The Other Side of History

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Activity #1: Indigenous Peoples

Research:

Which indigenous people lived where you live right now?

Resources:

Write:

3 things you learned.

Things to know:

  • One stereotype about indigenous people is that they are dark skinned or at least non-European, but almost everywhere has indigenous people. There were people in what is now Britain before the Romans, the Celts, the Angles and the Saxons, though not much of their DNA remains in the population.
  • Common stereotypes about Indigenous people can be positive or negative (grounded, in touch with the earth, not very smart, savage, warlike etc.).
  • People are more complex.

Reflect:

Why are Indigenous people more warlike than the people who stole their land?

Activity #2: Central Park

Central Park is well known as a tourist attraction in New York City. It’s one of the biggest urban parks in the world with 843 acres of land. BUT, do you know its history?

  • There was an existing village called Seneca Village.
  • The land was seized by government to create the park.
  • The residents were ⅔ Black, ⅓ Irish.
  • Many were landowners but they were described as squatters.
  • They didn’t receive adequate compensation.
  • A safe haven for Black people was destroyed.
  • The history was wiped out.
  • The community was destroyed forever.

Learn More:

Before Central Park there was Seneca Village…

Read More:

New York destroyed a village full of African-American landowners to create Central Park.

Reflect:

How does learning this make you feel about that story?

Activity #3: Black Wall Street

Wall Street is well known as a major financial center, but did you know there once was an area called Black Wall Street? 

Black Wall Street was:

  • A relatively prosperous Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • Created by a Black landowner who sold to other Black people to create a safe space after the American Civil War.
  • It had an upper-class lifestyle and education that had previously only belonged to the city’s white residents.
  • There was resentment.
  • A false accusation of a crime (rape) let to race riots.
  • 9,000 people lost their homes, and they never got adequate compensation.
  • It was seen as a way to put Black people back in their place.

African-Americans posed a “geographical problem because their community was situated in an ideal location for business expansion.” The government and private industry worked in concert to bring down land prices and maintain white dominance in the Tulsa area.

Poor whites’ resentment of successful, landowning blacks allowed elite whites to use them as pawns to obtain more land, wealth, and prosperity. Judging by the legal impunity granted to whites by law enforcement, the state endorsed and, in fact, supported the Tulsa riot for self-serving, capitalistic gains.

The Devastation of Black Wall Street

Watch

Reflect:

How does learning this make you feel about that story?

Write: 

  • Imagine you are an African who has been stolen away from your family, shipped to another country and forced to work –  write 250 words about how you feel. 
  • Alternatively, imagine you are a Black American who has lost your home because of the building of Central Park or the destruction of Black Wall Street –  write 250 words about how you feel.

Listen

Excerpt from 6 Reasons to Raise Your BIPOC Kids in a Black Majority Country