Category: UCO

Black History is American History

Fred Hammond, Ph.D., Department of Educational Sciences, Foundations and Research

Black History Month is a joyous celebration entangled by a rich History of triumph through hardship, achievement in the face of adversity and pride, on the backs of an unwavering ancestry led by kings & queens. One thing I have come to realize and passionately believe, there is no history without Black History. From the beginning of the establishment of the colonies to the great country in which we live today, significant advancements have consistently been contributed, recognized or not, by the African American experience. If we do not know where we have been, we have no idea where we are headed and if we as Americans do not learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them.

Anthony Johnson arrived on the English ship, White Lion, in 1619. He became a successful headright settler and claimed 250 acres. Anthony prospered and bought more land, livestock, and owned slaves. One of his slaves, John Casor, sued Johnson to gain his freedom, but Johnson won the court case on March 8, 1655, to keep Casor as his slave. This case was the first legal sanction of slavery in the colonies. More than 12 million Africans were captured and sent to the Caribbean and the American colonies from the Slave Coast of Africa. Slaves were brought to the colonies with the Triangular Slave Trade from 1660 to 1808.

Black people arrived in Oklahoma long before the prospect of statehood. The first to settle in the area were enslaved by Native American tribes in the Deep South, and they made the journey in the 1830s as hunters, nurses and cooks during the brutal forced exodus known as the Trail of Tears.

Tullahassee is one of more than fifty All-Black towns of Oklahoma and one of thirteen still existing. The roots of the community were planted in 1850 when the Creek Nation opened a school.

The 1889 Land Run primarily attracted white settlers, and none of the few African Americans that took part settled directly inside the city limits of Edmond. The Gower and Estes families both homesteaded 160 acres near Edmond in 1889. Both families settled in areas that would eventually become part of Edmond, but no African Americans settled inside the immediate city limits of Edmond until 1891, where the population slowly began to grow.

UCO was founded in 1890 as the Territorial Normal School. 1904 – Territorial Normal became Central State Normal School. Statehood was still three years away. 1939 – The state legislature passed a law renaming the institution. The new Central State College was authorized to grant degrees without teaching certificates. May 18, 1990 – During the Edmond university’s Centennial Year, legislation was passed changing the name to the University of Central Oklahoma.

Notable African American Achievements in American Education.

When asked, what does Black History Month mean to me, it is my humble belief that this month is a time for reflection, in honoring those who made it possible for me to continue the “good fight.” As one of only four African American professors in my college; out of 120, and the only African American in my department, it is a time of rededication to the mission of advancement of unquestionable equality, of people of color. It is a reminder that no matter how far we have come, we have that much further to go in the struggle of equality. Mediocrity, apathy and complacency can no longer be acceptable. The journey has not yet been fulfilled. The discussions, and actions of African Americans must be purposeful and driven by the unyielding labor of our ancestors, not just in February, but all year long, in every field of human endeavor!

Originally posted in the UCO Broncho Beat

Assistance Available for Students with Disabilities

Students that need accommodations, due to a disability should be directed to UCO Disability Support Services (DSS) to request accommodations.

Once an instructor receives an accommodation letter, DSS encourages them to have a discussion with the student about the available accommodations for them in class. Additionally, since students register each semester, instructors are reminded to check the semester listing on any accommodation letters received to ensure they are for the fall 2022 semester. 

DSS is available for assistance and can be contacted via email, called at 405-974-2516 or visited in the Nigh University Center, Room 305.

 Helpful links for instructors provided by DSS:

Why We Observe Juneteenth | Events & Commemorations

What is Juneteenth and Why Do We Observe It

Our University community takes this time to remember the ancestral heritage of Black/African American people who were forced from their homeland and became enslaved people in a world unknown to them. June 19, 2022, is the 156th anniversary of Juneteenth. Originally commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Juneteenth is now the preeminent national celebration of freedom from slavery in the United States. Juneteenth, a blend of two words: “June” and “nineteenth,” also serves as a day to reflect on the fight for freedom and justice — then and now. The Office of Inclusive Community hopes you will honor Juneteenth with us through reflection and conversation. Honor Juneteenth by listening to dialogue centered around race and equity; contributing to the conversation in a constructive way; supporting Black-owned businesses; listening to Black artists; reading books written by Black writers; and donating to organizations that support racial justice.

