.” The senseless assault that destroyed Black Wall Street was based upon a lie.
Two years ago, Tulsa mayor, G.T. Bynum, initiated a restoration process. Two large tracts of land in North Tulsa, where Black Wall Street was, were set aside for “Opportunity Zones,” created under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
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An Opportunity Zone is “an economically-distressed community where private investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for capital-gains tax incentives, with the goal to stimulate economic development and job creation, by incentivizing long-term investments in low-income neighborhoods.”
This perfectly describes the area previously known as Black Wall Street.
I think it is important for investors to recognize that while there are plenty of investment opportunities, what makes this unique is it plays a part in righting a historical wrong. Few of us get that kind of opportunity in a lifetime.Tulsa Mayor, G.T. Bynum
Over the last three years, Bynum has also focused economic development efforts to bring employers to North Tulsa, fostering growth in investment, quality jobs and job training. To date over a billion dollars in private money has been poured into the area.
“One of the great tragedies, if you look at the historic Greenwood area today, is that there are very few African-American-owned businesses. Our goal is to create the infrastructure that promotes a new generation of black entrepreneurship to occur,” Bynum concluded.
It is with these type efforts of restoration and rebuilding that we can begin to heal.
Rehearsing the past, reinforces offense. I’m not saying we ignore the 100th anniversary at all. However, intelligence reports reveal that the Black Panthers/Antifa/BLM plan to come to Tulsa the weekend of the anniversary. We have seen what their efforts in others cities have produced.
It doesn’t uproot racism, it reinforces it.
We also now have the push for critical race theory to be taught in our schools. It does the same. At its root it teaches children to judge one another based on skin color and shames those who are white.
How is this any different than the fear and prejudice of a hundred years ago which shamed black children for being black and created fear? The program doesn’t remove racism. It simply fuels it with the same spirit of hate and offense.
Racism is being redressed, relived and reformatted. But it needs to be uprooted.
As we acknowledge our history, may we begin a long overdue process to bring reconciliation and healing not only to Tulsa, but to our nation, as what was destroyed is given a chance to be restored.
Note: There are more than 8,760 designated Qualified Opportunity Zones located in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and five United States territories. Investors can defer tax on any prior gains invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF) until the earlier of the date on which the investment in a QOF is sold or exchanged or until December 31, 2026.
I agree with what I’ve been told Morgan Freeman said, “The way to end racism is to stop talking about it.” Especially since pushing for more of it is the favorite topic of THE MOST racist person to occupy the White House in – what?- EVER?
I agree that the Tulsa Race Riot was a nasty affair, should never have happened, needs to be ‘healed’: but how is it any different than the more clandestine disappearances/deaths of a rather large number of newly oil-wealthy, newly affluent Indians in the same area, at about the same time period? We don’t hear about the multitude of Indian tribes in OK ‘rising up’ to insist that we “re-live” all of the wrongs perpetrated against them.
Apparently the TRR was not very widely known. My grand-mother was 13 at the time and never spoke of it, nor of the Spanish Flu epidemic when she was 10. She talked about everything. But not these things. Meaning, they didn’t impress her.
I had dinner in Tulsa last night (very recently moved to the Greater area) at a Coke-shop (a Coca-Cola vendor). Told the young (black) waitress that I’m boycotting Coke for its Woke attitude toward people of white skin, that they don’t know my ancestry, and that I didn’t choose my skin color (no, Father God chose the color of my skin, and my ancestry: red, brown, yellow, black, and white – and we are All precious in His sight). She said she, too, had all colors represented, but had not heard of Coca-Cola’s pronouncement against it’s white customers.
I have currently 2 close friends. One 1/2 White/ 1/2 Indian, age 80, the other 1/2 White/ 1/2 Black, age 55. The one that identifies as Indian keeps asking me what I would think if OK was turned back over to the Indians as “Reparations”. She knows that my G’G’Father was 1/4 Am Ind (he was also 1/4 Hebrew), and helped survey OK Territory. She also asked me what “People of Color” means. When I told her, she asked, ” Does that mean I’m supposed to be ‘a person of Color’? My friend who identifies as Black thinks all of this racism stuff is a lot of hooey – nonsense – tripe. I defer to their opinions and experiences. I’ve lived over 20 years as a minority in the state of my birth. I’m called an ‘Anglo’ because of my white skin and no Hispanic surname. Most of the racial discrimination I’ve observed in my natal State has been at the hands of government agencies, including local police, where I have on several occasions seen women pulled over for no other reason than being White. We colloquially call that a DWW – Driving While White.
I’m sure I’m way off topic.
If the quest to stop that spirit of racism is successful, perhaps then we can work on the problem of disunity, i.e. dislike, hatred, within the Christian community.
I believe “racism” today is a construct of the left to cause division and reliance. Keep the minorities believing they are being cheated and that only big gov can protect them. Automatic votes regardless of the lack of follow through. The truth is that by shining a bright light on the few areas where racism may still exist at the expense of all the areas where it no longer does is cheating everyone (except the democrats) in our society out of all the good that has come about in the last 100 years. Only GOD can wake people up to how badly they are being played.