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Race Matters

Race Matters  invites experts and activists to spark conversations about one of our nation’s most uncomfortable topics – race.

Produced by KGOU in conjunction with the University of Oklahoma's world-renowned literary publication, World Literature Today, and hosted by WLT Art Director Merleyn Bell.

Paige Willett Lough / KGOU

Dr. Karlos Hill is an Associate Professor of African and African-American Studies at the University of Oklahoma and founding director of African and African-American Studies Distinguished Lecture Series. Black History Month is an American mainstay, and Hill says he celebrates it “365.”

In many years, the observance has served to heal wounds and educate people about the achievements and lasting contributions of African-Americans.

Emory University Philosophy Department

Dr. George Yancy is Professor of Philosophy at Emory University. His work focuses primarily in the areas of critical philosophy of race, critical whiteness studies, and philosophy of the black experience.

OU Women & Gender Studies Program

Dr. Patricia Hill Collins is professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park and a past president of the American Sociological Association Council. Collins was the one hundredth president of the ASA and the first African-American woman to hold this position.

Paige Willett Lough / KGOU

As a Professor of Philosophy at John Carroll University, Doctor Mariana Ortega has focused her research on questions of self, identity, and visual representations of race, gender and sexuality. More specifically, she has spent some of her career exploring how these topics intersect, claiming that philosophy sometimes takes a more general view of complicated topics like race.

Hip-hop artist and activist Jasiri X
Heather Mull

 

Singer-songwriter and activist Nina Simone once said, “An artist’s duty is to reflect the times.” Hip-hop artist and activist Jasiri X tries to keep Simone’s imperative at the core of what he does and has adopted the guidance as part of his artistic statement.

“Hip-hop really helped me to find my own identity,” Jasiri X says. “And so, when I started writing music I always wanted it to be something that had some type of meaning, and not just me writing raps to write raps.”

 

University of Oklahoma Vice President of the University Community Jabar Shumate.
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

 

 

The University of Oklahoma made national headlines in March 2015 when members of a the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity were recorded singing a racist chant on a bus while traveling to an event. Immediately following the spread of the video, the university expelled two students and shut down the SAE fraternity’s chapter on campus.

Chemistry Professor & Head of Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity (OXIDE) Rigoberto Hernandez
Paige Willett Lough / KGOU

In an article for Scientific American, author Katherine W. Phillips suggests that diversity in the workplace can enhance creativity, encourage discovery and lead to innovation. According to Rigoberto Hernandez, those assets may be most important in the scientific community.

 

Author Lauret Savoy
Provided

America’s history is the history of its people, and according to author Lauret Savoy, the history of the people is connected directly to the land. Savoy is a teacher, earth scientist, writer, photographer, and pilot as well as a woman of mixed African American, Euro-American and Native American heritage.

Marq Lewis, of We The People, videos a speaker at a county commissioner's meeting, concerning Sheriff Stanley Glanz, in Tulsa, Okla., Monday, July 13, 2015.
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Tensions between law enforcement and the citizens they serve have increased in recent years, and the cycle of violence has led to loss of life for both citizens and law enforcement.

The recent shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have brought people out into the streets to protest against police brutality. In Oklahoma, the shooting death of Eric Harris in Tulsa led to the arrest and imprisonment of ex-reserve deputy Robert Bates.

Jesse Robbins speaks in front of students at a town hall forum on race and diversity at the University of Oklahoma.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

It has been once year since the Sigma Alpha Epsilon incident on the University of Oklahoma campus. In March of 2015, members of OU’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity were captured in a cell phone video singing a racist chant while on a bus to a fraternity event.

That nine second video went viral on social media, and sparked a fire storm on campus. Students of color at OU had already expressed concerns about race relations on campus, and the video brought those issues into stark relief.

Author of Fire In Beulah, Rilla Askew
Provided

One of the country’s worst acts of violence against a minority community happened in Oklahoma. The 1921 Tulsa Race Riot led to the destruction of Greenwood, a wealthy all-black area due north of downtown known as “Black Wall Street.”

For years, history books glossed over accounts of the event. In 1996, state lawmakers commissioned an official historical account of what happened. Seven years earlier, award-winning novelist Rilla Askew began researching the Tulsa Race Riot for a book after realizing she had never heard of the historic event.

Jose Antonio Vargas with Race Matters host Merleyn Bell and World Literature Today's R.C. Davis.
KGOU

Swaths of Syrians have been displaced by the country’s five-year civil war. Even though only a tiny fraction of the estimated 4 million refugees fleeing the conflict have ended up in the United States, it’s added a new dimension to conversations about border security, terrorism, and undocumented immigrants’ effect on the U.S. economy.

University of Oklahoma Assistant Professor and political scientist Mackenzie Israel-Trummel
Provided

Just weeks before voters caucus in Iowa and head to the polls in New Hampshire, who will become the two major parties’ standard-bearers and win the nominations is still anyone’s guess. But race and ethnic identity will likely play a much larger role on the Republican side of the aisle – the field is more crowded, there are several minority candidates, and immigration has become a key campaign issue along both the U.S.

University of Oklahoma Native American Studies Associate Professor Heather Shotton
National Indian Education Association

Blowback against the long-standing use of Native American mascots highlights issues of identity and cultural appropriation. Supporters of using Native American symbols, names, and images for sports teams and schools say it honors tribal culture, but many Native Americans say it shows disrespect stemming from a lack of understanding toward indigenous peoples.

KGOU staff

The civil rights movement of the 1960s brought forward concerns about voting rights, segregation, and proportional representation.  While the focus of similar racial protest has most recently shifted to aggressive policing and apparent inequities within the criminal justice system, University of Oklahoma educator and author George Henderson considers the current Black Lives Matter movement an extension of what he witnessed during the 1960s - with similar aims of ensuring  justice for African-Americans.