The Oklahoma Eagle Editorial
Include Freedmen As Nation Reckons With Racial Transgression
The United States continues to stare down an uncertain future in the wake of Covid-19 and wrestle with deep seated racism after the gut-wrenching death of George Floyd. There are times these two crises meet in stark reality after the Federal government has opened its pocketbook in preparation for the hardship of a recession. These hard times are brought on by the national shut down and efforts to assist historically oppressed populations. With billions of additional government funds heading toward Native American governments, now is not the time to forget the beleaguered Freedmen of the Five Civilized tribes once again.
To that end there are monies that have been earmarked for assisting not only the populous Five Civilized Tribes but for Freedmen. Native nations have suffered untold atrocities in the past and now receive taxpayer grants for their membership to take care of vital services as part of treaty agreements. Treaties have the legal equivalency of law and while it’s true America has often broken its word to them, they have denied treaty rights to the Freedmen. That law abuts the sovereign right of tribes to determine membership.
Presently, the only time the Five Civilized Tribes honor their part of the treaty is when counting Freedmen in boosting tribal membership. The larger the membership, the more the Federal government sends the tribe in government program money. Currently, it seems like Congresswoman Maxine Waters is the only one who is interested in making sure Freedmen are not forgotten.
With billions at stake and congress meeting to decide how tax dollars will be divided up and spent they should not forget the forgotten Freedmen. As monuments come down, flags are banned, and people march for justice, this is the perfect time to remember the historic wrong of inflicted on Freedmen and to change course.
Lankford Backs Down From Juneteenth Holiday
Faced with withering racist pressure, Oklahoma U.S. Senator James Lankford dropped plans to replace Columbus Day with Juneteenth. The Oklahoma senator has a record of understanding Oklahoma’s difficult history and in his own earnest way has tried to right it. He worked closely with State Senator Kevin Matthews in promoting the true history of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The pair pushed through efforts to add the race massacre into Oklahoma school curriculum. Unfortunately, this time the pushback to justice was too intense.
The pressure apparently came in the form of racist phone calls about dropping Columbus Day and replacing it with Juneteenth. June 19th took on a new life when President Donald J. Trump decided to kick off his political rallies by coming to Tulsa on Juneteenth and this time his campaign received so much criticism for coming Tulsa on this day as callous and insensitive. Trump made the rare decision to back off that day and waited a whole day to hold his poorly attended rally. This is mentioned because there was great anger because the rally was not the great send off Trump wished for. While there was little violence during Trump’s visit, the simmering anger remained.
Lankford’s rationale is worth examining. He said he was not trying to “rewrite history or join the mob.” Interesting use of words that implied that Juneteenth is fake history when Columbus actually washed ashore on an already inhabited Bahamas. He never landed on mainland America and you cannot discover a land already inhabited by native Americans who he promptly tried to enslave. He ended up replacing the native slaves with black slaves. He was this nation’s first slave trader. Hardly the kind of person deserving of a national holiday and grand statues in his inglorious image. Lankford decided this history was ok and walked away from what would had been his courageous legacy. And apparently Lankford thinks those righting history are a mob.
While the nation tries to remove vestiges of hate by removing monuments of slavery, Lankford said “quite frankly, I’m not sure they’re mad at me, other than they’re just mad at everybody right now and frustrated because they’re watching our history get attacked as a nation. I am not trying to attack our history. I’m trying to deal with our finances for the future, as well as to be able to honor our continued history.” Like ignoring the importance of Juneteenth and lies of Christopher Columbus?
Trump Out Of Step On Purpose On Mascots
President Donald J. Trump has decided to not so much campaign for the presidency as wage culture war against the tides of change. It is clear he is completely out of control in planning a campaign and is not going after any voter except for his most loyal. It is an unshakeable group of voters who are eager to oppose any change to institutional racism. It is one of the lowest components of white supremacy. Keeping people of color in their low station in life. Native Americans have long suffered the humiliation of garish Indian mascots. But that tide appears to be changing across this country. Except in the White House.
The Washington Redskins have long ignored pleas to change a mascot name the dictionary describes as a derogatory term as do Indian groups across the nation. Now they are planning to review their moniker that most believe means they will change it. This is not done out of some newfound desire to do the right thing. No, it is a direct result of the tragic death of George Floyd and calls to end racism in America. Corporate America took note and started pulling support for the Washington Redskins. It runs in the hundreds of millions and the team really has no choice. The Cleveland Indians followed their lead and will also review their mascot.
Locally the Union Redskins have announced they too will review their mascot and will take up the measure Monday July 13, 2020. These at this point are nothing short of miraculous. However, before the champagne is uncorked natives are waiting to hear what the changes will be. Most Native groups don’t want any reference to their race reflected in the new mascots.
The gross objectification of Indian mascots is not harmless. The often unreported violence heaped on native people stems from the marginalization brought on by institutional racism. The NAACP recognizes this and has gone on record supporting the Indian position. The Jewish Federation, Islamic groups and national Hispanic organizationshave lent their support toward removal of mascots.
Perhaps Monday will mark the beginning of the end of the yearly mocking of a race of people for team spirit.