TSU hosts “Getting in the Trenches: Navigating Race Talk during Hostile Times”

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HOUSTON—Texas Southern University hosted the “Getting in the Trenches: Navigating Race Talk during Hostile Times” fireside chat with University of Houston-Downtown Center for Critical Race Studies (CCRS) Scholar-in-Resident Dr. Tina Harris and TSU Interim Dean of the School of Communications Dr. Rockell Brown-Burton.

The fireside chat gave students the opportunity to ask questions and gain an understanding about dealing with racial conversations in professional situations and how to handle those circumstances.

Dr. Harris is a professor at Louisiana State University (LSU) and an internationally renowned interracial communication scholar with particular interests in race, media representations and racial social justice.

“My goal is to equip them not only with the knowledge, but with the skills necessary for them to have effective communication in their relationships outside the classroom and they can ultimately dismantle racism,” Harris said.

Harris is also the nation’s first chair in race, media and cultural literacy.

Harris sat with Brown-Burton and conversed about experiencing racism on an international level, educating people and helping them to break down the racial barriers, talked about situations dealing with students from public white institutions who were resistant toward her teachings and answered questions from the students in the crowd.

“As much as we need to have this conversation with other people of color outside the African American community, nothing is going to change unless those in dominant cultures accept the knowledge and help move forward,” Brown-Burton said. “In order for things to move forward, it has to come from those who have privilege to acknowledge their privilege to help us progress onward.”

“While race is at the center of the problem, there are many forms of oppression that exists in society,” Harris said. “If we are going to live in a society where everything is equitable—not just fair, but where everyone has access to resources just like those in power—then we have to dismantle those systems through knowledge and power.”

The fireside chat gave students the opportunity to have a better understanding of the discipline of communication outside of their own major, focus and race.

“I think this event went pretty good,” said TSU freshman Gerald Sanders. “It was an educational and enlightening experience being around knowledgeable African Americans who knew what they were talking about and asked the right questions. I believe this is a step to something greater.”