Justice Isn’t They Only Reason Urban Renewal Is A Failure


The Oklahoma Eagle has worked hard to explain the need to reverse the damage inflicted on the citizens of Greenwood by urban renewal and other instruments of gentrification of this sacred area. It isn’t enough to undo what was done; Tulsa must understand the trauma of the myriad of social problems that are a direct result of the destruction of Greenwood. Studies show the damages are more than the theft of land through bureaucratic ruses.

Recent studies show another side of why the problems surrounding urban renewal and new incarnations like Tulsa Development Authority (TDA) are creating lasting problems in places they claim to be assisting. Most realize the medicine as administered by TDA is choking the patient. One important question surrounds how health is impacted by municipal development.

Early conclusions show that low income residents who stayed or couldn’t leave areas managed by urban renewal projects and subsequent plans by institutions like TDA suffered the worst. Most believed the harm was in loss of housing and home ownership at the core of all problems associated with the influence of Federal intervention.

One thing must be clear. Imminent domain, urban renewal, TDA and other governmental initiatives while claiming to be on a benevolent mission of helping displaced communities and families after removal is a cruel lie. They work hand in glove with investors to create opportunities for well heeled entrepreneurs. They have performed similar moves on other races with similar results. Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Japanese Americans saw their land taken and with no consequences for what can only be called theft.

One study talks about efforts to attract younger professionals and students to the area. Sound familiar? If you lack the education or means to get that education your chances of participating in the new wealth is zero. New amenities will be suited to attract and entertain young professionals like professional ball parks. Displaced families may never go to or be employed by the new attractions.

The new professionals will insist on a higher quality of healthcare and government will work to help facilitate that need. The problem is that long-time resident health professionals will be squeezed out despite promises not to infringe on their business. In the end it will mean all that is left is a form of healthcare the indigenous population cannot afford which will reduce health outcomes. Those black families who can afford the new healthcare like those found at the University of Oklahoma Tisdale health center that was created by public dollars would be likely to move to different parts of town to live in a better neighborhood and have access better healthcare. The infusion and joint efforts of governmental intrusion into healthcare has the grim likelihood of lessening health outcomes.

The emergence of new facilities and no plan to control prices of housing, often results in higher prices for rent and ad valorem taxes without an increase in income for the original inhabitants. On its face and innocent or not the implied promise of a better life for everyone involved, the results are much different. Gentrification can result in a huge disruption of lifestyles and create stress on whole communities that only exasperate low- and middle-income households. In short, the trauma, drama and stress from this invasion and lies can create anxiety for whole communities.

In discussing all of this, it’s important to know it just doesn’t have to be that way. It is not an absolute. Tulsa is tough because it is the way life has been for so many years. Old habits die hard for everyone involved. Still, just because it’s difficult to change doesn’t mean there can’t be a modification in behavior. For the reasons mentioned the old method isn’t working and is in fact making matters worse.

The future can be one of true inclusion. Growth can be commensurate with current abilities and planning. The current approach is almost like colonization for a foreign entity. The results of forced colonization are obvious and certain. A reversal of a damaging approach is not only healing but smart.

We stand at a moment in time where we can all celebrate a new way of planning. It was once theorized that Great Britain failed because they wanted the world to all be little Englishmen. This was done with little regard, context or respect for who people were not Anglo Saxon. Just because they didn’t speak or look English doesn’t mean they were inferior.

What is left of Greenwood and planning needs to be done on Greenwood’s terms. City leaders are like anyone else, they will repeat the most destructive behavior if no one complains. Let them know the old way is totally unacceptable and you want promises kept and land to be developed by African Americans based on their convictions.

John Lewis Facing Treatment For Cancer

One of the United States House of Representatives lions, John Lewis, is getting ready to start radiation treatments for stage IV pancreatic cancer. It is horrible news and Lewis is facing it with brave resolve; like he has done everything else.

In the history of the civil rights movement, Lewis is an icon. He is a crucible for justice and an unwavering soldier for tolerance and equality. For the life he’s led, he has been called the “conscience of the House.” He is what is called congruent; he walks it like it talks it.

He has received every accolade and remains a powerful figure in Washington D.C.  in the House of Representatives. In his early years he was busted over the head by racists for voting rights, equal transportation and other rights.

We pray for  healing on his body and a full recovery. He is not asking for pity or tears. He prefers strength. Which is just like him.