But Who is the Lion?

I have been meeting some of them best women Tulsa has to offer. Last week, I met 5 new friends at a fantastic lunch book club meeting downtown at the Summit Club, where I had the best burger I’ve ever had the privilege to taste,while gazing out at the snaking Arkansas River 32 stories below.

Then, I ran over to the Brady District for coffee at Chimera, one of my top three cafes in Tulsa. There, I met Jocelyn Paye, the director of the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation. Maybe the name J.H. Franklin sounds familiar. His father, B.C. Franklin was an attorney in Tulsa who helped riot survivors in the aftermath.

Dr. Payne is planning the fifth Reconciliation Symposium, and this woman is passionate about Tulsa’s past and hopeful for its future. She said, among other things, that she hopes to challenge a common idea.

“The story will always glorify the hunter until the lion tells his side of the tale.”

We talked about how people of different races and ages and genders can tell the same story, with compassion and understanding. I drove home thinking about that quote.

Who gets to decide who the lion is?

Dr. Payne and I discussed how stories don’t necessarily belong to one group, and how all narratives have some value. Is the lion I the riot story the African American community? Is it only residents? Only business owners? Is it only African American men? Is it (it can’t be, can it?) the silent white community?

I don’t know. And that’s what I hope to pursue in the coming weeks. Who owns the story? Who is the lion? How do we approach the truth, or our experience of the truth, with compassion and humanity?

What do you think?