Earlier this week we reported on a disturbing incident where a group of high school students in Oklahoma were subjected to a racist, colorist and texturist exercise, when a college recruiter from Oklahoma Christian University asked the group to line up according to their complexion and hair texture.
While the name of the recruiter was kept undisclosed, he has now come forward in an attempt to explain his unfounded actions during a recent visit at Harding Charter Prep in an interview with KFOR. While university officials visited the school on Monday to apologize for what transpired, the now ousted recruiter is singing a different tune.
In the interview Cedric Sunray defended the incident, saying he implements the “icebreaker” over 87 times a year, which is 87 times too many.
“I break the groups into four teams and then I say line up darkest to the front and lightest to the back,” Sunray said. “From the largest afro to the tightest braid to the blondest with blue eyes. They all want to know they are valued and warranted. And that is what I provide,” he said.
Sunray also confirmed that he was offered and accepted another position at a different university, but wouldn’t disclose the school’s name.
When asked if he still planned on continuing the exercise he said that he would.
“I have been doing this exercise for years,” Sunray said. “We need to have these conversations.”
To add further insult to injury, Sunray wrote a lengthy statement obtained by KFOR where he attempts to explain why he does not classify himself as a racist, citing his background of growing up “in a primarily Hispanic & Black community.”
“The greatest mentors in my life have been Black, Hispanic and American Indian women & men,” he continues. “My closest friends are Black, Hispanic & American Indian. My wife and daughter are identifiable Women of Color (American Indian). I have stood as an advocate and ally against racism directed towards the Black community, including when I have had to stand against others in Indian Country, since my teenage years and have over 30 published works in magazines and major academic press books related to dismantling racism which are easily searchable on the internet.”
Sunray says that his career in education has allowed him to teach at primarily Black schools where he tried to implement his “kumbaya” methods of teaching.
And therein lies one of the most flawed pieces of his argument. Schools and institutions of learning have repeatedly failed in offering students safe spaces to learn and advance. Black students and students from minority communities are continuously stereotyped, underserved and over-policed in the hallways of their respective institutions. Receiving an education in America is oftentimes riddled with anti-Blackness, homophobic and xenophobic ideals, where the contributions of non-white communities are erased and minimized. Some of these same students then move to obtain advanced degrees where the same cycles are perpetrated.
In the end, Sunray won’t learn. The lesson of what transpired at Harding Charter Prep has obviously gone over his head.
“I have no regrets in using this approach in my teaching and in my life,” he said. “I have reached out to the leadership of both schools impacted by the presentation and offered to attend any meetings or forums that are necessary to discuss this situation and answer any and all questions that may be posed towards me.”