Friday 4 June 2021

The Many Faces Of Racial Terror.

Tulsa's Greenwood District Burning, 1 June 1921. In a frenzy of race hatred, a veritable army of whites descended on the prosperous African-American neighbourhood of Greenwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and laid it waste. As many as 300 African-Americans were murdered by the rampaging white mobs, who came against their fellow citizens with pistols, rifles, machine-guns and even aircraft. Upwards of 30 city blocks were burned to the ground.

WHEN IT COMES to racial terror, it’s easy to feel superior to Americans. Certainly, New Zealand has nothing in its colonial history to match what happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on 31 May/1 June 1921 – exactly one hundred years ago this week.

In a frenzy of race hatred, a veritable army of whites descended on the prosperous African-American neighbourhood of Greenwood and laid it waste. As many as 300 African-Americans were murdered by the rampaging white mobs, who came against their fellow citizens with pistols, rifles, machine-guns and even aircraft. Upwards of 30 city blocks were burned to the ground.

The Greenwood community, so full of black expertise and entrepreneurship that journalists dubbed it “The Black Wall Street”, never recovered. The story of the massacre, one of the most deadly and destructive race riots in US history, was buried by the Tulsa authorities for decades. Only in the last 20 years have the efforts of African-American historians and activists succeeded in forcing White America to confront this dreadful incident from its bloody past.

What made them do it? The story put about at the time was all-too-familiar: a young black man had ‘disrespected’ a young white woman. That’s all it took. The findings of an official commission of inquiry, convened three-quarters-of-a-century after the massacre, told a different story. Released in 2001, the final report stated that “the city had conspired with the mob of White citizens against Black citizens”. Why did they do it? The screenplay of the movie Mississippi Burning offers a powerful insight into the mindset of the sort of Whites who burned down Greenwood:

You know, when I was a little boy, there was an old negro farmer that lived down the road from us, name of Monroe. And he was... well, I guess he was just a little luckier than my daddy was. He bought himself a mule. That was a big deal around that town. My daddy hated that mule, ‘cause his friends were always kidding him that they saw Monroe out plowing with his new mule … One morning, that mule showed up dead … After that, there wasn’t any mention about that mule around my daddy … I knew he done it. He saw that I knew. He was ashamed … He looked at me and said, ‘If you ain’t better than a n*****, son, who are you better than?’

Still, those 300 Greenwood deaths require some context, because, appalling as that number is, it represents barely 5 percent of the estimated 6,500 African-Americans who fell victim to racial terror between the end of the American Civil War in 1865 and 1950.

Before we Pakeha New Zealanders start feeling too smug, however, we should give some thought to what our Settler State did to thousands of young Maori – especially young Maori males – in the decades following World War II.

These were, of course, the years of the great internal migration of Maori: from the rural margins of New Zealand into which they had been shunted by the settler economy; to the cities, where their unskilled labour was urgently needed by employers who had run out of unskilled Pakeha to exploit.

For the New Zealand state, this huge demographic shift was fraught with potential problems. Would Maori be able to adapt to the new and profoundly different lifestyle that awaited them? And, what should be done with those who couldn’t – or wouldn’t – behave themselves?

Part of the answer came in the form of the special “boys’ homes” established by the state to corral the wayward offspring of Maori families in transition. Young people in general were widely perceived as problematic in post-war New Zealand, but young Maori males provoked all manner of racially-charged fears.

The callous, indeed almost frivolous, incarceration of young, brown people in out-of-sight, out-of-mind state institutions, where all too frequently they were victimised and abused, must stand as one of the most scandalous misapplications of state power in New Zealand history. The Royal Commission of Inquiry Into Abuse in Care has calculated that upwards of quarter-of-a-million young New Zealanders – most of them Maori and Pacifica – suffered horribly in the course of what some might call these slow-motion lynchings.

The Tulsa Massacre represents race hatred at its most vicious and unequivocal. New Zealand’s racial terror has always been inflicted with considerably more discretion.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 4 June 2021.


John Hurley said...

New Zealand’s racial terror has always been inflicted with considerably more discretion.
Except I don't see a case and I'm skeptical of "great migration". You have to remember Maori were mainly mixed ethnicity, as Kenneth Cumberland remarks "there's an American whaler in the family tree of most families in the far north".

