The Black Agenda May 15, 2021 at 04:05 pm

How Oklahoma’s governor was kicked off committee planning 100th anniversary of Tulsa Race Massacre

Nii Ntreh May 15, 2021 at 04:05 pm

May 15, 2021 at 04:05 pm | The Black Agenda

Kevin Stitt is the Republican governor of Oklahoma. Photo Credit: Office of Oklahoma governor Video screengrab

As one would expect, Oklahoma’s Republican governor Kevin Stitt was on the planning committee that is putting together the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the unforgettable Tulsa Race Massacre which occurred in 1921. But Stitt was kicked out of the committee this week for signing into law, a bill meant to prevent different aspects of Critical Race Theory.

Stitt’s earlier addition could be read as a respectful nod to authority as well as to bipartisan contribution considering that the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission includes both Republicans and Democrats. Oklahoma, a deeply red state, last voted for a Democratic governor in 2002. Nonetheless, Stitt’s inclusion had been “purely ceremonial” according to the commission yet, his assent to the bill was thought to inimical to the spirit of the commemoration.

A statement on Friday said “[T]he 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commissioners met Tuesday and agreed through consensus to part ways with Governor Stitt.” No elected officials were involved in the decision, the statement also said.

Even though the commissioners were “disheartened”, they were thankful of Stitt’s contributions thus far.

While Connecticut and California have passed bills embracing certain aspects of Critical Race Theory to be taught in schools, other states such as Idaho are looking to ban CRT or aspects of it in schools. The division over where you can and cannot learn CRT over the next few years is bound to be very political.

Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is better understood as a lens with which to look at the world rather than a field of studies or a defined subject area. CRT assumes that American social and political life, or the social and political life of western society in general, are rooted in suppositions that also gave birth to racial consciousness.

By this, CRT proponents such as Kimberlé Crenshaw and Derrick Bell opine that western society is a necessarily white supremacist, in the sense that western society was structured out of the humanity of those who shared whiteness. The structures these people of whiteness built were meant to perpetuate their kind and defend their ways.

The massacre

Sometimes known as the Tulsa race riot, it was a two-day massacre that happened when a white mob attacked and destroyed the properties of the black inhabitants living in Greenwood, Tulsa which was at that time the most affluent African-American community in the United States. It was even known as the “Black Wall Street” as it was home to highly successful and profitable black-owned businesses.

The riot was spurred after a 19-year old black shoeshiner by the name of Dick Rowland was accused of raping a 17-year old white female elevator operator by the name of Sarah Page. It is thought this accusation was caused by Rowland slipping and falling on Page. The white woman initially refused to press charges.

Bu the incident was reported by a white-owned local newspaper calling for his lynching. Rowland was processed and taken to court on May 31, 1921, however, tensions between the white mob who went to the courthouse to lynch Rowland and the black residents who were also around to ensure his safety escalated into a 24-hour-long armed confrontation.

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