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Whenever most white people even hear the word “reparations” their first instinct is to say “no one alive ever experienced slavery,” or “that was like 400 years ago.” But what will they say to people who suffered at the hands of white supremacy and are still alive? Well, apparently, they still pretty much say the same thing.
According to the New York Times, a judge has ruled that three survivors of the Tulsa, Oklahoma, race massacre of 1921 can proceed with part of a lawsuit filed against the city and other defendants seeking reparations for one of the most violent and racist single-day events in American history.
From the Times:
The lawsuit names seven defendants, including the city, the Tulsa County sheriff and the Oklahoma National Guard. The city and others had asked to dismiss the lawsuit, which, under the state’s public nuisance law, said the devastation caused by the mob continued to affect the Greenwood community, which was home to the business district, today.
Everything from slavery to the reconstruction era to Jim Crow law to all the mass violence committed against striving Black communities has had a rippling effect that still exists in the Black community today. How could it not? But white folks who would rather view America as a noble nation that has corrected and moved on from its racist past—well, they pretty much wear their dismissiveness right on their sleeves.
“What happened in 1921 was a really bad deal, and those people did not get a fair shake, but that was 100 years ago,” said John Tucker, the lawyer for the Chamber of Commerce, a defendant in the suit, according to the Times.
White people are funny. Imagine referring to the slaughter of hundreds of Black people as “a really bad deal” and the destruction of a thriving community and its people as not getting a “fair shake”—and being completely oblivious to how insensitive and racist you sound. Also, 100 years is not that long ago. If it was, people who survived the massacre wouldn’t still be alive today to sue over it.
But thanks to the ruling by Judge Caroline Wall of Tulsa County District Court, the lawsuit hasn’t been dismissed just yet.
“History was made today,” Damario Solomon-Simmons, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said outside of the courtroom on Monday after the ruling. But he didn’t provide much insight as to what’s been allowed to proceed regarding the lawsuit and what hasn’t. He said Wall would “provide a written order that would provide details about the ruling, which granted a motion by the defendants to dismiss part of the case,” the Times reported.
“The only thing we know is that she allowed a part of our case to move forward to discovery and trial,” Solomon-Simmons said. “We do not know the specifics.”
“There is a lot of work left,” he added. “But we take any small victory we can get.”