Today's Date: January 27, 2022
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Sherriel Weithers

During the early 1900's, in North Tulsa, Oklahoma, Blacks were denied the right to live among Whites as equals. They were only allowed to shop, socialize and reside within a limited 35-square-block located in the Greenwood district on Greenwood Avenue. This quarter soon became the epicenter of black business transactions, entrepreneurial cultivating grounds, and the representative community for African-American advancement and prosperity. This rich, dynamic, and bustling sphere would be home to the "Black (Negro) Wall Street."

Although they were confined to this area, the affluence, vibrancy, brilliance, success and determination to persevere poured far beyond its boundaries, sharing with the world the sense of well-being, self-sufficiency, and cultural pride that pulsated in every breath of the African-American community. By 1921, Tulsa's African-American population of 11,000 had its own bus line, two high schools, one hospital, two newspapers, two theaters, three drug stores, four hotels, a public library, and 13 churches. In addition, there were over 150 two- and three-story brick commercial buildings that housed clothing and grocery stores, cafes, rooming houses, nightclubs, and a large number of professional offices including doctors, lawyers, and dentists. Tulsa's progressive African-American community boasted some of the city's most elegant brick homes well-furnished with china, fine linens, beautiful furniture, and grand pianos.

Fast forward to 2009, and a different scenario unfolds: With the current state of our African-American community--one that reflects a ravaged Black community infested with high levels of crime, unemployment and despair--the existence of "Black Wall Street" seems to be only a dream. African-American spending power has grown paramount too many folds since 1921--with the race's buying force alone exceeding collective nations' buying abilities, and opportunities for advancement are abundantly available; yet the black community remains in an even more dire and broken state than when near insurmountable obstacles bombarded blacks' every notion of success.

Rather than frowning upon and holding accountable African Americans that disrespect and decimate the black heritage and culture, blacks tend to support rappers and entertainers who humiliate and degrade the Black community in general through mocking lyrics; flaunting sketchy and shifty lifestyles; romanticizing casual violence and a thug culture; downplaying education in exchange for instant gratification; and calling one another "n**ga".

Blacks today seem to be blinded by the fact that every system of slavery and oppression has at its subject the denial of a people's humanity. Racist individuals long ago realized the guilt-lifting relief in categorizing African Americans as non-human. To clarify their point, distinctly separate African Americans from the human class, and have blacks buy into their newly-appointed inferiority, racists launched a psychological warfare: they constantly referred to blacks by the n-word, treated them like animals, and kept them in a "sheltered" social position.

Obviously, the experiment was enormously successful because blacks still refer to themselves as such; maintain the helpless, limited mentalities; and refuse to see the role referring to one another as "n**ga" plays in their living in down-trodden, broken communities that offer no hope, jewels or nuggets of promise to younger generations. Some believe that the n-word is just a word that no longer has any power. However, if the word has no power or influence on African-American's mentality or attainments in this day and age, why are the black community and the peoples' mindsets still in the state that White America declared this mental plight would precipitate? For a race of people to lovingly embrace a word that is associated with a brutal social system that denied our humanity, marked blacks as a "thing," and still today keeps them in a self-perpetuating cycle of demise is beyond any level of understanding.

The Black utopia that was established back in 1921 was completely destroyed by one of the worse race riots in history. However, most of the buildings along the first block of Greenwood Avenue were rebuilt within one year. Henry Whitlow wrote: "A little over a decade after the riot, everything was more prosperous than before." In 1926, W. E. B. DuBois visited Tulsa and wrote: "Black Tulsa is a happy city. It has new clothes. It is young and gay and strong. Five little years ago, fire and blood and robbery leveled it to the ground. Scars are there, but the city is impudent and noisy. It believes in itself. Thank God for the grit of Black Tulsa."

In 2009, African Americans' continual acceptance and administering of internal erosion, and considering these acts a natural or normal part of the African-American community--which speaks volumes to the intellectual levels, mindset, and expectations of a majority of the black community--educated and uneducated alike, have desecrated the sacred memories of our ascendants and their accomplishments. But like Black Tulsa, African Americans can re-instate the integrity, dignity, and re-invigorate our society by promoting a survival campaign based on self-pride, self-help, and self-determination. The black community must cut off the life blood of this cyclical disaster. African Americans must establish healthy mentalities to crop a stronger, sustaining modern-day "Black Wall Street" that spans every corner of this vast US land to the distant shores of foreign brothern.

H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc., a writer for the New England Informer Online, and author ofBury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the

Sherriel Weithers
(310) 712-2662



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