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The 11th Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture will be delivered by four global leaders – South Africa’s former public protector, Thuli Madonsela; women’s and children’s rights activist Graça Machel; chair of The Elders and former president of Ireland Mary Robinson; and, the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s highest spiritual leader. This year’s lecture is a celebratory event that will take place on Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 90th birthday on 7 October 2021. The event will be online-only, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
June 9-11, 2021
This conference will examine the characteristics of systemic racism and its impact on everyday life by exploring the interrelated themes of diversity, alienation (anomie), whiteness and community. Presentations developed around these themes will establish critical frameworks for understanding how race and racial ideologies persist in shaping social and cultural institutions, which mediate interconnectedness and/or social isolation between individuals and social groups, and how these factors foster or hinder community-building.
Break-out sessions will be facilitated each day by the staff of the Institute for the Healing of Memories (IMH) to help participants process their feelings, experiences and general understanding of the topics presented.
The conference design is based on the organizers’ conviction that addressing racism necessitates a rigorous interdisciplinary approach and also needs to bridge the gap between academic research and teaching and social activism beyond the university.
Listen to Father Michael Lapsley's address below:
In 1973 he arrived in Durban, South Africa, as an undergraduate student. Soon thereafter, during the height of apartheid repression, he became chaplain to students at both black and white universities in Durban. In 1976, he began to speak out on behalf of schoolchildren who were being shot, detained and tortured. In 1993, he became Chaplain of the Trauma Centre for Victims of Violence and Torture in Cape Town, which assisted the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). This work led to the establishment, in 1998, of the Institute for Healing of Memories (IHOM) in Cape Town. The IHOM aims to allow many more South Africans to tell their stories in workshops where they work through their trauma.
The IHOM is based in Cape Town, South Africa, but Fr Michael has worked in many other countries, in Africa and across the world. The organization now works with groups including those affected by political violence; those affected and infected by HIV and AIDS; refugees and asylum seekers; prisoners and war veterans. The IHOM is also represented in the United States.
A prolific writer, scholar, and editor, Dr. Khan’s work heavily focuses on the political issues and strife of her homeland, Jammu and Kashmir, India. Through her writings, she critically observes the sociopolitical discourse in South Asia, particularly Kashmir, through an oblique focus from the margins instead of from an elitist center. She is involved in the restoration of the State Archives in Kashmir, a project on which she is working in collaboration with senior administrators in Jammu and Kashmir. Her goal is to engage in reflective action as an educator working with diverse cultural and social groups questioning the exclusivity of cultural nationalism, the erosion of cultural syncretism, the ever-increasing dominance of religious fundamentalism, and the irrational resistance to cultural and linguistic differences. She believes that acknowledging our complicity in oppression, re-conceptualizing paradigmatic structures, and mobilizing cultural and political coalitions are riddled with conflict but it is the need of the day for us to engage in these processes. Her publications include including The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism and Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between India and Pakistan.
Anthropologist, lecturer, community activist and bridge builder, Suzette Chang is the founder and CEO of Thick Descriptions. Thick Descriptions provides education in science for kids during school breaks, sustainable diversity and inclusion for educators and adults. She identifies and navigates opportunities to bridge gaps by investing in individuals, organizations, and corporations through cultural intelligence and scientific empowerment. From the perspectives of biology, culture, archaeology and language, Suzette works with like-minded investors to disrupt the false perception that customary beliefs define human beings and is committed to shirting ineffective perspectives of social and scientific understandings within the context of health, culture, language, history and other spaces that influence the quality of human life.
Dr. Schmitt is a Stuart Hall Fellow and Research Associate of English and American Studies within the Cultural Studies Program at the Technische Universität Dortmund in Germany. He is the author of many publications including British White Trash: Figurations of Tainted Whiteness and co-editor of Intersections of Whiteness (2019). His research, publications and teaching focus on social abjection, the intersections of race and class and their cultural figurations, theories of British Cultural Studies and Critical Race/Whiteness Studies.