The following is a press release from Juneteenth World Wide Celebration

New Orleans, June 2022 / – The observance of Juneteenth is about the journey and achievement of African Americans – from a horrific period of sanctioned enslavement to the pinnacle of human endeavors. It is a story of pride, resilience and determination that will always be of historical and spiritual importance – as it serves us well to understand that together, we can overcome all obstacles in our path.

As we know it, June 19th 1865, was the day word reached the enslaved in Galveston, Texas that their emancipation had been made formal, though it had been so since January, 1, 1863. And with those words, our country changed, this world changed. And, with bold and contentious decisions, we have continued to change – striving always to make it right, to make it better for all.

Again, we have the opportunity to look back at this century-and-a-half journey of progress. We pay homage to those who have gone before us, those that have paved the road to freedom – many with their lives. We stand on their shoulders. We, as a collective, from all walks of life, are a part of this victory. We celebrate freedom.

Through our celebrations we reflect this independence. Through grass roots organizing and community collaboration we enjoy the creativity and dedication that produce celebrations from the dinner table to the backyard barbeque, from the neighborhood block party to the city wide parade, and from the school cafeteria to the corporate conference room. There is no governing body that sanctions or approves Juneteenth celebrations or Juneteenth organizations. We encourage everyone to participate in a local event or start their own tradition. Strengthening the ties that bind us should always be our objective. Unity and peace are our goals.

As we pay tribute to the journey, we acknowledge the many roles and contributions of the African American spirit to our society. We embrace the past as well as the future that only unity, respect and appreciation can bring. To the countless supporters, organizers and attendees of Juneteenth celebrations hosted all across this nation and beyond, you are writing the history of our country and our world – there can be no greater honor than that. We thank you.

We Celebrate Juneteenth!

Watch the following video for a review of the history of Juneteenth and the struggle for the newly freed to actually realize freedom.  Juneteenth: 1865-2021

Celebrate, Commemorate Juneteenth

June 16

FREE Juneteenth Celebration at the Oklahoma History Center (800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr) features a “Music Through the Ages” themed celebration with educational presentations and musical performances representing Oklahoma’s unique African American roots. 6-8 p.m.

June 16-18

Tulsa Juneteenth Festival in the Historic Greenwood District (Greenwood Ave, Tulsa) features a festival that commemorates African American freedom, emphasizes education, celebrates the rich heritage of Greenwood, encourages healthy and active lifestyles, and advocates community impact. See website for schedule of events.

June 18

FREE Juneteenth on the East in Oklahoma City (N 23rd St Between N Kelham & N Hood)  features live music, interactive murals, dance performances, spoken word, food trucks, vendors, a car show and a 5K run. Saturday, 3-9 p.m.

Norman Juneteenth Festival at Reaves Park (2501 Jenkins Ave, Norman) features a live DJ, music, guest speakers, food trucks, performances, poetry, fireworks and more. 5:30-10 p.m.

FREE Juneteenth Music and Arts Festival at Washington Park (NE 4th St) features performances by Vokal Gold, B Les, Jon B, DJ Quik and more. 6:30 p.m.

June 11-30

BLACK TOWNS OF OKLAHOMA INTERACTIVE DISPLAY – Come and explore the 13 historically All-Black towns of Oklahoma still in existence today. There will be an exhibit created by the Oklahoma History Center of the Oklahoma Historical Society. In addition the library has created activities for all ages to help the information come alive! Come explore this exhibit throughout the library to help learn about this unique part of Oklahoma history. Warr Acres Library – 5901 NW 63rd Street, Warr Acres, OK 73132. Available all day.

