Conversation Of The Week XXVII: Should Race Relations Have A Slot On The Evening News Just As Sports Or Weather?

April 2, 2012
Written by Janice S. Ellis Ph.D. in
National Collegiate Dialogue
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Discrimination does not care what your color, ethnic, or religious background is, everyone can be subjected to racism, bigotry and prejudice. Photo Credit:

When will we get the courage to confront racism in our communities and the commitment to really do something about it? Until race relations become as much a part of the local and national dialogue as sports, the weather, or other things we talk about on a daily basis, we will forever be content to just show outrage as ugly incidents continue to occur.


Within two months, we have had two very high profile murders where race and racism seem to have been the motivation for the crime or played a role in its occurrence. First, it was the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida, which is still the center of demonstrations, hearings, and television talk shows.

Whether racial profiling, brandishing want-to-be police power, raw testosterone unleashed, or a combination thereof, the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman incident and its aftermath implore more questions that need honest and open discussion if we are to move beyond the labeling and stop falling into the same old perennial cycle of accusation and denial.

Then, just last week we had the wanton killing of a Muslim mother of five in California. The killer or killers left a calling card imploring the family to get out of America.

And, have we forgotten the senseless killing of a black man in Mississippi who happened to be walking to a convenience store when he was beaten and run over by a pick-up truck driven by white teens that were looking to kill a “Nigger.” They found an innocent unsuspecting black man, and killed him.

altBut, what about all the low profile incidents, those that do not make national news, that occur on a daily basis in communities all across America, involving people of all racial and ethnic groups?

An overriding question: Why do we continually avoid confronting matters of race when they are such a part of our daily lives — in blatant and subliminal ways?

Until we are willing to take inventory on an individual, group, and societal level, of all those factors — factual and fictional — that shape our attitudes and actions as we interact with others who are different from ourselves, race will continue to be a divisive and destructive force.

Incidents that would otherwise be considered as everyday encounters and common conflicts take on a life of their own, fueled by the stereotypes and labels that we hang on to and allow to order our worldview. Do we care whether they are accurate or inaccurate? Are we afraid to examine their veracity, for fear it might lead us out of our comfort zone, shatter the monochromatic world to which we predictably retreat?

Do we really believe we have more to gain by remaining cloistered and close-minded than seeking the truth about others unlike ourselves? What about the enlightenment and richness that awaits us if we break through the blinders of racial bigotry on all sides?

altHow many more killings and ugly incidents will it take for us to finally get to the heart of the matter: Stop jumping the gun, stop over- or under- reacting, stop retreating or raging, stop denying or over-compensating, stop being reticent or overly eager — just stop the extremes when it comes to race. Until our extreme reactions cease, normalcy, in all its meaning, will continue to elude us as a society.

But how do we get there? Who owns the conversations and actions to bring about meaningful change? We all do.

Wouldn’t it be grand if communities all across America held townhall meetings and forums on racial issues just as they do on educational issues, taxes, and other public policies?

Wouldn’t it be grand if the morning and evening news shows had a daily and regular segment in their programming on race relations right along with the segments on sports or the weather? Shouldn’t matters of race be just as important?

Real improvement in race relations begins and grows with how we think, act, and react in our daily encounters.

Until racial diversity is as normal and as American as apple pie, we have a long way to go, and we need to be vigilant about it with every opportunity and in every aspect of our daily lives.


National Collegiate Dialogue


race relations

Submitted by SBU-27S2012 on

I think that there should be a spot on the news about race relations because then it would open up peoples minds and cause them to stop discriminating against people of a different descent. This would also help in reducing racism around the world and help educate people about different races.

