In the early 1900’s, the Greenwood neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma became known as Black Wall Street. It was here that the Black community created a self-sufficient, prosperous business district which was considered on of the most prosperous African-American communities in the United States. But it only lasted until the race massacre of 1921 when an angry, white mob descended on Greenwood and burned businesses and homes to the ground.
The Tulsa Massacre, which has been described as “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history”, claimed as many as 300 lives (mostly black) and left thousands without homes, businesses, income, and more.
I want you to really think about that.
Remember how money stories are created?
We experience something (usually negative) that creates a program inside us that says “this is how the world works” in relation to money. Then every experience we have going forward is viewed from that lens as “truth”.
It just is.
So step into those Greenwood shoes for a moment. Your family has endured slavery and segregation – generations of experiences reinforcing stories around power, wealth, and control (namely who gets it and who doesn’t). For centuries, whites have decided where you can live, where you can eat, where you can drink, where you can sit, and even where you can look (because it better not be at a white woman).
And now, you have Black Wall Street – where people aren’t working to pad white pockets, but working to build Black businesses. A place where you aren’t one-up-one-down, but EQUALS in a community filled with prosperity, jobs, commerce, and really connected relationships.
Until 1921 when your home, your land, your business, your income and even your life is taken… destroyed… by angry white people.
→ What is the story you walk away with?
→ What is the “truth” your children learn?
→ What is the program that gets passed down to your kids and your grandkids?
→ What do you subconsciously begin to believe about money?
→ How does it make you feel when it’s around?
→ And what does it mean about the American Dream that claims ANYONE has a chance to be successful “if they work hard enough”?
Can you see what I’m saying?
The systems in America are NOT set up for people of color to win.
And even when they do – even when they create a place so prosperous it gets nicknamed Black Wall Street – history shows it still gets taken from them.
So how does this impact you? Great question!
I want you to sit with it. Ask yourself more questions. Because, whether or not we were in Tulsa in 1921, we all have a part to play in how these money stories are continuing to show up today.
Below I’ve included links to a PBS documentary as well as an article published by history.com so you can learn more about Black Wall Street – including how it was built and the racism that lead to it being burned. (You can also google Black Wall Street to find a large variety of articles, videos, and opinion pieces that discuss its impact.)
I hope you’ll make the time to learn more about this part of history that isn’t taught in our schools. Culture, especially the culture of white supremacy, affects all of us.
To your impact and legacy,