This week marks 100 years since the Tulsa Race Massacre.
In 1921, Tulsa, Oklahoma, had what was widely referred to as Black Wall Street: a thriving neighborhood for thousands of Black Americans with restaurants, theaters, hotels, and other businesses. But on May 31, a violent white mob terrorized the area after a Black man was falsely accused of rape. From May 31 to June 1, white residents killed as many as 300 Black residents and injured hundreds more. They burned and looted hundreds of homes and businesses and left thousands homeless. And they carried out the assault by ground and by air, with the support of law enforcement. To date, no one's been charged.
Why didn't I learn about this in school?
In the aftermath of the violence, white Tulsans worked to repress what happened. Many Black survivors were also afraid to speak out. But decades later, a commission formed in the '90s found that officials at the city and state level (think: police, the National Guard) had been complicit in the violence. And it recommended reparations for the more than $1 million in property damage the Black community endured. Legislators never took that up. And Black survivors and their descendants are still left advocating for justice. But even learning about race-related prejudice remains an uphill battle in Oklahoma.
What do you mean?
Last month, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed legislation banning the teaching of critical race theory in public schools. The theory, which dates back to the 1960s and '70s, explores the role of systemic racism in US history and institutions. Idaho passed the first ban last month. Since then, two other states followed suit while at least six others are considering it. Yesterday, President Biden issued a proclamation to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the massacre. And called on Americans to "recommit to the work of rooting out systemic racism across our country." But there are things we can all do.
Read up on the history of the massacre, including firsthand accounts from the few remaining survivors. Recognize that the violence that spurred the events in Tulsa is not limited to the history books. After the massacre, for example, Black residents – not their white terrorizers – were rounded up and arrested. Today, Black Americans continue to be disproportionately arrested, imprisoned, and killed by law enforcement – including in Tulsa. Lastly, it bears remembering that Tulsa was an attack on a district that represented Black wealth, hope, and entrepreneurship. Here are some ideas to support Black-owned businesses – and in Tulsa specifically.
The Tulsa Race Massacre was one of the worst episodes of racial violence in US history. 100 years later, investigators are still searching for mass graves. And Americans are still searching for justice.
PS: Trauma – including secondary trauma – can impact our physical and mental wellbeing. Here are some tips to care for yourself and others.
What's been blocked...
A Jan 6 commission. On Friday, Senate Republicans blocked a bill to create a 9/11-style panel to investigate the deadly Capitol riot. The day's assault on democracy – carried out by Trump supporters who falsely maintained he won the election – left five people dead and about 140 police officers injured. Last month, House Democrats, supported by 35 Republicans, passed a bill to investigate the insurrection. But in the Senate, the bill fell short of the 60 votes needed to bypass a filibuster. While six GOP senators sided with the Dems, others have long been downplaying the violence of that day in a show of support to former President Trump. Now, Dems could shift their attention to the existing congressional committees looking into the attack.
Texas's voting bill. On Sunday, Dem lawmakers walked out of the state House to block a sweeping voting bill. It would've made Texas's already strict voting laws even more restrictive (think: new requirements on absentee voting, banning drive-through and 24-hour voting, and more). Dems, who argued the bill would disenfranchise voters of color, quashed the bill's fate...for now. But Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said 'I'm not done trying.'
Where people are grieving...
Canada. Last week, an Indigenous community there confirmed it found the remains of 215 children on the grounds of a former residential school. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the Canadian government and local churches forced more than 150,000 Indigenous children to assimilate and attend boarding schools. Students were forbidden from speaking their native languages or performing cultural practices. And many suffered physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. A gov-backed report found that thousands of students died – describing the residential school system as "cultural genocide." And many families never learned what happened to their children. Now, the discovery of this burial site – located on the grounds of a former Catholic-run boarding school in British Columbia – is reportedly the first of its kind. And it's renewed calls for the Roman Catholic Church to apologize for its abuses.
Words from leaders: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the discovery is a "painful reminder" of Canada's dark past. Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation called it a "harsh reality."
Who's thinking about family planning...
China. Yesterday, Beijing announced that married couples would be allowed to have three children. China first announced its strict one-child policy in 1980, and only opened it up to two children in 2016. The goal was to slow population growth. Now, the country is struggling with a declining birth rate, a labor shortage, and aging population. But many couples don't want more kids because of the high costs of raising them – which Beijing now says it will address by improving maternity leave and other policies.
Who's saying 'au revoir'...
Naomi Osaka. Yesterday, the tennis champ withdrew from the French Open after she was fined $15,000 and faced threats of suspension for not talking to the media. Osaka revealed she's dealt with "bouts of depression" and anxiety since 2018 and that the media has affected her mental health. Now, she's calling a time-out and taking a break from the tennis court.
What we're celebrating all month...
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