the action or process of calculating or estimating something. “last year was not, by any reckoning, a particularly good one”
Similar: calculation, estimation, computation, working out, summation, counting, addition, total, tally, score
a person’s view, opinion, or judgment. “by ancient reckoning, bacteria are plants”
Similar: opinion, view, judgment, evaluation, way of thinking, estimate, estimation, appraisal, consideration
ARCHAIC: a bill or account, or its settlement.
plural noun: reckonings
These days, I hear a lot of talk about a “racial reckoning” in this country. I am not sure that’s entirely the correct word, or at least I’m not sure exactly what that means in context. Everyone has an opinion, evaluation, way of thinking about race in America. Few believe we can account for or settle it. We may be able to tally impact, but that’s a sticky wicket that often requires throwing darts toward a vague target while blindfolded. How do you calculate what MIGHT have been the outcome of generational wealth in the Greenwood District of Tulsa OK if the massacre had not occurred? Would their descendants be millionaires, or comfortably middle class, or living in poverty due to onset of unforeseen disasters?
It’s very hard to do time travel without leaving your computer keyboard, and without some degree of almost supernatural intuition. We can never reconstruct the Greenwood District in Tulsa. It is history, it is the past. So is the massacre, and nobody can rewrite those events. Unfortunately, many people over the years have attempted to rewrite those horrific days, minimize the human toll, just move on. But you can’t just move on from something like that, from loss of anywhere from 300 to 1100 human lives, thousands of properties, millions of dollars lost. How exactly can you “reckon” that, and how exactly do you repair it?
These are the questions that make politicians a bit psychotic, as they aim to come down somewhere in the middle of the question of reparations, trying hard to please everyone. Well, pleasing everyone in this situation is impossible. The Black community nation-wide, and the survivors and descendants of the Tulsa massacre want a concrete remedy for their pain, for that huge volcanic crater that sits open and smoking in the middle of everyone’s life. How are you going to reckon with THAT?
Just about everyone has agreed that an intractable first step is acknowledgement of what happened, in the same detail that survivors see in their mind’s eye every day. Shooting of Black people at point-blank range, even when they complied with deputies’ orders. Breaking into homes, vacant or not, and setting them on fire. Military air raids, raining bullets on U.S. citizens, in their legal residential settlement, as they ran for their lives. The story has to be told, with no omissions, in graphic detail. We cannot turn away from this and beg mercy – there was no mercy 100 years ago for the residents of the Greenwood District in Tulsa.
After the acknowledgement, we need to hear amends, apology, mea culpa. It may be trite at this point, but I believe it remains a necessary step. The President said it, so why can’t Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma say it. They don’t have to admit culpability, but just as most people say they are sorry to survivors when receiving news of someone’s death, I believe this would go a long way. It’s part of our social contract, and seems to be expected at this point.
After the acknowledgement, and the amends, people directly impacted need to come together and share their experience. Their pain, their rage, what they feel they have lost. Those folks should be the survivors and descendants of the Black families who fell victim to the events of May 31, 1921 but also survivors and descendants of the white families who participated or were present on some level on that day. This was a war, and war is not picky about its victims. Those killed in action and their families have one set of consequences, and those who killed or made it possible to kill have another set of consequences. Everybody needs to show themselves, be vulnerable, and listen. This is going to take a while.
The documentation of aftermath of this massacre shows the Greenwood District was rebuilt within a few years, but fell prey to urban renewal several years after that. When the Interstate came through, significant parts of the Greenwood District was bulldozed out of existence. Again. Eradicated to “make way” for progress. The area died twice, and that’s hard to take. Doubly hard to take is the noticeable trend in “urban renewal” projects that seems to deconstruct Black communities nationwide. That’s a very sore spot in a lot of places, and in “Black” Tulsa, urban renewal is known as “urban removal”, and they feel singled out for that impact. That’s another layer of healing that should be included.
Lastly, everybody who has any interest in what Tulsa will look like in 30 years should come to the table, or auditorium, or what have you to envision what equity will look like for them. Will it look like plaques and commemorative markers placed throughout Tulsa, will it look like scholarships for descendants of the massacre, will it look like jobs or new building construction or will it look like hard cash to descendants of business and property owners? Nothing should be off the table of dreams. The practical aspects come later – just dream it for now.
We don’t dream enough, any of us. We are always dashing off to somewhere, compliant to someone else’s schedule for us, someone else’s plan. If I’m not going to be resentful until I leave this place, I have to figure out what the hell a perfect life would be. I know a few of the things that make me happy, but what constitutes a joyful existence, no matter how improbable it may seem. Dreams don’t generally deal with practicality or probability, just the fantastic. Dreams are what happens in between appointments, if we let them.
I’m going to spend time dreaming later today, maybe into the night. I had occasion to present some thoughts about one of my dear friends who celebrated her 20-year anniversary of work at my Fellowship. She is an amazing person, and I said as much. It felt good to write that out, and present it to the congregation. I received quite a number of kudos, and people enjoyed the manner in which I put together the essay. This is everything to me, not because I just want to be praised and have applause. Because I want my work to mean something, to have meaning for someone. That’s what I want. I give far less than two shits or a damn about selling anything or winding up first in someone’s search engine. I had something to say, I wanted other people to hear it, and both those goals were accomplished. Simple.
After I was done with the presentation for my friend, the service was over shortly thereafter and I found myself ravenously hungry. I ordered pizza (bad girl, but I was hungry – for real). I am happy to say I did not inhale the entired pizza delivery in one big gulp, but I had enough to satisfy the hunger pangs. Not long after that, I fell asleep. I slept longer than I’ve slept in the past few months, and when I woke up this morning, I was still tired but feeling as though I had actually slept. I had some kind of weird dream that I can’t remember now, but it was weird and if I had it, that means I was in alpha-sleep, which is a good thing.
Then…wait a minute…it’s not morning, you fool. It’s early evening! You did sleep a good bit, but not the whole night. No wonder the dog was having a stroke about going outside. Holy mackerel. I am befuddled. I think I need a nap or something. I’ll get to that dreaming later on, I hope, but dang I hate it when I don’t know where the heck I am. Good lord. I’m glad I’m not on out on the streets being a danger to others.