“Recent events across the nation should serve as a wake-up call. The student backlash at the University of Missouri over equality and inclusion and the Yale University incident concerning the “white girls only” invitation to the SAE function are unfortunate reminders that racism is still very much alive in our nation and on many college campuses. These students have endured threats, public demonstrations, and lack of support for the issues that they are attempting to address.
“I commend University of Oklahoma President David Boren, recently appointed Vice President of Diversity Jabar Shumate, and the students at OU for their focused effort to lead the nation in reconciliation, diversity and inclusion. The SAE incident this past spring at OU cast a national spotlight on the lack of racial tolerance and diversity. Oklahoma is showing the difference civic, student and religious leaders working together and leading by example can make for the future of our country.
“We’ve heard the national cry to eliminate racial and gender bias and we’ve witnessed the proof over and over again across the country, most recently this week, at the University of Missouri. Even though we as a nation have come far in our journey toward racial equality, we still have a long way to go. This is a systemic issue and we need to continue focusing on changing the policies that perpetuate institutional bias and structural racism.
“The rest of the world is watching us. We should revisit the color-blind perspective and become color-brave, have courageous conversations and establish policies that require diversity training for employers, educators and administrators. We should also strive to foster an environment that contributes time and talent to make America a better place for everyone, regardless of race or gender. Our focus should remain on healing and hope, and not let hate become the lasting legacy of our nation.”
For the past three years, Pittman has participated in the National Quad Caucus hosted by the National Caucus of State Legislators, and sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation to improve race relations and seek solutions for diversity and inclusion. Recently, the Casey Foundation has become a sponsor to help apply the Race Equity Assessment Tool to identify issues of equality that impact minority communities.