Departments holds open discussion on national issues for Black History Month

A group of physical and virtual presenters speak their opinions on race relations in America.

By Tyler Hart
On February 12, 2021

Photo by Mbulelo Maqungo:
Dr. Geter discusses education inequality via video call to audience members. Communication & Mass Media Department Chair Herman Howard was instrumental in the gathering of all the guest speakers from across the country.


ASU Multicultural and Student Activities Programs and the Department of Communications & Mass Media on Monday Feb. 1 hosted a Black History Month academic presentation in the C.J Davidson Conference Center focused on the status of race relations and social media coverage in America. ASU President Ronnie Hawkins Jr. and his wife Maria Hawkins were among the audience members in attendance.

The panel of presenters consisted of Dr. Herman Howard, Dr. Matt Gritter, Major Michael J. Quinn, Dr. Leon T. Geter, Marc Vandermeer, Dr. Stephanie Orozco and Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez, all individuals from different fields with similar insights of US race and social relations. 

MSAP provided the coordination for the event while the Communications & Mass Media department facilitated the technology that allowed the distanced speakers to contribute to the discussion.

The mediator of the discussion, ASU senior Luther Harris, had a series of questions for the panel to discuss their opinions on the topics.

“During this pandemic, the issue of women’s rights has been a topic of focus alongside civil rights, how can we continue to improve the emphasis of women’s rights in our professions and in our society?” Harris asked Ramirez. 

“Women continue to make less than men, in fact they earn around 81 cents on the dollar,” Ramirez said.

 “Women of color make even less, we must continue to fight for equality in all areas including healthcare unemployment, education, and political arenas.” Ramirez said.

According to Ramirez, she wants the future generation to be raised in a better working environment than we are currently in.

“Education, both online and offline, has become a major emphasis in our society along with the glaring gaps within it. How can we improve the educational gap with those who are less fortunate in our present day?” Harris asked Geter.

 “Everyone has to be committed, everyone has to be involved with the school system where they are at,” Geter said. “A lot of times you have some schools where teachers are underfunded and that impacts the students.”

Geter said everyone is concerned about the children's education, but no one is willing to put dollars behind children in furthering their education. When there is no commitment from upper leaders, the gap grows even larger.  

Geter continued to talk about how underfunded some schools are in rural areas in particular and how funding is used in certain areas on everything but education.

At the overall end of the discussion, social media coverage on racial and social justice was one of the main talking points in the discussion. Many presenters on the panel said they believe social media can be a tool that is used as a new avenue for news and information; it just depends on how it was used. 

“Social media etiquette should be something like an orientation or introductory course for everyone,” Quinn said. “Your words, your choice of words or even the context of which you say things can have an impact that we don’t often think about. We all come from different backgrounds and we’re going to have our own thoughts, so I hope that folks look at more than social media to learn about topics and look for further sources of information to formulate their opinion on the things.”


* 02/15/21 Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly credited the ASU Communication & Mass Media Department for solely hosting the Black History Month Academic panel. It has been been corrected to show that the ASU Multicultural and Student Activites Programs department worked in partnership with Communications & Mass Media. Both departments contributed to event.

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