by the Rev. Kyle Huckins, Ph.D., CSM Chairman
As I gathered with my colleagues in AEJMC for our 100th conference in my hometown of Chicago, I was excited by the progress I’ve been able to preside over and advance as chairman of the Commission on the Status of Minorities these last two years and witness in my seven years in leadership here.
The commission has found funding and conducted the first-ever survey of diversity in magazine employment. I carried the ball on this with the aid of the Magazine Division. This completed the picture of professional media hiring in the USA, which in every medium is dismal, just 19 percent across media and 18 percent in magazines. I find it intriguing – and distressing – that no one calls out employers and others more on diversity than media and higher education, yet both industries are remarkably and similarly backward in hiring the historically underrepresented. The word that comes to mind is “hypocrisy.”
Coming alongside the next generation of diversity-aware and minority students, professors and administrators has been an emphasis of mine, and I’m proud to announce Dr. LaShonda Eaddy, is CSM’s incoming newsletter & communications director. She’s a newly minted Ph.D. now in a tenure-track professorship at Southern Methodist University who did a fine job at last year’s commission session on recruiting and retaining a multicultural graduate body and faculty. Osita Iroegbu, ABD at Virginia Commonwealth, is commission graduate student coordinator and proud Barrow CTM Scholarship recipient. She’s assisted me with social media as well as bringing fellow grads up to date on diversity and into the CSM fold this year. Thanks to incoming officers: Chairwoman Marquita Smith, Vice Chairwoman Cathy Jackson and Secretary Nathaniel Frederick II. Kudos to Jami Bunton, who assisted Nathaniel with the newsletter and did a wonderful job.
I’ve tried to make the commission active across AEJMC so we can speak into as many forums for equal opportunity as possible. Co-sponsoring a session with the Commission on the Status of Women and the Council of Affiliates, getting my voice heard on the organization-wide board on presidential statements and journalism-group open letters, and embracing and bringing into reality Smith’s idea for a diversity-experts database have been some of these efforts.
Getting our own commission Web domain and site we can update easily has been another project that has paid off, with visitors into the thousands and facile response to news. Our revamped Facebook page has a new look and 164 percent increase in likes, and our brand-new Twitter (@diversityfight) has 226 followers, up 126 percent from last year at this time. Tweeting and posting to AEJMC-wide hashtags and groups have been profitable, too.
Up to the end, I continue to fight the good fight, as I labor to keep the AEJMC board from dropping its request for members’ race and gender information for a year in order supposedly to not offend anyone with the wrong terms. I told the panel it would receive far more negative response from curtailing the inquiry than the couple who might object to at least continuing existing wording.
The nomenclature in place is fine except for the needed addition of Middle Eastern/Semitic and East Indian/Southwest Asian-American groups and moving “Disabled” to its own question. An Asian-born member of the board provided opposition by wanting international members to get credit for their home country, since Asians are increasingly filling graduate student ranks and even undergrad.
While a vote went against me on this in Chicago, I have since put out a potential solution – the addition of the two categories above and a drop-down menu of all nations on Earth when one checks “International” – and incoming AEJMC President Jennifer Greer of Alabama, a friend of CSM, seems to think it might work and stop the race/gender data from disappearing from the membership form with the calendar year. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to express your support of my plan.
We are up significantly in CSM membership during my term, increasing 49 percent, but we need even more firepower to keep up the diversity fight as Dr. Smith takes the helm Oct. 1 of this year. Dues are but $10 a year for faculty, $5 for graduate students. I would not ask you to do something I have not, so know I am both a paid member and donor to our commission. A gift of any amount helps, too: $500, $100, $50, and so forth.
To close, let me say my week of years in the leadership team of the Commission on the Status of Minorities has been richly rewarding. Curtis Mitchell of Columbia College-Chicago invited me to become involved, and I am in his debt for this.
I consider my work at CSM to be part of my joyful labor in Christ’s Kingdom, where many of you know I serve as pastor to a congregation all African-American but for me. The Holy Ghost has led me to minister to and with wonderful Native Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans and those of other races and colors, too.
The great apostle Paul stated in Acts 17:26 that “God has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.” Creation scientists have shown a single man and woman could have brought about all the incredible and blessed range of peoples we see today. I believe that is exactly what happened.
Let us not embrace the idea that we cannot live together because we look, sound or feel somewhat different. No civil rights movement separating the races has ever succeeded in this nation or benefited people of color while it was in existence. Just ask elderly folks around during the “separate but equal” days of Plessy v. Ferguson that prevailed from 1896-1954, when blacks and other minorities got the worst of everything.
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit live in community, unity in diversity. So can we be if we ask for help in loving one another of him who said, “Without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5), but “all things are possible to those who believe”(Mark 9:23).
Blessings and prayers to you, my beloved.