They Pay Me To Live Here (Tulsa Remote)

Let’s talk about Tulsa Oklahoma. Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma.  Historically, a robust energy sector fueled Tulsa’s economy; however, today the city has diversified and leading sectors include finance, aviation, telecommunications and technology.

How does the 47th largest city in America grow in this manner. Well… they pay for it!

This summer I was sent a link to a program called Tulsa Remote.

To quote the program directly “Tulsa Remote is a unique recruitment initiative aimed at attracting talented individuals to Tulsa. The program brings remote workers and digital nomads to the community by providing $10,000 grants and numerous community-building opportunities. Each grant is distributed over the course of a year to eligible remote workers or entrepreneurs living outside of Oklahoma. Funding is currently provided by George Kaiser Family Foundation. The City of Tulsa and other community organizations lend their support to ensure program participants are fully immersed and engaged in the community. ” and I was one of the lucky ones selected during a pandemic.

Lucky…

The process of moving into Tulsa was met with obstacles. The majority of it was mentally accepting the fact that I would be moving into a city that resembles the one I grew up in, Wichita KS. I struggled with being away from my community and top that off with me living by myself for the first time in seven years. I was so far from the reality of responsibilities that came with running a household that I was unable to accept it. Regardless of the fact that I as a grown adult had operated a household by myself. Had been the provider for additional human beings, had been the resting place for those who were starting a new and needed a jump start. I still just didn’t understand why I was going to allow myself to be a full time adult again.

And alone at that. I was sure that my next move would be with my husband.

But here I was accepting an opportunity that would lend a year of my life to the city of Tulsa. Little did I know that this was the conduit for a great transition but while transition in my life usually leads to amazing things I would not be honest with you if I didn’t climb to the top of Turkey mountain and scream

“I HATE IT HERE!”

or even,

“IM SO FREAKING LONELY!”

Tulsa is an awesome city! They are super focused on making sure that its appeasing to the eyes. There are special projects for trees which look so magical as they change colors. They have multi billion dollar parks like the Gathering Place where you could (non COVID days) kayak the river, enjoy concerts in large areas of grass, enjoy good food from concessions, hanging at the parks “beach” or allowing the kids to run crazy in a playground that was made to the keep the crankiest adult happy! (seriously I do not understand why kids are allowed in that masterpiece!)

The gathering place isn’t the only place where you can experience beauty and relax outside. They have parks like Woodmead that are a photographers floral dream. We cant forget Riverside and the trail that stretches throughout the city when you run into skate parks, and basket ball courts and everything outdoorsy where you can connect with your community!

Your… community….

The city of Tulsa sits on Indian territory which holds a lot of cool history for me as my grandmother and grandfather were born in this area. Her being Cherokee and him being Muskogee.

Fun fact!! Did you know that the famous music group GAP band was from Tulsa and that GAP was an acronym for Greenwood, Archer and Pine. The borders to the previously most affluent black neighborhood in the country until the massacre…

In the early 20th century, Tulsa was home to the “Black Wall Street”, one of the most prosperous Black communities in the United States at the time. Located in the Greenwood neighborhood, it was the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre, said to be “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history”,  in which mobs of white Tulsans killed black Tulsans, looted and robbed the black community, and burned down homes and businesses.  Sixteen hours of massacring on May 31 and June 1, 1921, ended only when National Guardsmen were brought in by the Governor.

An official report later claimed that 23 Black and 16 white citizens were killed, but other estimates suggest as many as 300 people died, most of them Black.  Over 800 people were admitted to local hospitals with injuries, and an estimated 1000 Black people were left homeless as 35 city blocks, composed of 1,256 residences, were destroyed by fire. Property damage was estimated at $1.8 million. Reparations are unavailable to this day but the city has acknowledged the events as a sort of restoration or…. apology.

I guess an “Im sorry, let’s remove the racist statues and street names” could fix it.

Maybe thats why I hate it here. The constant reminder of what could have been haunts the city. The disenfranchisement of the black community is saddening. The more I get out and interact and hear the stories of the local black Tulsans is… disheartening.

I hear the same story over and over again. Dreams of one day becoming a CNA which is the gold star achievement. The want to leave and see more of the world but internally believing that it is not an option for them. “We don’t do that” mentality. A class of people living so far under the thumb of oppression that having a corporate job is unusual and any black person holding it…intimidating.

I search for my network here and often stop black people in grocery stores asking for professional organizations which black people attend. The same blank stare is given to me by the one that I am asking when like magic, every time, a white Tulsan welcomes me to the city and gives me information of two or three but turning on a regretful face when I ask if any have a size-able amount of members that look like me or are primarily focused on the black community.

(me at a TYPROS Tulsa Young Professionals Meeting)

I have met some wonderfully nice men who tell me about the city history and advertise that they DO have a team of people that are working towards a better black Tulsa. They laugh when I ask how I can get involved. “Black women cant do those things…” Coming up on 100 years of the massacre it’s safe to say they can’t either.

It’s maddening.

How does one live conformably while surrounded by those that are still enslaved mentally.

The same way you used to be.

And let’s be absolutely clear that the one I speak of here is me.

Thats all I have to offer concerning the time that I have spent here. Despite the way it sounds it has been an absolute blessing to me. Now if i can just figure out how to spill these blessings over onto the G A P so that I can feel like I have done something with the time that has been given to me.

My next series is adventure in Tulsa! Stay tuned. It gets weird and you’re gonna like it!

My life is like a movie

Starring Courtny

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