By Justus Scarver
Students packed Derrick Hall 113 as former broadcaster-turned-author, Joyce King(@writerjoyceking), gave her presentation, “Bring It On: Confronting Bias in Media and Society”; the amalgamation of her life and work experiences that allowed her to overcome obstacles on her search for justice.
King, a Texas native, has worked in news media since her high school days, including a 10-year stint as an anchor for CBS Radio in Dallas. It was during her CBS coverage of the James Byrd Jr. case in Jasper, Texas, that she decided to change gears and become an author to spread her message of justice and healing. Her first book, “HATE CRIME: The Story of a Dragging in Jasper, Texas,” features her first-person account of the aftermath of the crime in Jasper. She’s also featured on an episode of Celebrity Crime Files over the case.
“The way you confront bias, prejudice and intolerance is NOT silence,” King said. “My integrity matters to me.”
King shared an anecdote involving one of her earlier encounters with bias. She was a student broadcaster for a pilot program in Shreveport, Louisiana; her overwhelmingly popular radio personality was “Miss Strawberry Kool-Aid.” While she worked there, a newspaper critic for a local newspaper viciously reviewed her show. He labeled it R-rated content (among other things); King was 19 at the time. Taken aback by the comments, she spoke with the news editor and was granted the opportunity to write a column defending herself.
Paitra Pleasant, a public relations major said, “It took a lot of courage,” in regards to Joyce King’s mature course of action. Seemingly inspired, she said, “I hope to grow into that.”
However, confronting bias from outside sources is only one step in the process of healing society, according to King. More importantly, she urged, audience members should confront their own individual, internal biases. Eliminating bias inside oneself is key to preventing one from reproducing that bias across multiple media. That effort is solely the responsibility of the individual, King said.
“Who am I? What do I stand for? Am I tolerant?” she said.
According to King’s theory, if one avoids use of bias while also confronting the bias he/she encounters, then justice is to be found. In order to maintain its pure interests, the search for justice can’t co-exist along with often-hurtful bias.
“Justice can open the door to healing,” King said.
Justus Scarver is a junior journalism major at Texas State University. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.