Archive for July 8th, 2021

BLACK PEOPLE O!-THE TULSA RACE MASSACRE‘I work with the dead. But this can help the living’: the anthropologist investigating the Tulsa race massacre | Society | The Guardian

July 8, 2021

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jul/08/i-work-with-the-dead-but-this-can-help-the-living-the-anthropologist-investigating-the-tulsa-race-massacre

Phoebe Stubblefield in her lab in Florida

Black lives

‘I work with the dead. But this can help the living’: the anthropologist investigating the Tulsa race massacre

‘I am here to serve’ … Phoebe Stubblefield in her lab in Florida. Photograph: John Jernigan/University of Florida

The 1921 attack was one of the worst episodes of racist violence in US history, with as many as 300 Black people killed. Now Phoebe Stubblefield, a descendent of survivors, is helping to recover the bodiesby Steve RoseThu 8 Jul 2021 06.00 BST

Phoebe Stubblefield’s parents were born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She spent summers there as a child. Yet she did not hear about the Tulsa race massacre until she was nearly 30. The event in 1921, which was shrouded in secrecy for decades, was one of the worst episodes of racist violence in US history; hundreds of people were killed in the racially motivated attack on a peaceful, prosperous Black community.

Neither the Black community who bore the brunt of it nor their white neighbours who perpetrated it spoke publicly of the massacre. Indeed, for the next 75 years, there was no official recognition that it had even occurred. Like many of those connected to the incident, Stubblefield’s family barely mentioned it. She remembers her mother’s response when she first brought it up: “She said: ‘Oh yeah, your Aunt Anna lost her house.’ That was the complete family history regarding the Tulsa race massacre. And I was like: ‘Who’s Aunt Anna?’”

This shaming history was buried – not just figuratively, but literally. This is where Stubblefield comes in. She is a forensic anthropologist and so studies human remains, mostly bones. If you assumed such a profession attracted those with a taste for the macabre, her bright, open disposition and singsong voice would instantly disabuse you. She is speaking to me from a temporary laboratory on the grounds of Oaklawn Cemetery in Tulsa, where she is leading the search for material evidence of the massacre.

Her family history and her status as one of the few Black experts in her field makes her presence here almost poetically apt. “If Black Tulsans need to see a black face involved in this investigation, there is one,” she says. “I don’t always know how helpful that is. But I am here to serve. I’m used to working with dead people. But this way I can actually help a few living.”

In the public consciousness, the massacre is, at last, emerging from the ground. The incident has begun to figure in popular culture, such as the TV series Watchmen and Lovecraft Country. A high-profile drama series about the event is in the works. Last month, to mark the centenary of the massacre, Tom Hanks wrote a column in the New York Times lamenting its “tragic” omission from US history, while Joe Biden became the first US president to publicly acknowledge it. “For much too long, the history of what took place here was told in silence, cloaked in darkness,” he said on a visit to Tulsa. “Some injustices are so heinous, so horrific, so grievous, they cannot be buried, no matter how hard people try.” To mark the centenary, three witnesses, including 107-year-old Viola Fletcher, testified in Congress about what they saw that day.

Greenwood, Tulsa, after the Tulsa race massacre in 1921
Much of Greenwood, an affluent Black neighbourhood, was razed to the ground. Photograph: Universal History Archive/Getty Images

But there are still many questions to be answered, especially when it comes to the victims: how many there were, who they were, how they died and where their remains lie.

The central facts have been relatively well established. The massacre began on 30 May 1921, with two teenagers: Dick Rowland, a Black 19-year-old shoe shiner, and Sarah Page, a white 17-year-old elevator operator. Rowland entered Page’s elevator, in downtown Tulsa, probably to use the top-floor restrooms – the only “coloured” facilities available nearby in the segregated city.

Exactly what happened next will never be known, but Page was heard to cry out. The most likely explanation is that Rowland tripped and stepped on her foot, but the incident rapidly blew up into a sexual assault allegation. Rowland was taken into police custody. A white mob formed around the courthouse where he was being held. This was in a city where Ku Klux Klan membership was high and lynchings of Black people were all too common.

