The topic of race relations has been top-of-mind recently and no more so than amongst the communications professionals here in the Phoenix area. Recognizing the need to create an opportunity for discussion, earlier this week PRSA Phoenixand Arizona Association of Black Journalists (AZABJ)hosted a virtual panel discussion providing an opportunity for communicators and journalists from across the Valley to listen to and participate in an open dialogue on race.
Panelists included Warren Trent,reporter and producer for 3TV; LaTricia Woods, APR, of Mahogany Xan Communications; Jamar Younger, president of AZABJ; Karl Gentles, managing partner of Gentles Agency; Kiarra Spottsville, student president of AZABJ; and Crystal Houston, MBA, MA, co-founder and CSO of Citefull. Cynthia Weaver, PRSA Phoenix board member, moderated the discussion and contributed her own input.
The panelists shared experiences of how these recent events have impacted them personally. I believe I can speak for all of the almost 200 attendees when I say each panelist was candid, direct and brave in sharing personal and upsetting experiences.
As the questions started filling up the Zoom chat room, it was clear that the participants wanted to understand what is our responsibility when addressing these issues with our clients, our organizations and our staff. How can we use our skills to inform and educate?
It is more than just sending out an email statement or changing your Facebook post to a black box in solidarity. We have to work hard to make sure whatever we do is authentic and long-lasting.
The discussion of diversity in the communications industry has been happening for years. PRSA has long been addressing the need for a more diverse workplace, creating a path to success for people of color who may be considering this as a career choice. Younger and Trent echoed the sentiment, saying our newsrooms must look for ways to be more diverse. There is certainly room to improve and conversations like what took place the other evening and ones that I suspect are happening in across our country sound like a good place to start.