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Virtual Colloquium on Race, Racism, and American Media

September 17, 2021

Call for Participation

American media entities continue substantially to underrepresent minority individuals, and the content they produce marginalizes nonwhite voices. Free Press recently released a 100-page essay as part of its Media 2070 project 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. One 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.

In light of these systemic injustices, the media and technology public interest group Free Press recently launched its Media 2070 project, which seeks to examine and remedy the racism embedded in American media since the nation’s founding. Inspired by Media 2070, the University of Houston Law Center and the University of Miami School of Law are hosting a virtual colloquium on race and racism in American media. 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 that may help ameliorate 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 such racism; the role of the First Amendment’s Speech Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause in assessing and addressing these problems; potential legal and policy approaches that may remedy these injustices, including corporate activism; and how reparations may fit into a remedial approach.

This document represents only a sketch by the planning committee (Deans Len Baynes and Tony Varona, research deans Dave Fagundes and Lili Levi, and Free Press representatives Alicia Bell and Joe Torres). Plans may change pending contributions from participants. 

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 University of Miami Race and Social Justice Law Review. Submit your proposal or any questions about the colloquium to RaceMedia@uh.edu by June 21, 2021.