For the first Media Masters of the semester, Robert A. Jackson, Jr. discussed race communications as well as bias in the Lipscomb community and the media with communication students Monday night in Ezell.
Jackson started off the evening by addressing “the elephant in the room” before offering his advice to students and faculty in regards to their future vocation.
Last Thursday, Lipscomb president Randy Lowry invited African American students over to his home to discuss their unique experiences on campus. Stalks of cotton were featured as the table centerpiece and “soul food” was served to the students.
Several students took issue with this.
“Some are wondering if I would speak about the cotton incident last week,” Jackson said. “The answer is ‘yes.’ I have read multiple comments from multiple venues. I have looked at it from several angles.”
Jackson went on to discuss how there was much more to this story than “just cotton stalks and soul food.”
“There is a suspending issue that is at the center of the problem,” he said. “The situation could have been handled better and concerns from the African American community are being addressed with the president.”
Jackson describes himself as a “bridge-builder” for many communities and groups of people to come together.
“We have to build a bridge because this chasm is very deep; it is very vast and it is very wide,” he said.
To continue, Jackson spoke a reminder to students and faculty that actions and words should exist hand-in-hand.
“If we are not looking to help other people rise, then we can forget about what we call religion, because they are not paying us any attention,” Jackson said. “Learn as much as you can about diversity. Your people have to become my people, and my people have to become your people.
Jackson said that oftentimes he hears people say, “I don’t see color” in an effort to show support.
“If you don’t see color then you must be blind, because if you open up your eyes you are going to see color,” he said. “And even if you see the sun or you see light, if you put a prism there it is going to reflect colors, so you can’t say you don’t see colors.”
In response to this, Jackson continued by encouraging students to speak out if they have questions or want to better understand something. He told the aspiring storytellers of the audience to be mindful of stereotypes and perceptions when creating something or attempting to tell the story of a group of people they don’t understand.
“Tell the whole story and don’t leave anything out,” he said. “When you tell it, don’t spin it, tell it.”