November 10, 2005
Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic
Development of St. John’s University School of Law (“The Ronald
H. Brown Center”) has been awarded a $50,000 grant by The Ford
Foundation’s Knowledge, Creativity, and Freedom Program to organize
an interdisciplinary conference entitled, “Rethinking the Discourse
on Race: A Symposium on How the Lack of Racial Diversity in the
Electronic Media Affects Social Justice.”
Professor Leonard M.
Baynes, Director of the Ronald H. Brown Center, explains that
the goal of the conference is to bring together scholars from
several different academic disciplines, legal experts, journalists,
and journalism critics to discuss strategies to combat negative
racial representations. “The operating premise of this
discussion,” he adds, “is that negative perceptions of racial
minorities are tightly woven into the fabric of U.S. society and
that popular support for policies such as affirmative action,
rehabilitation of felons, or economic assistance to the poor, has
declined in part because of these negative perceptions.
Nonetheless these negative perceptions are continuously reinforced
by media absences and misrepresentations in news and entertainment
programming.” Conference participants will explore this assumption
as an empirical research question.
The Conference, which will be held at St. John’s Queens, New
York campus on April 28 and 29, 2006, is designed to explore the
individual strands of these perceptions, their impact on social
policies, higher education curriculum/programs and media policies,
and methods to unravel these strands to effectuate more support for
racial justice will also be explored.
Post-conference activities include the following: (1) writing a
final report based upon the work presented and discussed; (2)
disseminating the report widely among academics, public interest
groups, advocates, activists, industry groups, and policymakers;
(3) creating a listserv of scholars and activists specializing in
the area of racial media depictions so that scholars can share
syllabi, course descriptions, final exams, and other important
curricular tools and information; and (4) creating a website
containing research, syllabi, course descriptions, final exams, and
other information dealing with the issue of racial media
For more information about the Conference, please visit our
website at http://www.stjohns.edu/racemedia.