Professor urges working with media to heal racism
by Paisley Boston
Mar 20, 2014 | 1185 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. Temika Simmons engages the audience on an in-depth conversation about race and media. "There are times when people may say offensive things to us and instead of letting them know that they have offended you, you just sit back and say nothing. We need to speak out and use effective communication," said Simmons.
Dr. Temika Simmons engages the audience on an in-depth conversation about race and media. "There are times when people may say offensive things to us and instead of letting them know that they have offended you, you just sit back and say nothing. We need to speak out and use effective communication," said Simmons.
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Issues of racism still run deep in the Delta and according to Assistant Professor of Psychology at Delta State University Temika Simmons media aids in the promotion of racism.

Simmons' discussion was part of the university's Winning the Race conference on diversity.

Her discussion was focused on working effectively with the media to support racial healing and racial equity.

"We live in a racist society and most of it is because we refuse to speak up or out against what is right," said Simmons.

"One day I decided to do an Internet search on the term Post-Racial America. There were so many things that popped up – some of them were positive but most of them were negative," she added.

Simmons said the term Post-Racial America was popularized after the election of President Barack Obama.

"Media should use effective messaging because it tells the truth. It tells true stories about experiences, tells true stories about data and facts and it tells true stories or perspectives that benefit society," continued Simmons.

"We all have our own perceptions of what truth is. Sometimes the media tends to skew data to make it say whatever they would like it to say. Real truth is the truth that benefits the whole and does not lean toward one particular group," she added.

During the discussion, Simmons allowed the audience to view a clip from television producers that visited several college campuses.

The producers posed several race related questions to students but according to Simmons the most interesting question pertained to stereotypes.

"Television producers asked students to name a positive stereotype about African Americans. Not one student could name a positive stereotype outside of being good singers, athletes and dancers," said Simmons.

"These students simply feed into negative historical stereotypes that they have heard overtime. Stereotypes have caused individuals to have a lot of misconceptions and views on statistics," she added.

The producer also asked students to whether or not there were more African American Males in prison or in college.

"There are 600,000 more black males in college than in prison but most of the individuals said they believed there were more in prison than college. The conversation about race has gotten a lot more intense and individuals have began to lean more towards stereotypes," said Simmons

She also allowed the audience to view a clip from a Cheerios commercial that involves a mixed couple.

The commercial has been stirring up a lot of controversy.

"People reacted very negatively toward the mixed race couple. It happens all the time. On one side people are saying that we should be more tolerant and another side is saying something very different," she added.

"Whenever there are hard hitting or interesting stories in the news, I go to the internet and look it up because I like to read the comments that people make about the issue," she continued.

"Newspapers have limited space for comments but everyone can have a voice on the Internet. I like to read this because you can see how people are really feeling," she added.

Simmons said one way that we can begin the racial healing process is to find out who is writing hateful or discriminative words and report them to the owner of the website or leave a positive comment.

"We all have a voice. I am certain that when we are among our kind, we say things that we would not normally say in a mixed group of individuals. We are having the same conversation about race that was had in 1964 and 1954," said Simmons.

"During the month of February, I would begin each class by talking about a prominent Black History figure. When I brought up names such as Harriet Tubman and Carter G. Woodson, many of my students did not know who these people were," she said.

"I did not blame them for their lack of knowledge, I blamed their former teachers and their parents. When we are in role model positions, we must promote positive racial healing by talking and engaging in truth because that is the only way we will remedy this race issue," added Simmons.