Race Relations and the Media

Submitted by Margot Dainowski on

The media has such an important role in our lives. Nearly all of us watch a certain amount of hours watching television, surfing the internet, or listening to the radio. Most of us acknowledge that media affects changes in people's insights and/or can influence how people think. With this power, media can positively affect race relations. There should be time set out during newscasts for presenting and discussing oppression, privilege, and racism. Programs discussing racism shouldn't have to wait until a person is murdered because of the color of their skin. The way to affect change is to confront it, face the fear and anger. Growth is painful...and the time has come for America to face the issues of race relations upfront, not tiptoeing around the issue baecause afterall we are supposed to be colorblind. The time for media to step up to the plate and use their influential power to create a space for open and honest discussions about race relations.

The Format Exists

Submitted by UCCS-EEllingson... on

While I agree with the below responses on what "should" happen, I am stuck wondering "how" it would happen. But then, it occurs to me that the perfect format already exists for racial dialogue in the media. Confrontational "fair and balanced" news interviews with proponents from each side of an issue. Sure, we risk Jerry Springer-style feuding. But, if handled properly, such "touchy" subjects could really be ratings gold, not mention useful in getting these topics into the public arena.

Race Relations

Submitted by CSULB-REisenber... on

Realistically, I am not sure if segment such as this one would appeal to a majority of people. Maybe if there was some sort of entertainment show that addressed the issue of race openly, it would appeal to more individuals. I definitely believe that some sort of television segment should address race relations. This is still a prevalent issue in our society and should be discussed.

Open up the forum

Submitted by SBU-16S2012 on

I totally agree with you that it may be difficult to engage people in this type of forum. However, in reading your post, I began to think of other ways that could possibly be effective in reaching out to people regarding race relations. Millions of Americans utilize social networking sites. Since so many people use these sites on a daily basis, it seems only logical to utilize them as a means of disseminating information that can be tailored to address the "race issue." While I still firmly believe that a race relations segment on TV could be effective, I think taking advantage of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. could truly reach a broader audience and allow users to engage in a conversation about a controversial, yet worthwhile topic in a more interactive way.

News Slot for Race Relations

Submitted by Allison Monterrosa on

I completely agree with the author. Until we decide as a collective that we are going to have discussions about race and injustice it will never end. Once the stigma is removed from even talking about race we can begin to have honest discussions. Maybe having a segment on the evening news devoted to race relations can help to alleviate some of the anxiety surrounding issue of race. If these conversations were happening on a regular daily basis, instead of only when something tragic happens and makes national news it will become a part of the norm. Thus, providing people with agency to engage in respectful dialogue about race and other systems of oppression.

Yes to race relations segment

Submitted by SBU-16S2012 on

Ask anyone what the best modes of communication are in this day and age and they will likely give you a number of media outlets where they receive their information. Since reading the various entries in the Dialogue on Race a few months ago, I have seen countless people respond to race quandaries by saying people need to become more aware of racial issues. What better way to spread the word about racism and mend the broken relations between the races then on daily news shows? A segment highlighting stories and knowledge about race relations could be extremely helpful and could open up the minds of many discriminatory individuals. With the recent murder of Trayvon Martin, I think many people are curious about how they can be a part of the solution to the problem of racial bias, privilege, and oppression in American society.


Submitted by SBU-11S2012 on

I think the only way to make racial diversity "as normal and as american as apple pie" it takes EXPOSURE. Whether or not this exposure comes in the form of a segment on the news I don't know but I think ideas like these should be implemented so that people are exposed to the harsh reality of racism in our country. Without being exposed to the root of the problem, people will be just as timid about this topic.

I definitely agree with the

Submitted by CSULB-IWhitney2... on

I definitely agree with the author of this article. Racism is one of the biggest issues in our world today and it is one of the least talked about issues in our society. In order to break this cycle of racism we must do something about it. We as a people need to get our voices out there and actually do something about these issues. We all must learn how to confront this issue and accept the truth behind the fact that racism still occurs today. How many senseless murders does it take for people to understand this is a serious ongoing issue? The media plays a major role in our lives. We live by the media for the latest news, entertainment, weather, etc. This is the exact reason why we need more coverage of the real issues at hand in our world; racism. The more we put it out there, the less chance people have of denying and ignoring the issue. Racism should have a slot on the daily news because daily, racism is news.