Black Pioneers in Mental Health

In honor of this year’s national theme of health and wellbeing for Black History Month, we want to share the following Black American trailblazers in mental health article. This article comes directly from Mental Health America (

Black Americans’ contributions to the field of mental health have been long overlooked. Check out these trailblazers!

Bebe Moore Campbell

Bebe Moore Campbell was an American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate who worked tirelessly to shed light on the mental health needs of the Black community and other underrepresented communities. She founded NAMI-Inglewood in a predominantly Black neighborhood to create a space that was safe for Black people to talk about mental health concerns. Throughout her time as an advocate, Campbell made her way to DC. On June 2, 2008, Congress formally recognized Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face regarding mental illness in the US.

Herman George Canady, Ph.D.

Herman George Canady was a prominent Black clinical and social psychologist. He is credited with being the first psychologist to study the influence of rapport between an IQ test proctor and the subject, specifically researching how the race of a test proctor can create bias in IQ testing. He also helped to provide an understanding of testing environments that were suitable to help Black students succeed.

E. Kitch Childs, Ph.D.

In 1969, E. Kitch Childs helped to found the Association for Women in Psychology. She was also a founding member of Chicago’s Gay Liberation Front. In addition to being a leader for women in psychology and the LGBTQ+ community, she also owned her own practice in which she provided therapy to LGBTQ+ folks, people living with HIV/AIDS, and other marginalized members of her community. She practiced feminist therapy, and centered her research and work around the experiences of Black women and feminist theory.

Mamie Phipps Clark, Ph.D. And Kenneth Bancroft Clark, Ph.D.

Mamie Phipps Clark was the first African American woman to earn a doctorate degree in psychology from Columbia University. She previously earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Howard University. Her experience in college and specifically graduate-level courses helped her realize the shortage of psychological services available to the African American community and other minorities.  The Clarks are best known for the famous “Doll Study” in which more than 200 Black children participated. Both Mamie and Kenneth Clark worked on this study, providing invaluable evidence in favor of ending school segregation in the supreme court case Brown vs. The Board of Education, citing that school segregation was psychologically harmful to black children.

Dr. Kenneth Clark was the first-ever black president of the American Psychological Association.

Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark’s dedication and passion for adequate mental health services for all prompted Dr. Clark to open her own agency to provide comprehensive psychological services to the poor, blacks, and other minority children and families.  In February 1946, Dr. Clark and her husband opened the doors of “The Northside Center for Child Development” for those in the Harlem area.  She worked in the center counseling and providing other psychological services from 1946 until 1979 when she retired.  Although retired, Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark served on different advisory boards and was still very active within her community.

James P. Comer, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Comer is the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine’s Child Study Center in New Haven, Connecticut. He is known nationally and internationally for his creation of the Comer School Development Program in 1968 within Yale University’s School of Medicine. Dr. Comer’s has focused his career on improving school restructuring and has been featured in numerous newspaper, magazine and television reports, while also having several articles published in academic journals. He is a co-founder and past president of the Black Psychiatrists of America.  Dr. Comer is the recipient of countless recognitions and holds over forty eight honorary degrees. In 2014, Dr. Comer received a prestigious nomination by President Barrack Obama to serve on the President’s Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Paul Bertau Cornely, M.D., DrPH

Dr. Cornely was a founder of the National Student Health Association in 1939, president of the Physician’s Forum in 1954, and founder and first president of the District of Columbia Public Health Association in 1962. Dr. Cornely was also the first African-America elected as President of the American Public Health Association in 1968. Dr. Cornely’s professional work focused on the development of public health initiatives aimed at reducing healthcare disparities among the chronically underserved. He also made significant contributions in the civil right movements through his efforts to desegregate health facilities across the U.S. Additionally, Dr. Cornely conducted research studies in tuberculosis, venereal diseases and scarlet fever; utilization of physicians’ extenders and its effect on the cost and quality of health care; and the effects of social and cultural factors on health and health care utilization.  He published over 100 scientific and popular articles. Dr. Cornely retired in 1973 as Professor Emeritus in the Department of Community Health and Family Practice of Howard University College of Medicine.

