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U. Oklahoma president called ‘tool of whiteness’ after new blackface incident

A second “blackface” incident at the University of Oklahoma in a week’s time resulted in hundreds of black students and their “allies” marching on the OU president’s office to personally present him with a list of demands.

On Thursday, the Black Student Association’s Miles Francisco, Taylor Wilson and Jamelia Reed attempted to personally deliver the group’s demands to President James Gallogly; however, Gallogly was out of the office, leading the trio to conclude that he was “conveniently” not present.

Information about the most recent blackface incident is scant; the OU Daily reports it is unknown whether the culprit is a student. Pictures and video show the man wearing a t-shirt featuring Tommy Sotomayor, a “controversial” YouTube personality who has made “shocking” statements about blacks and gays.

OU Student Government Association Undergraduate Congress Chair Tom Cassidy issued a statement demanding President Gallogly and school officials “take action to fix campus culture.” He added that he supports the demands issued by the Black Student Association.

Last week, a female student made up in blackface uttered “I am a n*****” on a video recorded by a member of a OU sorority. According to the OU Daily, both women have withdrawn from the university.

At a gathering following that incident, former College of International Studies Dean Suzette Grillot said she was “fucking going to ask” for Gallogly’s resignation “now,” and proceeded to toss a sheet of paper (presumably a resignation letter) onto the president’s lap:

A rally was held two days after that in support of President Gallogly because, as rally organizer Chris Glenn said, “people are making [the blackface incidents] out to be his fault.” Student James Glover told the Daily he attended this event because people are “painting the wrong picture about him,” and because Dean Grillot’s behavior at the previous rally was inappropriate.

Gallogly did not attend this gathering.

At yesterday’s march, the BSA’s Francisco said “it’s on white allies to ‘dismantle the system’ and call out their fellow white people.” He also said President Gallogly is “a tool of whiteness” and chided him for being off campus a day after the most recent blackface episode.

“We’re tired, but we will not stop fighting,” he said. “Your silence is deafening — we hear it loud and clear. If you’re not speaking up right now, when your students of color don’t feel safe on this campus, we have a problem. It is on you. Your silence is deafening.” …

“It’s on (Gallogly) to use his privilege, to use his power, his voice to bring a little bit of change but … it’s also on the rest of the administration … to embark this real systemic change.”

Though the Daily doesn’t mention the contents of the latest BSA demands, last week the group stated it wanted “zero tolerance” for hate speech, an “enhanced curriculum dedicated to the education of social and cultural competency for all students,” and an “increase in multicultural faculty and staff.”

Several commenters to the Daily article echoed Glenn and Glover, the most recent of which said

When I was a kid, I would always get told not to let hateful people get under my skin. Because that was exactly what they wanted. If I really wanted to beat them, it was best to confidently ignore insults and move on.

I cant help but feel that the individuals responsible for these recent acts of racism are laughing themselves silly at all the hysteria they caused. I would give these students the same advice I was given. Be the bigger person, and ignore haters because they’re always going to exist.

Near the end of yesterday’s march another town hall event was announced for this Sunday where, as the BSA’s Destinee Dickson said, people will see “how they can help and be a support system and ally” while the BSA works with the OU administration regarding its demands.

MORE: U. Oklahoma ‘blackface’ incident leads to outrage, student demands

MORE: Students march to protest racist video at U. of Oklahoma

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 18 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.