Roundtable: Diversity vs. Merit: A Response to the DS Controversy

African American Public Address Pre-Conference 
at the 
National Communication Association Conference in Baltimore, Maryland

Day: Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Place: Baltimore Convention Center
Room: 344 (300 Level)

**The conference is free, but you must register. If you are interested in attending the conference, when you register for NCA, please sign up for the conference as well. If you are not attending NCA but would like to attend the pre-conference, sign up here.

***To see the other panels, click here

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Roundtable: 11:30am-12:45pm

Diversity vs. Merit: A Response to the DS Controversy

“As important as the Distinguished Scholar issue is, the far more important issue is what sort of organization the NCA will be. One where selections are made on intellectual merit or one where identity is prioritized over intellectual and scholarly merit? One where new journal editors are chosen on their background, publication record, vision, and experience, or one where the color of one’s skin or one’s gender trumps everything else? Will we be a field in which journal submissions are judged by competent reviewers who are blind to the identity of the author, or a field where editorial boards are filled with the “right” number of people from the “right” categories...Let me be clear: I strongly support diversity and recognize that social, cultural and racial perspectives make a difference in what is studied and how it is studied. The work of the field has been enriched as it has become more diverse. That is a belief, I am sure, shared by the distinguished scholars as a group. We support diversity, but not at the price of displacing scholarly merit as the chief criterion for selecting distinguished scholars, choosing journal editors and evaluating research.”-Martin Medhurst, June 10, 2019 

"The fact that structural changes within NCA are difficult to make speaks to the deep-seated racism that the association itself was founded upon. While we recognize that this moment is unlike other moments in the association’s history, moments make movements. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge, listen to, and work alongside groups like the AACCD/BC who have been committed to building a better and structurally more inclusive NCA since our inception...Sadly, the same concerns of exclusion that led to the creation of the Black Caucus in 1968 and the African American Communication and Culture Division in 1996 still exist. As we continue to stand in solidarity and work tirelessly through our scholarly contributions and service to NCA, what we hope to see most is how our allies will use this timely movement to do more. We look forward to seeing how the association will reposition itself to reflect one that is truly diverse, inclusive, and socially just; one that practices and honors the mission it preaches."-Statement from the Executive Officers of the African American Communication and Culture Division and Black Caucus; June 25, 2019

Roundtable Participants (Confirmed):

Jack Daniel, Co-founder of the Black Caucus of the National Communication Association


Dr. Daniel is a retired Vice Provost and Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. His 2019 book is entitled Negotiating a Historically White University While Black
Dorthy Pennington, University of Kansas

Dorthy Pennington’s teaching and research areas are intercultural and interracial communication/critical race theory, cultural rhetorics, African American communication and culture, the discourse of terror and trauma, and African American regional church history.
Richard Besel, Grand Valley State University

Dr. Besel is a new addition to the Grand Valley State University's School of Communications (SoC), joining the unit in 2019. His areas of expertise include rhetorical theory, history, and criticism; environmental communication; science communication; media studies; and political communication. Before serving in his role as SoC Director, he chaired the Communication Studies Department at California Polytechnic State University. He is co-editor, with Dr. Jnan Blau, of Performance on Behalf of the Environment, published in 2014 by Lexington Books. A second book, co-edited with Dr. Bernard K. Duffy, titled Green Voices: Defending Nature and the Environment in American Civic Discourse, was published in 2016 by SUNY Press. His work also appears in a variety of books and journals, including Applied Environmental Education and Communication; Communication Theory; Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture; Journal of Risk Research; Making Connections: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Cultural Diversity; Science in Context; and the Southern Communication Journal. He is a past president of the National Communication Association’s Environmental Communication Division and a past chair of the Western States Communication Association’s Environmental Communication interest group.

Kimberly Moffitt, University of Maryland Baltimore County


Dr. Kimberly R. Moffitt is an associate professor and director of the LLC Doctoral Program and an affiliate associate professor of Africana Studies. Her teaching interests include culture, media studies/criticism, Black hair and body politics, sports and media, and popular culture.

