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Courtesy of Okla. State Rep. Jason Lowe
Published 06/07/2020 | Reading Time 3 min 24 sec
Op-Ed By Okla. Rep. Jason Lowe
Governor Stitt, we don’t need you to moderate our voices. We need you to listen.
Late Friday afternoon, Governor Stitt’s office released a statement saying, “Governor Stitt, First Lady to moderate roundtable on race.” On the surface, it may appear the Governor has finally decided to give this movement legitimate attention. I wish that were the case. Pull back the curtain, and it’s clear this is just another attempt to pacify the Black community and our allies who have been speaking out against injustice.
In Oklahoma, we have a deep bench of Black academics, civil rights leaders, activists, and elected officials who could have led the governor and his panel in a difficult, but extremely important conversation. But instead of a substantive meeting on racial inequity, we ended up with a superficial show of solidarity. Disappointed doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel.
Just read the list of participants. Notice anything strange? No women. No young adults. No representation from the Northern region of the state. No civil rights leaders who have been on the frontlines of this movement in Oklahoma. From the moderators to the panel, this production is problematic and offensive. Five of the six people on the stage are Republicans. Oklahoma Capitol Culture, the nonprofit credited with organizing this event, states on their website that they bring together diverse perspectives to find innovative solutions, but the glaring lack of diversity of this panel and their board of directors is telling.
They created a safe space for the governor to have an easy discussion. But we’ve had these superficial conversations and orchestrated displays of concern for too long. It’s time to have hard conversations about racial inequity, and the people who have been entrenched in the fight deserve seats at the table.
We have prominent Black voices here in Oklahoma. But instead of being asked to participate in this conversation, they’re first hearing about it days after it’s been filmed. There is no excuse for the leadership of the Legislative Black Caucus to be finding out about this discussion after the fact. With all due respect to the panelists, there is a long list of folks who have been on the front lines of this fight who deserved to be on that stage or, at the very least, involved in the planning.
Rep. Regina Goodwin; Dr. Tiffany Crutcher; Pastor John Reed; Marilyn Luper Hildreth; Joshua Harris-Till; Reverend Dr. Robert Turner; Rep. Kevin Cox, Pastor Lee Cooper – this list could continue on and on.
This is an important conversation Governor Stitt should have with people who can truly provide the valuable insight he needs. I invite the governor to reach out to begin these discussions.
(Publisher’s Note: The Black Wall Street Times added additional civil rights activist and Black academics that Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt could have invited to “Governor Stitt, First Lady to moderate roundtable on race.”) Rep. Monroe Nichols; Sen. Kevin Matthews; Rev. Gerald Davis; Greg Robinson; Nehemiah D. Frank; Cece Jones-Davis; Risha Grant; Kuma Roberts; Sheri Amore; Quraysh Ali Lansana.