Armed Black Tulsans, many of them veterans of the first world war, came to the courthouse to protect Rowland. Tensions escalated, shots were fired and mob violence spread through the city, but especially to Greenwood – home to most of Tulsa’s 10,000 Black residents. At the time, Greenwood was a thriving and successful community of Black homes, shops, theatres, hotels and restaurants – sometimes referred to as “Black Wall Street”.

On the morning of 1 June, a large, armed white mob launched an apparently coordinated assault on Greenwood. They fired upon Black residents, then looted and burned their properties. There were reports of aeroplanes joining in the assault. After two days, there was practically nothing left of Greenwood. Thirty-five blocks of Black-owned properties had been destroyed.

These individuals were heroes … Some of them will have fought for their country

Official statistics at the time put the death toll at 26 Black people and 10 white people. Newspaper reports said it was much higher. Today, some estimate as many as 300 people died.

The truth may still lie somewhere in the ground of Tulsa. A funeral director documented the burial, in plain caskets in unmarked graves, of 18 Black male victims at the time, now known as the “Original 18”, while witnesses reported bodies being thrown into the Arkansas River. A white 10-year-old witness, Clyde Eddy, reported seeing men digging a pit, plus multiple Black corpses in wooden crates, at Oaklawn Cemetery days after the massacre – and in a different area from where Stubblefield’s team are investigating. In the late 90s, the Tulsa Race Massacre Commission identified four potential sites of mass graves in the city, but searches found no evidence of them. The current investigation began in 2018.

Locating mass graves is a difficult art, Stubblefield says. Ground-penetrating radar can detect buried objects, but it cannot penetrate far into Tulsa’s clay soil. Magnetometers can detect magnetic variations in soil composition and electrical resistance meters changes in soil moisture – both indications that an area has been disturbed – but these instruments are easily confused by overhead power lines, of which there are many. In addition, heavy rainfall has hampered progress.

Despite all this, in October 2020, investigators found evidence of people buried side by side in unmarked graves in a stepped trench at Oaklawn Cemetery. The excavation phase has finished and Stubblefield and her team are analysing the remains of 19 exhumed individuals in their on-site lab. Some may have been among the Original 18.

“Because of newspaper accounts from 1921, I’m looking for males buried in simple caskets. And we found about three of those, maybe four,” says Stubblefield. “But most of the individuals we’ve observed aren’t in plain caskets. They’re in very nice caskets. These were loved individuals.” The Original 18 had death certificates, which in most cases documented the cause of death as gunshot wounds. Such trauma would be detectable in the form of bullets or lead scatter in the bones or the soil, although the absence of such signs would not be conclusive, Stubblefield says.

Stubblefield excavating a site at Oaklawn Cemetery last July.
Stubblefield excavating a site at Oaklawn Cemetery last July. Photograph: Mike Simons/AP

Preservation favours long bones, the skull and the pelvic girdle, rather than smaller bones such as the rib cage. So, if someone had been shot in the chest area, it might not be detectable. However, Stubblefield has found one male of African American descent in a plain casket, with a bullet in his left shoulder and “multiple projectile wounds”. Again, it is too early to jump to conclusions. Full analysis will take months, then there will be DNA testing to see if the remains can be identified, after which they will be reinterred respectfully.

What of the mass graves? Stubblefield believes there is at least one other burial location yet to be discovered. Those who died early in the massacre, such as the Original 18, were processed by funeral directors. But around noon on 1 June 1921, the National Guard entered and secured Greenwood. About 6,000 Black residents were put in temporary detainment camps and only allowed to return to their ruined homes and properties a day later. Funerals were not allowed during this time, Stubblefield says: “So we don’t have any decedents in that window.” She refers to the deceased individuals as “decedents”, because “it helps me remember that they’re not specimens”.