Dr. Noel Jacobs is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and licensed health service psychologist in the section of General and Community Pediatrics at OU Health Sciences Center, where he serves patients with a range of chronic conditions. Dr. Jacobs has 13 years’ experience teaching and training undergraduates, graduates and postdoctoral trainees in child psychology as well as providing direct services and psychological testing to children and families. He writes in the area of living well and finding whole life regardless of health, and conducts research in the areas of teaching effectiveness and quality of life over time in children with chronic illnesses. Dr. Jacobs currently serves as Vice President of The Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma and chairs the Beyond Coexistence initiative, the organization's community service program designed to build relationships across differences while volunteers serve the greater OKC area in tangible ways. He is also Program Director for The Respect Diversity Foundation and helps create teaching and learning opportunities for people of all ages, to grow tolerance and respect for others.
Rev. Dickerson is co-founder and executive director of Black Lives Matter-Oklahoma and serves on the national board for the Women’s March. She serves as a mentor to dynamic young movement leaders, and an extension of her village of powerful women mentors and activist Icons. She sat under the direct tutelage of the late Dr. Maya Angelou and the Legendary Clara Luper who helped develop her spirit of altruism, community service, grassroots organizing, advocacy and creative multitasking. Sheri’s experience inside the foster care system compels her to give back to young people in foster care systems as a volunteer for CASA, and the One Child at a Time Fostering and Adoption program. Sheri serves as a political consultant and strategist to progressive candidates running for office in Oklahoma with her company Epiphany Consulting. She also is a facilitator and trainer with Partners In Progress LLC, specializing in Diversity and Inclusion trainings.
Mr. Pérez served as a Senior Assistant District Attorney for Brooklyn, New York, in charge of social and procedural justice policy. He founded Online Racial Justice Training after the murder of George Floyd. The training is aimed at contextualizing racial injustice in history and law for schools, lawyers, and institutes supporting racial justice agendas. He has conducted extensive workshops and lectures promoting training for better equity and diversity decisions within the American justice system. Mr. Pérez teaches courses on law and communities of color at Wesleyan University.
Serena is a community organizer, managing campaigns with United We Dream Network. Her Bachelor of Arts in International and Area Studies and Spanish from the University of Oklahoma together with her Master of Science in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science led her to social justice work. For over 6 years, she has worked with diverse immigrant communities — from refugee resettlement with Catholic Charities to employment-based and temporary visas with the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and with undocumented and mixed-status families as Executive Director of Dream Action Oklahoma.
Kellie J. Lewis (Pawnee/Kiowa/Wichita) is a citizen of the Pawnee Nation and the owner of Tribal Administrative Services, LLC, and TalkJive Media, located in Oklahoma City. She co-hosts the daily show “Them Damn NDNs”, and moderates the weekly podcasts “Ask A Lawyer,” a public service with Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, Inc. (OILS), “The Crow’s Nest” with Dr. Kevin Crow and “The Isle of Dr. Garneau” with Dr. Chris Garneau, both members of the Science & Arts faculty. She possesses a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy, one of the first to earn a degree in that field from Science & Arts, and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Oklahoma. Kellie has experience working with Tribal Environmental, Native American Graves and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and Historic Preservation programs. She has given presentations about the impact of social and internet media in Indian Country and First Amendment issues within Tribal governments to the Oklahoma Indian Bar Association and at the annual Sovereignty Symposium. She coordinates outreach events for OILS to provide no cost legal clinics to Tribal citizens across Indian Country in Oklahoma and serves as a board member of the Pawnee Nation Tribal Development Corporation.
Dr. Cornel Pewewardy (Comanche-Kiowa) is Professor Emeritus, Indigenous Nations Studies at Portland State University. Dr. Pewewardy’s research explores the theoretical and philosophical foundations of postcolonial Indigenous research paradigms that focused on historical and political insight into the lingering impact of colonization, considering the issues faced by Indigenous peoples today and identities to survive in the twenty-first century. Across his work, Professor Pewewardy seeks to advance policy and practice that address persistent racial and socioeconomic inequities within Indigenous education and reflect the voices and expertise of historically underserved families and communities. From his early work as an educational administrator to more recent work on creating Indigenous charter schools, he focuses on strategies to enhance higher education institution’s connectivity and partnerships with Indigenous nations to advance the education of Indigenous students and explore university-tribal engagement. In addition, he and colleagues have been working closely with teachers and school leaders to construct a progressive model specific to the continuum of consciousness educators experience as they develop their understanding and employment of decolonizing theories and pedagogies.