There's also a "great migration" from the census as Treaty settlements came on stream (perhaps) and there werealways Maori in the cities according to The Big Smoke. I have come to view "great migration" as a meme created by the left who despise an individualistic market economy.

Notice Goldsmith tackling the Associate Minister of Education on teaching white privilege. She obfuscates: they only instill it in teachers; "it isn't in the curriculum". She blurts on about systemic racism and colonisation.

I hope like hell National and Act get beyond the obvious to the nitty-gritty of Critical Theory and it's worm holes that (eg) reject science (as a form of oppression) and objective truth. "Critical thinking" doesn't mean making an argument map it sees a white students objective assessment of a situation as based on power, stand point and privilege and all those things discredit any point of view but the (politically) correct one. All groups have the same potential genetically and culturally but some groups suppress others by making systems that privilege their groups.

Applying "Greenwood" to that (today) is black and white thinking.

Nick J said...

Im not sure that the Tulsa Massacre will ever be judged in a truthful historic way as opposed to being a clarion call to demonstrate evil white racism. There is a large streak of Tonypandy in todays accounts. I invite all to read the Wikipedia article which traces events escalating with armed black and armed white groups firing on one another. From there it got out of hand. That racism motivated white actions there is no doubt, but as always the facts have been mixed into a politicised narrative.

With regard to the abuse of young people at the hands of our state we run Royal Commissions that seek to salve the public conscience and keep the lid on reaction. To my mind this never seems to address prevention of the next abuse of state power, nor does it redress the harm done sufficiently. If Royal Commissions were effective at publicising state abuses of power we would all be questioning the legitimacy of our state.

Geoff Fischer said...

In New Zealand the colonial state, rather than Pakeha as a people, has been at the forefront of the persecution of Maori. This is evident from the wars of the nineteenth century (initiated by the state for reasons of state, and carried through by imperial forces) and later by events such as the trial of Rua Kenana.
Kenana was prosecuted by the state, for reasons of state, before a Pakeha jury in a case presided over by Judge Chapman.
"The jury threw out the charge of sedition and were unable to come to a decision on the counselling charges, but found Rua guilty of 'morally' resisting arrest on the first occasion. With this lever, Chapman pronounced a sentence of one year's hard labour followed by 18 months' imprisonment. Eight of the jury protested publicly and with a petition to Parliament against this harsh interpretation of their verdict. It cannot be said that Chapman was impartial. He considered that Rua had a long history of defiance of the law and that, as a member of a race 'still in tutelage', he needed to learn that the arm of the law reached 'every corner'."
Clearly for more than a century the decent majority of Pakeha have been at odds with the vicious manner in which the colonial state has dealt with Maori living with mana motuhake.
We should celebrate that fact, and follow our destiny as the people of Aotearoa - to remove the last vestiges of colonialism and restore te rangatiratanga to all of the people.

Shane McDowall said...

Mark Derby's unofficial history of Mt Eden Prison , " Rock College ", is a good read and very illuminating.

Urbanisation was a disaster for many Maori. According to Derby, by 1954 25% of the prison population was Maori. By 1970 Maori were imprisoned at a rate five times the general population.

New Zealand never had the hard apartheid of South Africa and the southern states of the US. But we did have the soft apartheid of the northern US states.

My mother told me that her local cinema (Kaikohe) had separate toilets for Maori and Pakeha.

Most young Pakeha have no idea about the blatant racism faced by Maori (and other "minorities") well into the 1960s.

Pakeha old enough to remember what happened seem to suffer from collective amnesia.

Strangely, many older Pakeha seriously believe that New Zealand used to have wonderful race relations, but this harmony was destroyed my Mahree activists with their Mahree land claims.

School students do not need to have a "white man bad" narrative thrust upon them. All that needs to be done is to tell the straight truth about this nation's history and leave them to make up their own minds.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Upwards of a quarter million??

Here's the text: "From data provided to date by State agencies and faith-based institutions, we have identified a total of around 6,500 people who are known to have made claims of abuse while in State and faith-based care. Using unreported-crime multipliers developed from New Zealand and international crime surveys, we estimate that between 5.6 and 10 times this number may have been abused in care, or about 36,000 to 65,000 people between 1950 and 2019. This is between 5.5 and 9.9 percent of the total cohort in care, after adjusting for the overlap between settings.
Across 1950 to 2019 the bottom-up estimates of survivors of abuse (36,000 to 65,000 people) are significantly smaller than the top-down estimates (114,000–256,000 people)."

