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Onikah Asamoa-Caesar, founder and CEO of Fulton Street Books & Coffee
Published 07/28/2019 | Reading Time 2 min 23 sec
By Onikah Asamoa-Caesar
In two years, we will acknowledge the 100-year commemoration of the Tulsa Race Massacre. Right now, it feels like many of us are looking at the moral arc of the universe — breath held — leaning on a hope and prayer that something will be different this time.
I have had to push myself to come to terms with the truth of the matter; it won’t be.
Are there plenty of good people with good intentions doing a lot of things? Yes, but neither good people nor good intentions have ever gotten us there.
The spirit of rugged individualism, dancing in lockstep with racism and an unparalleled level of bias in this city, with charity being our favorite jingles, is a recipe for gold plating progress. And I am here for none of it. The only thing that will bend the arc is thoughtfully planned action, accountability, and a budget to match.
While in Montgomery to visit The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, I asked multiple people (mostly Uber and Lyft drivers) what the local response was to building something as bold as the lynching memorial. All the answers were the same. White folks were opposed to “dredging up the past”. They were opposed to museums and memorials…they were opposed — until they started profiting from the increased tourism.
Y’all, white people are profiting from a history they perpetuate. White people are profiting from the stories of people they refuse to acknowledge. White people are monetizing Black bodies. Is there not a name for that?
We have to talk about this and we have to fight against this both here in Tulsa and across the U.S. We must be positioned to be the primary beneficiaries for the sharing of our history and our stories. We must be active participants in, and drivers of, an economy that we, directly and indirectly, prop up. To not be would be an injustice born of this country’s original sin. And yes, it was an injustice for which none of us were alive for, but one which some of us still pay for and others still benefit from.
Here are a few quick, but serious suggestions for working toward economic justice.
Name other ideas and thoughts you have.
• Government contracts – Oklahoma ruled giving favorable treatment to minority-owned businesses unconstitutional because it disadvantaged white contractors (read: the state who cried reverse racism).
We don’t have to fund a study to know that:
1. That’s BS.
2. It permits the continued operation of a good ole boy system that actively bars POC from participating in the process of wealth creation.
This must be overturned. Periodt!
Non-government organizations have responsibility here as well. In addition to hiring, what companies are you contracting with and why?
• Opportunity Zones – although new, we already see overwhelming disparities in who is benefitting from the growing number of opportunity zone funds. Funds should be used to fund businesses and companies from within the blighted communities, not wealthy white men. Go ahead and read it again. Sis said what she said. Also, sis is open to being wrong on this one.
If not, these funds only serve to increase the wealth of the wealthy on the backs of blighted communities.
• Affordable housing and evictions- I wasn’t necessarily a believer until listening to this podcast. https://www.wnycstudios.org/…/introducing-the-scarlet-e-the…
Take a listen; you may become a believer as well. Also – Tulsa gets a shout-out.
Stay tuned for part II – Stop Underfunding Minority-Owned Businesses