There were reports of up to 800 seriously injured people being admitted to hospital, including women and children, so it beggars belief that the National Guard found zero casualties, she says. “There was systematic burning and looting and shooting, and a narrative of ‘hunting Negroes’ – some of the white eyewitnesses shared narratives of that. The likelihood of there not being more deaths is just improbable.”

Stubblefield’s investigation into Tulsa’s past has also been a journey into her own family history. Aunt Anna (actually a great-aunt; her paternal grandmother’s sister), was married to the principal of Booker T Washington high school, which was used as a temporary shelter in the immediate aftermath of the massacre. Raised in Tulsa, Stubblefield’s father earned a scholarship to the University of Michigan and became an electrical engineer in the aviation industry. Her mother was a homemaker and volunteer.

The family relocated to Los Angeles after the massacre – part of a “brain drain” of educated Black Tulsans. “My parents left Tulsa and raised us in LA, and I’m grateful for that, because this was a racist city in my generation,” says Stubblefield, 52. Oklahoma’s education system for African Americans at the time was concerned with grooming future citizens, she says, rather than teaching them about their own history. “There wasn’t a lot of focus on: ‘And this is what the rest of America is doing to you.’” One of her cousins told her that the massacre was “one line in the history book”.

Viola Fletcher, the oldest living survivor of the massacre, testified about her experience before Congress in May.
Viola Fletcher, the oldest living survivor of the massacre, testified about her experience before Congress in May. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Forensic anthropology is not a discipline many people plan to enter. “I discovered when I was an undergrad that skeletons are interesting,” Stubblefield says, cheerfully. Having started as a biology major with an interest in anthropology, she became fascinated with how bones can tell a story of who someone was: their age, sex, profession, how they lived, how they died, even their ethnicity. “In the same way you feel like you resemble your cousins and aunts and uncles, your skull thinks that, too. So, if we get enough of your skull, we can, with fair reliability, assess your ancestry.”

Stubblefield was usually the only Black student in her cohort, but it did not faze her. “I did not need to see Black faces in order to proceed in anthropology – and that’s very good, because there weren’t any,” she says, laughing. “Being African American is probably ranked third in my identity.” What are the first two? “Oh, I’m a Christian, I’m a twin [her identical twin sister is a veterinarian]. I didn’t take it personally nearly as much as I would have if it were a higher priority, but people make their identities, right?” Anthropologists, of all people, ought to have a handle on that.

Biological anthropology has a problematic history when it comes to race. The Czech émigré Aleš Hrdlička, who founded the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, was an associate of Charles Davenport, the founder of the Eugenics Record Office and a Nazi sympathiser. Davenport pursued theories that human races were physically distinct and that traits such as intelligence, alcoholism and criminality were hereditary. His theories laid the ground for racist laws on mixed-race marriage, immigration controls and forced sterilisation.

People can read the newspapers and see that Tulsa messed everything up. This is Tulsa making good by that error

In 1926, Hrdlička, Davenport and another leading physical anthropologist, Earnest Hooton, sat on a “Committee on the Negro”, which found that “the negro race is phylogenetically a closer approach to primitive man than the white race”. Their work attempted to establish scientific grounds for what we now recognise as baseless prejudices about Black physical attributes and Black criminality. In addition, the discipline has a long history of white-led institutions appropriating human remains from the graves of Native Americans and enslaved Black people for scientific and anatomical research.

“Culturally, we started out as graverobbers and eugenicists,” says Stubblefield. “It’s in our scientific history. So I try to say: this forensic anthropology is not my great-grandparents’ forensic anthropology. And it’s not even my generation’s, because my generation was just coming out of the graverobbing.” She remembers the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in 1990, which required the return of such remains to their descendants. This year, it emerged that the bones of Black children killed during a police raid in the 80s were still being used by anthropology departments at Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania.

