OU Professor: Racism Like Cancer, In Remission Not Gone


Wednesday, March 11th 2015, 5:40 pm
By: Dana Hertneky


An OU professor, whose life's work is studying racism at the University, says he's not surprised by that SAE video. But says those students don't represent OU.

Dr. George Henderson has taught at the University since 1967 and has seen a tremendous amount of change, but says racism is like cancer; it may be in remission but it's not gone.

“Remission for us in terms of racism means they are not talking about it publicly, but they're still sharing the jokes and they're still making fun of and they're still doing very negative things that people don't like,” Henderson said.

But the video, shot on an SAE bus, reopened that wound and exposed what Henderson says has been there all along.

“Most of the racism is overt and not covert, but there are pockets, small pockets scattered everywhere and this is just one of those small pockets. No I was not surprised. I was disappointed.”

Still, Henderson, who in 2011 wrote the book Racism and the University about Racism at OU, says those racists make up a very small percentage of the student population, less than 1 percent, but a larger percentage is indifferent.

“The racists at some point we will identify, but the indifferent people, they smile and they say the right words and they do nothing and Martin Luther King said it better than I. We have to be concerned about the good people who silently condone or don't say anything about the bad behaviors,”

But the individual who decided to video this was one who decided to do something. And Henderson says that is what we can learn from and be encouraged by.

“It's the silence. It's the silence of the good people. We've got a lot of good people here at the University of Oklahoma maybe now in this teachable moment no more, no more will I laugh at those jokes. No more will I remain silent when other people are doing negative things and hateful things. I'll speak out.”

Henderson also told News 9 that he thought David Boren's handing of the situation was quote spot on.