Tulsa

Somehow time and society have conspired to erase a terrible massacre. One hundred years ago, the Tulsa race massacre began, destroying an affluent black area in the city of Tulsa, in Oklahoma. Accusations – and accusations only – triggered violence that saw white people hire private planes to drop fire bombs upon the black neighbourhood, as well as launching attacks on foot. The riots left dozens of people, most blacks, dead, and scores injured, as well as thousands more homeless.

Somehow, this event has been quietly side-lined from the history books, until last year, when it became part of Oklahoma’s education curriculum. I must confess to not being aware of it myself, until very recently. This was a terrible moment, sadly one of many terrible moments in the history of race relations, and it needs to be remembered. The lives torn apart by excuses of peculation, accusations and hearsay, so that mobs of angry white men could tear apart the hard work of black people, need to be remembered, so that we might learn, and even though acts of racial injustice continue to this day, all over the world, we need to keep pushing back against the absurd, tired notion that the colour of someone’s skin makes them inferior.

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