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A Conversation With Celeste Headlee: Building Anti-Racism In Our Public Media

Tamzin B. Smith Portrait Photography

Tom's guest today is Celeste Headlee.  She is an award-winning journalist, a consultant on diversity and inclusion, and the author of two books, including We Need To Talk: How To Have Conversations That Matter.  Her Tedx Talk has been viewed more than 23 million times, and she is heard frequently as a host on NPR and American Public Media.  

Celeste Headlee is an expert at moderating difficult conversations around matters of race and inclusion.  

We’re going to have one of those difficult conversations today.

Last summer, Ms. Headlee organized Zoom calls with hundreds of current and former employees of public radio stations across the country to discuss their experiences at their stations and in their newsrooms.  

Many of us who work in and listen to public radio want to think of our institutions as valuing racial equity and equality.  The journalists of color who work in public media told Celeste Headlee that there is little reason to believe that public media is somehow immune to the sickness of racism.  Just as White supremacy shapes the culture at large, White supremacy shapes the culture of public media, as well.  

Last month, Ms. Headlee, in conjunction with members of what has been organized as the Public Radio Anti-Racist Partnership, published an open letter in Medium entitled An Anti-Racist Future: A Vision and Plan for the Transformation of Public Media.  It offers detailed analysis and suggestions for righting the wrongs of the past, hiring, training and staff retention, changing how we cover news, and standards of accountability.  The letter was signed by more than 200 individuals and stations in the NPR system.  

Celeste Headlee joins us on an Internet line from Washington DC.



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