In the year 1921, 100 years ago this weekend, May 31st through June 2nd became days that marked a turning point in the neighborhood of Greenwood, a section of the city of Tulsa, OK. By now, I’m sure (I hope) that you are aware of the horrific toll of death and destruction that the white residents of Tulsa perpetrated against the black residents and business owners of Greenwood.
Many recent print articles, books, documentaries, and radio broadcasts have been created to bring this incredibly vicious attack combining murder, arson, beatings, and looting to light. So, I won’t attempt to add to that. Instead, I want to point out one phrase that has been repeated often in the coverage of this horrendous event. It goes something like this as stated on the NPR program “All Things Considered” of 5/28/21
“The Tulsa Race Massacre was one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history.”
Let’s think about that statement for a second…not “the first” or “the last” or “the one and only” but “ONE OF THE WORST” incidents of racial violence! This is a statement of comparison. Expanded it might read, “of the many incidents of racial violence in the U.S. against black folk carried out by white folk, the Tulsa Massacre ranks as one of the worst when compared with numerous similar incidents before or after this date in 1921.”
I bring the above consideration to your attention with the hope that you will allow yourself more than a few minutes to ponder the question,
“WHEN WILL IT STOP”????
When will hate-filled incidents stop being a mainstay of our culture? Some are startling in their size, scope, and duration. Other events are the daily minutiae of discrimination. The claim that racism is not a deep-rooted, all-encompassing part of our society, is to deny the following:
- the harassment and killing of black men because we assume they’re up to no good
- on-going voter suppression
- the deliberate placement of toxic industries adjacent to minority neighborhoods
- underfunded urban schools
- rampant health care disparities between the poor and the affluent
- the many causes of mass incarceration
The issues listed are just in the past 100 years! As if this long list wasn’t bad enough, we continue government-led destruction of poor, minority neighborhoods. We just cloak the devastation in the shroud of highway construction and “urban renewal.”
How much longer do African American communities in our country have to wait for this to end before we take real, sustainable action???
Not coming to terms with the fact that racism permeates our society, from our daily thoughts to government policies, will prevent us from replying
“today…it will stop today, even if it just stops with me.”
Mary Ruth, Owner of United Sewing and Design has over 30 years experience in the manufacturing of products by sewing and is author of “Industry Sewing Construction Methods” http://amzn.to/2yMxMmk. Her focus is on design, entrepreneurship; social enterprise; the connections between the environment, the apparel industry, and manufacturing; and how owners can leverage artistic methods to benefit their business.