We address the vexing challenge of how to communicate about discrimination and structural exclusion in a way that resonates with the average American voter.
Litigation, legislation, and public policy debates are not the only means of heightening a progressive consciousness around race and racial justice. In order to force the courts’ hand to consider new legal frameworks in adjudicating discrimination cases, EJS draws more attention to racial justice issues, reaching out to the public both as “body-politic” and as potential jurors.
We deliver trainings, keynote addresses, and panels to stimulate fresh thinking on race and discrimination with stakeholders at civic institutions, law firms and corporations.
For example, one of our signature projects in this area is with the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association to assess the impact of unconscious racial bias on student achievement. Throughout 2008, Kimberly Thomas Rapp and David Salniker worked with CTA to develop intervention strategies and conduct trainings for public school teachers, administrators and parents in communities across the nation.
In the wake of the November 2008 elections, we are at a pivotal point in history and in the racial justice movement. However, the election of the first African American as president did not bring an end to racism or an indication that people of color are usurping power. EJS has continued to address the images of people of color in popular culture and to call for the creation of imagery that depicts people of color in both a realistic and positive light.
Our communications activities serve to establish EJS as a connector with leading organizations in areas involving journalists of color, the progressive blogosphere, media reform and the entertainment industry in order to build bridges on issues related to race.
BUILDING BRIDGES TO JOURNALISTS OF COLOR
EJS Director of Communications Keith Kamisugi served as the communications director for the UNITY: Journalists of Color (unityjournalists.org) convention in 2004, attended by more than 8,000 journalists of color.
UNITY a strategic alliance advocating news coverage about people of color, and aggressively challenging its organizations at all levels to reflect the nation’s diversity. UNITY, representing more than 10,000 journalists of color, is comprised of four national associations: Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Native American Journalists Association.
The UNITY convention is held every four years. For the 2008 convention, EJS worked with former 20/20 investigative producer Melissa Cornick on a panel titled “Unconscious Bias and Race Coverage,” and included the following panelists: John Dovidio, Professor of Psychology, Panelist, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.; Carole Simpson, Anchor, World News Tonight Sunday, Panelist, ABC News, New York, NY; Roosevelt Thomas, President, Panelist, The American Institute for Managing Diversity, Atlanta, Ga.; and Eva Paterson of EJS.
By continuing and enhancing our relationships with journalist of color organizations, EJS builds relationship capacity to assist efforts designed to advocate fair and accurate news coverage about people of color and aggressively challenge the media industry to reflect the nation’s diversity.
BUILDING BRIDGES TO PROGRESSIVE BLOGOSPHERE
Keith is a member of the advisory group to Netroots Nation (netrootsnation.org), a nonprofit that amplifies progressive voices by providing an online and in-person campus for exchanging ideas and learning how to be more effective in using technology to influence the public debate. Through its annual convention and a series of regional salons held throughout the year, we strengthen our community, inspire action and serve as an incubator for ideas that challenge the status quo and ultimately affect change in the public sphere.
The fourth annual gathering of the Netroots (formerly known as the YearlyKos Convention) will be held August 13–16, 2009, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. Netroots Nation 2009 will include panels led by national and international experts; a progressive film screening series; practical training sessions and workshops; and the most concentrated gathering of progressive bloggers to date.
By continuing and enhancing our relationships with the progressive blogosphere, EJS builds relationship capacity to assist efforts designed ensure that progressive bloggers of color are heard and that voices of color are not diminished in the rise of the new media.
BUILDING BRIDGES TO THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
EJS met with Kimberly Myers, Director of Diversity, at the Writers Guild of America, West, in April 2008. Prior to the meeting, EJS communications director Keith Kamisugi spoke with Tanene Allison of the Rollback Coalition and Allison Walker, the Entertainment Industry Liaison at the American Civil Liberties Union, to get their perspectives as former entertainment industry professionals on how to best approach the meeting. Ms. Myers expressed interest in working with EJS on a panel for ‘show runners’ (the head writers of TV shows) on unconscious bias to give writers a better understanding of the theory.
By continuing and enhancing our relationships with organizations in the entertainment industry, EJS builds relationship capacity to assist efforts to improve the way that race is portrayed in television and movies and thereby improving the way that society views race and race issues.