Presenting the Transformational Indigenous Praxis Model for almost three decades at professional conferences across the U.S., Pewewardy has applied his theoretical model to the work of educational practice, primarily using case studies with Indigenous learners, systems and structures in efforts to nurture Indigenous epistemologies and ontologies in educational settings toward decolonization.
Sponsors and Partnerships
At Oklahoma Humanities, we use the humanities — history, literature, ethics and culture — to inspire fresh thinking, promote civic engagement and strengthen our democracy.
The purpose of the Science & Arts Foundation is to support the mission of the University. The Foundation works to invest and manage donated funds and other gifts designated for the University.
The Institute for Healing of Memories (IHOM) seeks to contribute to lasting individual and collective healing that makes possible a more peaceful and just future. Since the 1990s, we have facilitated workshops and events that enable people from different racial, religious and social backgrounds to reach a better understanding of themselves and of each other.
(North America) Website: healingmemoriesna.org
(South Africa) Website: www.healing-memories.org
The Respect Diversity Foundation promotes tolerance, acceptance and affinity across differences – through communication, education and the arts. We help learners of all ages understand and appreciate other cultures and their own, create positive inter-group relationships, and build strong communities throughout the state of Oklahoma, the U.S., and the world.
"Thick Description" is a term used by the cultural anthropologist Clifford Geertz. He described the practice of thick description as a way of providing cultural context and meaning to human actions and behavior, as opposed to "thin description" which is a factual account without any interpretation. He stressed the importance of considering why people behave as they do, what they are trying to express or achieve in doing so, and for whom.
The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission will leverage the rich history surrounding the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre by facilitating actions, activities, and events that commemorate and educate all citizens.
Black Lives Matter-Oklahoma City was founded in 2016 in the state that is number one in the nation for law enforcement killings of civilians. It is part of a global movement whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene against violence inflicted on Black communities.
Sally’s List trains, supports, and helps elect Progressive women to public office in Oklahoma.
A huge thank you to Dr. Krista M. Jones and Rev. Dr. B. Craig Stinson for their transformational gift to the Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Center for Social Justice and Racial Healing. Read more on their generosity.
This program is funded in part by Oklahoma Humanities (OH) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily represent those of OH or NEH.
May 15, 2021
Join us virtually from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. to learn from our speakers about bridging the gap between community organizing and activism and running for elected office!
Representative Attica Scott
She/Her/Hers - KY House of Representatives, District 41 In 2016, Representative Scott defeated a 34-year incumbent to become the first Black woman in nearly 20 years to serve in the state legislature.
Representative Mauree Turner
They/She - OK House of Representatives, District 88 Rep. Turner is an intersectional community organizer. They are the first the first nonbinary state legislator in US history and the first Muslim to serve in OK’s state legislature.
She/Her/Hers - Former Campaign Director for Representative Cori Bush, & Former Exec. Director of Brand New Congress Isra educates people on grassroots politics, how to start a political movement, how to change minds, and how to manage stress in politics.
*Anyone who identifies with women—including trans women, cis women, femmes, and two-spirit people—are all welcome and valued at our event.
February 6, 2021
Join us on Saturday, February 6 from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time, for an important conversation on the nexus of two pandemics: COVID-19 and Racism. Fr. Michael Lapsley and Healing of Memories facilitators will each share reflections on ways they have been impacted by the current moment, and on their journeys of healing while working for justice. The panel will include China Gerstner, Karen Hayes, Patti Prickett, Sally Roberts, and Lynndi Scott. Participants will take away ideas for self-care, detoxification and healing. While this is not itself a Healing of Memories (HOM) workshop, we will share our experience of the HOM workshop process.
Background: Father Michael Lapsley, SSM, founded the Institute for the Healing of Memories to provide those who could not appear before South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission an opportunity to share their experiences and be acknowledged for their suffering during the apartheid years. Since the 1990s, the Institute has provided workshops internationally, enabling people from different ethnic and identity groups and religions to cope with challenges and circumstances including HIV/ AIDS, and gender, racial and ethnic violence. In 2013 Father Michael received the Andrew Murray & Desmond Tutu Prize for his memoir ‘Redeeming the Past – My Journey from Freedom Fighter to Healer.’