Media has a hold on the way history has been written and how herstory will be written and whether memorializes or massacres, commemorates or crucifies, it has long lasting impacts on how communities understand themselves. A lack of access to particular media channels also means lack of access to particular messaging, and lack of access to messaging and information can lead to a life of indignation. This reality is a truth that, as Black folks in this country, has rang through our herstory and continues to impact our future.
Imagine if Black folks in Galveston, Texas, in the 1860s, never got notified (media) of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865, two years after the proclamation was actually signed, “Juneteenth” would be nonexistent. If Juneteenth was nonexistent, campaigns like #myblackreceipt and local, grassroots movements like All Black Indy wouldn’t exist. If Juneteenth was nonexistent, our world as we know and experience it today, would be much different. And while different doesn’t necessarily mean bad, it does mean different. This being said, I must ask: Had as many Black folks that participated in the Juneteenth 2020 sales, launches and festivities, known about the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, would integration still have been the fourth degree burn, or would white supremacy have been a weapon of history’s past, not a battle to fight in herstory’s future?
While I cannot answer that question with certainty because integration is still the fourth degree burn and white supremacy is both a weapon of history’s past and battle to fight in herstory’s future, I choose to illuminate the presents in our past so we might better appreciate the presence of opportunities to write a better future. Indy’s tech community continues to grow as a result of the radical and innovative leadership of young, black entrepreneurs, and with that leadership have come conversations about “rebuilding Black Wall Street.” Context must accompany these conversations!
There could be no Black Wall Street without Radical Reconstruction: an incredible response by Black folks, the Freedmen's Bureau, carpetbaggers and scalawags to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the ending of the Civil War, and most importantly, the codification of the 13th Amendment. These events framed and formulated the foundation upon which Black Wall Street could be built in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
With this context, I think that if there were ever a time to invest in the building of the New Black Wall Street, the time is now. I will stand on the facts of my foremothers' stories, the predictions of my powerful peer mentors and convictions of my Christ-fueled calling and make a daring declaration: we are in the midst of the Second Reconstruction. Just as the first Reconstruction produced the original Black Wall Street, I suggest this Second Reconstruction can produce the New Black Wall Street, and more than a single street, a series of streets with intersectional intersections that highlight new opportunities for the growth and gathering of Black spending power and political fortitude that’s greater than our wildest dreams.
We are sitting in the Second Reconstruction and Black Indianapolis is contributing to this moment in herstory in wonderful ways. However, we must not allow the mainstream, white-washed media to control the narrative during the Second Reconstruction. When white supremacists and the federal government physically decimated Black Wall Street in Tulsa in 1921, the media allowed that terrorist attack to erase the story of Black Wall Street from this nation’s story, as well.
For every corporation that matches their employees contributions to organizations dedicated to social justice, but won’t increase the wage of their Black employees to be equal with that of their white counterparts in the same position: remember how the media told their story.
For every company that makes a statement “in support” of #BlackLivesMatter, but still has board rooms that are as white as the paper upon which they wrote that statement: remember how the media told their story.
For every community that has a “peaceful demonstration” in response to “what’s going on,” but does not organize with that same passion against gerrymandering and redlining: remember how the media told the story.
The messaging of the media has an incredible impact on how we understand our stories, and too often the mainstream media will show the statements and the contributions and the demonstrations, but not the unfair wages and lily white boardrooms and de jure segregation. Our story, right now, is defined by the beautiful, bold and Black Second Construction; we must not allow the media to melt away the truth of our moment, a truth filled with gun shots from white supremacists in police uniforms and the galvanizing of sociopolitical power from Black women in #BlackLivesMatter t-shirts. This is our moment; let’s make sure it’s remembered the right way.
Murdock is the owner of Murdock LLC, a company that’s empowering communities to leverage their influence and fuel efforts toward Black liberation. Contact him at email@example.com or visit his website at www.murdockllc.org.