Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum has a new nominee for the city’s Infrastructure Development Advisory Board, and his name is familiar: Bob Jack or Mr. Jack. Jack is the Chairman of the Tulsa GOP who made local headlines last summer when he requested the city remove a Black Lives Matter mural from the historic Greenwood Ave, dubbed the Black Wall Street.
Mr. Jack, who pleaded his case as a private citizen rather than on behalf of the Tulsa GOP, wanted to paint a Blue Lives Matter or Baby Lives Matter mural, two statements which he saw as equivalent to the Black Lives Matter street art, which he referred to as “graffiti.”
Black Lives Matter murals sprang up in Tulsa and around the country following the murder of George Floyd, among many other innocent Black men and women murdered by police officers and white supremacists.
Tulsa eventually became one of a small handful of cities to remove a Black Lives Matter mural.
Now Mr. Jack is back, with an opportunity to serve the city of Tulsa on the Infrastructure Development Advisory Board. The position reports to the Department of Public Works, which offers “personnel necessary for the government to provide and sustain structures and services essential to the welfare and acceptable quality of life for its citizens,” according to the American Public Works Association.
City of Tulsa board members are required to abide by the ethics ordinance set forth in 2005, which states that public officials and employees must be “independently impartial and responsible to the people of the City;” additionally, “public office and public employment are positions of public trust.”
Yet Tulsans have reason to distrust Mr. Jack. While pushing for the BLM mural removal, Mr. Jack referred to problems he sees with “what goes on in north Tulsa.” Mr. Jack continued, stating, “How do we resolve this issue where we have got mothers with little kids at home and no father and (they) … can’t go to school, no daycare, all of these social problems we’ve got, and we’re not worried about those.”
The myth of absent Black fathers in Black families is a trope that white politicians have relied on since as early as the ’60s, one that relies on stereotypes to avoid addressing systemic racism.
“Responsible fatherhood only goes so far in a world plagued by institutionalized oppression,” wrote Mychal Denzel Smith, who has written three New York Times bestsellers, and is a Fellow at the Type Media Center. “By focusing on the supposed absence of Black fathers, we allow ourselves to pretend this oppression is not real, while also further scapegoating Black men for America’s societal ills.”
Several Tulsa city councilors have opposed the nomination and requested Mayor Bynum rescind the offer, which he refused.
Mr. Jack’s nomination is expected to be on Wednesday’s City Council agenda for further discussion.