Fired College Recruiter Responds To Being Labeled A Racist
It’s been a week since Cedric Sunray resigned from his job as a recruiter at Oklahoma Christian.
"I knew it was over. I know this world. I was done,” Sunray said.
Sunray is referring to a recruitment presentation that he gave to the junior class at Harding College Prep. After 20 years as an educator, he had turned to college recruitment.
“I wanted to motivate kids to go to college. I wanted kids to feel like they deserve it no matter who they are or where they come from,” he said speaking from his home in Norman.
As part of the presentation, Sunray asked students to participate in several exercises. It was nothing new he said, “I have given the same presentation 87 times so far this year,” he said.
After breaking students into groups of four, Sunray asked them to line up according to skin tone.
“I say I want you to line up. Darkest to the front and lightest to the back. The first trajectory is that the darkest skinned people have always been relegated to the back,” he said.
Then he asked them to line up by hair type, straightest to the nappiest. It was then he said, that a member of the school faculty approached him. He said, the moment she asked for his contact information he knew his career was over.
“What’s wrong with nappy?” Sunray asked. “My cultural hero is Bell Hooks. In 1999 she wrote the book, “Be Happy To Be Nappy.” I read that book to my daughter because that book is about empowering brown girls.
Sunray did admit that he understands why people were offended by the exercise. The problem, he said, is context. Without seeing the entire presentation, he was immediately labeled a racist.
Sunray said he is anything but.
Born in Canada, Sunray was raised in a low income, majority black and Cuban neighborhood in Key West, Florida. Growing up, he was referred to as a Conch, a slang term for native Bahamians of European descent.
His father, an American Indian, was involved in the drug trade. When Sunray was just a child, his father was shot and killed leaving his mother to raise him on her own.
Sunray showed News 9’s Amber Gerard a poster with the words single parent written across it. Holding it in the air he asked, “How many people in here have a single parent?” Holding it even higher in the air, he raised his right and said, “Don’t be ashamed. Having a single parent means you have grit.”
“That’s what this is all about,” Sunray said. “Having a conversation about real things. Things that are uncomfortable.”