MBC Panel Fosters Discussion on Racism

Henri Robbins | Staff Writer

Watch MBC’s February 13 broadcast.

MBC’s latest broadcast is taking a brand-new approach to help solve an age-old problem.

In a 30-minute long panel aired on February 13, Mason Broadcast Crew (MBC) hosted three Cincinnati-area journalists to start a discussion about modern racial issues. The three guests, Ryan Houston, Kristen Swilley, and Byron McCauley, spoke to MBC panelists Simone Scott and Lana Saqer about racial issues both in the Cincinnati area and in modern culture as a whole.

The panel was meant to touch on issues which people do not discuss often, along with doing something that MBC had never done before, said Executive Producer Rilee Malloy. With many people not being willing to look into these issues, she said, it has become more important to talk about them.

“I just want everyone to be able to  keep an open mind and look at different perspectives,” Malloy said. “I hope that’s what it does, it allows people to see that there are different perspectives and different stories. Today, everyone is so closed-minded, and we’re hoping that by doing something like this, we can share something different and everyone can learn something new and maybe see something from a different perspective than they did before.”

MBC hosted a panel discussing modern racial issues, which aired Wednesday, February 13.

When asking questions for such a topic, Scott said an important part is to represent many perspectives and ideas. When creating the questions, Scott and Saqer consulted their classmates to make sure that the most important issues were being discussed.

“Based on the original discussion that prompted this whole thing, I had some questions and some topics that I wanted to hit on,” Scott said, “But also, we talked as a whole group. I think having different perspectives within the questioning is important, so we had a whole class discussion where people threw out questions and topics that we wanted to hear about.”

When responding to the questions, panelist and reporter Ryan Houston said that he was impressed by the scope of the discussion and the panel as a whole, and hopes that the broadcast is able to create more understanding and start more conversations among people.

“I was just blown away by the type of questions,” Houston said. “I was blown away by the setup, how well thought out everything was. I mean, you guys have boom mics, we don’t even have boom mics at the station. I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a panel that has executed things so effortlessly since I’ve been in TV, before coming in here to something like this.”

In having such a discussion, producer Megan Rubsam said she was glad to be able to start a conversation about the issues, such as racism, that she sees in Mason.

“I haven’t really experienced racism in my life,” Rubsam said, “But I have seen it in Mason and I have seen racism around the school, and it’s interesting to see because you wouldn’t think you would see it. You see that stuff on T.V., and being in such a nice community as Mason, we don’t expect to see that. I have a lot of friends who are not just African-American but Middle-Eastern and Asian. Personally, I haven’t been affected by the things that they’re talking about, but I have been affected by the people sharing their stories with me.”

“We’re taking a risk being able to put something out that’s raw, original, and genuine, and giving a platform to express what may be hard to express without being as censored.”

Megan Rubsam, MBC Producer

Even though students discuss race, said Scott, it’s not enough to create change. She said that people need to be willing to have difficult conversations to change how things are.

“I think that (administration) wants to address it in a way where everyone is going to feel comfortable,” Scott said, “But when we’re talking about change, if we’re comfortable, then things are not going to change. One of our class members said we need to make them uncomfortable, and by making them uncomfortable we’re going to have these conversations, and that’s how change is going to come. I think the way that the school has approached the topic in the past, it’s not going to do anything. It’s almost like white noise, because it’s not real, it’s not raw.”

Creating something that was “real” and “raw” was a major goal of the broadcast, Rubsam said. Since MBC had never done another piece in this manner, she said that there was a risk being taken, but she felt that it was important to speak about the issue.

“We’re taking what people who have had real experience in the news world have to say and making it something worthwhile for people to listen to,” Rubsam said. “Mason has not really seen anything like this. We’re taking a risk being able to put something out that’s raw, original, and genuine, and giving a platform to express what may be hard to express without being as censored. We tried to be as raw as we could, and we really wanted to get the emotion that was behind everything. “

Panelist and journalist Kristen Swilley is glad to see this discussion happening, especially with people of such a young age.

“We are so in our own individual corners,” Swilley said. “People’s views are getting further apart and more extreme. I just think over the past several years, not even with just this administration, people are just kind of getting into their own little corners and not having discussions, so I think it’s a great start. The fact that you guys are doing it and you’re the next generation is a real good source of progress and it’s planting the seeds of what we’re going to see in the future.”

Photos by Henri Robbins.