Stubblefield was a PhD student in Florida when a senior colleague, Lesley Rankin-Hill, recalled her Tulsa connections and brought her in to help with skeletal analysis on the Tulsa Race Massacre Commission in 1998. Her presence in Tulsa could be seen as some kind of karmic justice: using tools invented to justify racism to uncover the racist violence done to her ancestors. But she doesn’t see it like that: “I don’t consider it an irony, but I do consider it an act of grace and I’m here for Tulsa, because I did not go into forensic anthropology to do this work.” In her day job, Stubblefield is the interim director of the human identification lab at the University of Florida, where she helps identify and determine the cause of death of people (mostly males) who died in mysterious circumstances.

Even if they do not find evidence of mass graves or other conclusive data in Tulsa, the exercise has not been futile. Filling in missing history is important, Stubblefield says – the massacre is now part of the Oklahoma schools curriculum – but so is honouring the dead. “These individuals, they were heroes, they were fighting for Dick Rowland and for Greenwood. Some of them will have fought for this country. We’re making good by them.”

The investigation is also part of making good by the victims’ descendants. “What I see is comfort for people who had to live with the racist Tulsa,” she says. “In my perception, they receive real comfort in knowing that, if nothing else, steps have been taken to correct this oversight, this hidden history. People can go back and read the newspapers and see that Tulsa just messed everything up. And this is Tulsa making good by that error. In some ways, that’s enough.”

Accepted payment methods: Visa, Mastercard, American Express and PayPal

Support the GuardianRemind me in AugustTopics

Back to top© 2021 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. (modern)

BLACK PEOPLE O! -THE HEALING PROCESS BEGINS O!

July 8, 2021

SEARCH

BAM hold healing ritual with ‘What To Send Up When It Goes Down’

Linda Armstrong | 7/8/2021, midnight
My people, we have been through so much! We have repeatedly, through the years, dealt with the brutal, senseless murders ...

Inside the “What To Send Up When It Goes Down” rehearsal at the Fishman Space in the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Saturday, June 19, 2021 DONNA WARD PHOTO

My people, we have been through so much! We have repeatedly, through the years, dealt with the brutal, senseless murders of Black people, just because they were Black. Murders committed by racist white people and the police. Whenever these atrocities happen it affects us somewhere deep inside. We have also dealt with racism throughout our lives—whether it was not getting treated fairly for a job opportunity or being a victim of abuse because of the color of our skin. Black people who have been killed due to being Black, have included mothers, fathers, grandparents, children. It is a pain we tend to bear alone, but that is not the only way to handle this anymore. Right now, BAM at the Fisher Theater at 321 Ashland Place, is giving our people a chance to confront how these deaths have impacted us. Through an interactive, moving, spiritual and healing production called “What to Send Up When it Goes Down,” written by Aleshea Harris, with beautiful direction by Whitney White. BAM, and Playwrights Horizons in association with The Movement Theatre Company, is bringing the healing!

The audience is invited to be part of a ritual and release your feelings. I don’t recall experiencing this at a production before. The show specifically focuses on Black people and building us up spiritually and emotionally and is unapologetic about its purpose. It is a deep experience!

When you come into the theater before the production and go downstairs, there are large photos with soft-colored coverings displaying Black people who have been murdered. As I looked at the photos and read the names of each person, some names I knew and some I didn’t. What I noticed is that there were teenagers, young children, college students, high school graduates, members of the military. There were grandmothers, there were fathers, who now left behind a daughter with no dad. These were human beings with hopes and dreams that abruptly were stopped. There are black ribbons in a box, there for the audience to pin on in remembrances of these lives. An index and floor plan tells you where various people’s photos are displayed throughout the facility and on the outside of the building, gives you their name, the city and state they were murdered in and the date. There are flyers and cards with words about apology, respect, affection—quotes from bell hooks, Aaron Lazare, Assata Shakur, and Brianna Suslovic. There is an instructional flyer that tells you how to perform a ritual response to future tragedies. That is definitely a keeper!

