Connie Dodson (right); Cass Fahler (left)
Published 08/01/2020 | Reading Time 3 min 54 sec
By Nehemiah D. Frank, editor in chief of The Black Wall Street Times
Tulsa City officials Connie Dodson of District 6 and Cass Fahler of District 5 are on an anti-Black crusade in the City of Tulsa, purposing the removal of the Black Lives Matter mural in the Greenwood District under the guise that a “Back the Blue” campaign doesn’t have the legal right to paint a street nor did those who painted the Black Lives Matter mural on Greenwood Avenue.
To be frank, I’m not too fond of these types of politicians: White people, or wannabe White people, who use their civic system to make insidious, strategic moves to erase Black political messages — which is seemingly the intent of Dodson and Fahler.
Dodson and Fahler have been at the opposite end of nearly everything that has to do with advocating for Black lives in the City of Tulsa. Not only do they continue appeasing and receiving money from the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police, which Tulsa’s Black community shuns them for, but they have voted against any and everything that supports Vanessa Hall-Harper, the only Black city councilor, and her district. I hope someone votes Dodson and Fahler out because they are the antithesis of improving race relations in Tulsa 99 years after the 1921 Tulsa race massacre.
At last Wednesday’s city council meeting, Fahler advocated for a pro-police Facebook group who wanted to have a “Back the Blue” mural painted on a Tulsa city street, which I’m completely fine with. However, the city’s legal team was to all appearance already prepared to answer Fahler’s question, as if they knew what Fahler was going to ask. I have no doubt in my mind that this was planned.
Like clockworks, the systemic racism in Tulsa’s city government began the undoing. They began controlling Tulsa’s modern-day Negro problem — the Black Lives Matter movement. The Senior Assistant City Attorney Mark Swiney argued such signs are not legal under the city’s laws. Again, I’m quite sure that someone already told Fahler and Dodson that before their city council meeting began. Swiney added, “There really isn’t anything in our laws that makes a street into a canvas to convey a message or essentially make a sign out of a street surface.”
Swiney suggested that if people want to paint a mural, they should do so on private property.
The mural in and of itself is meant to be a disruption to the white supremacy order, since the legal system wasn’t designed for Blacks to win. It’s why Dodson and Fahler are using this system to fight against pro-Black messages.
They can do this because that’s how white supremacy continues to be used and orchestrated through the Tulsa city government. It’s always been this way. It’s why Blacks were chased out of cities across the country, so today’s racism can legally continue.
Decades ago, during Tulsa’s Jim Crow days, Greenwood was seemingly private. It was the Black mecca west of the Mississippi River, a place where Blacks escaped to Greenwood known as Black Wall Street, a district where they could build their dreams without the knees of White oppression weighing on their throats. That’s until the district was looted, burned, bombed and hundreds of their people were lynched or massacred. However, these resilient people of Greenwood built it back, but anti-Black policies would ensure its second decline. And the community is still feeling the effects of that decline today.
As Black people and their White allies celebrate the taking-down of Confederate names on school buildings and the removal of their anti-Black statutes from public spaces, I’m sure that Fahler and Dodson would see the removal of the Black Lives Matter mural on Black Wall Street as a win for their anti-Black agenda.
It’s no longer respectable to spit on Black people like many White folks used to do in the old days, so Fahler and Dodson can’t do that. They are, however, doing it in another form, by leveraging systemic racism tactics by-way-of the Tulsa city government’s policies.
“It’s not about the message or anything like that,” Councilor Connie Dodson said during the meeting. “I applaud it. It’s great. But at the same point, it comes down to: yes, if you allow one, then you have to allow all of them.”
Dodson gives off the persona that she actually cares about Black lives, but we know she doesn’t give a damn because she chose not to be an anti-racist when she had the opportunity to do so.
In Ibram X. Kendi’s book, How to be an Anti-Racist, Kendi defines a racist as “one who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or inaction or expressing a racist idea.”
In this case, Dodson’s statement and action are racist because it stands in direct opposition to the purpose of what the Black Lives Matter mural represents — an anti-Black agenda, whether legal or not. Furthermore, she uses the policy as a means to erase the pro-Black messaging that badly needs to be amplified in a city that has struggled with its racist behavior towards its Black citizens.
Notably, White people are the majority of the Tulsa city council.
Thus the council can choose to be anti-Racist by adopting a policy that protects the mural, so city resources don’t have to be used on scratching out Black Lives Matter from a historic street, Greenwood Ave, which represents Black economic progress in America.
But Dodson, Falher and others would rather push their concerns into a Black space to exercise their White power. That’s literally what they are doing but without using the phrase “white power.” And I know that sounds extreme, but I think it’s more extreme to erase a BLM mural from a Black area and a historic Black street.
Lastly, there are Black people who are police officers and chiefs of police departments across this country. Black people get into Blue uniforms every day and protect Americans of every color. The White people who are pushing this narrative of Black Lives Mattering being an anti-police movement need to stop because that’s racist.
If Tulsa city officials erase the BLM mural, it will only show that Black people have lost control of Greenwood and the historic Black Wall Street.
Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder, executive editor, and director of The Black Wall Street Times, digital news media company that believes access is the new civil right. He’s also a freelance writer, appearing in TIME Magazine, Tulsa People, and Tulsa World. Frank graduated with a general studies degree from Harold Washington College in Chicago, IL, and a political science degree from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and was a member and chapter president of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. Today, he is a blogger for Education Post, based in Chicago, IL, and a board member for the Tulsa World, Tulsa Press Club, and Tulsa’s Table. He is also a public school educator at a local community-led charter school and is a member of Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s Education Task Force for Equity and Inclusion. In 2017, Frank became a Terence Crutcher Foundation honoree, a recipient of the 2017 METCares Foundation Community Impact Award, a 2018 Black Educators Fellow and gave a TED Talk at the University of Tulsa.