Jennifer Eberhardt, Ph.D.

Jennifer Eberhardt is an esteemed professor of psychology at Stanford University. She is an expert on the consequences of the psychological association between race and crime and has done extensive research on the topics of implicit bias, criminal justice, and the education system, and her work has provided the evidence needed to educate law enforcement officers in implicit bias training. In 2014, Dr. Eberhardt’s work earned her the famous MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship.

M. Joycelyn Elders, M.D.

Dr. Joycelyn Elders was the first African American and the second woman to be sworn in as the Surgeon General of the United States. During her tenure as Surgeon General, Dr. Elders advocated for universal health coverage, comprehensive health education, including sex education in schools. Unfortunately, Dr. Elders only held the position of Surgeon General for 15 months as she was asked to resign. Nevertheless, this does not diminish her accomplishments including the fact that Dr. Elders was the first person in the state of Arkansas to become a board-certified pediatric endocrinologist, conducted an extensive amount of research on growth and diabetes in youth, as well as issues related to teen pregnancy and congenital abnormalities. Additional efforts by Dr. Elders included her extensive work to address minority health issues, particularly when she was appointed by then-Governor Clinton to head the Arkansas Department of Health where she focused her efforts on improving minority health, which led her to establish an internal Office of Minority Health within the Arkansas Department of Health. Currently, Dr. Elders is a professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Solomon Carter Fuller, M.D.

Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller was a pioneering African American psychiatrist who made significant contributions to the study of Alzheimer’s disease. He was born in Liberia, the son of a previously enslaved African who had purchased his freedom and emigrated there. He graduated from Boston University School of Medicine, which as a homeopathic institution, was open to both African American and women students. He spent most of his career practicing at Westborough State Mental Hospital in Westborough, Massachusetts. While there, he performed his ground-breaking research on the physical changes to the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Dr. Fuller was one of the first known Black psychiatrists and worked alongside Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who first discovered the traits of Alzheimer’s disease in 1901.

Beverly Greene, Ph.D.

Beverly Greene is the author of the landmark article “When the Therapist is White and the Patient is Black: Considerations for Psychotherapy in the Feminist Heterosexual and Lesbian Communities.” She is a pioneer of intersectional psychology, and her work on heterosexism, sexism, and racism has illuminated how different intersecting facets of a person’s identity shape their experiences of privilege, oppression, and mental health. Dr. Greene’s work earned her the honor of the Distinguished Publication Award from the Association for Women in Psychology in 2008.

Hope Landrine, Ph.D.

Dr. Hope Landrine was an expert in health psychology and public health. In 1992, she published “The Politics of Madness” which presented her research on the presence of existing societal inequities in the diagnosis and categorization of psychiatric disorders. This was some of the first scientific data that showed that stereotypes of women, people living in poverty, and racial and ethnic minorities were likely affecting psychiatric diagnoses and helping to maintain the inequities already present in society. Dr. Landrine frequently applied a public health lens to psychology and psychiatry and argued that the field of psychology’s focus on decontextualized individuals is insufficient for understanding overall health.

Freda C. Lewis-Hall, M.D., DFAPA

Freda C. Lewis-Hall earned her B.S. degree from Johns Hopkins University and her medical doctorate from Howard University in Washington, DC. She served as Pfizer, Inc.’s Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President until the end of 2018 and as Chief Patient Officer and Executive Vice President during 2019. Trained as a psychiatrist, Dr. Lewis-Hall has held an array of leadership roles across the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors, as well as in academia, medical research, and direct service provision. In 2010, Dr. Lewis-Hall was appointed by the Obama Administration to the inaugural Board of Governors for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and in 2012 she was appointed chair of the Cures Acceleration Network Review Board and a member of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) Advisory Council of the National Institutes of Health. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative and on numerous other boards, including those of Harvard Medical School, The Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Drug Discovery, Development, and Translation, and Save the Children. Dr. Lewis-Hall has received several recognitions including being named as one of Savoy’s Top Influential Women in Corporate America in 2012, named “Woman of the Year” by Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association’s in 2011, as well as being recognized in 2010 as one of the nation’s 75 Most Powerful Women in Business by Black Enterprise Magazine and among the 25 Most Influential African Americans in health care by Black Health Magazine.

