The OU Carceral Studies Consortium brings together faculty, staff and students across colleges at the University of Oklahoma to cultivate rigorous scholarship and community engagement toward social transformation in the broad area of Carceral Studies. The Carceral Studies Consortium has released the below statement on racism and issues a call to action.

Racial supremacy neither is an aberration of the historical past nor has it been condemned to history’s graveyard. It has long provided justification and legitimization for destruction of people, families, and communities. We must never forget the Black and Brown people murdered by institutions that uphold racist power structures. Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are only the latest souls taken as a result of our society’s violently racialized systems.

Although racial supremacy has plagued American history, self-determination and freedom labor have countered. People have long sought equity and justice in pursuit of liberation. We are reminded now of a time when justice too long delayed was delivered. On June 19, 1865, hundreds of thousands of people in Western Texas learned that they, like millions of other Black people across the U.S., could no longer legally be enslaved. In the wake of slavery, Black people across the U.S. built families, communities, schools, and businesses. 

Today, 155 years later, racial supremacy continues, yet self-determination and liberation still guide us. Our work today carries the legacy of those who have struggled for freedom in the wake of slavery, lynching, segregation, state violence, and mass incarceration. We have learned from our ancestors, and we know that statements alone will not usher in justice. The Carceral Studies Consortium understands that dreams manifest in the form of education, engagement, and action.

Therefore, we are offering an opportunity for you to engage with our community and learn more about how our past shapes our present and informs our future. We are organizing a reading group to facilitate discussions of race, policing, activism, and the state. We know that knowledge, context, and understanding allows us to be better citizens, activists, and allies. We strive to create a world where Black lives matter, justice is pursued, and liberation is achieved. 

Our Call to Action

Our call to action builds on centuries of liberation work through collective learning and community engagement. We invite you to join us for the first reading group session via Zoom on either Tues., July 7, at 12:30 pm or Thurs., July 9, at 6:30 pm. Please join for the session that is most convenient for you. We will send a Zoom link to all registered participants. The initial readings will be three short pieces about race, police, and the state:

  1. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “Of Course there are Protests. The State is Failing Black People,” The New York Times, 5/29/20 
  2. Allissa Richardson, “Why cellphone videos of black people’s deaths should be considered sacred, like lynching photographs,” The Conversation, 5/28/20
  3. Stuart Schrader, “To Protect and Serve Themselves: Police in US Politics Since the 1960s,” Public Culture 31, no. 3 (2019): 601-629.

For questions or accommodations, please contact alex.finkelstein@ou.edu.