Oklahoma’s Race Issues are Deeply Rooted, Starting at the Capitol

America’s backbone is racism. It has been since its inception. The entire country as we know it was built on the backs of slavery and theft. While racism isn’t as blatant as it used to be, and slavery is abolished, it’s just as prevalent as ever. Instead of white hoods, there are Make America Great Again hats. Instead of slave owners, there are CEOs and department heads with ulterior motives towards people of color and sometimes, the thoughts and words that usually reside only in a racist’s thoughts slip out verbally and spread through the masses.

That’s what the state of Oklahoma has dealt with, especially over the last week, and the problem starts at the very top: at the State Capitol.

The problem starts with our politicians, and as a state, there’s no way for Oklahoma to move forward if the leaders of our state share that deeply rooted racist culture. Last Tuesday, an Oklahoma state representative referred to “colored babies” during a discussion on abortion.

“That was not at all what I intended to say nor who I am in my heart,” said Rep. Brad Boles out of Marlow, OK. “I apologized immediately in a candid, productive conversation with several colleagues personally as well as made a public apology on the House floor,” he said.

These apologies aren’t sincere, and the excuse that they ‘slipped’ and said these racially offensive things are asinine—no one is asking for an apology. Racism shouldn’t be a topic that we’re dealing with in 2021, decades removed from the Civil Rights Movement and 156 years removed from slavery.

Last Thursday, an announcer took offense to the Norman High School girls basketball team’s decision to kneel before their first game of the Class 6A State Tournament.

Taking offense is one thing. It should be easy to understand why some African-Americans aren’t thrilled to honor the American flag or the “Star-Spangled Banner” like most of their white counterparts. The inflexibility and inability to assimilate to any culture other than their own has been the problem for centuries and still is.

African-Americans have been forced to assimilate to white culture since 1619, and things haven’t changed. They’ve just adjusted over time based on laws that were passed. The sad reality is, things won’t change anytime soon because of what I mentioned earlier: it all starts at the top, and there are still politicians—the ones that are supposed to set the example that ‘slip up’ and use words or phrases that are racially offensive.

Things are a long way from changing because a grown man who’s supposed to call a high school basketball game ‘slips up’ and calls a group of 14-18-year-old girls “f***ing n***ers” for protesting the anthem. Then, to make things more insulting apologized while hiding behind the pathetic excuse of his blood sugar being low, which is even more insulting.

The line should have been drawn ages ago, but this country, and more specifically, Oklahoma, hasn’t collectively decided that racism is wrong. There are still too many idiotic degenerates, some of which are the state’s biggest decision-makers, who consciously and subconsciously believe that people of color are lesser than white folks.

While I’d like to say there’s hope on the horizon, Matt Rowan’s racial slurs directed towards innocent Black girls, and more insultingly, his excuse, makes me wonder how much longer African-Americans will have to deal with this. How many more generations have to be taught what to watch out for when dealing with the white man through all phases of life?

Addam M. Francisco

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. National Association of Black Journalists. University of Central Oklahoma.

One thought on “Oklahoma’s Race Issues are Deeply Rooted, Starting at the Capitol”

  1. Excellent read.

    Thing is, we have to state and re-state that the kneeling protest is NOT against the flag, or even against the Star Spangled Banner song (which I have never thought should be the national anthem; “America The Beautiful” should be).

    The kneeling protest is against injustices that happen in America and in Oklahoma and that start at the top, as you say. The Norman girl’s team had been kneeling at every game since January 9th – since the riotous mob laid seige to the U.S. Capitol building.

    I think it is sad that Rowan’s defenders (and there are lots of them) don’t point out that he and his co-announcer were talking during the national anthem – also a lack of decorum. AND they ignore that about half of the players who knelt are White.

    But it’s just another sign of the times.

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