“Chairman’s Corner” by the Rev. Kyle Huckins, Ph.D., CSM Chairman
The school year’s only half over, but the Commission on the Status of Minorities is regularly crossing off items on its “to-do” list as its agenda is fulfilled.
In February, AEJMC leadership gave final approval to the budget for a comprehensive survey of diversity in hiring and internships in the magazine industry, the last major medium without any such oversight. I’m working with the Magazine Division and American Society of Magazine Editors on the project, which may become an annual undertaking. The commission’s plan now is to make the survey and other media employment data the centerpiece of the CSM session at the conference in Chicago this summer.
The commission had an excellent panel last year in Minneapolis on attracting and retaining a diverse faculty and graduate student body. Many thanks to Planning Committee members Osita Iroegbu, Maccamas Ikpah and Tony DeMars and panelists Deb Aikat, Julio Bermejo, Dorothy Bland, LaShonda Eaddy and Lillie Fears for making my job as moderator a pleasure.
I’ve kept in communication with the AEJMC central office on scheduling commission sessions for the annual conference later this year, and I’m pleased to announce CSM’s programming slot and business meeting both will be on Thursday. These for several years have been held late on Saturday, probably the worst slot for attendance next to Sunday morning. Our organization-wide staff and leadership have fulfilled their promises to me in working with me on this.
My spot on the organization-wide board helped me oppose a plan to change record-keeping on racial and gender information on judges in the annual paper competition. The proposal was to stop having research chairs report this and instead beef up demographic data on membership forms. I said historically underrepresented groups would vigorously protest, as the contest is vitally important to careers and getting judges of a range of backgrounds is crucial both to scoring papers correctly and ensuring fairness. Some ethnic and racial categories on the revised membership form also needed adjusting. The measure thankfully is going back to committee for more work.
CSM is partnering with the Council on Divisions and Commission on the Status of Women in a Windy City panel on female promotion, tenure and advancement in the academy. CSW sought out our commission in putting together this session, important to us because two-thirds of faculty and graduate students of color are female, so if women cannot advance rightly, the racial imbalance in these groups will never be corrected.
A new year means a new administration in our nation’s capital, and CSM is keeping watch. I’ve been making statements toward ensuring accountability to the media in the Trump era, hopefully an easier sell than with the outgoing Obama administration, which had tangles with the Associated Press and other news outlets. I have also had the chance to speak into AEJMC presidential statements making national impact.
The commission’s media initiative is going strong. Our new Twitter account (@diversityfight) is at 167 followers, and our Facebook page just hit 105 “likes”! The former began in March 2016 and latter was redesigned & revitalized then, having only 50 likes at the time. The new website – csmdiversity.org – has more than 1,300 views in the same period.
CSM’s new graduate student coordinator, Osita Iroegbu from the 2016 Planning Committee, will be helping me in the social-media area as she tweets and posts messages targeting grads. This Virginia Commonwealth University doctoral student is very sharp and a fine writer, so I know she will boost our efforts to reach those pursuing master’s degrees and Ph.Ds. Iroegbu also just passed her comprehensive exams to officially become ABD, a milestone worthy of congratulations! (I think I hit that mark in ’97, so you can see it’s good we’re getting some younger blood in commission leadership.)
Kudos also to Dr. Marquita Smith, CSM vice chairwoman, who’s on Fulbright in Ghana this school year. She and 2015 Barrow Award winner Alice Tait, Ph.D., both graduated from AEJMC’s Institute for Diverse Leadership in Journalism and Communication last year. Three men from historically underrepresented groups are among those slated for this year’s institute class, excellent news since having minority males in faculty and administrative leadership gives our undergrad and grad men of color natural role models and mentors.
Our top-flight newsletter editor, Dr. Nathaniel Frederick II, is now head of the African-American Studies program at Winthrop University. He’s also been active in research on gospel music, so he and I have been comparing notes both musical and otherwise. Excellent news, Dr. Frederick!
CSM Secretary Cathy Jackson, Ph.D., is enjoying her time as department chair concluding at Norfolk State, she reports. The associate professor keeps plenty busy with her many projects on media history.
As for me, I’ve had another book come out (“Race, Faith and Politics Today”), complete with companion college course materials. (Plug: It’s good for classes in opinion writing, race and/or religion and media, and contemporary issues in theology.) I’ve been blessed to win several professional honors from the National Association of Black Journalists and Amy Foundation over the last several months, too.
Don’t forget to renew your membership in CSM and give a donation to the commission for any amount; $25, $50 or another gift will help keep our hard-charging agenda moving to completion. We need to fund the Barrow Award and scholarship, our media initiative and other expenses, so your generosity is much appreciated.
Here’s to a 2017 of discovery, reward and unity in diversity!