Maxie Clarence Maultsby, Jr, M.D.

Dr.  Maultsby was the founder of the psychotherapeutic method, rational behavioral therapy. Through his work and therapeutic method, Dr. Maultsby explored emotional and behavioral self-management. Dr. Maultsby’s unique contributions include making emotional self-help a legitimate focus of scientific research and clinical use. Through rational behavior therapy he formulated a comprehensive system of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy and counseling that incorporated, in a clinically useful way, the most recent neuropsychological facts about how the brain works in relation to emotional and behavioral self-control. The technique of cognitive-behavioral therapy and counseling that Dr. Maultsby created is the first comprehensive, yet short-term, culture and drug-free technique of psychotherapy that produces long-term therapeutic results. In addition to authoring books for health professional therapists and counselors, Dr. Maultsby has written four pioneering books that describe his method of emotional self-help, called rational self-counseling. 

Harriette Pipes McAdoo, Ph.D.

Harriette Pipes McAdoo worked with her husband, researcher John Lewis McAdoo, on the Family Life Project which studied Black families in the Washington, DC area with a focus on the middle-class, rather than the working class and those living below the poverty line. Her research was some of the first work that challenged the widely-held, harmful racial stereotypes held about Black families. Harriette McAdoo’s work on the Family Life Project earned her a spot in the White House Conference on Families, appointed by President Jimmy Carter.

Jacki McKinney, M.S.W.

Ms. McKinney was a survivor of trauma, addiction, homelessness, and the psychiatric and criminal justice systems. She was a family advocate specializing in issues affecting African American women and their children and is a founding member of the National People of Color Consumer/Survivor Network. Ms. McKinney was a consultant and advisor to the Center for Mental Health Services and is well known for her moving presentations to national audiences on issues such as seclusion/restraint, intergenerational family support, and minority issues in public mental health. Additionally, Ms. McKinney was a proud recipient of Mental Health America’s highest honor, the Clifford W.  Beers Award, presented to a consumer of mental health and/or substance abuse services who best reflects the example set by Beers in his efforts to improve conditions for, and attitudes toward, people with mental illnesses. She was also the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration’s Voice Awards program which was presented to her for her distinguished leadership and advocacy on behalf of trauma survivors.

Linda James Myers, Ph.D.

Dr. Myers specializes in psychology and culture; moral and spiritual identity development; healing practices and psychotherapeutic processes; and intersections of race, gender, and class.  Internationally known for her work in the development of a theory of Optimal Psychology; Dr. Myers has conducted trainings in England, South Africa, Ghana, and Jamaica. She is the author of numerous articles, book chapters, and five books, including Understanding an Afrocentric World View: Introduction to an Optimal Psychology; and, most recently, co-editor of Re-centering Culture and Knowledge in Conflict Resolution Practice. Dr. James Myers’ Oneness model of human functioning offers a trans-disciplinary focus that builds on insights from the wisdom tradition of African deep thought and converges with modern physics and Eastern philosophies. Her current research interests comprise the application of that model to a broad range of issues from health and education to business ethics. Dr. James Myers has received numerous honors and awards for excellence in research and scholarship, including being named Distinguished Psychologist by the Association of Black Psychologists; the Bethune/Woodson Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Development of Promotion of Black Studies from the National Council of Black Studies; Oni Award by the International Black Women’s Congress; and, the Building to Eternity Award from the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilization, among others. Professor James Myers is a recipient of the O.S.U. College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award, a member of the national honor societies of Phi Kappa Phi and Psi Chi, a past president of the Association of Black Psychologists, and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the National Association for the Education of African American Children with Learning Disabilities.

