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Monday, November 30, 2020

Bacon Bits: 2021 Black Wall Street

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In this week’s Bacon Bits we will continue the conversation of producers and consumers. The Black community has a very unique opportunity to rebuild and change the trajectory of our success in America. Our future success requires a mindset shift that challenges what we believe is even possible.

2021 will mark 100 years since the massacre of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Black Wall Street, a Black habitat located in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, boasted a community filled with Black businesses and enterprises that included education, health agencies, social services, commercial goods and real estate. Black Wall Street was a visionary idea with a blueprint that was simple: acquire land, share resources and spread the word that Black businesses had a place to flourish. Kristi Williams, vice chair of the African American Affairs Commission in Tulsa, described Black Wall Street as a system of lending that enabled people to create and own businesses and enterprises.

Black Wall Street is a perfect example of social capital where you see an asset-based approach that created a community grounded upon producing and not consuming.

In 1921, angry white mobs and city officials orchestrated a plan to destroy Black Wall Street.

The Tulsa race massacre is considered the single worst act of racial violence in modern American history. The Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, 35 square blocks of Black wealth, entrepreneurism and agency all destroyed. Many Black Americans were killed, homes and businesses demolished — an entire civilization decimated by both ground and air attacks. A piece of American history that isn’t taught in American classrooms.

Can you envision Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921? What about Indianapolis in 2021?

Let’s fast forward.

Today our village is still being ransacked and destroyed by hatred and bigotry. But we can’t attribute racism as the outright owner of the disintegration and stagnation of our community — that’s the blame we must assume as well.

It’s understood that racism still exists — consciously.

However, is the existence of racism stronger than the energy of people? What would a 35 square block of Black wealth, entrepreneurism and agency resemble in Indianapolis today?

One of the aspects that made Black Wall Street so successful was the community’s indivisibility. The community was not subjugated to only affluent Blacks but was comprised of both wealthy and blue-collar workers. The key to Black Indianapolis’ success is grounded in our ability to connect and defeat the internal classism that plagues our community. We continue to operate in silos versus sharing and collaborating. Black Wall Street didn’t have an essential tag to any worker, it was understood that everyone was essential.

Harriet Tubman once said,

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

With every day that passes, we become more placid and comfortable consuming. We have reached a catatonic state of affairs that needs to be addressed. It’s been 100 years since the Tulsa race massacre. How close are we to self-sufficiency today? What have we learned in 100 years?

We can continue to raise hands, point fingers and question everything, if we must, but let us not social distance ourselves from reality — the reality that despite racial injustices, we can still flourish and grow. We can eradicate poverty, dismantle and rebuild our ghettos and help create the equity we need to prosper in America.

This is our moment to change the world. Our moment to dream. Self-sufficiency needs to become our sovereignty. Producing needs to be our new protest. We must return to having a true village mentality that connects our entire community. Let’s build the 2021 version of Black Wall Street, right here in Indianapolis.

Let’s dream.

Alan Bacon is a humanity advocate, community leader, musician and innovator. Contact him at alankeithbacon@gmail.com.

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