Welcome to the latest puzzle in my ongoing series, Eyes Open, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights protests.
Last week marked one hundred years since the Tulsa Race Massacre. Thirty-five blocks of Black-owned businesses and homes in the Greenwood District were looted and destroyed across two days. There were numerous reports of aerial bombardment during the attacks, meaning Tulsa was the first U.S city bombed from the air… and by those meant to protect it.
The death toll for Tulsa ranges somewhere between 100 and 300 people. (Though some historians stubbornly cling to the idea that less than 30 Black people were killed.)
And sadly, many people had never heard of the 1921 Tulsa riots before HBO’s Watchmen TV show featured it as part of their storyline.
This is only one example of a staggering number of crucial events, both positive and negative, from American history that were whitewashed, erased, and purposely excluded from school curricula and downplayed by white-centric historians.
Paul Gardullo, the curator of an exhibit on the Tulsa Race Massacre at the African American Museum of History in Washington, points out Tulsa is not an isolated incident. There are “many silences” in American history having to do with racial violence, whether a widespread riot or more mundane cases that “people paper over and don’t talk about.”
So while Tulsa is finally getting some much deserved attention from the public and modern historians, there are other tragedies still relegated to the dusty corners of American history and carefully concealed from the history books.
This puzzle is intended to cast a light on some of those events, some as old or older than Tulsa, some shockingly recent. The grid is also designed with small staircase-shaped black spaces in the center, meant to represent how quickly small steps escalate into dark actions.
I hope this puzzle serves to engage you as a solver and encourage you to learn more about these important, tragic historic events and help bring them to greater prominence and awareness. There are some links offered below for those interested in learning more.
[Click this link to download a PDF of this puzzle.]
If you have suggestions for more topics for me to cover in future puzzles, please let me know. If you’re a person of color and you’d like to share a puzzle of your own, or to collaborate with me on a puzzle, please let me know.
If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, and you have ideas, please let me know. If you’re a trans person, or a non-binary individual, and you feel underrepresented in puzzles, please let me know.
I would like this to become something bigger, but hopefully, this is at the very least a start.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for standing up, speaking up, and fighting the good fight.
Support LGBTQIA+ people.
Black lives matter.
AAPI lives matter.