Inez Beverly Prosser, Ph.D.

Inez Beverly Prosser is considered to be the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in psychology. Her dissertation, “The Non-Academic Development of Negro Children in Mixed and Segregated Schools,” evaluated the effects of racial inequality and racism on the development of Black children’s identity and mental health. Her research and arguments helped lead some of the first discussions about desegregating American schools.

Francis Cecil Sumner, Ph.D.

Francis Cecil Sumner is another person who gets called “the Father of Black Psychology,” because he was the first Black man to earn his Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Sumner was accepted into Clark University’s doctoral psychology program, but was then drafted to serve in WWI. Upon his return, he re-enrolled and his dissertation was accepted. Dr. Sumner struggled to get his research published because of the color of his skin, but persisted nonetheless and was able to publish several articles. He is also one of the founding members of the Howard University Psychology Department.

Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum is the author of the renowned book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria And Other Conversations About Race, one of her many works that focuses on racism and the effect it has on the American education system. She argues that the effects of racism, especially in schools, can have a detrimental effect on students’ racial identity formation and emphasizes the urgent need for continued conversations about race. Beverly Tatum’s tireless work on racism, psychology, and the education system earned her the American Psychological Association Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology in 2014.

Robert Lee Williams, II

Robert Lee Williams, II was the creator of the Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity, an intelligence test specifically oriented towards Black experiences, language, and culture. The data collected from this test helped to shatter the notion that Black people had lower average intelligence than white people and showed, rather, that differences in previous IQ data were likely the result of speech and experiential differences skewing IQ test results in favor of white people. He was also a founding member of the National Association of Black Psychologists and served as the second president of the organization.

Joseph L. White, Ph.D.

Joseph L. White is sometimes referred to as “the father of Black psychology.” He wrote the groundbreaking article “Toward a Black Psychology,” which is credited as being the first-ever strengths-based (rather than deficit-based) evaluation and description of Black behavior and culture. He passionately advocated for the creation of Black psychology, arguing that applying white psychology to Black people often unfairly created the illusion of Black inferiority, when ultimately it was a reflection of the culturally irrelevant psychological principles being applied. He also helped found the Association of Black Psychologists as well as the Black Studies program at San Francisco State University in 1968.

Learn How to Apologize

This post is taken directly from the Anti-Racism Daily Newsletter

As we become more aware and attuned, we are bound to make mistakes – which means in various scenarios we may cause harm or be harmed. Our fear of this can force us to retreat from tough conversations or important moments of learning. But suppose we can equip ourselves with tools for navigating challenging situations. In that case, we can more effectively practice harm reduction if and when it occurs – and feel more confident when engaging in uncomfortable situations. This act may allow us to stay in relationship – not run and flee.

One of these tools is the act of apologizing. And apologizing isn’t embedded in U.S. culture. Generally, people in the U.S. are wary of admitting that they are wrong. A personal admission of guilt can lead to consequences – a loss of respect, friends, and community, and complicated emotions to process individually. A study found that, on average, politicians who apologized were more likely to lose support than gain it afterward, which some use as a rationale for why President Trump doesn’t apologize (NYTimes). Legally, apologies can be weaponized for punishment, which is why lawyers and insurance agents may recommend against it  (The Daily Beast).

This perspective is quite different than how other countries embrace apologies as part of their culture, as explained in Harvard Business Review. And here, it seems our aversion to apologizing is part of our relationship with power. An offender will often choose not to apologize because they “maintain a greater sense of control and often feel better about themselves” (Scientific American). This perceived sense of power may feel like protection against external shame, blame, and consequence.

But it also blocks us from accountability – a critical skill needed when we’re doing this work. Not just when we engage in conversations on a one-on-one basis, but when we envision how we want communities to thrive. We can’t continue to rely on punitive practices when we work to change systems: like re-imagining public safety and collective care. And we can’t keep shaming our leaders for admitting mistakes until we are ultimately left with those too proud to do so.

