How do you do?
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Black History Month! By now, you have probably been hit with a plethora of Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter posts referencing the Black History Month usual: Martin, Malcolm, Harriet, Freddy D, Booker T, W.E.B.; their names and faces are definitely making the rounds. As the month goes on, we will begin to see more articles, memes, and links to Black Wall Street, the thriving Black economic, social, and cultural township that was Greenwood, Oklahoma – otherwise known as Tulsa. We’ve heard the story time and time again: an economic powerhouse in the 1920’s where Black wealth was the norm and, at the hands of racist ignorance and wretched racism, lives were lost, businesses were burned, homes were looted, and a generation of wealth was lost – again. Then, like clockwork, throngs and throngs upon throngs of Black people will call for the collective return of “Black Wall Street” – our economic sovereign neighborhood brought forth by the children and grandchildren of slaves – some only one generation removed from such inhumane conditions. It’s a battle cry befit with countless re-tweets, shares and likes and thumbs up! Yes! Yes! YES! The Return of Black Wall Street! That’s what we need! We need to go back to that!
Meanwhile, I’m over here like:
Yes. I believe that the dream of the return of “Black Wall-Street” should die.
First, many of us have been led to believe that Tulsa was an anomaly – a stand-alone jewel. We know that there have been dozens of “Black Wall Streets” across the nation and throughout history: “Sweet Auburn Avenue” in Atlanta, the original Black Mecca of Harlem, New York; The Bronzeville Blues District on Chicago’s Southside, Durham, North Carolina, Richmond, Virginia; the list is endless and stretches from coast to coast. Somewhere along the way however, our economic independence has been summed up into one riot-filled city in Oklahoma – a city that burned to the ground at the hands of a thousand thugs.
History tells us that Tulsa boasted hotels, salons, restaurants, drugstores, banks, and – get this – saw the Black dollar turn over in the neighborhood over 100 times. It would take a whole YEAR to leave the community (compared to the 15 minutes the Black dollar electric slides out of the community today).
With that type of economic clout, many of Tulsa’s Black residents felt a power often off limits to us. It was this power that led Tulsa’s Black community to demand the release of a Black teenager who had been accused of raping a white female (who later recanted her story and said it never happened – surprise right?)
It didn’t matter though; overnight hundreds of Blacks lay dead in the street. Over 1,000 businesses burned to the ground, and the remaining Black men, women, and children were marched out of town and forced to walk 9 miles to the nearest city. One woman, whose baby was a stillborn, put her baby in a shoe box to be buried the next day. In the ensuing madness, she dropped the shoe box and never recovered its remains.
Even in knowing this hell, knowing the trauma, knowing the fact that the police and national guard – charged with protecting the city – played a pivotal role in burning it to the ground – I have no interest in rebuilding Black Wall Street and the reason is quite simple:
I don’t want to return to Black Wall Street because in 2016, I want so much more than my ancestors had 100 years ago.
Why would I entertain a Black Wall Street when we can have a Black One-Way, Round-a-Bout Cul-De-Sac where the Black dollar stays in the neighborhood and like Badu, go on and on…and on and on? Imagine what our neighborhoods would look if our 1.1 trillion, 1.1 Trillion, 1.1TRILLION spending power worth of dollars stayed at home?
Why would I want a Black Wall Street when I can have a Black Boulevard, lined with old oaks and homes fully-financed by Black owned and operated banks and credit unions? Homes that belong to
|Madame C.J. Walker’s home in 1919…what yall on?
Black doctors and Black teachers and furnished by Black-owned furniture companies; Black architects and Black preachers; Black mechanics and Black trash men in neighborhoods with Black schools where Black children are taught by Black men and Black women who affirm them in who they are by every means necessary. Classism, socio-economic status, poverty and homelessness will be as rare as unicorns and a more believable urban legend than the Lockness monster.
