Tulsa, Terence Crutcher and Black Wall Street.

The video shows Terence Crutcher walking towards his car with his hands up. The police officer says, “That looks like a bad dude too. He must be high on something.”

Seconds later, Crutcher is tasered then shot because Officer Betty Shelby felt her life was being threatened, her life was in danger.

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As I sat with my co-founder at brunch and our fellow woke woman warrior and we engaged in a conversation all too familiar and wondered what do we do now, inevitably, someone says, “and black people, we just sit by and do nothing.”

But what CAN we do? We have allowed our most precious resource, our children, to be brainwashed and dehumanized for the last 6 decades under the guise of equality and integration. What have our children been taught about unity, self determination, cooperative economics, purpose, collaboration, creation, and faith, the seven principles of Kwanzaa? What have our children been taught about the history of experiences of diasporic people in this country, around the world and since the beginning of time? What do our students know of the Sankofa principle; of “return and get it,” in order to move fearlessly into the future? Better yet, when they are taught to return, what is it that they get?

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Answer: A whitewashed, sanitized, castrated history that paints people of the diaspora as witless, helpless, lazy, violent, easily pacified people, who cannot function without the paternalistic hand of the white savior.

To all my fearless CREAD educators, as you talk about the story of Terence Crutcher I ask that you pair it with the story of Black Wall Street. I ask that our students engage with the inhumane killing of this unarmed father, son and brother next to the story of the greatness that was, Black Wall Street.

So this begs the question, do you know, the story of Black Wall Street?

So here’s the Fast Five:

Who did what, when, where, and why and how did they do it?

I used this question with my students all the time. I wanted to teach them how to summarize succintly and creatively. Given the freedom of expression, my students would weave these webs of summary with such flavor, based on that very simple prompt. Of course, if the focus wasn’t on a who but a what, we would flip it. What happened, when, where, why, how did it happen and who did/influenced it? Working with over aged and under credited students, they often read on an elementary school level, but they didn’t think on one. My job was to give them the opportunity to showcase their fine tuned critical thinking skills while giving them supports to develop their reading and writing skills. Yeah, I taught the 5 W’s to my students and respected their experienced while doing it.

Who? The Blacks who moved to Oklahoma around 1907, hoped for a new life in Tulsa, one free of the harsh racism they experienced primarily in the South. Many of these Black Americans had ancestors who could trace their lineage back to Oklahoma. Forefathers and mothers who traveled on foot with the Five Civilized Tribes along the Trail of Tears.

What? Black Wall Street is the nickname for the town of Greenwood located in Tulsa Oklahoma and known as the wealthiest black community during the early 1900’s.

When? During the early 1900’s

Where?: Tulsa Oklahoma

Why? Black Wall Street was spurned out of the principle of cooperative economics, unity, self determination, purpose, collaboration, creativity, and faith, which was activated by Jim Crow, segregation, racism and fear.

How? Black Americans worked together to build and support businesses and community by maintaining the circulation the black dollar within Greenwood.

“The dollar circulated 36 to 100 times in this tight-knit community, according to sfbayview.com. A single dollar might have stayed in Tulsa for almost a year before leaving the Black community. Comparatively in modern times, a dollar can circulate in Asian communities for a month, Jewish communities for 20 days and white communities for 17, but it leaves the modern-day Black community in six hours, according to reports from the NAACP.”

Now that the Fast Five have been gathered for you, what are you going to do with it?

We must engage our students in the socio-political context of the world they live in, allow them to feel pain, anger, fear, apathy, and sadness. Allow all of their emotions to flow safely in your space and then administer the healing balms of; the Sankofa Principle, Positive Racial identity Development, Critical Pedagogy and unapologetic love and unity for the Diaspora.

There are some quick links here,  here, and here for more info about Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Riots. Word of caution; spend time highlighting Black Wall Street before digging into it’s eventual destruction. Allow our students to bask in the sunshine of greatness.

And as always,

Deep Thinkers Only

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