Violent Utopia: Dispossession and Black Restoration in Tulsa
Lecture by Jovan Scott Lewis, Associate Professor and Chair of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Governor appointee to the California State Reparations Task Force. He is the author of Scammer’s Yard: The Crime of Black Repair in Jamaica (University of Minnesota Press) and Violent Utopia: Dispossession and Black Restoration in Tulsa (Duke University Press). Jovan studies racial capitalism, underdevelopment, and reparations as means of understanding the historical constitution of Black communities.
This talk covers the history of Greenwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma, more famously known as Black Wall Street. It assesses how the 1921 race massacre’s destruction of Greenwood was reproduced by insidiously violent processes that include urban renewal. Throughout successive waves of dispossession, Greenwood became geographically and narratively glossed as North Tulsa. From advocating for food access to formal reparations claims, it details how North Tulsans responses to these circumstances are organized and driven by community formation, understood as an ethic of restoration.