The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 by Tim Madigan

Publication Date: February 1, 2003

 

On June 1, 1921, an estimated 10,000 white citizens of Tulsa, Oklahoma, destroyed the black Greenwood neighbourhood known at the time as America’s Black Wall Street. The actual number of casualties is not known but the cruelty and indiscriminate horror of the attack lived in the minds of the survivors who lived in a community whose only crime was success.

 

 

I will never know what it is like to be black in America. In history it’s always seemed like being one of Henry VIIIs wife. He would put up with them as long as they were pretty and docile without opinion and if they in any way displeased (or bored) him, they might lose their head. That, it seems, is a trivialization and I am sorry for making that comparison. It seems in history and now there is a burning hate and dangerous unrest in the white community. This work shook this reader. The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 should be required reading in every high school history curriculum. I write this review with horror knowing there was no real recrimination for this horrible event where the true number of casualties will never be known (Madigan postulates the secrecy may be due to the fear of being very appropriately charged with murder) .  The least that can be done is for this horrible event to never again be a open secret. For it to be taught and treated with the same horror of the awful, tragic and cruel events in history. Madigan tells us that people that moved the area soon after were surprised to hear of the event at the time he was writing the book. 

Madigan paints a horrifying picture in The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 by just reporting the facts. So how did it start? A black male shoeshine operator fell into a white elevator operator when the elevator made a sudden move. She called for help, he was jailed. Word started going around Tulsa that a lynch mob was gathering. When word reached Greenwood, 75 black men gathered arms and made their way to the jail in order to protect the accused. The Sheriff convinced the men that no one would reach the accused and when they started to leave, one of the white men that had gathered tried to disarm one of the black men and shots broke out leaving several men, mostly white, dead. 

What followed seems to have been more organized than perhaps a group of men could have come up with on the spur of the moment. At first, the black community was holding its own but the large group of people entered buildings and killed those they find wholly destroying the community. Shots rang from the sky from airplanes flying overhead and while Madigan doesn’t make a definitive judgement, he certainly points out that the men seemed to be receiving instruction from someone.  

The stories that Madigan relates are horrifying. Honestly, everyone should read this book. The attackers were no discriminators of person. They killed children and just anyone they met not their color. White men died too but an approximate 75% of the casualties were from the Greenwood community. In the aftermath, a commission was put together to examine the events in the day and in recent years reparations were ordered for the community. Madigan is a reporter and relates events in a very factual manner but the nature of the event is just devastating. Madigan does pose in her narrative that this was Jim Crow America. In 1921, the most popular Halloween costume was to dress up as a Klan member. They were respected and revered and so wrong. We know where the hate comes from but the cruelty is just not something I can comprehend.

I am aware that this is less a review and more a reaction piece. The work flowed well. The author is a professional writer. I think his attention to detail speaks in the impact on the reader of the piece. Madigan reached out to the victims in his research as well as those in Tulsa at the time (really, the perpetrators have kept their involvement a close secret for years). I don’t think there could be a more complete work covering this horrible event.

Pick this book up today. I don’t know about you, but I am going to work against hate in my community. For those of us who live internationally, please do not see this as an American problem. We all have hate in our communities and we can all work for change.

 

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The Mamba Mentality: How I Play by Kobe Bryant

Published on October 23, 2018

 

On January 26, 2020, sports legend Kobe Bryant and his oldest daughter, Gianna (13) died in a helicopter crash on the way to Gianna’s basketball game. Click here to read the Variety article. When Kobe retired he wrote The Mamba Mentality about his strategic view of the game and how it should be played combined with a score of intimate pictures of Kobe in the game. On this tragic day, The Mamba Mentality: How I Play is a look at one of the great minds of the game.

Continue reading The Mamba Mentality: How I Play by Kobe Bryant

Eubeltic Descent by Nadine Keels

Publication Date: August 22, 2018

Abigaia Grena has only known a life of crime. A talented thief, she has come to hate what she’s become. She dreams of returning to her ancestral home but her intended isn’t interested in making the trip across the ocean. What will she do when the Euebeltic Realm needs her?

The author, Nadine Keels, gave me a copy of Eubeltic Descent in exchange for my review.

We learn the most important thing about Abigaia in the first few sentences; she rationalizes morality. She’s a thief but vendors anticipate thievery and make allowances so Abigaia suggests that it’s something of a social contract. At her core, she’s a deeply principled person caught in a situation she’s unable to control but she can dream and, perhaps; find the strength to make dreams reality. She’s a master of distraction and analytical thinking in her craft and uses that not only to misdirect vendors and readers. She’s led a rough life having lost her mother young and while her father was physically there for a while and impressed upon her the importance of her heritage, she’s terrified of him. Abigaia, now living with her aunt, has turned to something of a pack of thieves. Her aunt knows she can’t afford the things she brings from market but asks no questions. Keels impresses on us that these are desperately poor people living on the edge and hence, the world to which Abi’s ancestors immigrated isn’t quite the bright land of opportunity it once was and as she learns about her ancestors, her hope grows.

There’s a metaphor of modern life in Eubeltic Descent. The class system and shattered lives and the proud ancestry that one would hope is re-found. Keel’s writing style is an intelligent mix of a classic world and a carefully constructed progressive plot that shows massive growth in its main character that is in keeping with the girl we meet in the first few chapters. Abi starts as a little girl sure she’s too old for the games and matures into a strong and capable woman. Keel’s skill with the language is visceral. We see Abi’s hair fall to act as a disguise, we see Tarek’s raking smile, we stand in the kitchen with Abi’s aunt as she makes apple tarts. Its hard to go into the story without revealing massive spoilers but the lines of the plot come together smoothly taking readers on a journey to the unexpected.

As fantasy novels go, Eubelic Descent is a good one. It flows well and is a fast read. If you like character driven fantasy, be sure to pick this one up today.

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About Nadine Keels
For more information about Nadine Keels, visit her blog. You can connect with her on Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter @nadinekeels.