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A Tale of Two Cities: Black Wall Street circa early 1900 and Detroit, MI 2021

2021 marks the 100th year anniversary of “Black Wall Street”. For those who don’t know, Black Wall Street was a very affluent city occupied by Black Americans in the early part of the 20th Century. The city was located in the Greenwood District, Tulsa Oklahoma. On Memorial Day weekend in 1921, a white mob pillaged, burned down, destroyed and killed hundreds and more than likely thousands of Black Americans over a course of 2 days. This tragic event is known as the Tulsa Race Riots.

I had a discussion with my 98 year old father about his childhood growing up in Arkansas. He retold to me similar accounts of white mobs beating and harassing Black Americans. My father recounted when he was a child that his home town had a yearly celebration of the “doughboys” (WW1 soldiers). They were given a parade in town and any black person that showed up after the sun sets would get beat or lynched. The events he witnessed during that time he wouldn’t talk much about, which made sense as the Red Summer was close to that time period in which white terrorism took place in more than three dozen cities across the United States, as well as in Arkansas, where my father grew up. During that era, it was a hard time to be black in America. I bring this up because I want to emphasize the racial climate of many cities in the United States during that era. Black Americans had to live through an incredibly difficult and dangerous time. There was no social safety net. There was no section eight, food stamps, welfare or stimulus checks. Yet, in the midst of all this hatred, bloodshed and terrorism, there was an affluent city full of black people, sovereign in their finances, banking, manufacturing of goods and services, and food supply. A city filled with professionals from every field of medicine, education finance etc. It made me think that despite all the hardships and violence, how did they pull it off. More to the point, why can’t it be duplicated. Especially now, with all the advancements for black people in the last 60 years. The Civil Rights Act, desegregation and the first black President of the United States. These are hallmarks of black advancement. So….Where is the modern day Black Wall Street?

Fast forward 2021, Detroit, MI remains one of the most deadliest cities in the United States ranking in at number 1 for the second year in a row in 2020. Detroit ranks in at 19.5 per 1000 population for violent crimes. A city in which 37.7% of black residents live below the poverty line. The poverty rate of black residents in Detroit, dramatically higher than the national average of 25.2%. This year, 2021 homicides/violence in every major city this year is unprecedentedly high and Detroit is at the top. With all the talk about “Black Wall Street” how come there isn’t any deep discussions about how it existed in the first place and why we won’t likely see another black Wall Street today despite all our advancements. Well, BWS was an enclave that had to depend on their own survival. The black men of that period had an understanding of provision, protection and problem solving. (Check out Muslim Bushido) in which she goes into the details of the 3 Ps.

Black men and women valued marriage, therefore the foundation for a community was solid. Unlike the 70 percent or higher out of wedlock births in Detroit MI, black men and black women during the BWS era married and sustained their families. Black women and children didn’t just survive but thrived in that community. Some of those black women didn’t have to work which was unheard of during those times. The men provided and created their own occupations. Where there was a void, they stepped up and filled it. They were self contained and self sufficient. They protected and policed their own citizens. They didn’t allow their community to descend into violence and chaos. It was patriarchal, however, there was a level of reciprocity involved. Unlike the black communities today in which the single black women is the sole head of the household in a fractured community. The men rarely marry the women they impregnate, but instead leave a wake of children living in poverty and despair. The talented few, especially black men, will leave and export their wealth and property to non black women while the black community ie, black women and children are left to fend for themselves. Ironically, with all the think pieces, hand wringing and cries about the lack of generational wealth within the black community today, why isn’t there any accountability held for black males and their 25% percent defection from black women and children. Why lament the lack of generational wealth and sit and watch black males export their wealth and property to communities outside the black community. Is the black community waiting on reparations to do all the heavy lifting? I hate to bust these lies up but, no amount of reparations will turn this tide of black generational wealth. Reparations will not provide any tangible effect because the wealth will not stay within the black community. This has been my critique of reparations as a whole, but that’s another topic for later.

My message is the same for black women. You need to head for the exit sign. Don’t wait for this tide to turn. Reparations or not, it’s a bandaide fix for something that is gangrenous. Black women can not afford to be the lone fixer upper while the other component of the black community has abdicated his role as a true patriarch.

The black community loves to talk about an utopian city full of black people, but they have no interest in doing the hard work in recreating another Black Wall Street. There isn't any sense of provision protection and problem solving to create a community in which divested black women or any woman would feel safe to live freely. Just more trauma bonding and talk. It’s more imperative to get out now. If you have been paying attention…the violence in these cities is horrific. Senseless killings of black women, children and babies by the hands of black males all over the country. Unfortunately, It’s going to get worse.

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