Luckily, we can practice apologies on our own and bring them into our next conversation. And a wholesome apology is more than just saying, “I’m sorry.” There are many spaces for inspiration you can go to for apologies, including your own spiritual, religious, or cultural backgrounds. I have learned a lot from resources created by Mia Mingus and Brené Brown and recommend their work in full. Here are some important points I’ve learned:

Invest in self-reflection. The apologies we’re focusing on aren’t the compulsive “OMG, I’m SO sorry” ones you might squawk out if you bump into someone on the street. We’re looking for thoughtful and sincere apologies, and those often take some deep self-refection. To complete the following steps, you must be willing to understand your role in what happened. That may include journaling and processing individually, talking with a friend, or learning from books, podcasts, etc. Start here so you can do your best moving forward. Learn more via Mia Mingus.

Note: Reflect on what is yours to own. I think it’s worth including from my perspective as a Black woman born and raised in the U.S. Women, women of color particularly, are often burdened to take responsibility for the wrongdoings around them. I often find myself wanting to apologize for something that was done to me, not by me. I encourage all of us, but particularly those most marginalized, to reflect on whether or not that’s actually our burden to carry, especially if we’re the ones receiving the harm.

Say you’re sorry. Naming that your sorry – without any “ifs, ands, or buts” is critical. Changing, or removing this phrase entirely, is a common way people try to eschew responsibility. Using phrases like “I’m sorry you felt that way” or “I didn’t realize you’re so sensitive” puts the focus on the other person’s feelings, not your actions. Phrases like these can be wielded to manipulate or even gaslight others, too, so you want to avoid that regardless of intention. Instead, stick to the action that you can apologize for, like, “I’m sorry I said what I said last night.” More on this from Brene Brown in conversation with Harriet Lerner.

Acknowledge the impact. We reference intention v. impact often in this newsletter because it’s an essential act of accountability. And that’s no difference when it comes to apologizing. Instead of emphasizing that you “didn’t mean” or “never intended” to do something, name and acknowledge the impact. That can look like “I realize my behavior last night made you upset” or “I now understand that my actions are incredibly condescending. I appreciate how Franchesca Ramsey breaks this down in this video.

Change your behavior. An apology is something we do, not something we say. And we carry it forward by changing our behavior to minimize opportunities for future harm. This action might be something you name in your apology, like “moving forward, I will not talk to you that way again.” It may also be something you commit to learning more about so you can grow, “I’m going to take a course so I can better understand how to engage properly.” But neither you, the recipient or society gain anything until you put it into practice. This might be difficult, and burdensome, and tiring, and overwhelming – yet if you’re going to apologize, you have to be committed to this step. Learn more via Mia Mingus.

Remember that after you apologize, regardless of how well-rehearsed and well-practiced, you have to detach yourself from the outcome. No one owes you their forgiveness, no matter how deeply you may desire it. Respect the recipient’s boundaries and ensure your apology is consensual. And, note that an apology is not a replacement with other forms of accountability, like giving reparations or removing yourself from a position of power. But sometimes, an apology can be an excellent start to transforming our relationships – with ourselves, each other, and society as a whole. And we have to start somewhere.

Celebrating Indigenous Peoples

As we celebrate Native American Heritage Month, I want to share the following resources with the campus community. Let’s learn the different ways we can decolonize our institutions and communities.

Why Aren’t There More Native American Restaurants

When you think of North American cuisine, do Indigenous foods come to mind? Chef Sean Sherman serves up an essential history lesson that explains the absence of Native American culinary traditions across the continent.

The Intergenerational Wisdom Woven Into Indigenous Stories

The way we behave politically, socially, economically and ecologically isn’t working, says community organizer and activist Tai Simpson. Sharing the creation myth of her Nez Perce tribe, she advocates for a return to the “old ways” guided by Indigenous wisdom that emphasize balance, community and the importance of intergenerational storytelling in order to protect what’s sacred.

UCO Land Acknowledgement Website
This site contains resources and information to advance your understanding of Native cultures and how we can prevent their erasure.