Why would I entertain a Black Wall Street when I can have a Black Avenue, stacked to the heavens with business upon business upon business owned and operated by the those who don’t mind flexin’ in their complexion on Melanin Monday every now and then? Black Avenue: home to black owned and operated shoe shining shops and barbershops, bakeries and cup-cakery’s; Black groceries and food eateries, meat deli’s, and taxi, bus, and delivery companies.
Why would I give thought to the return of Black Wall Street when, through cooperative economics, community interdependence, and a staunch promise to protect, defend, and push forward our God-given right to economic sovereignty and financial liberation, we could build a Black Wall –impenetrable by the envious, jealous-filled and hate-engulfed perpetrators of the invisible beast in plain sight that is wretched global white supremacy?
I’ll pass on returning to Black Wall Street and instead set my eyes on a Black Trail; a trail littered with the bones, souls, and spirits of anyone and anything that dare take it upon themselves to attempt to disrupt, dismantle, or destroy what we have built from the ground up for the sole purposes of preserving our liberation by means of financial autonomy.
You see my generation, Generation FleX, are the children and grandchildren of Malcolm X; We are the children and grandchildren of post-Chicago King and Fred Hampton. Angela Davis is our spiritual mother and Assata is our distant aunt. We are the off-spring of the disciples of Stokely birthed by the freedom music of James Brown and Nina Simone; Tupac is our older brother and Sistah Souljah is out sister from another mother. Our Black is bold and fearless and it does not play. We are now, more than any other generation before us, motivated and fully prepared to defend what is ours at all cost and without an ounce of trepidation. I’m here to tell you, we are not your daddy’s Negro. Run up, get done up. Straight. Like. That.
I don’t want A Black Wall Street because today, 95 years later, we deserve what my ancestors had – and then some. We deserve it not because we are entitled to it, or because we expect anything from anyone. We deserve it because our dues have been paid, our number has been called, we cashing in, building up, and re-claiming everything that we were told awaited us in the great by and by. I am going to take my Heaven and its rewards right here and right now. We’re tired of waiting. We’re tired of being told our time is coming. Nope. Our time is here and it is now and we’re in the building like:
Black Wall Street had 30 Black owned and operated grocery stores; I want 30,000.
Black Wall Street was home to 6 Black people who owned personal airplanes; I want 600 Black people to own their own airport.
We must be ferocious in our objective in building Black sustainable wealth .We must be merciless in our attainment of this ownership. We must set it in stone that what is ours belongs to us and we have come to collect. Our terms are non-negotiable and there is no room, time, space, tolerance, or patience for a compromise. We must be ruthless in our desire to build Black economic wealth from every corner of the earth. From Algeria to Atlanta; from Ghana to the street of Garfield; from Honduras to the Hood.
We must be serious in our pursuit of recognizing our own Black excellence. We will use your Oscar to prop open our doors, your Emmy to dry our socks, and your Grammy to catch our ashes. Instead, we will reserve our mantles for the coveted NAACP, BET, Trumpet, Black Reel and Soul Train trophies. We must be unrestrained in our response to anything and anyone who stands in our way to create dope content written, directed, produced, financed, and starring Black people.
We must be remorseless in our pursuit of The Truth that we stand in; We are building Power. We must begin to have a long, love affair with Power and the benefit it brings and then use it to build a future that will make urban slums, poverty, and violence so irrelevant and so separate from the Black experience, that our grandchildren will one day ask us, “Gramps, is it true that Black people were once the most lowly regarded of the human race?” We will bow our heads, squint our eyes, and fight to remember. But we will tell them, “yes.” But, because it would have been so long ago, and so extraneous to the current condition and experience of Black people, that we will struggle to give a decent answer.
Black people: let the dream of the return of Black Wall Street die and with it, our romanticism and fixation of past glory. Instead work on building our brands, building our businesses, and building our collective consciousness so that we can have that, this, – and then some – today!
One down, 28 more to go….#29Days