The OCCC Board of Regents want to commend President Steward for emailing out his very thoughtful statement on the recent racial strife that impacts our students, faculty, and staff as well as our fellow citizens nationwide. It was principled leadership in action.
We also believe it is important that the Board of Regents make our position known on this very important topic.
Oklahoma City Community College created success where few others have with our SCMS Programs. We did so because we educate and change lives, one at a time. We did so because we consider the whole problem, not just the limited knowledge we bring to it. We quit making excuses, focused on the long haul, and became leaders in racial equality.
None of us on this Board profess to know how to solve racial injustice, but our SCMS Programs have set a clear standard that racial equality begins by listening more and talking less.
Where do we start? We believe each individual member of the OCCC Family should ask themselves this question: “When was the last time I purposely spent time with someone who is different than me?â€ A different race, a different religion, a different sexual orientation, a different political viewâ€¦a difference that would foster purposeful engagement in meaningful listening and conversation – not to change their mind – but to change our heart in how we understand and look at others?
Politicians insist that solutions come from passing 100% of their laws. Instead of putting our faith in political solutions, we believe we must all show by our own actions how a nation of diverse interests learns to understand the other side better, and to demonstrate virtue in the compromise that forms a more perfect union.
Let that begin at OCCC with each of us embracing the humility of not thinking our opinions, and ours alone, are the solution.
This Board is not ignoring reality: The trigger for this latest unrest was “another senseless death of an African American man at the hands of the police.â€ And what we are hearing are the cries of exhaustion and pain from those who have seen similar behavior for years denied or excused because few such incidents have the benefit of cellphone video. Those of my skin color must understand that we have never been pulled over for driving while black, nor have we been followed around a store because the color of our skin was deemed to make us a greater threat to steal something. We are not remotely ignoring reality; we are tired of having the same responses that produce so little change.
If the pattern repeats, very soon the news media will tire of this story and move to the next shiny object that drives their ratings, and all of this will go to the back burner until the next tragedy, when we once again lament that so little has happened in between.
So, this Board challenges each member of the OCCC family – including ourselves – to lead in matters of racial equality once again by concentrating on the individual heart, soul, and spirit through purposeful engagement with those different than us.
We ask each student, as well as each member of the faculty, staff, administration, and Board – to pledge to change ourselves by reaching out and purposefully engaging with more:
- People who have different life experiences than we do,
- People who we doubt share our point of view,
- People who we know have different political beliefs,
- and our fellow human beings who have perspectives that we would have no way of having.
And when we do, we challenge each of us to listen more and talk less.
The OCCC Board of Regents asks you to join us in changing one human heart at a time – starting with our own.
May God bless each of you and keep you safe. Thank you.
Statement by Devery Youngblood
Chairman of the Board of Regents
On behalf of the Board of Regents
Oklahoma City Community College
June 15, 2020