Ryan Walters sworn in as Oklahoma State Superintendent (Jan 2023 - Photo: SUE OGROCKI, AP)
Ryan Walters sworn in as Oklahoma State Superintendent (Jan 2023 - Photo: SUE OGROCKI, AP)

Less than 24 hours after comments about teaching the Tulsa Race Massacre went viral, Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters clarified his words – but not before throwing a jab at journalists.

In a statement to OKC Fox’s David Chasanov, Walters claimed the media “twisted” his answer to “create a fake controversy”.

“The media is twisting two separate answers,” Walters said. “They misrepresented my statements about the Tulsa Race Massacre in an attempt to create a fake controversy.”

Walters went on to state he believes the massacre was a “racist, evil” event that left “a terrible mark on our history”.

In an interview with Chasanov, Walters said he “absolutely” thinks students should learn those who carried out massacre were racist. However, he doesn’t believe students should be taught those people were “inherently racist”.

“Let’s not claim that those folks who operated on that day in a racist way – that they did it because they were inherently racist,” Walters said.

“They weren’t inherently racist. They chose to be racist.”

“Those folks” Ryan Walters is referring to are hundreds of armed, white Klan members who orchestrated a pre-meditated attack on Greenwood. The attack destroyed the epicenter of Black wealth in America. In two days, attackers burned Forty city blocks to the ground and killed hundreds of Black residents.

The Tulsa Race Massacre left 10,000 homeless and destroyed millions of dollars in generational wealth.

Despite the unconscionable attack, no white person was brought to justice.

Firestorm sparked by Ryan Walters comments around the Tulsa Race Massacre at a meeting Thursday

The firestorm around Ryan Walters’ came when an attendee at a public meeting asked about how to teach the massacre. The individual asked Walters how teaching the Tulsa Race Massacre did not fall under his definition of critical race theory.

“That is critical race theory,” Walters argued. “You’re saying race defines a person – I reject that.”

“You be judgmental of the action, of the content of the character of the individual – absolutely,” Walters continued. “But let’s not tie it to the skin color and say that the skin color determined it.”

However, in another interview with KTUL’s Erin Christy, Ryan Walters seemed to pivot from blaming the media and instead suggest he simply misunderstood the question.

“From what you’re saying is that maybe the question that you thought was asked was what the definition of critical race theory was at that time?” Christy asked Walters.

“Yes.” Walters responded.

Both video and audio circulated on social media from the meeting on Thursday. The attendee asks Ryan Walters three times how teaching the Tulsa Race Massacre fits under his definition of critical race theory.

“When you look at an individual, and they tell you that they’re after somebody because of the color of their skin, that is a racist motive,” Walters said.

“So, we absolutely need our students to understand those beliefs,” he continued.

Nate Morris moved to the Tulsa area in 2012 and has committed himself to helping build a more equitable and just future for everyone who calls the city home. As a teacher, advocate, community organizer...

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