Anthon said...

Chris, you seem to have forgotten Parihaka: as gruesome an example of white hatred of the other as Tulsa. Sadly not unique: still, it is our stark reminder of racist-based hatred here in 'Godzown'.

Geoff Fischer said...

Kia ora Shayne
"School students do not need to have a "white man bad" narrative thrust upon them. All that needs to be done is to tell the straight truth about this nation's history and leave them to make up their own minds."
There will be a few teachers - both Maori and Pakeha - who will pursue that "white man bad" narrative with conviction, but while that stance may be understandable it will be no more helpful to us than the older narrative that "the Crown can do no wrong".
For generations New Zealand's children in compulsory state education have been kept in ignorance of the history of their people. That should change. However, it is vital that a current bias is not allowed to substitute for past ignorance.
A biased selection of the facts will lead to biased opinions, so it is also vital that our tamariki and mokopuna should be told all the facts of our history, however unpalatable they may be to the state authorities, and even to some of us.
We can all take an active role in that process of uncovering the truth, by teaching our children and mokopuna in the home and on the marae, putting our own perspectives to them, and then letting them go to school armed with facts and questions to put to their teachers.
The children should understand that this delving into our history is to be a dialogue and not, as you say, "a narrative thrust upon them" either in the home or in the classroom.

Tauhei Notts said...

We are fortunate that the National Library have that wonderful web site named Papers Past.
One can readily compare the publicity of the Greenwood area of Tulsa with the publicity of George Floyd.

Barry said...

And krushev (sp?) Killed 6 million Ukrainians by starving them, and Hitler killed 6 million Jews and tens of thousands of queers and religious,
And the Zimbabwean leader (Ive forgotten his name) killed thousands of opposition tribes people.
So as bad as 300 sounds its got nothing on the whole village (everyone of all ages) that Cromwell slaughtered because they resisted.
Really this Tulsa bit of history is hardly noticeable in mans inhumanity to fellow man. Its just another bit of "lets blame whitey"

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jesus Christ, I find myself agreeing with Shane McDowell. I guess there is always a first time.
Nick – I suggest that if there are two armed groups firing at each other it's already out of hand.

Not to mention that you tend to play down white responsibility. – from the Wikipedia article:

"The massacre began during the Memorial Day weekend after 19-year-old Dick Rowland, a Black shoeshiner, was accused of assaulting Sarah Page, the 17-year-old White elevator operator of the nearby Drexel Building. He was taken into custody. After the arrest, rumors spread through the city that Rowland was to be lynched. Upon hearing reports that a mob of hundreds of White men had gathered around the jail where Rowland was being kept, a group of 75 Black men, some of whom were armed, arrived at the jail in order to ensure that Rowland would not be lynched. The sheriff persuaded the group to leave the jail, assuring them that he had the situation under control. A shot was fired, and then, according to the reports of the sheriff, "all hell broke loose." At the end of the exchange of fire, 12 people were dead, 10 White and two Black. As news of these deaths spread throughout the city, mob violence exploded.[2] White rioters rampaged through the Black neighborhood that night and the next morning, killing men and burning and looting stores and homes. Around noon on June 1, the Oklahoma National Guard imposed martial law, ending the massacre."

That story seems a little bit different to me than your interpretation. It's not as if Black people hadn't been lynched before, and BLM as a direct result of similar instances in the US. And I notice you're still peddling the fallacy that they are extreme.

Nick J said...

I stumbled on this insanity this morning and if it wasnt so overtly racist it would be laughable. It does however illustrate the socio-political environment that makes the references to the Tulsa massacre and the reverence to sainthold of a woman beating violent drug addled criminal possible.

a group of middle-class white women who have paid $5,000 to take part in a dinner party where they get a chance to confront their privilege.
These now-widely reported events are organised by Race2Dinner, a company created by Regina Jackson, who is black, and Saira Rao, who is Indian American. Jackson and Rao are part of the growing woke training industry, which is busy successfully monetising white guilt

Expensive virtue signalling from the priveleged. Grifting and pigment exploitation Bernie Madoff would have been proud of.

The concept of whiteness conveys the sentiment that being white leads people to adopt attitudes and forms of behaviour that are intrinsically problematic and racist. Apparently, no one who is white is immune from internalising whiteness and those who resist acknowledging their complicity in maintaining the regime of white privilege are denounced as exemplars of white fragility.

