POSTED ON OCTOBER 24, 2012:
Love Letters, hate mail
(Re: "Business Zone & Battleground Site," Oct. 18-24, Vol. 22, No. 16)
Gosh, I bet white folks will hardly be able to wait to patronize businesses in the "Tulsa '21 Race Riot District."
This is either a joke or absolutely the most profoundly stupid idea for a district name I could imagine. And this comes from someone in some racial reconciliation group? Move over, Saturday Night Live
Ray Pearcey Responds:
I understand your reluctance and part of the irony here -- it's all part of the enormous ambiguity people feel about the whole undertaking. But part of the logic for the new naming strategy is a simple truth: the extended, 21' site was a horror zone -- during the one day, "micro war" and for years thereafter, as people fashioned a rebuilding effort. The "event" was like few others in 20th century American domestic history: denying same, via a feckless name -- one that doesn't cope with this reality, is very problematic.
A memorial project devoted to getting everyone to reflect on a bevy of horrible events has to start with simple honestly. Society has wrangled with the same dilemma with "battlefield/atrocity memorial" enclaves like Gettysburg or Treblinka -- but it's a much easier in these instances because the names of both sites are now synonymous with the grim realities of the events that transpired there.
And while it may not be a happy "handle" for conventional tourist promotion, this kind of visceral branding has not stopped places like the Berlin/Holocaust Museum from crafting powerful moral/educational missions while attracting extremely varied groups of visitors and big traffic. Calling the T-Town's Riot enclave the "Greenwood District" or something equally anodyne, would be a little like calling Motown the "tune zone."
There are also problems with local geography: the "Riot" corridor was an extension of the physical boundaries of the old Greenwood District and the African American housing subdivisions on its periphery. As it happens, I think some kind of "overlay", secondary designation might be crafted to augment the "Riot Zone" moniker.
And Toly, why would black people be any more likely, absent a thoughtful, really imaginative marketing/educational effort, than white folks to want to visit the new "Riot" District? It bears remembering that almost all of the victims of the '21 clash were people of color. Obviously, an historic district of the kind envisioned, will not work unless it's tethered to a carefully crafted, first-rate promotional & educational campaign -- an ongoing one. And making this work, while also highlighting the singular "enterprise community" that was the historic black Greenwood, is a big, double-sided challenge -- and not an easy one.
(Re: "Pathways to Leadership," Oct. 18-24, Vol. 22, No. 16)
I was wondering if the Pathways to Leadership piece by Terry Simonson was intended to be an intentional, colossal joke for readers of Urban Tulsa, of which I am a regular. If there was ever a person on the public payroll who exuded a lack of integrity on so many levels, it would be Terry. It would be nice to know that maybe he's developing some integrity now that he is out of the spotlight, but surely it will take a little longer than the short amount of time he's been gone from the Mayor's office. I would be interested in your perspective.
(Re: "Route On Time," Oct. 11-17, Vol. 22., No. 15)
I rode the bus for two years and the biggest concern I had was I get to most places but how do you get home at night? The night line is not really a good bus service at all. The buses don't intersect and they don't go where you need them and they take forever to get anywhere.
The biggest problem I see is if you have a job and it is not 9-5 Monday-Friday unless you live within walking distance than you are out of luck. I think the Saturday bus service is too short. I think instead of giving so many people discounts if you would raise the price of their monthly fare from $20 to regular $40 a month that would greatly increase the money coming in.
Also if I could have one wish it would be to have a bus on a grid and not in the strange shape is it on now. I live in a straight line about two miles from where I used to work and I had to take two buses to go two miles with anywhere 30 minutes to an hour wait between the two buses.
Also they don't run on Sunday or holidays. I worked on Sundays and Holidays part of the time. If they could even have a shorter schedule on Sunday that would help. Also the buses don't always connect the way I want them to. If you go one way than it is like get off one bus, wait a few minutes and get on the next but then coming back you get off the first bus, wait 30, 45, or an hour for the second bus. Your bus station is not that entertaining.
In conclusion I did live two years without a car using only buses or walking. It was not easy, people on the street would honk and yell really rude things to me. But with some planning and will power you can do it.
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