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Dancing atop a police car in front of the Mable B. Little House on historic Black Wall Street — David Banner’s performance and unapologetic Black behavior was our ancestors’ rebuke, reincarnated 101-years after the worse racial terror and communal lynching against Black lives on American soil.
Beyond the pomp and circumstance of the Centennial, Banner made this year’s Black Wall Street Legacy Festival — which honors the victims, survivors, and descendants of the massacre — extra special, by reminding them of what it fully means to be liberated.
Declaring his intention?, he said, “I want the ancestors to hear us tonight.”
Whether conservative Black folks were ready or not, Banner shook them and everyone else in attendance who may have been lulled to sleep by Oklahoma’s anti-Black and repressive government.
Banner strategically crafted and tailored his historic Black Wall Street performance to the residents of Greenwood, North Tulsa, and Black Tulsa, not to be confused with everything south of the Frisco Railroad tracks, which is “Tulsa” and has served as the line of demarcation since the state’s first law – Senate Bill One, the law of segregation.
“Tulsa, B*tch! Okay, Okay Okay…” Banner hollered rhythmically into the microphone.
To some, it was inappropriate, considering he was performing on church property which is the Historic Vernon Chapel AME parking lot. Nevertheless, it was a verbal middle finger to the City that has yet to pay reparations for its involvement in the massacre that left 300 Black bodies in unmarked mass graves, bombed and charred 36 square blocks of Black economic progress that had been made less than two generations after emancipation.
David Banner’s rebellion is the type of revolutionary fortitude that Greenwood has been needing since the White mob set our Black American dreams ablaze.
To add context, it was Nina Simone, in 1963, who sang “Mississippi Goddam” after Medgar Evers, Emmitt Till, and many others were senselessly murdered for simply being Black. Simone, Banner and so many other Black revolutionary musicians have and are saying: f*ck systems that are apathetic to our cause and violent toward our existence.
Nevertheless, as enslaved Black people were shocked at the sight of a Black man riding a horse during institutional slavery and in the movie “Django Unchained”, some Black Tulsa community members grumbled at Banner’s language and behavior — forgetting that we have been getting our a*ses kicked and our neighborhoods over-policed for the last century.
“All this shit that the MF cops have done to Black people. This whole MF concert was about a Black man who got murdered,” Banner said.
And it’s true. Had Terence Crutcher not been murdered, Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, a descendant of massacre victims, who had a thriving practice in Alabama, would have never come home to improve North Tulsa. Had there not been a Terence Crutcher there would be no Black Wall Street Legacy Festival.
So for those who thought David Banner’s temporary protest atop a police car was inappropriate, let’s remember that it was in 1921 that Tulsa Police Department officers deputized White racist mobsters who destroyed all of Greenwood and for the last 101-years have continued to terrorize our community.
I even recall it was two years ago that two Black boys were harassed, abused and arrested by TPD officers for walking in an empty street that had no sidewalks. And let’s not forget the recent video that surfaced of a 70-year-old LaDonna Paris that was harassed, abused, and bloodied.
As a descendant of massacre victims, from my point of view, the Tulsa Police Department has only been seen as the terrorists and has done little to remedy their image. I wish I could say repair community trust, but we have never had a chance to trust the Tulsa Police Department let only build a relationship with them.
Moreover, when Terence Crutcher was murdered in 2016, and officer Betty Shelby got away with the murder in May of 2017, not one Black person rioted or rebelled. All protests were peaceful and involved or were led by massacre descendants.
In a one-on-one interview with The Black Wall Street Times, David Banner said, “One of the things that Tulsa, Oklahoma did, was show how White people broke Black folks. That’s why it’s so important. For us to build our businesses back up.” Banner is a serial entrepreneur and has a master’s degree in education.
“I wanted them to see us having a great time on the cameras and show that Black Tulsans were having fun because they [racist White Tulsans] want to see us out here all broke.”
Greenwood has been soft on Tulsa for 101-years when Tulsa has been undeserving of our grace.
David Banner’s performance may have had mixed reviews, but his unapologetic Blackness, personified in all his Mississippi sexiness that had some clutching their fake pearls while loosening others up and leading them to freedom was the perfect message that we needed and needed to send a year after the Centennial.
We should all be moving with the same righteous anger that David Banner displayed.