Updated Call for Participation
Racism has dominated American media throughout its history and is far from eradicated in media today. American media entities continue to substantially underrepresent minorities, and the content they produce marginalizes nonwhite voices. In 2020, media and technology public interest group Free Press released a 100-page essay detailing the history of racism pervading American media companies. One striking example of this problem is the lack of racial diversity in media ownership, employment, and content, which pervades newsrooms, radio, and technology companies alike. A consequence of this historic exclusion is that a majority of Black and Latinx Americans now believe that media outlets fail to understand them. And while entities such as the Federal Communications Commission have taken some steps to counter racism in American media, recent adverse legal rulings have hamstrung any such efforts.
These systemic injustices led Free Press to launch its Media 2070 project, which highlights the racism embedded in American media since the nation’s founding. Last month, for example, Media 2070 joined 25 members of Congress in calling for an equity audit of the FCC. Inspired by Media 2070, the Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Houston Law Center are hosting a virtual colloquium on race and racism in American media, now rescheduled for February 25, 2022. The event will gather activists, public servants, academics, and other experts together for a series of frank discussions that will lay bare the past and present racism in American media and propose steps toward ameliorating these inequities.
Panels will cover topics including the history of racism in American media; assessment of historic efforts by (and failures of) the FCC, Congress, state regulators, and others to address racism; the role of the First Amendment’s Speech Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause as legal frameworks; legal and policy approaches to address racial injustices, including corporate activism; and how reparations may fit into a remedial approach.
This document represents only a sketch by the planning committee (Anupam Chander and Robin Lenhardt of the Georgetown University Law Center; Len Baynes and Dave Fagundes of the University of Houston Law Center; Tony Varona and Lili Levi of the University of Miami School of Law; and Alicia Bell and Joe Torres of Free Press).
The co-convenors invite your participation in this colloquium for a limited number of presentation spaces. To apply, please submit a 500-word abstract summarizing your proposed talk. Accepted applicants will also have the opportunity to develop their presentation into either a short online essay in HLRe (the online edition of the Houston Law Review) or a full-length article in the Georgetown Journal of Law and Modern Critical Race Perspectives, subject to the discretion of both journals. In light of the new conference date, we now encourage you to submit your proposal or any questions about the colloquium to RaceMedia@uh.edu by the revised deadline of December 3, 2021.