Black Women, The Media, and Social Justice

Miller, Wooley, and Williams speaking in class

The School of Social Welfare welcomed two members of the local media for an in-person classroom discussion entitled, “Black Women, The Media, and Justice: The Professional Use of Self.”

Organized by Dr. Robert L. Miller, Jr., the October 13 panel included Tamani Wolley and Mercedes Williams, both from Spectrum News Albany. Elaine Houston from WNYT was a scheduled presenter, but unfortunately unforeseen circumstances prevented Ms. Houston from attending.

The discussion, which had an audience of mostly first year social work graduate students, focused on the power of media in the service of social justice and advocacy, and systemic racism and white privilege.

“During the George Floyd murder news cycle, Spectrum News took the time to feature a conversation with the female Black anchors describing what it is like being a Black woman reporting on the event. I saw the feature and was deeply moved,” said Dr. Miller. This led him to reflect on how freedom of the press is key to justice and advocacy - a topic that would be pedagogically useful to MSW students.

Wolley and Williams shared their stories of entering and navigating the news profession, all while being true to themselves and using their voice to help amplify the voices of others.

They included examples of speaking out when media content was being portrayed in racially insensitive ways, the power of developing interpersonal relationships when telling the stories of others, and engaging in self-care and therapy to process the traumas and pain that they see and hear every day through their reporting.

“Having an opportunity for a shared conversation around race, gender, justice and the utilization of the media as an advocacy tool is an important teaching opportunity for my students," Miller continued, "particularly when society is struggling to deconstruct the normalization of white supremacy and white dominant culture.” 

You can view a recording of this discussion on YouTube.