What is Blackness?

To be presented in Panel: “From Black-ish to Black Lives Matter: Communicating Blackness in the 21st Century” at the National Communication Association (NCA). Dallas, TX.

Blackness is simultaneously a category, a group, a culture, a community, and an identity that varies between individuals. The current research is an exploratory investigation into definitions of “Blackness” through semi-structured interviews with employees at an African American targeted advertising agency (N = 35). Participants were asked to define Blackness in general, their individual Blackness (i.e., “my Blackness”), the future of Blackness, and the role of media in establishing and promoting Blackness. Participants’ definitions of Blackness were varied, but a few key themes emerged: Blackness involved an awareness of one’s history, a shared experience, and a comfort in one’s current skin with an idealized hope for the future. Even though this definition informed much the advertising content produced at this agency, participants expressed frustration over the conflict between their individual Blackness and the general expectations of Blackness, but were excited for new communication technologies that allowed them embrace these contradictions.

Summary of the Panel: From Black-ish to Black Lives Matter: Communicating Blackness in the 21st Century Continue reading

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Laughing With vs. Laughing At: Seeing satire through a marginalized lens

To be presented in Panel: ““Funny Feminists: Comedy and/as Resistance.” Presented at the National Communication Association (NCA). Dallas, TX.

Satire is the use of humor, irony, or exaggeration to expose and criticize social absurdities. By its very nature, satire requires an audience knowledgeable of these absurdities, but the hegemonic dominance of a White, Christian, heterosexual, middle class, male lens, inhibits the ability of marginalized satire to affect audience attitudes, despite an increase in user-generated satire via digital media (e.g., Reductress, Black Twitter). The current research provides a timeline of satire, both mainstream and marginalized, across different platforms to describe effective
satirical strategies, or content patterns that encourage audiences to better understand the experiences of others.
(96 words)

Satire is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize absurdities, particularly in contemporary politics or other topical issues. By its very nature, satire requires audiences to come to the joke with an an awareness of reality’s absurdities, and a willingness to mock them. However, much of our satire comes from the lens of White heterosexual, Christian, middle class men, the same group that has historical defined the consensus American audience for years, making it difficult for mainstream audiences to understand and appreciate content that satirizes marginalized experiences.

The effects of asynchronous meanings between the satirist and the audience is a common refrain in the experiences of prominent comedians from marginalized
groups (e.g., Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Margaret Cho, Amy Shumer) and drastically inhibits the ability of satire to inspire productive conversations around issues of diversity. Interestingly, in the face of this disconnect, there is a rise in independent satire using digital media; user generated content on social media
platforms provide spaces for marginalized satire (e.g., Black Twitter, Flama, Randy Rainbow, Reductress), but the effectiveness of this satire in public discourse is not yet evident.

The current research will describe the experiences of teaching satire as a diversity class in fall 2016 and strategies of effective satire, or satire that encourages audiences to see the world through a marginalized lens in order to understand the experiences of others with a focus on representations of gender, sexuality, and race. (242 Words)

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Minow and Me

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Remix: Teaching Diversity and Promoting Inclusivity with Digital Artifacts

Although some may believe that simply learning about diversity and media representation will make our students better people and therefore better media producers, other concerns in their early career (e.g., colleague hierarchy, maintaining employment) may inhibit this new generation of media producers from affecting change. What good are diversity classes if students cannot promote awareness in the workplace?

In my Race and Gender and Media class at Newhouse, students write professional emails that describe how and why certain media artifacts are problematic or progressive. Read more about this assignment at MediaShift.org.


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Award for Teaching Excellence

The Newhouse 2017 Graduating Seniors bestowed upon me the title of Teacher of the Year! I got a giant bouquet y’all!! I felt like Rita Moreno wining the Oscar for West Side Story in 1962. Check out pictures and video below…

(Video starts at 27:00)

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Learning and Laughing: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver as Educational Entertainment

My Capstone student, Patty Terhune, a TRF major at Newhouse knocked it out the park this week with a great analysis, a hilarious presentation, and award for Best Capstone Project in the professional programs category for 2017. SO PROUD!!

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From Julie Hikari Mebane in Intertext

As I listen intently to Dr. L’Pree, a professor at the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, speak on a panel, it does not cross my mind that her presence is revolutionary until she remarks, “I’ve never protested on the streets because I protest in the classroom every single day. Professors do not look like me.” She says this even though she exudes educator with every sentence she speaks. Weeks later, when I enter her office to better understand her experience as a professor and woman of color, I leave with a portrait of what a professor can be. As a college freshman, I find myself shrinking in classrooms and hesitating to even raise my hand. The thought of interviewing a professor brings a migration of butterflies to my stomach. I enter her office with an apology already formed on my lips: “Okay, sorry.”

I have prepared a list of questions to ask, but “Okay, sorry” ends up evoking the best response. Dr. L’Pree smoothly asks me, “What are you apologizing for?” I was in Dr. L’Pree’s office, but her presence makes it feel like a classroom, as she is already giving me bullet points to take note of. “First step, don’t apologize if you haven’t done anything wrong.”

Read More: Mebane, Julie Hikari (2017) “”Okay, Sorry,” with Dr. L’Pree,” Intertext: Vol. 25 : Iss. 1 , Article 7.  Available at: https://surface.syr.edu/intertext/vol25/iss1/7/


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