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OPINION | Nehemiah D. Frank, Editor in Chief

Councilor Anna America Lacks Empathy for Tulsa’s Black Community Amid 10.7-year Life Expectancy Gap

“I don’t want to limit people who are willing to invest in this community.” “…generates sales tax revenue which we all know supports everything that we do.” – Councilor Anna America 

“I coulnd’t find anything that shows that if we limit the spacing on them [dollar discount stores] that would increase other choices.” – Councilor Anna America 

Dist. 7 Councilor Anna America

Councilor Anna America thinks African Americans enjoy eating unhealthy food from dollar discount stores; moreover, she’s more concerned about tax dollars than the health of north Tulsan’s.

Political Oppression is a Cycle in the City of Tulsa

Oppression continues to be the tactic used by the white superiority in the city of Tulsa some 96 years after the 1921 Massacre. City Councilors are threatening to vote no on the dollar store moratorium.

A moratorium would buy the city councilors more time to come up with a solution that would end the proliferation of dollar stores in the city’s African-American community.

Councilor Anna America stated at last Wednesday’s  city council meeting.

“That information isn’t accurate; I have 3 dollar stores in my district,”

Councilor Anna American rudely interrupted and interjected Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper who was in the middle of giving a presentation on the proliferation of dollar discount stores in her district.

The North Side has 15 dollar stores in comparison to Anna America’s alleged 3.

Dist. 1 Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper

Councilor Hall-Harper presented the City Councilors with a petition containing 400 signatures from citizens mostly living in North Tulsa. All city councilors, except Blake Ewing and Hall-Harper, lacked empathy when receiving and viewing over 400 signatures that were collected by Tulsa’s African-American community. A sign that they are extremely comfortable with the 10.7-year life expectancy gap between White and Black Tulsans.

Why is this Political Oppression?

Oppression is defined as:

1.) the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner.

  • The burden North Tulsa continues to deal with is the proliferation of dollars stores among other issues. It’s important to note that Black communities all across the United States are dealing with the spread of dollar stores. What’s worse is the councilors on the board don’t see this as a problem, and they’re doing little to nothing to solve the problem.
  •  The City of Tulsa’s councilors disregards 400 signatures from Black Tulsans who voiced their opinions in peaceful protest and signatures are being ignored and disregard. North Tulsan’s who live in that community are worried their property values will go down. Even the president of Pine Place Development, Michael Smith, stronger urged that the dollar store is not constructed.
  • The councilors adverse reactions and push back indicated a lack of empathy, which is cruel considering the life expectancy gap of 10.7 years between north and south Tulsans.
  • Unjust manner: White city councilors refuse to recognize their superiority and listen to the voice of black Tulsans, a cycle that has continued before 1921, during 1921, and after 1921.

2.) an act or instance of oppressing or subjecting to cruel or unjust impositions or restraints.

  • The City of Tulsa’s Councilors’ are more concerned with a lawsuit over the quality of life for their black citizens.
  • Imposing dollar stores on a community that has clearly stated that they don’t want it exemplifies oppression and the out vote by the white city councilors elevates their white superiority.
  • Note when they toss the race card argument that in and of itself will express their superiority complex.

3.) the state of being oppressed.

  • Because the White City Councilors on the exception of Councilor Blake Ewing and Hall-Harper refuse to use the moratorium as a strategy to stop the oppression of unhealthy discount dollar stores in the city’s African-American community.

4.) the feeling of being heavily burdened, mentally or physically, by troubles, adverse conditions, anxiety, etc.

  • North Tulsa is in an adverse condition due to it being a food desert. The only option is dollar discount stores that carry foods that are high in sodium (African-American’s are disproportionately affected by high-blood pressure than white Americans).
  • Why wouldn’t a 10.7-year life expectancy gap be enough to stop the proliferation of dollar stores?
  • The feeling of being heavily burdened has continuously created a state of psychological deprivation in the city’s large African-American section of town since the 1921 massacre.
  • The anxiety for the Tulsa’s blacks citizens continues to remain high as discriminatory policing practices, zoning changes/modern day red lining, and the proliferation of dollar stores is prolonged.
  • The city’s north side continues to be stigmatized by city councilors as the problem, which echoes Jim Crow “the Negro Problem” and looks down upon as a charity project to make them feel good when they give us few scraps.
North Tulsan’s aren’t looking for sympathy from city councilors living in south Tulsa nor are they looking for city councilors from the south to be the great white hope. African-Americans living in Tulsa only want the city councilors to treat them with the same dignity and respect as they treat their own constituents south of 244 and Admiral.

Why African-Americans See This As A Cycle of Racism

People of African descent who migrated to Greenwood among other towns in Oklahoma after enslavement were self-sufficient and were the embodiment of Black progress during an era of Jim Crow. These Black people were a profound and hardworking people building, what Booker T. Washington coined, the Negro [Black] Wall Street. Sadly, many white Tulsan’s  and white Oklahomans have chosen to not implement this into public school curriculum because they felt this part of Tulsa and Oklahoma history was unimportant.

Note worthy, if a generation is 33 years, Tulsa’s African-American population is only 5 generations removed from their enslavement, yet still, receive slave type treatment in the city they helped found because they aren’t allowed to have a say in what goes in their, own, community.

This is because their 1 city councilor, a black woman, is out numbered by 7 white city councilors.

It’s important to note that the white city councilors constituents outlive the black city councilor constituents by 10.7-years.

How White Supremacy Operates

Political hegemony is what we mean by white supremacy because the white councilors out number the one black counselor; hence, the white vote will always win even when it comes at the expense of the black community’s health. The larger majority will always vote in its own interest and in this case it will always be the white majority and a black minority in the City of Tulsa. 

City Councilor Anna America argued that having an additional dollar discount store shouldn’t deter African American’s in north Tulsa from seeking other options. However, her statement clearly reflects her own disengagement and lack of empathy for Tulsa’s Black community despite having communal ties to Booker T. Washinton High School.

It’s important to note that Hall-Harper is the only African-American on the City’s Councilor Board.

City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper invites citizens from her District and allies across the city to voice their concerns on Wednesday, August 9, 2017, at City hall. 

Tulsa City Hall is located at 175 E 2nd St, Tulsa, OK 74103, the city councilors meeting is located on the 4th floor. Please, bring a valid I.D. and have your I.D. out so you can show the security guard who will make you a visitors pass. The city council meeting will be held on the 4th floor, take the first set of elevators, and the conference room is to the right on floor four. Make sure your speeches are no longer than 5 minutes. We encourage you to arrive 30 minutes early because many citizens from across the city are expected to come and speak in support of the moratorium. 

Feel free to voice your concerns to the city councilors: – Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper  (In Favor) – Councilor Jeannie Cue (Not In Favor) – Councilor David Patrick (Not In Favor) – Councilor Blake Ewing (Unknown) – Councilor Karen Gilbert (Not In Favor) – Councilor Connie Dodson (Not In Favor) – Councilor Anna America (Not In Favor) – Councilor Phil Lakin, Jr. (Not In Favor) – Councilor Ben Kimbro (Not In Favor)

Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times and a descendant of two families that survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Although his publication’s store and newsroom...