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In Tulsa, Artists Mine Local History Through an Afro-Indigenous Lens



In Tulsa, Artists Mine Local History Through an Afro-Indigenous Lens

Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a city with a rich history that is often overlooked by mainstream narratives. However, a group of local artists is working to change that by exploring the city’s history through an Afro-Indigenous lens. By delving into the stories of Black and Indigenous people in Tulsa, these artists are shedding light on important aspects of the city’s past that have been marginalized or erased.

One of the most well-known events in Tulsa’s history is the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, in which a white mob attacked the prosperous Black neighborhood of Greenwood, also known as “Black Wall Street.” The massacre resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Black residents and the destruction of homes and businesses. For decades, this event was not widely discussed or taught in schools, but in recent years, there has been a renewed interest in uncovering the truth about what happened.

Artist and educator Dominique Belin is one of the many artists in Tulsa who is using her work to explore the history of the Tulsa Race Massacre and its impact on the Black community. Belin, who is of Choctaw and African American descent, creates art that reflects her identity and the history of her ancestors. In her work, she often incorporates symbols and imagery that are significant to both the Choctaw and African American cultures.

Belin’s art also serves as a form of activism, as she uses it to raise awareness about the injustices that Black and Indigenous people have faced throughout history. By telling the stories of her ancestors through her art, Belin is helping to ensure that their voices are heard and their experiences are remembered.

Another artist who is exploring Tulsa’s history through an Afro-Indigenous lens is Michi Thacker. Thacker, who is of Muscogee Creek and African American descent, uses her art to examine the connections between her two cultural backgrounds. Through her work, she seeks to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about Indigenous and Black people and to highlight the resilience and strength of both communities.

Thacker’s art often incorporates traditional Indigenous symbols and motifs, as well as imagery that is inspired by the history of Black people in Tulsa. By blending these two cultural influences in her work, Thacker is creating a new narrative that celebrates the shared experiences and struggles of Black and Indigenous people in the city.

In addition to individual artists like Belin and Thacker, there are also collective efforts in Tulsa to explore the city’s history through an Afro-Indigenous lens. One such project is the Tulsa Artists for Racial Justice, a group of local artists who are using their talents to address issues of racial inequality and social justice in the city.

The Tulsa Artists for Racial Justice have organized exhibitions, workshops, and community events that highlight the experiences of Black and Indigenous people in Tulsa. Through their work, they are challenging the dominant narratives of the city’s history and advocating for a more inclusive and equitable society.

One of the key goals of the Tulsa Artists for Racial Justice is to create a space for dialogue and collaboration between artists from different backgrounds. By bringing together artists of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds, the group hopes to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the city’s complex history and the contributions of Black and Indigenous people to its development.

In addition to visual artists, there are also musicians and performers in Tulsa who are using their art to explore the city’s history through an Afro-Indigenous lens. One such artist is jazz musician and composer Jabee, who has been influenced by the stories of Black and Indigenous people in Tulsa.

Jabee, who is of Choctaw and African American descent, often incorporates themes of identity and heritage into his music. Through his lyrics and performances, he seeks to honor the struggles and triumphs of his ancestors and to inspire pride and resilience in his community.

Another musician who is exploring Tulsa’s history through an Afro-Indigenous lens is hip-hop artist Steph Simon. Simon, who is of Muscogee Creek and African American descent, uses his music to address issues of social justice and racial inequality in the city.

Simon’s lyrics often touch on the legacy of the Tulsa Race Massacre and the ongoing struggles of Black and Indigenous people in the city. Through his music, he seeks to raise awareness about these important issues and to inspire change and empowerment in his community.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in exploring Tulsa’s history through an Afro-Indigenous lens. This interest has been fueled by a desire to uncover the stories of Black and Indigenous people in the city and to challenge the dominant narratives that have marginalized these communities.

Through their art, artists in Tulsa are shedding light on the experiences and contributions of Black and Indigenous people to the city’s history. By telling these stories through a lens that is rooted in Afro-Indigenous identity, they are creating a more inclusive and diverse narrative of Tulsa’s past and present.

As more artists continue to explore Tulsa’s history through an Afro-Indigenous lens, it is clear that their work is having a profound impact on the city’s cultural landscape. By telling the stories of Black and Indigenous people in Tulsa, these artists are helping to ensure that their voices are heard and their experiences are remembered for generations to come.



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Oklahoma,Tulsa

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