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Why we are so racially separated in this country, and the way forward

  • Posted on: 1 May 2015
  • By: Irene

Greetings TEDxFlourCity fans!

We are only 4 weeks out from TEDxFlourCity2015: Branch Out and with more frequent team meetings, and constant email and Facebook message slinging, we are in full gear. Although we are focused on May 30th, current events serve as striking reminders of our past. A look back at last year’s event reminds us why TEDxFlourCity is important; it serves as a space where positive ideas are lifted out of heavy issues and connections are highlighted within our community.

“Why are we so racially separated in this country, in this city… in this community, why are we so separated? In order to understand that you have to work backwards, back to the core of what happened” says Carvin Eison of his TEDxFlourCity talk. 

As a professor of communications at SUNY Brockport, a filmmaker, and General Manager of Rochester Community Television (RCTV), Eison's projects dig deep into longstanding issues surrounding the relationship between the media and social injustice, and try to find the ways out. “We try to look for many solutions that will solve the problem instead of constantly defining the problem,” he says. 

Eison spoke about his research on the role of the media in the culture of lynchings of blacks in America, and the crushing status blow (socioeconomic, health and otherwise) that resulted. His research uncovered parallels between the culture and policy of lynching in the past and the media’s role in the lives of black Americans today. 

“The media of the time was the photographs of lynching and burning of boys, women and men distributed through the US mail system. (White) Americans thought it was their legal and moral responsibility to kill people of color in the public and distribute these pictures depicting their believed lawlessness,” says Eison. “For some people this noose still carries weight, it carries powerful weight and it tells a powerful story.” 

While those photos were taken decades ago, memories of media’s power to influence public opinion and by extension, public policy are impossible to forget. As Eison explains, the media still has the ability to define the positions of black and white people in this country today.

“The modern day result of lynching is not the killing of people by rope…is legislative and it is moral and it is through policy… ” 

“The public policy is done through legislation, where we exclude them, where we set up onerous policies that prevent them from fully integrating into the community… that is as much to me a lynching as the physical, practical real manifestation of killing someone with a rope, with a gun…”

Eison challenges people to understand this connection. He believes change is possible when people come to terms with the understanding that their success is “inextricably connected with the success of other people.”

Eison reminds us that ultimately, every human being wants to be successful.Everybody really wants the same thing, everybody wants to have a nice home, and a good job, and a decent income, and success going into the future… But they have less opportunity and that opportunity is in part determined by public policy…If we act on the ideas that promote the greater good, everyone benefits.”

Learn about the connection between media images and the problem of racial separation in his TEDxFlourCity talk: Legal and moral

Was this meaningful for you? As always we are grateful to you for sharing if you are moved to (click the “share” button below). 

Look out for sneak peaks of this year’s event, and one final look back at last year’s event. We hope to see you on May 30th!

Have a wonderful weekend!