Ray Carter | August 10, 2021
OEA hides ‘Racial and Social Justice Symposium’ videos
The Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) has removed videos from its website that allowed the public to view content presented during the Oklahoma Aspiring Educators Association’s Racial and Social Justice Symposium.
The OEA removed the videos following a series of articles published by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) that highlighted presentations made during the symposium, and the removal of the videos has occurred even as presenters have publicly said the articles provided an accurate portrayal of the event.
During the symposium, which was held for individuals training to become teachers, participants were told that police or school security “have always been brought into schools as a way to oppress, suppress, beat, and harm our black, indigenous, and students of color,” and that teachers who call security for assistance do so because they “interpret things through our own lens of whiteness.”
Attendees were also told the fact that many teachers are white women is a problem that has “embedded this deep layer of implicit bias” in public schools, and that teachers who don’t embrace “antiracism” need to “get out of the profession” because otherwise they are continuing to “perpetuate white supremacy and inflict harm on students of color.”
Concerns about COVID-related learning loss were dismissed as “completely centered in whiteness.” One presenter said it is “just white learning that’s been lost” while another said current academic “standards of achievement are inherently racist.”
The Oklahoma Aspiring Educators Association is an affiliate of the Oklahoma Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union and the state affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA).
The OEA removed the videos even though presenters at the symposium have publicly said the OCPA articles provided an accurate summation of the material presented.
The OEA posted videos of the symposium online, but after the content of the videos was highlighted by OCPA, the OEA stripped the videos from its website. The union’s website still includes a page that informs visitors they can stream video recordings of sessions from the 2021 OAEA Racial and Social Justice Symposium, but that link now takes visitors to a page that states, “The page can’t be found.”
The OEA removed the videos even though presenters at the 2021 OAEA Racial and Social Justice Symposium have publicly said the OCPA articles provided an accurate summation of the material presented.
One of the presenters quoted in three articles about the symposium, 2017 National Education Association Social Justice Activist finalist Terry Jess, shared one of the OCPA articles (“Teachers’ union officials denounce police at Oklahoma symposium”) on his Facebook page on Aug. 3.
Jess wrote, “You know, even though this is a conservative think tank that obviously doesn’t agree with anything I stand for…I gotta say, this write up just presents a summary of our presentation and quotes from Chelsie, Erika, and me. Most polite usage of our work to stir the far right pot I’ve experienced.”
Jess’ fellow presenters—Chelsie Joy Acosta and Erika Chavarria, who were also 2017 National Education Association Social Justice Activist finalists—posted responses echoing that assessment.
“Loved being quoted together!” Acosta wrote. “It was also nice to finally be quoted correctly!”
Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.