Opinion | Orisabiyi Williams
Managing Editor | Liz Frank
To build a united community, the community must be on the same page. Of course, we all have individual ideas, varied talents, and different perspectives, but the goal should be the same if we are to have a prosperous community.
Many times in cities, specifically in North Tulsa, we have those folks who are driven by “the three Ps” as Pastor Rodney Goss from Morning Star Baptist Church calls them, “Power, Position, and Purse.” I question community leaders’ motives when they align themselves with people like George Kaiser and others who seemingly work against the community rather than for it.
A few weeks ago, Professor James Small was in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the 20th Annual Black Wall Street Memorial March. During his lecture, he said, “It’s not about who is doing wrong, but it’s about the people who let them do wrong.”
Our silence in our own oppression is deafening.
Often I hear African Americans say, “I wish I could help, but I am on this board” or “I have to think about my job.” In the meantime, our community continues dying. We, as African Americans, have some of the worst schools for our children; schools that feed directly into the school-to-prison-pipeline, enlarging the massive prison-industrial complex in the U.S. In North Tulsa our lives are 11 years shorter than those living on the south side of the tracks. Our sons, husbands, brothers, and sisters can be murdered by the police on video with impunity, sending the resoundingly clear message that our lives do not matter.
Why don’t we understand how critically devastating these realities are to our community?
Despite the dangerous situations we face, things are changing in North Tulsa. Refreshing, ascendant leadership has shaken us out of our hopelessness, awakening us from this dreadful slumber, by opening one eye of awareness. Now we need to get the other eye of consciousness popped open.
The North Tulsa geographic community needs to unify to become a massive voting bloc and one engaged, united community. This is where our power sits.
The only organization that we need to be a part of is called “COMMUNITY!” You don’t need a NAACP membership to be active in our community. Boldly, I also say that the only church you need to attend is called “COMMUNITY!” Those doors never close. The community is not just your church members. Community includes all those who don’t find themselves in pews come Sunday morning.
It is time to start forcing the Democratic Party to earn our votes. We continuously vote for a party that is more concerned with registering our community to vote just before national elections than promoting legislative policies that benefit their oft-abused and most reliable voters, black people.
Even with a black president, we made very little progress. As much as we hate to admit that fact, the White House left its receipts in black and white.
When will enough be enough? What is it going to take for us to wake up?
“How can I change to become an example of black accountability?”
We need to understand the power of our vote and the power that comes from buying our elected officials, black or white. We do that by creating our own agendas and presenting those to our elected officials, candidates, The Democratic Party, and The Republican Party, accompanied by an envelope of donations. If they follow our agenda, then we will continue to support them financially during elections. If they do not follow our agenda items, then we stop the money train, vote them out of office, and join an independent party.
Riding on a donkey can only take you so far, especially when it is up under an elephant.
We need to create our own media. The community needs a media outlet that will be an uncompromising truth-teller, discussing the issues that plague our neighborhoods and well-being. We must have a way to inform the community of important meetings, such as school board meetings, city council meetings, and county meetings. We need an outlet to promote places, people, or issues that need our attention.
We need to start funding our own economic projects. When we go to foundations like the George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation for capital, we lose power and our voice. I would rather sell a million chicken and fish dinners to fund my project or write grant proposals, neither of which requires the signing of all our souls in exchange. We have to be careful who we accept funds from because who funds you will run you. Understand that.
We need to support black-owned businesses. African Americans have $1.3 trillion buying power! According to “Talking Dollars and Making Sense: A Wealth Building Game for African-Americans,” by Brooke Stephens, a dollar circulates in Asian communities for 28 days and in Jewish communities for 19 days. And in the black community, the dollar circulates 6 hours! Tulsa is the home of Black Wall Street where the dollar reportedly circulated 36 – 100 times before leaving the community. We have to get back to that! Again, we are projected to have $1.3 trillion in buying power in 2017 and have nothing to show for it except for the clothes on our backs.
We, as African Americans, have to start holding our elected officials and each other accountable. If we see other African Americans aligning with those who work against community rather than for it, then we need to pull them to the side to have a serious discussion. White people do this all the time (yes they do), and when they do, we call it accountability. When black people call each other and our elected officials out, we call it being divisive. (Feel free to reread this paragraph to let it sink in.)
Finally, we must stop connecting our value as individuals to titles, degrees, positions, organizational memberships, boards, commissions, praise, money and the spotlight. It’s not about who hosted the most beautiful banquet or who received the most prestigious award. Most of the black folks who receive these awards and recognition can’t be found in North Tulsa.
Your value is tied to the LOVE you have for your community. It’s about more than you and your “family.” And I hate to break the news to you, but I am your family; Brown Gravy is your family, and all the children in our school system are all of OUR children.
We are ONE.
When you understand your God-given purpose, then you will not want for anything. You will NEVER put yourself up for sale, and you will NEVER sell your brother or sister for 10 pieces of silver.