The Oklahoma Eagle Editorial
Tulsa Delivers Message Of Hope During Trump Visit
In the week before President Donald J. Trump’s kick-off rally in Tulsa, there was valid concern what the trip might mean for our city. The chance for spreading Covid-19 just as numbers were spiking, racial violence in the wake of the George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minnesota cops in front of a shocked nation and the possibility of looting and destruction. Instead, Tulsa celebrated united, not with disunity; honored the fallen with song and prayers rather than destruction, and largely ignored a rally that fell well short of lofty projections. Tulsa should largely pat itself on the back for it’s unique response to a president with such a polarizing place in American politics.
To be sure, Trump is not a normal politician who handles the responsibility of President like other executives. He runs it like he runs his life; like a reality show, laced with caustic approaches to race and power. In the last month American cities have decried the violence police have inflicted on American citizens, especially Black citizens. Polls have revealed an American public sick and tired of the status quo and the people have taken to the streets. Tulsa and other cities in Oklahoma joined the nation in voicing their anger and pent up frustration with what appears to be a police state out of control. Tulsa has not resorted to violence and instead took a brief shining moment to celebrate racial unity.
Tulsa prayed for peace, and danced and sang their support for Black Lives Matter and an aggressive approach to police reform. Tulsa stood shoulder to shoulder with every race to voice opposition to police violence and the need for racial unity. Sponsors of the many events held in and around Greenwood were peaceful and at times took on the flavor of a party. They are all to be congratulated.
We are not blind, there were those who would have wanted chaos to be their response to Trump and his supporters. They were discouraged, thwarted, and their voices of violence drowned out by those who believe the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” This was a wonder to see.
Statues And Images Of Oppression Challenged
The sight of Confederate military figures who sought to maintain slavery and stood against a United States government are coming down in the wake of racial discord that has spilled over into all areas of life after the cruel death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police. Earlier this week protesters breached one of the outer perimeters surrounding the White House to reach the statue of President Andrew Jackson. Jackson, a former slave owner and architect of the theft of Native American lands and the deadly Trail of Tears where Tribes like the Five Civilized Tribes were driven by bayonet point to Oklahoma. Many did not survive the winter trip made mostly on foot. Jackson, like others are not worthy of honor and history should reflect that with facts not fake honor.
It is true that the victors write the history books; however, that doesn’t mean that a country that purports to be built on equality and justice can’t also tell the truth. That goes for the confederate flag. It is not a symbol of southern hospitality and family charm. It was the flag raised in an ugly and traitorous effort to maintain slavery of Black men and women. NASCAR, the organization that runs racing has banned the flying of Confederate flags around their tracks and events. It was a brave and righteous decision to make. It was made at the bequest of Black driver Bubba Wallace. Last week Wallace reported a noose was found in a stall he was assigned. Federal agents investigated the incident and concluded the noose for whatever reason was there before Wallace was assigned the stall. After Wallace announced the noose, NASCAR drivers stood behind him and on the track in an impressive show of support.
President Donald J. Trump had not missed the opportunity to criticize the removal of the flag and confederate statues. His tired arguments in defense of Confederate symbols were uttered at the Tulsa rally. Polls show that Trump and others who still support Confederate symbols are clearly in the minority.
Others are taking this moment in time to challenge Native American Mascots and the disgust most Indian people feel at the sight of the objectification of their race. The NAACP has joined other civil rights groups in calling for an end to Indian mascots. Spike Lee is calling on Washington Redskin owner Dan Snyder to change the name.
Several weeks ago, it was announced that Aunt Jemimah would be going through a name and image change because of the racist history of its moniker. Some may remember the restaurant chain Sambo’s which literally went out of business because of the negative imagery attached to the company. Land O Lakes removed the image of a native female on the package because it objectified her and her race.
It is clear this is a sea change in the way things are in this country. The status quo was not normal; it was in fact painful and humiliating for many people of color. Now most people are joining the chorus for change.
Qualified Immunity Has Given Police An Unneeded Protection
In the discussions regarding American policing, there is a lot of talk about banning choking and the use of lethal force. But if you peel back the onion of that there seems a belief that police need to choke and shoot with impunity because of the nature of their job. At the time crime was an issue and there was a belief they needed the latitude to do their job. They also needed bigger guns, meaner dogs and armor to fight crime sufficiently. It is time to take another look at what was granted police during another time. Does it apply today?
The killing of George Floyd has highlighted the largely unknown doctrine of qualified immunity. While that immunity has not been extended to Floyd’s killers or others lately it remains a structural basis that makes it difficult to change officers.
Look for hearings on this subject and its effect on union concessions made to police. Now is the time of change.