Through various history lessons we know of the effects that Wall Street has upon our lives. The Black Tuesday that heralded The Great Depression, Wall Street’s Black Monday of 1986 and the Flash Crash of 2010, make it seem that economic circumstances are entirely dependent upon what takes place on a street in New York City. The stock market numbers seem to be reaching new heights…
There is a another Wall Street few have heard about, Tulsa Oklahoma’s “Black Wall Street”, that was a dark area facing dark times about 90 years ago – May 31st and June 1st. of 1921, to be specific. What occurred provides us with a striking example of what can occur on Wall Street, or at least what can happen when wealth aggregates in the “wrong” Wall Street.
Some say a “race riot”, a term that is laden with meaning, took place. Others say it was something else. The stories we tell ourselves and others about such events suggest that we interpret matters based upon individual perspectives and preferences.
He-who-raised-me was three years old in 1921 and just turned 95. Only now is he learning about what happened on Black Wall Street in his reading of a hard copy version of If We Knew Our History. Despite his undergrad and graduate education, despite his retirement, he is still learning. He is still attending school because whether one is young or old, learning, practicing or refining a craft, semi or fully retired, all of us continue to learn whether or not school is out for summer.
I have always lived in a world in where “race” and “class” matter greatly. For all the education and training I have received, I did not turn out “colorblind”. I recognize the relationship between color (whether black, red, yellow, brown or white “hillbilly”) and socioeconomic class .
If the economic power of “Wall Street” seems distant from race and class, try something new while on vacation this year. Be a “cultural tourist” and take a drive down a road less traveled. Visit one of the many “chemical alleys” around the globe – you probably live (uncomfortably) close to one – and take in the sights, sounds and smells
Who do you see there? Do you see yourself and your family, or do you see “others”?
If you see “others”, are they them because of skin color, educational level or employment status?
How and why did they get there? Did “Wall Street” have anything to do with what you see or think about?
Take a field trip, or better yet, take students on one because reading about it, watching a video about it or hearing an “expert” talk about it is not at all Just Like Being There…