A few members of RISE (Resilient Innovative Social Entrepreneurs) came out tonight to support the cause of the Terence Crutcher Foundation .
Opinion By Kojo Asamoa-Caesar,
Look into your black crystal ball. What city do you see in the next five to six years becoming the number one destination for black millennials? New York? Washington, D.C.? Atlanta? Oakland? That’s what many prognosticators say. They point to things like average salary, diversity, total black population, and the strength of the job market. But a lot of them are skating to where the puck is. The greatest hockey player to ever play the game, Wayne Gretzky, once asked about the key to his greatness, remarked: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” Tulsa is where the puck is going to be.
The new generation of black millennials is awakening to a reality that requires new ways of thinking about how we design our lives in the 21st century. We no longer find it comforting to sit in a corporate job, making a good salary and yet feeling like our work lacks social consciousness. It is no longer our goal to find a job we can hold down forever until we retire; we want to work to gain the skills necessary to become our own bosses.
We’re no longer satisfied with living in a city with just a lot of black people; we want to live in a place where black people are organized and working towards a common conscientious goal. When we consider this new way of thinking in the new black millennial, it tears down all the indicators the prognosticators use to craft their crystal ball images.
Tulsa, believe it or not, is the place that is shaping up to be in alignment with the mindset of this new generation of black millennials.
There was a meme circulating a while back that read in part: “Dear Racism, I am not my grandparents.” The meme was meant to send a signal that this generation was willing to fight racism by other means if necessary. It ended up sparking a debate about whether the previous generation was too passive in their fight or whether this new generation was dishonoring the work of our forebears with such memes. To me, that debate missed the mark. First, our grandparents deserve the utmost respect and honor for the sweat, blood and tears they shed for us to have the opportunity to even make memes. Second, we are not our grandparents – and that is just as they wished. Their goal for us was that we would be better than them. Every generation ought to strive for the next one to go farther than they did. Our grandparents wanted us to carry on their legacy. They are the giants upon whose shoulders we stand to be able to see a brighter vision for tomorrow.
We are our grandparents 3.0. We are here to take what they accomplished to the next level. We are our Ancestors Plus. We are protesters by night and professionals by day. We understand the value of boycotting, yet realize the immense power of building our own. We are nonviolent but don’t push us. The disillusionment of black names becoming hashtags has pushed us to the edge, we’re trying not to lose our head.
Deep down we know that success will be the greatest revenge. And by success, we mean transformational change. And by success, we mean dismantling the system of oppression. And by success, we mean building beloved communities where everyone can achieve their highest potential.
We know that with man this is impossible, but with the most high all things are possible. So like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Tulsa’s Black Wall Street shall rise again.
A new generation stands at the ready to receive the proverbial baton, so we, too, can run our race.
The eyes of the future are looking back at us and praying that we see beyond our own time. With every reason to doubt, let us keep hope alive. For we are prisoners of hope. Look us in the eyes: we have something more important than courage, we have purposeful patience. We will become what we know we are.
We are the New Black Wall Street.
Mr. Asamoa-Caesar’s passion is to build communities where everyone can achieve their highest potential. He believes education is the most powerful tool we can use to change the world, and he wakes up and works hard every day to do just that.