Race Matters

Race Matters

From KGOU

Race Matters invites experts and activists to spark conversations about one of our nation's most uncomfortable topics – race.Produced by the University of Oklahoma's world-renowned literary publication, World Literature Today, and hosted by WLT Art Director Merleyn Bell.More from Race Matters »

Most Recent Episodes

OU's Karlos Hill Talks About The Past, Present And Future Of Black History Month

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. "It's common to see representations of very important African-American leaders like Martin Luther King, or Malcolm X, or Sojourner Truth, or Frederick Douglass. I mean the list goes on and on," Hill says. "And so I think African-American history, it plays a much more central role in how we think about American history. Only those individuals like King and Malcolm X typically get their due." Hill argues that Black History Month has "become a comforting ritual for congratulating ourselves on how far we as a nation have come rather than critically assessing the

OU's Karlos Hill Talks About The Past, Present And Future Of Black History Month

Race Relations And The Philosophy Of Whiteness Are Important Subjects for Doctor George Yancy

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. "It's only recently been because of the work of African-American philosophers and more generally Africana philosophers who've actually introduced the concept of race as a concept to be critically wrestled with versus a concept that's used as a kind of racial science to describe certain bodies as inferior," Yancy says. "Philosophy as practiced in the west...has not been critical of that concept." He's authored, edited, or co-edited over 18 books including, Look A White: Philosophical Essays on Whiteness . The second edition of his book Black Bodies, White Gazes: The Continuing Significance of Race in America was released in 2016. In that work, Dr. Yancy explores what he calls "The Elevator Effect." "The elevator functions as a microcosm of a larger macro cosmic structure of white

Race Relations And The Philosophy Of Whiteness Are Important Subjects for Doctor George Yancy

Doctor Patricia Hill Collins Works To Expand The Platform For Black Women's Voices

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. "I think it was very difficult for me to come to voice around the types of work that I do because there was no space for this work," Collins says. "We had to create the space to write black feminist thought, to talk about race, class, gender, to talk about intersectionality. And that was all part of the process of being seen as legitimate, being listened to, being clear, being respected." Her seminal work titled Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment was originally published in 1990 and inspired by her mother. "The specific purpose was to write the book that I wish my mother had been able to read. Because I thought that if she had an analysis that in which she could

Doctor Patricia Hill Collins Works To Expand The Platform For Black Women's Voices

Doctor Mariana Ortega Aims To Strengthen Philosophical Intersections Of Race, Gender And Feminism

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. "You have to be able to look at all the relationships going on between race and class," Ortega says. "Are we talking about a Latina who is educated? A Latina who is gay? Are we talking about an immigrant who just came? Are we talking about somebody who was born here? And so, all these intersections play a tremendous, important role in our lives." Mariana Ortega is also the founder and director of The Roundtable on Latina Feminism, a forum dedicated to discussions of Latina and Latin American feminisms. She addressed the concept of White Feminism in her 2006 essay "Being Loving Knowingly Ignorant: White Feminism and

Doctor Mariana Ortega Aims To Strengthen Philosophical Intersections Of Race, Gender And Feminism

Rapper Jasiri X Aims To Change Minds One Rhyme At A Time

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." Jasiri developed that identity after moving from Chicago to Pittsburgh while he was in school. "I was in a neighborhood in Chicago that because of the type of neighborhood that it was and the violence that was happening, my mother actually wanted to move me and sister too, so we actually moved to a suburb in Pittsburgh called Monroeville," Jasiri says. "I literally went from an environment that was 100 percent black to 95 percent white. And I was like the first time I really experienced in-your-face racism." Jasiri is

Jabar Shumate On Campus Student Activism, Diversity Programming Following SAE Incident

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. In the months following the incident, OU implemented required diversity training for all incoming freshmen and transfer students, and university president David Boren named Jabar Shumate as the university's first vice president of the University Community. Shumate has now been on the job for over one year, and he has attempted to ensure the diversity of each student, faculty and staff member is recognized and respected. "President [Boren] was very clear that diversity and inclusion should never be seen as something that the diversity office does or something that is seen as separate and apart," Shumate says to explain his job title. "Diversity and inclusion is

Jabar Shumate On Campus Student Activism, Diversity Programming Following SAE Incident

Chemist Rigoberto Hernandez Heads Organization That Works Toward Diversity In Science

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. Hernandez is a chemistry professor at Georgia Tech and head of Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity (OXIDE) . Every two years, his organization holds a National Diversity Equity workshop with department heads and chairs at research and chemistry departments. "We talk about what the barriers and solutions are to change the climate and consequently the numbers of the demographics of our faculties," Hernandez says. Hernandez, who is Cuban-born, believes social diversity can advance science, especially racial diversity. Over the last several years, he has been working within his own community to increase the diversity of the chemistry faculty at Georgia Tech. OXIDE began tracking the percentage of

Chemist Rigoberto Hernandez Heads Organization That Works Toward Diversity In Science

Author Lauret Savoy Explores Link Between Racial History And Place

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. Savoy moved across the country when she was young, leaving her beloved California for Washington D.C. It changed the way she thought about life and race relations. "It was a move away from joy to a move to difficulty because we moved at the time there were riots in Washington D.C.," Savoy says. "And it was when [we] moved east that I learned about hatred and I learned that people hated but the land never hated. And the land proceeded hate." As she became an adult, she decided to explore her family history after realizing she knew little about her family's past. Savoy's latest book is Trace: Memory, History, Race and the American Landscape . It's a mosaic of historical and personal

Norman Police Chief And Local Activist Discuss Police And Community Relations

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. The organization We the People Oklahoma is led by Marq Lewis, a Tulsa activist inspired to seek justice in the wake of his city's high-profile shooting. He says the mood between citizens and law enforcement has changed in Tulsa. "Citizens believe in the process," Lewis says. "There was this defeatism personality and mindset that was here in Tulsa. But now there's a sense of conquering." Many officers and their supporters have spoken out after shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge that targeted law enforcement, leaving eight officers dead and

Norman Police Chief And Local Activist Discuss Police And Community Relations

One Year Later: A Look Back At The University Of Oklahoma SAE Incident

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. OU president David Boren quickly shut down SAE's chapter and expelled two students. In the days following the video's release, a previously scheduled student forum on race took on new significance. During the forum, students shared their thoughts and feelings about the incident, racial identity and conditions on campus. One year later, many people who attended the forum are still concerned about race relations on campus and improving conditions for students of color including dean of the Price College of

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