NYT’s Mara Gay on Tulsa Race Massacre: White Americans Are ‘Very Good at Forgetting History’

New York Times columnist Mary Gay said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that white Americans are particularly “good at forgetting history.”

Discussing the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, co-host Joe Scarborough said, “Mara, of course, we’ve been talking about connective tissue that have drawn Americans together for so long. Of course, Tulsa is a reminder of so many Americans who never felt that connection, and these pictures come back 100 years later as a stark reminder of what has happened in our history and what so many Americans today are still fighting for.”

Gay said, “Yeah, it is a really challenging story for several reasons. One of them is just we were talking about veterans and the connective tissue that could build, and that is absolutely correct. Of course, then you look at what happened in Tulsa, and we have images today of hundreds of World War I Black veterans from World War I being rounded up and put into the equivalent of local concentration camps and many of them lynched. It is a very harsh, difficult history that really is, I think still present today when you think about today, we still have survivors from this.”

She continued, “The other reason this is an important story is because I think Americans, especially white Americans, but Americans, in general, tend to be very good at for getting history but also tend to think that slavery was a very long time ago and that discrimination was a very long time ago. The reality is that is just not the case. So we have individuals — I spoke actually to Dr. Olivia Hooker, who was one of the last survivors. She died in 2018. I was fortunate enough to get a chance to interview her both in high school and then again at The Wall Street Journal, and she survived the massacre as a little girl.”

Gay added, “It doesn’t mean that the American experiment is for not. What it means is that it is far more complicated and has been far less inclusive than we want to believe. I think the way forward, of course, is a country together, is to acknowledge this history before you move forward. It doesn’t mean you have to stay there forever. it means you need to acknowledge it and remedy the pain through reparations or other means, and then you could move on together, and that has to be a part of our American story moving forward, or it will come back to haunt us in forms like Donald Trump and other ways that we haven’t even imagined.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN


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