Opinion

Dear Fellow White Tulsans, I’m Putting You and Myself On Notice

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Published 04/03/2019

OPINION | By Joshua Wann

I’m angry. Not the kind of anger that comes from fear or sadness. I’m righteously angry. The kind of anger that spurns obstacles and leaps out of one’s chest to propel them into action.

The Jesus flipping the tables of the money changers in the temple kind of anger. I’m angry at fellow white people…and myself.

I’m angry because once again the Black community in Tulsa is the target of gentrification. The corporate buzz word those perpetrating these plans will use is “urban renewal”.

It sounds nice, doesn’t it? A renewing of the urban areas. Like yoga, but for a city. But as is usually the case, a ten-dollar word is code for a dark truth. It’s an ugly word that parades around in a tacky disguise.

It’s gentrification: the original community being pushed out by corporate powers working in tandem with city officials. 

The worst part is that it’s mostly possible because of the complicity of the majority community at the expense of the minority population.

Over the past few days, I’ve witnessed my black friends become distressed and frustrated with the publication of the report that spells doom for many North Tulsans.

I’ve seen that outrage evolve into organization and action as they ready themselves in an attempt to defend their city against the looming horrendous threat this plan puts forth.

Meanwhile, White Tulsa remains silent, perhaps even completely oblivious. Maybe because it’s not their homes, maybe they aren’t aware of the news, or maybe they don’t even have a single thread connecting them to North Tulsa or its people.

Out of sight, out of mind. It falls off their radar.

Yet, like myself, we go to First Friday Art Crawls, attend free events on Guthrie Green, and promenade near or on the very plaques that mark and commemorate the former majesty of Black Wall Street. Ignorance is no longer an excuse.

Apathy is no longer acceptable. We have to activate and lift up our neighbors.

I’m counting myself as guilty, too.

I’d like to pat myself on the back for progressive social media posts, contributing to an arts community that includes Black Tulsa, and yes the age-old white people’s excuse: “I have black friends!”, but it also has to manifest itself politically or it’s just lip service.

Don’t get me wrong, the steps above can be useful, but they are just the ingredients to an active, engaged citizen.

It’s time to cook the dish. It does our community nothing to stockpile the pantry but never step in the kitchen.

It’s time to get active.

It’s time to stop talking (and maybe even writing) and ask what we can do.

 

It’s time to use our presence, voting power, money, and maybe more, to not be saviors, but just good fellow citizens.

April 30th at 6:00 pm, Booker T. Washington High School is hosting a Town Hall Meeting about the newest issues concerning the plans for North Tulsa. I hope all of Tulsa shows up to engage, support, and contribute.  

All of Tulsa includes Tulsans south of Archer.

Between now and then I’d love to see a flood of posts and movement on behalf of the community that resides in West, South, and East Tulsa in support of their neighbors to the North.

The day of the event is the time to tie on our political aprons and show up ready to cook community.

It’s a cruel irony that the city is nearing its centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre — when white Tulsans were not just complicit but active participants in the murder and destruction of Black Tulsa and the district of Greenwood.

White Tulsa, let’s be active again but in a positive direction.

Let’s not just be allies, let’s be accomplices in the preservation of Black Tulsa.

Let’s finally be, perhaps for the first time, good neighbors.


Josh Wann is a contributing writer for The Black Wall Street Times. He lives and teaches in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is often accompanied by his lovely wife and the chaotic, adorable hurricane known as his hoard of three children. He’s published prose and poetry in publications such as Hard Crackers, Dragon Poet Review, The Ogham Stone, and Concis, among others. His short story collection, A Brief History of Fools, is available on Amazon for only $.99 and he really wants you to believe the rave review it has, even though it’s the only one and it’s written by his mom.

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Categories: Opinion