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Photo Credit Yielbonzie Charles Johnson
Dear Tulsa City Councilors,
I am out of state and will not be able to attend tonight’s city council meeting. If I could speak to the council about the proposed moratorium I might ask…
Do you recognize the inequity in our city? Will you choose to continue to perpetuate it or will you choose to listen, truly listen, to the voices of your community and acknowledge it?
Councilor Vanessa Hall Harper, I do not know if a moratorium is the perfect solution. What I do recognize is that you are taking steps and working hard to make changes for your community. This is an action, a gesture, an opportunity to take a deep breath and pause in order to take the next step and the next. You are brave. Thank you for your work.
Councilor Blake Ewing, when you wax poetic in support of the voices crying out at city council meetings, do you realize the power you hold? Do you realize your fellow city councilors may only begin to listen when YOU speak, even if dozens have spoken before you? I live in your district, councilor, and I plead you to recognize the power you hold and continue to work tirelessly to make changes in our community and work towards equality in every decision you make.
Councilor Anna America, do you understand that when you attempt to empathize by saying you shop at dollar stores, too, that you buy stocking stuffers and wrapping paper at these stores, you are refusing to look the problem in its face? Do you realize this is not about patronage to dollar stores? That it is actually about human rights, health, life, equal opportunity, and breaking down systems of oppression?
Councilor Connie Dodson, do you know that when your feelings are hurt by accusations of racism and you point out that you and your children have love for people of color, you are refusing to admit that systems of oppression and systemic racism exists well beyond the hearts of you and your family?
Councilor Phil Lakin, Jr., when you say in a public city council meeting, that as an economist you simply cannot, will not, ever support a moratorium… I ask you, could you support one as a father? What about as a neighbor? A Christian? A human? Could you support one as a person who believes in equality, love, and empathy? You are in a position of power. You can affect change for the people in your community and district one IS your community.
Councilors Jeannie Richardson Cue, David Patrick, Ben Kimbro, Karen Alexander Gilbert, can you hear the deafening collective sound of your silence? Do you feel how it permeates the room and speaks volumes to the dozens of people who have come to plead and urge and encourage positive change?
Councilors, when you allow the one city council person of color to be the ONLY voice that asks a community member if they would like to finish their thought once their time to speak is up, do you comprehend the statement you are making? What if one of YOU were willing to make a small gesture to let people know you value their voices, too? What if you asked the man, pleading you to take a stand so that his babies could live ten years longer, if he would like to finish his sentence?

The Black Wall Street Times is a news publication located in Tulsa, Okla. and Atlanta, Ga. At The BWSTimes, we focus on elevating the stories of our beloved Greenwood community, elevating the stories of...