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WSU professors launch new podcast about racism

While it’s never an easy conversation to have, it is important to talk about racism, which is what three Weber State University professors are doing with their new Wildcat Conversations: Racism podcast series.

Hosted by Dr. James Zagrodnik, associate professor of physical education; Dr. Andrea Garavito Martinez, assistant professor of teacher education and Dr. Ryan Zimmerman, assistant professor of physical education; the video podcast series is directed to all people at WSU to learn about racism in oneself, in society and at WSU.

Zagrodnik explained that the goal for the podcast series is to have a conversation about racism and to show people what that conversation looks like with people who are different from one’s self.

“By having conversations, we’re also amplifying voices that oftentimes our students are not reading about or know about, and we want them to see people in our community that are striving for justice, equity and want others to learn about how to become engaged,” Martinez said.

The guests who come on the show will be of different backgrounds, and will include WSU faculty and staff and members of the community who are working to address issues relating to race and racism.

The first guest on the series was Dr. Forrest Crawford, a professor of teacher education, who talked about the meaning of racism and his experiences with it.

Crawford defined racism as an attitude or an act driven by race and ethnicity, which is based on someone’s perception or behavior toward someone else because of who they are and where they come from, among other things.

The series’ second guest was Emma H. Houston, director of Diversity and Inclusion for Salt Lake County, who talked about racism and its impact on society, along with how one can become more aware of racism in Utah.

Houston said cultivating relationships with people outside of one’s community and researching different communities are ways to become more aware of discrimination.

Eventually, the hosts said they would like to start talking to students involved in the podcast as well, especially those who are having conversations with other students and are encouraging them to join in.

Martinez said she was initially interested in participating in this series because of her personal experiences as a Chicana, or girl of Mexican origin or descent, along with her professional work within the community when it comes to issues in equity.

Zagrodnik said he feels he has not experienced racism, it is something he has seen impact other people around him. He wants people to participate and learn about themselves and others.

“I think having conversations are a great starting point, but we need to also go further than what we have been doing in our past history and really have change,” Zagrodnik said.

You can watch and listen to the Wildcat Conversations: Racism podcast on the Wildcat Conversations website. New episodes are published weekly.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to fix the titles of Andrea Garavito Martinez and Ryan Zimmerman. Both are assistant professors and not associate professors.

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