After you have taken in all the photos and realize that you are there to recognize and honor the many who have been killed, you are invited to come upstairs, where you will be able to participate in a ritual. The beginning of the ritual ceremony is very engrossing, but it is a necessary part of the process to begin to open up your mind to what is to come. The ritual gives you the opportunity to vent your strongest frustrations, hurt, anger and do so in a safe space. A space that has been created by the playwright, director and cast to accommodate the release of feelings to assist our people in letting some of the pain come out, go up and acknowledging those that we have lost. This ritual helps the audience to say their names, lift your voices up and feel that relaxation come over you. You know that you are in a space created specifically for you to go through a healing process. When that part of the ritual is over, the company of actors performs a series of monologues and skits. The works are repeated three times, with somethings changing a bit. But, it is building up to a moment of truth. A moment of pain. A moment of release. The actors are completely committed to not only their roles, but assisting the audience in feeling this sense of being seen. The actors acknowledge the beauty, strength and fortitude of our people. The company, which plays multiple roles, includes Alana Raquel Bowers, Rachel Christopher, Ugo Chukwu, Kalyne Coleman, Javon Q. Minter and Beau Thom.

The scenarios in the script vent the racism in this country. The feeling of superiority that some white people display. The insensitivity that some white people have. It also shares the frustration that Black people have experienced on jobs, with feeling that they are not being treated with respect. It addresses the slave like mentality that some Black people have at times, that is not good for any of us.

One of the messages in this play is that we as a people have faced much, but we have also made it through. We are a loving, supportive people and we must know that we are worthy of that love, support and praise, just as any other race of people are. One of the things that the audience gets to do, which was a joy, is to write a positive note to our Black people. As you look around the entire theater, you see that the walls are covered with notes from past audience members. I know I haven’t given a lot of specific details. This production, this healing, is something you have to experience firsthand. Just go with it!

“What to Send Up When It Goes Down” will play through July 11, 2021. The experience started at 7:30 p.m., but get there by 7 p.m. so that you can see the exhibit of photos first and pick up the flyers and cards with empowering messages. For tickets go to BAM.org. Tickets are $25 and are sold in pairs. The production will be mounted at Playwrights Horizon in the Fall.https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/users/80302&color=%23ea0e12&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true

Advertisement

MOST RECENT

SOCIAL MEDIA

http://www.facebook.com/plugins/likebox.php?href=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FNYAmsterdamNews&width=300&height=590&show_faces=true&colorscheme=light&stream=true&border_color&header=true

SECTIONS

MEDIA

INFO

CONTACT

Amsterdam News
2340 8th Avenue
New York, NY 10027
Phone: 212-932-7400

E-mail:
info@amsterdamnews.com

White POLICEMAN KNOCKED UNCONCIOUS AFTER INSULTING A BLACK MAN O!

July 8, 2021

https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.google.com/url?rct%3Dj%26sa%3Dt%26url%3Dhttps://www.wate.com/news/off-duty-knoxville-officer-knocked-unconscious-after-racist-remarks/%26ct%3Dga%26cd%3DCAEYAioUMTY4MDI5MzEyNTcwNzgwMjQyOTQyGjRkYWRiOGQ5NWY4YmFmZTc6Y29tOmVuOlVT%26usg%3DAFQjCNGd8DKIy8ZjwVjzocbMfDN03O0egA&source=gmail&ust=1625834458295000&usg=AFQjCNEEwAZCKWERYmZuyeiODDL1Snc5ZA

BLACK PEOPLE O! -ANOTHER BLACK MAN KILLED IN GEORGE FLOYD’S CITY O!

July 8, 2021

https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.google.com/url?rct%3Dj%26sa%3Dt%26url%3Dhttps://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/columnist/2021/07/07/darnella-frazier-george-floyd-uncle-killed/7887883002/%26ct%3Dga%26cd%3DCAEYAioUMTMwNjE3Mjk2NTg1MzgyMTU4OTUyGjRkYWRiOGQ5NWY4YmFmZTc6Y29tOmVuOlVT%26usg%3DAFQjCNGXqxjYWpJRiflEWYDH2KX-cZzOhQ&source=gmail&ust=1625822657080000&usg=AFQjCNF6H8PfTdaXw9LPhm5R7GbnpNhtOg


%d bloggers like this: