I Came To Bear Witness To A Race Massacre. Part 1: Black Wall St.

Garrick McFadden
11 min readAug 12, 2023

“Do you know what the greatest expression of regard for a race or civilization is?” “No, what?” “Annihilation. That’s the highest respect a civilization can receive. They would only feel threatened by a civilization they truly respect.”― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest

Photo take by author at the memorial for Black Wall Street.

African civilizations have been annihilated countless times by European colonizers. Indigenous populations have suffered the fate of annihilation all around the world. In every instance in our collective world history when invaders have made contact with indigenous people, the result has always been annihilation.

In America, we are only now realizing how many former prospering black towns have been erased from memory because of racial violence—towns like Rosewood, Elaine, Wilmington, Colfax, Ocoee, and many more have suffered the fate of annihilation.

Annihilation is a constant specter that stalks black bodies in America. When we leave the confines of our homes in order to perform the basic tasks of existence, we are under sustained threat of annihilation. The harbingers of our obliteration can come in the form of law enforcement, racist white folk or groups trying to obtain whiteness, the government’s use of zoning laws to make us live where the air is polluted and the water is poisoned, and even black folk who been trapped in areas of little to no opportunity who have devalued the cost of life.

Breonna Taylor and others have taught us that our front doors are powerless when annihilation comes knocking.

Our culture, religion, food, customs, language, fashion, stories, and more were all eradicated when we were brought to America in bondage. Even our very humanity fell to the unyielding blade of annihilation. Each generation brought us farther and farther away from what we were and closer to what we would become.

Black Americans, who are the descendants of enslaved people in America, are the only group that has seen its lineage face annihilation twice: when we were brought here and now.

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Garrick McFadden

I am a civil-rights attorney. I write about #whiteness, #racism, #hiphop, policing & politics.