I wish I had known about this…

I ran into a teacher I had in eigth grade. I’ve thought about him for years. In my eighth grade class I was a minority; there were maybe two white kids in my class. When it came time for the teacher to teach Black History he seemed to be looking straight at me and said “you’re going to learn this whether you like it or not”. I’ve thought about him for years and wondered what I would say to him. When I saw him (this was Friday night at work) I told him that I wish I would have learned more from him and explained a little why I didn’t. He replied that we’re all sorry about things we have or have not done (paraphrase).

I read thispost yesterday and discovered something about our (American) history that I didn’t know. It’s not that I didn’t know that there were racial problems in our country it’s just that I didn’t know the extent to which the Black community as a whole had at times been persecuted. I’ve had a hard time allowing myself to think in terms of persecution and holocaust when it came to the claims of Black Americans because I thought about the issue as something that was more along the lines of White attitude and White discrimination towards Black people (which in and of itself is not persecution though it is just as evil) and the acts of violence commited towards Blacks by Whites I’ve thought of as somewhat isolated acts commited randomly by a few stupid White people.

In the comments section of the post mentioned above there was a mention of “Black Wall Street“. I had never heard of this before so I went in search of information. In 1921 Tulsa Oklahoma there was a race riot (though the descriptions that I’ve read of the events hardly qualify as a riot in my view but more like a terrorist attack) in which was lost to the mostly Black community (a thriving self reliant community) “21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores and two movie theaters, plus a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half dozen private airplanes and even a bus system.” (source)

What bothers me the most about this is that I see no reports of outrage. There were reports that White citizens were outside the town limits as if to imply that they were warned and got out before tragedy struck. Whether this is true or not I don’t know, I personally find it hard to believe though not impossible to believe. But I do know this, there should have been outrage and there still should be. We as Americans can never forget that something like this (and there are MANY more examples) has happened in our history, for if we forget we are doomed to repeat it. White Americans need to know the crimes that were commited in order to understand better the fears and mistrust that some Black Americans have when it comes to dealing with us. It’s not to say that I grant every criticism of Whites by Blacks as legitimate, especially in this day and age but there is a real need for understanding within both communities of one another.

During every Black History month I have in the back of my head that it’s just about the achievements of Black people, kind of like this Black man invented this or that thing and so can you if you are Black. And I’m thinking “so what?” Why does it matter what the color of a persons skin is when they are successful? Every success is something that inspires me regardless of what they look like. What inspires me is the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity. The corporal works of justice and mercy, the strength to not give up. And beyond the ashes, 1921 Tulsa is a prime example of this.

In the comments section of the post above Duane asked:

If today’s hurdles can be directly linked to slavery, what then happened to the legacy of our successes?

To which Wizz responded:

They went up in flames time and time again until they were forgotten. And here we are now.

The saddest truth to all this is that they were forgotten.

Avery summed it up well and it is something that EVERYONE should remember.

the beautiful thing about Black Wall Street is that people of EITHER ideology should be talking about it, because it should modify what anybody has to say.

Let us all strive for peace, especially the peace of Christ.

In Christ,

Richard

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About Richard Froggatt

Richard Froggatt West Chester, Pa. Contact RichFrogg @ gmail.com
This entry was posted in Black History, Faith, Hope, Love, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to I wish I had known about this…

  1. Richard,
    Thank you for this post. It is something we need to be mindful of. I spent a good part of my life making the argument, why should I feel responsible for something that happened 2 & 3 hundred years ago. I didn’t feel I owed anyone anything. And that in today’s society, anything’s possible for anyone, regardless of color.

    But I was mistaken. Slavery was an awful way to start off here in the US. The African Americans that came here did not come here seeking freedom like my ancestors. They came here without freedom—under the heel of an oppressor. But it didn’t stop there. The Civil War ended legal slavery, but it did not fix all of the problems associated with being a people unable to educate themselves. It did not remove the fear from their hearts. And it did not remove the bigotry from society at large.

    Rosa parks died after most of my kids were born and I’m only thirty-something. That’s how bad it’s been. The woman who refused to move to the back of the bus died in 2005. Not hundreds of years ago.

    We can all see it is as good as it has ever been now, but we shouldn’t forget just how difficult it has been for the African American community to climb out of the hole they were thrown in before the Civil War.

  2. Richard Froggatt says:

    Hi Dominc,

    I’ve also made the same arguement that you have; and to an extent it is valid in so far as my heart goes ( but I shudder to think of what kind of man I would have been in those times).

  3. dtramontana says:

    Richard,
    No doubt about it. I don’t want to excuse those who did the wrongs, but for them, I’m sure the right decision wasn’t as easy to see or make as it is to us now.

  4. Pingback: Recent Links Tagged With "dominic" - JabberTags

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