Warren resident moderates new podcast on social justice

“Just Talking” seeks to give insight on how to affect lasting change

By Ted Hayes
Posted 7/15/20

A new podcast moderated by a Warren resident seeks to highlight social justice and equality issues and hopefully, moderator Kathy Sullivan said, provide strategies for those who wish to help the …

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Warren resident moderates new podcast on social justice

“Just Talking” seeks to give insight on how to affect lasting change

Posted

A new podcast moderated by a Warren resident seeks to highlight social justice and equality issues and hopefully, moderator Kathy Sullivan said, provide strategies for those who wish to help the cause.
“Just Talking,” moderated by Ms. Sullivan, features Dr. Lou Dodley, an Ohio resident who has long battled racism and fought for social justice issues, and Warwick resident Robert Houghtaling. It began last month, and can be found on the East Greenwich Academy Foundation’s Facebook page.
Ms. Sullivan, the drug and alcohol prevention director for Rhode Island Student Assistance Services, has contributed to podcasts before, mostly on prevention issues. But she jumped at the chance to collaborate with Dr. Dodley and Mr. Houghtaling:
“For me it’s a nice learning stretch,” she said. Following the George Floyd murder and resulting social unrest, Mr. Houghtaling “wanted to have an ongoing conversation. I’m really just moderating the conversation.”
Two episodes have been produced so far, and Ms. Sullivan said it has been a good opportunity to take discussion of inequality and justice issues in America to the next step here. While protests and other responses are good, there needs to be an understanding that the real work lies ahead, and provide ways that people can make real differences in their own lives and in their communities, she said.
“This is such an important time for our country. We are divided. But if there were more opportunities to dialogue ... we would probably find that there’s more consensus than not on some of these issues,” she said.
One significant roadblock to that ongoing dialog has been Social Media, Ms. Sullivan fears. An example is in Warren, where last Friday BLM organizer Dyshell Palmer and Keri Cronin, president of the Warren Town Council, raised the Black Lives Matter flag on one of the town’s two poles outside Warren Town Hall. Though attendance at that event was supportive, online discussion of the move, particularly on Facebook, has been sharply divided.
While Social Media may give the illusion of discourse, Ms. Sullivan noted that real dialogue is different:
“Social media doesn’t really do us any favors,” she said. As opposed to posting in the online realm, where posters often have the same mindset, “in person you have to own your thoughts and statements.” True discourse is key, she said.
Ms. Sullivan said that while now is a very critical time, she hopes the podcast will provide some insight on how to affect lasting, positive change:
“I know that once after the very public stuff is settling down, then the real work begins. How do we make change in all of our local groups and organizations? How do we keep the conversation going? That’s hard work.”
For her, the podcasts have already yielded answers to some of her own questions, particularly by the inclusion of Dr. Dodley:
“He is 79 (and) he’s experienced a lot of racism in his life. But he remains positive and has learned, and he educates others that there’s not an outright solution to a lot of these (problems). We just have to keep moving.“

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