Racism and Reparations

10/16/2020

It is a late October evening.  I spent the last few hours watching a movie on Netflix called “The trial of the Chicago 7”.  Its relevancy to what is going on in my country now also made me realize I had no idea about anything related to the subject of the movie. 

That is not a part of US History that was taught when I was in school in the 80’s. The same goes for what really happened to the indigenous people of this country, the Africans that were forcibly brought here through the slave trade, and others who were treated badly because of racism.

After the movie ended, I began pondering a discussion I recently had with my 71-year-old mother concerning our future elections, the Black Lives Matter movement, the racial injustices, all culminating with the Black Wall Street Massacre.

There was a news blip that came on about reparations and that just set her off.  She went on a rant stating, “I’m so tired of hearing about those damn black people!”.  It was rather shocking and disheartening to continue hearing these disparaging remarks coming from my own mother. I grew up with it but now at my age I am quick to question or confront the person about it. 

I asked her why she did not think there should be reparations for what happened in Tulsa?  She in turn stated that “Where are our reparations?”

It was then that I realized that she believes what happened to the Indigenous people of this country was more important or more heinous than what happened to the citizens of Tulsa, Oklahoma and African Americans in general. 

I do not nor will I make excuses for the behavior or thoughts of others, even my own parents.

Yet, in my own thoughts, we as people of color have lived through and with the same thing, racism.

Reparations defined as “the making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged.”

The difference between Indigenous and other minorities is we had treaties put into place and sovereignty on what remained of the lands we once held or moved to.

The federal government can try to ignore that and pretend we are not relevant or here, but we still are. They tried to wipe away who we are as a people through cultural genocide, but we continue. The history books try to conceal us but our own history and the stories of us remain. That will never go away for as long as we keep telling it.

The other minorities within the boundaries of this nation were not given the same treatment.

The descendants of the African continent, South America, Central America, and the Islands of the Caribbean were taken from their homelands and brought to this country as slave labor. 

Their cultural beliefs, customs, languages, and anything remotely related to who they once were as a people was stripped away from them.  It was only maintained through storytelling, songs and passed down through generations for those that survived but ties to where they came from was mostly severed.

On the papers that documented their sale into the bonds of slavery it was sometimes listed as a general description but not where they were from and the given names to them were usually based on who the “owner” was that bought them.

In my mind growing up I could never understand why a person was treated differently based on the way they looked. 

Hearing racially biased discussions among family members and relatives always got under my skin. 

They are still my family but it doesn’t mean that I agree with them nor does it mean that I will not speak up if I hear something that is so blatantly wrong and ignorant no matter who they are.

There are family members, friends, and co workers that I no longer speak to because of it.

After my mother made her statement, I made mine.

The citizens of the part of the city know as Black Wall Street should receive reparations for what happened and to the descendants of any other predominantly African American city or town that suffered the same fate should as well. It is now long overdue and time to fix the wrongs.

My reasoning is this:

  1. If it had been a predominantly Caucasian town or city that had been attacked, the citizens killed because of the color of their skin, their houses and businesses burned down to the ground and bombed then there would have been more outrage that such a thing could happen or be condoned. People would have demanded justice.
  2. The only reason it happened was because the citizens were African Americans, successful, and building up their community. They were becoming equal in money and power to the rest of the city.
  3. The wanton and deliberate destruction of the citizens businesses and homes destroyed not only them but the hopes and dreams of the future generations of those that survived.
  4. If this is to truly be a diverse and inclusive city as touted by the current governing body then making significant changes to the areas that never developed fully such as the Greenwood district and North Tulsa is paramount.
  5. The history of what happened should be told so it is not forgotten to future generations that can see what is possible no matter what happens and how to become stronger by working together.
  6. No amount of monetary value will ever take away the pain, sadness, or tragedy that befall us. It is only through positive action and understanding that one can begin to heal.
  7. We are all citizens of this land, but we will never be truly equal until we demand it and support one another in obtaining it.

I do not claim to know a lot about my own cultural history or identity just bits and pieces.  I also do not claim to know a lot about other minorities within my viewpoint of the world.  That is why I ask a lot of questions.

There is human decency and the human right we all have, to live our life in peace.

The basic human right to necessities such food, clothing, and shelter.

The human right to care if we are injured, sick, or wounded.

In the world we live in every human being has a right to earn a living, be whatever they deem as successful and have the same access.

Those are things not bound by the color of our skin but the integrity of our character as a human being.

Thank you so much for stopping by.

Peace, love, happiness, and good vibes always!

Have a great week!

Suzanne

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