June 19th, 2020 The Year Of Perfect Vision
The tension is palpable in the town where I live. Tulsa, Oklahoma. Today is Juneteenth Day, a day that commemorates the abolishment of slavery.
Tomorrow, President Trump and Vice President Pence will be in Tulsa for a political rally, where the City of Tulsa estimates there will be 100,000 people in attendance.
The President’s Rally is set for 7pm. And a Black Lives Matter walk is set to go from Veteran’s Park at 6pm.
Oklahoma’s Governor Stitt has called out the National Guard.
And I am anxious. In sixty years on the planet, most of that living here in Tulsa, I have never felt such a palpable tension in the air as I did today when I woke up. So much so that I felt moved to go see for myself what was happening on the eve of these events.
I went downtown to take pictures. I had heard that there were convenience stores boarded up. Six Quik Trips to be exact. Looking like they are bracing for a hurricane. So I started there. At the edge of downtown. And it felt like the calm before the storm. The skies were providing the perfect backdrop too, as clouds loomed dark and large with the pending rains for today.
As I headed downtown, I stopped to take pictures of the Leon Russell tribute graffiti art. The man at the gate, kind enough to open it for me so that my pictures would not appear to be fenced in.
Next stop, I drove to the site of the rally. The BOK Center. And the first of the barricades. Like the ones in the French Revolution. Where that Civil War was fought.
It was only 7am, so I didn’t see much activity. There were a few Trump supporters waiting at one gate. Media from all over the country setting up a few blocks from the venue. Behind fences.
I decided to go to the Greenwood District. Black Wall Street. The site of the Tulsa Race Massacre, which had its 99th aniversary in recent weeks. Only a few barricades there. It is less than a mile from the BOK Center. I had heard that there was a BLACK LIVES MATTER banner being painted on the street and I wanted to see it for myself.
When I arrived, I was told that those who painted it had just left, so what I saw wasn’t even dry yet. All the while, the skies were getting ready. I was excited to see people. Period. I have chosen self isolation for the most part of the last ninety plus days.
As I was leaving, I felt an immense sense of powerlessness. And impending doom.
I fear that tomorrow there will be an explosion in downtown Tulsa. As haters of blacks, haters of whites, haters of police, haters of Trump, haters of Trump supporters, haters of Trump opponents converge. All of this hate going into a bowl full of people. Who are suffering. An alphabet soup of suffering.
H-atred, A-nger, F-ear, I-gnorance, B-oredom, I-ntolerance, D-isgust, R-age, C-ontempt, I-nsight, C-ovid F-atigue. As if to prepare for a R-iot. Or should that be R-evolution?
T-ime will tell. It always does. It tells what happened. T-hen. And what is happening. N-ow. As a result of what happened then.
I confess to having rubbernecker disease. A morbid curiosity as to what will transpire.
I want to say I hope it is peaceful. But I think that is arrogant of me. As if I know what is best for all those involved. So I’m going to say this instead. Whatever happens tomorrow in Tulsa, I hope when T-ime tells the S-tory, if there is V-iolence, there will be something G-ood that comes after. C-hange. C-ompassion. E-ducation. C-ooperation, T-olerance. A-cceptance. G-rowth. L-ove.
Growth is necessary. As I-ndividuals. As a C-ommunity. As a S-ociety. To A-dapt to the C-hanging T-imes and W-orld we live in. H-istory proves that.
When I grow, in most cases, there is some pain. Some say it is the touchstone to growth. I have found this to be true. And I know that I am more inclined to make necessary changes only after the pain is so great there is nothing I can do. But C-hange. And G-row. It hurts in the process. But the P-ayoff is great. Something U-seless is D-iscarded so that S-omething N-ew can take its place.
I inevitably always reach a point where E-nough I-s E-nough.
I think Tulsa and this country are headed for a huge growth spurt tomorrow. And I fear there will be pain. And it is not for me to judge the necessity of that. Or that pain in this case can be avoided. I do not know.
But my prayer in the midst of all of this is that when all is said and done, whatever consequences come when 100,000 people plus converge amidst the fatigue of a pandemic state and all of that alphabet soup, we may end up spilling the old soup and making new. I think we are due for something that tastes better than H-atred and F-ear.
It just makes me sad to think that if and when the soup spills, someone will get burned.