I’m not trigger warning a fucking thing because it’s time for people to learn some shit. You are not allowed to say, “I don’t want to learn because it’s too unsettling.” Willful ignorance is stupidity, cowardly stupidity is unacceptable.
Since Tumblr finds Bioshock Infinite so repulsive, let’s talk about real racism.
This is Greenwood, Oklahoma in June 1921. Greenwood is a suburb of Tulsa and, in its heyday, was often referred to as “Black Wall Street” because of its concentration of educated, affluent, successful blacks.
You see, back in the days of hardcore racism, if you were black and wanted an education? You went to black schools. If you wanted your community to have a doctor? You went to a black university and became a doctor. You wanted your community to have a lawyer? You became a lawyer.
If you were black and you wanted your community to be successful, you had to work your fingers to the bone but, by God, sometimes it could turn out great. Greenwood was an example of it turning out great. It was one of Tulsa’s most successful neighborhoods.
On May 31, 1921, Dick Rowland, a 19-year-old black shoeshine boy working on Tulsa’s white main street, entered a hotel to use the washroom. He used an elevator operated by Sarah Page, a 17-year-old white girl.
A man working the counter at a clothing store on the bottom floor heard what he believed was a girl’s scream and saw Rowland running out of the elevator. He then found Page in a “distraught state”.
No one knows what happened in the elevator, but it was confirmed that Rowland did not attempt to rape Page. Page did not press charges against Rowland.
Most theories are that he likely tripped and either steadied himself on her or, perhaps, stepped on her foot. There are other, unsubstantiated theories, that the two were lovers and were having a fight. Regardless, what happened next is where things turn awful.
The police conducted a hasty investigation (there is no record of Page’s statement) and proceeded to set out to find Rowland who they later arrested. The white-owned Tulsa Tribune had a cover story about Rowland “attacking” Page in the elevator and it has been widely suggested that the paper alerted its readers to the likelihood of a lynching. These relevant editorials have been lost to history, sadly.
The white sheriff of Tulsa County, Willard McCullough made efforts to protect Rowland under his custody, given a prior lynching of a black prisoner under the supervision of his predecessor. A group of armed whites came to the courthouse, demanding Rowland be given to them.
At that point and not believing McCullough would protect Rowland, thirty or more members of the black Greenwood community left for the courthouse. They were armed.
Seeing the group of armed black men, members of the white crowd not already armed went home to get their guns. Several attempted to retrieve weapons from the National Guard armory and were turned away by threat of death should they have tried to raid the armoury.
As the crowd outside the courthouse swelled with armed whites, more armed blacks took to the courthouse. Elder members of both communities attempted to dissuade against mob action but were ultimately unsuccessful.
After a shot rang out, the riot began and Tulsa descended into chaos with armed whites shooting at any black on the streets as well as raiding local stores for ammunition and more weapons. At some point, either late
Early in the morning on June 1, fires were set on the edge of Greenwood. Knowing what was to come, residents of Greenwood either took up arms to defend their homes or fled the city. By dawn, the attack began in earnest and armed whites stormed Greenwood.
From the air, white civilians flying biplanes dropped firebombs into the city. White rioters also took to white businesses that employed blacks, demanding these employees be remanded to their custody for detention.
Shortly after the worst of the rioting began, the Oklahoma National Guard arrived. After contacting local officials, martial law was declared and the rioting was brought to an end.
The death toll of the riots and firebombing is virtually unknown with approximately one dozen white deaths and between 30 and 300 black deaths. 800 whites were admitted to hospitals. No records survive of how many blacks were injured as both black hospitals in the city were destroyed. Between a thousand and several thousand blacks were detained, many died in these impromptu internment camps.
This is racism. This is why Bioshock Infinite is something that needs to exist. Racism is not some asshole on the fringe of society with a shitty opinion about a certain group of people. Racism is when a society turns on itself.