This is the nub of the issue, Critical Race Theory in action, a criminal idea that posits guilt at birth, born guilty and no redemption. Adherents to this idea might wish to refer to the arguments over original sin that lead to millions of deaths in the Reformation and consequent wars of religion.

That our academic and political classes can adopt this excrescence indicates that they have lost any rational judgment and are morally bankrupt. This is blind racism masquerading as a cure to other real racism. Nothing good can come of it.

David George said...

Shane: "My mother told me that her local cinema (Kaikohe) had separate toilets for Maori and Pakeha."

I lived a few doors from the Regent Theatre, Kaikohe, in the mid sixties as a kid. The theatre had the circle and the stalls, 1/6d upstairs and 1/3d down - later 20 cents and 15 cents if I remember correctly. We usually went down stairs - you could get in to the movies (or pictures as we called them) and get an ice-cream for the same price as just the ticket upstairs. It was a bit rougher down there and the toilets were built, maintained and used with little respect. Mostly Maoris and anyone on a budget downstairs though the Maori boys on a date would go upstairs if he wanted it to work out with the girl and didn't want to get shit from the cousins all night.
Things were certainly livelier there, plenty of screaming, yelling and laughing. There was no racial segregation as your mother remembers it Shane, though the down stairs was sometimes referred to as the Maori seats there was nothing particularly sinister in that I think and certainly no signs or supervision of racial segregation.

greywarbler said...

Barry You reveal an amoral attitude in the tone of your dismissive approach to the stats of terrible and deadly attacks, poor resource management and lack of charitable response to need.
The modern belief is that we are being in a more reasoned, principled way but that we aren't is enforced on our consciousness by blatant murder by authority in front of people who were or felt powerless to stop it.

We need to remind ourselves of the regular outbreaks of human viciousness against people who are unable to halt it. This is not in ordinary animals but in human animals with complex, huge. reasoning and measuring, brain power. It does seem it is more often white against black people carrying out the atrocities, which is in stark contrast to their assumed superior character. It needs to be pointed out that this is a myth, and though you have not taken part in such dissolute behaviour Barry (I presume) there is a responsibility on those whites who care to live up to their principles to expose the truth of the behaviour and work to stop it.

The atrocities of black against black, or inter-racial or inter-national attacks also need to be noted, and stopped using methods of amelioration and talking through the disputes of various kinds, and reparations made to an agreed extent. We need to work on our own bad behaviour while noting the enormity of others' disgraces, and attempt to prevent the conditions that led to those in other countries. Which means delving into their history and background to ascertain the elements that came together to spark the flame; like prevention by doing the appropriate thing in a measured way to overcome the real and perceived faults.

Actually 'fallen from grace' is I guess what a disgrace is. You don't seem to want to climb back to a higher position of honour Barry.

greywarbler said...

I think Tulsa is worth studying as a case history for NZ's future. This is how bad it could get. But they, within the bad conditions, created good conditions by pooling their efforts and money and supporting each other. As NZ is decimated further by overseas wealth buying up our land, other resources, our inventions, etc etc. we need to hold hands make a vow 'For NZ' and work to benefit each other. The government is dysfunctional and lost in meetings and theories like Monty Python:

This from Wikipedia:
By the end of 1921, 3,200 of Tulsa's 72,000 residents were Klan members according to one estimate.[28][29] In the early 20th century, lynchings were common in Oklahoma as part of a continuing effort to assert and maintain white supremacy.[28][30][31] By 1921, at least 31 people, mostly men and boys, had been lynched in the newly formed state; 26 were Black.

At the same time, Black veterans pushed to have their civil rights enforced, believing they had earned full citizenship by military service. In what became known as the "Red Summer" of 1919, industrial cities across the Midwest and Northeast experienced severe race riots in which Whites, sometimes including local authorities, attacked Black communities. In Chicago and some other cities, Blacks defended themselves for the first time with force but were often outnumbered.

Tulsa, as a booming oil city, also supported a large number of affluent, educated and professional African-American people. Greenwood was a district in Tulsa which was organized in 1906 following Booker T. Washington's 1905 tour of Arkansas, Indian Territory and Oklahoma. It was a namesake of the Greenwood District that Washington had established as his own demonstration in Tuskegee, Alabama, five years earlier.

Greenwood became so prosperous that it came to be known as "the Negro Wall Street" (now commonly referred to as "the Black Wall Street").[32] Most Black people lived together in the district. Black Americans had created their own businesses and services in this enclave, including several grocers, two newspapers, two movie theaters, nightclubs, and numerous churches.

Black professionals, including doctors, dentists, lawyers, and clergy, served their peers. During his trip to Tulsa in 1905, Washington encouraged the co-operation, economic independence and excellence being demonstrated there. Greenwood residents selected their own leaders and raised capital there to support economic growth. In the surrounding areas of northeastern Oklahoma, they also enjoyed relative prosperity and participated in the oil boom.[32]

Nick J said...

GS, in answer:
Yes, if two armed groups are firing it probably is out of hand. Should I have said it got further out of hand?

You contend that I downplay white responsibility. Rubbish, I merely point out that the portrayal of the event is as usual highly politicised and not entirely in alignment with the facts. That in no way minimises white responsibility. The fact that blacks armed themselves and went to the Court shows them as not mere victims but as having agency and acting on it. That in itself indicates other things going on at the time, a bit of digging indicates there was a race war going on.

Finally, you accuse me of peddling a fallacy that BLM are extreme. They are on record as subscribing to an extreme idea that whites are inherently racist. I dont need to peddle anything, why are you so keen to defend an evil racist proposition?

Shane McDowall said...

David George. My mother's memories are from the 1930s and 1940s. She left the farm near Kaikohe where she was raised in 1948. I have no doubt your memories from the 1960s are accurate. But I suspect my mother's recollections are also accurate. Sadly she is no longer alive so I can't double check.

Even if her memories were incorrect, the fact is that petty apartheid was rife in New Zealand. A fact that most Pakeha are probably unaware of.

The good news is that the No Maoris No Tour movement c.1960 showed that a significant number of Pakeha were willing to stand up for racial equality.

This is one of the stories that school students need to know.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I defend them neck because while some of them might believe whites are inherently racist some don't. You always pick out the most extreme statement by the most fringe element of any group and assume that everyone in that group agrees with it. It's a tactic the right have been getting away with the years – Brendan does it all the time as well. Defund the police! He's been told that that means various things to various people but he keeps coming back to it like a dog to its own vomit. Christ if we all did this, everyone on the left would be quoting Hitler and assuming that everyone on the right was a Nazi.
Gosh I'm agreeing with Shane McDowell again is nice to know that we have at least one thing in common I guess.

Nick J said...

Well I guess GS that you are happy with a group publicly identifying white people as inherently racist, because perhaps as you say some members dont believe it. The trouble with that is that it excuses those that do. It is in alignment with Stalins eggs and omelette reference as a justification for wrong.

You seem to think Im on the Right because I do blow the whistle on Leftist extremism that you seem happy to endorse. Reality is that a bad idea, whether Left or Right is still a bad idea. If Leftists like you wont call them out Leftists like me sure will.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Nick. Who says I won't call them out? You seem to assume I approve, rather than just acknowledge their existence. But what I do know is that in any large enough group there are a variety of opinions – about pretty much everything. And acknowledging this, and pointing out your propensity to spread their beliefs over the whole organisation is not approval of said beliefs.

Nick J said...

So GS you dont deny the racism in CRT or BLM. But because you say any group has a diversity of opinions we can just ignore it? Not condemn it as something bad? For a man who claims academic credentials you really take the biscuit in skued biased logic. Jesus definitely wept.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Again, where did I say that I would ignore it? I have have condemned it in other forums – going way back to when the black Muslims claimed that all white men were devils. It doesn't make the whole organisation racist, because the drivers for joining it are not wanting to be racist, but wanting some justice for the black people shot by police. But you condemn the whole thing as racist. That's skewed logic if there ever was. You obviously know nothing about the organisation beyond what you read on right wing websites.
For someone who doesn't know anything about my academic credentials, claimed or otherwise, you do jump to a number of conclusions about me. Might I suggest you take the beam out of your own eye before you criticise me.
You obviously need to read more widely. Here are some good places to start.

Nick J said...

Re your academic credentials please refer to your comment 31 May 15.17 on The Rise and Fall and Rise of the Extreme Left where you claim to be a trained historian. Chris responded to this June 2 11.53 telling you to desist. Thats all I know and all I care.

Your links, refer Sir Humphreys catch phrase.