Dr. Moffitt’s research focuses on mediated representations of marginalized groups as well as the politicized nature of Black hair and the body. She has published four co-edited volumes, including Gladiators in Suits: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Representation in Scandal (Syracuse University Press, 2019), Blackberries and Redbones: Critical Articulations of Black Hair and Body Politics in Africana Communities (Hampton Press, 2010), The Obama Effect: Multidisciplinary Renderings of the 2008 Campaign (SUNY Press, 2010) and The 1980s: A Transitional Decade? (Lexington Books, 2011). She has a forthcoming volume exploring the legacy of former First Lady Michelle Obama. Additionally, Moffitt has also published her work in academic journals and several edited volumes. Her current research projects continue to explore the black body such as her work exploring white femininity in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog and the representations of Black males on Disney television programming. She extends her research interests into the community by offering workshops on Black hair and body politics as it relates to bullying among middle school girls.

Carlos Morrison, Alabama State University


Dr. Carlos Morrison is Professor of Communication in the Department of Communication at Alabama State University. He received his BA in both Mass Communication (emphasis on Broadcasting) and Human Communication from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, his MA in Communication Theory and Rhetoric from the University of Alabama and his PhD in Intercultural Communication and African American Communication from the Kathy Hughes’ School of Communication at Howard University in Washington, DC. Dr. Morrison teaches courses in both Communication Studies and Mass Communications.

Dr. Morrison is the author of "Still work to be done: The Million Man March and the 50th Anniversary Commemoration Selma to Montgomery March as Mythoform and Visual Rhetoric" (with Jacqueline Allen Trimble), "The Evolution of an Identity: GI Joe and Black Masculinity," and "The Power of Performance: Tyler Perry’s Madea as Village Sage and Super-Woman" (with Jacqueline Allen Trimble and Ayoleke D. Okeowo).

Elizabeth F. Desnoyers-Colas, Georgia Southern University-Armstrong Campus


Twitter: @MOVEprofPHD

Dr. Elizabeth F. Desnoyers-Colas is an Associate Professor of Communication and Africana Studies at Georgia Southern University (GSU) Armstrong Campus, Savannah Georgia and serves as the Armstrong campus coordinator for the Communication Studies program. Dr. Desnoyers-Colas authored two books that feature her academic interest and study of the importance of raising one’s voice, communicating and celebrating one’s existence. Her first book Sistah MC Droppin’ Rhymes with a Beat: Rap, Rhetoric, and Resistance outline how African American women use the hip hop lifestyle and rap music to lyrically establish and sustain their own rhetorical voice. 

She also wrote Marching as to War: Personal Narratives of African American Women’s Gulf War Experiences, an oral history gathering work that highlights the lives of a conglomerate of African American servicewomen who represent all facets of professional, sociological, and interpersonal experiences black women typified through their Gulf Wars service.

Academe is Elizabeth Desnoyers-Colas’ second career. She spent 15 years in military service as an Air Force Public Affairs Officer (PAO) and was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal upon her retirement from active duty. Her military duties time included serving as a speechwriter for senior DOD military and civilian officials on EO/EEO related issues, operating as the Director of the Joint Task Force Information Bureau, Haitian Refugee Humanitarian Rescue Effort at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She also served in Operation Desert Storm and was deployed to Central Air Forces, Forward, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, as the Director of Public Affairs/Protocol, Operation Desert Storm.

Aside from her academic work, she is a professional voice over artist who does narrative performance work for audiobooks, documentaries, and podcasts. She is a Strategic Communication consultant with a special business focus on Crisis Communication Management for corporations. 

Roslyn Satchel, Pepperdine University


Twitter: @rsatchel

Instagram: docrazzledazzle

Dr. Roslyn Satchel is an activist-scholar who studies and teaches about media and cultural competence. She serves as a Professor of Communication at Pepperdine University. In Dr. Satchel’s book, What Movies Teach about Race: Exceptionalism, Erasure and Entitlement, she brings her media, legal, and religious background together to examine cultural representations in the most influential films of all time.

Prior to entering academia, Dr. Satchel was a successful community organizer, policy advocate, pastor, and non-profit executive. A pioneer in using citizen journalism and social media for community organizing, her work influenced several state, national, and international policy changes and grassroots initiatives—for which she received several awards and significant national media coverage.

Dr. Satchel worked in interfaith coalition building, human rights, child advocacy, and indigent defense. She also trained clergy and lay leaders on complying with ethical standards, policies, and state/federal law pertaining to sexual misconduct and abuse of power.

Currently, as a member of Black Lives Matter - L.A., she commits daily to social justice in practice and scholarship.

From “Film’s Political Economy and Django Unchained” to “Religion, Race, & the Fourth Estate: Xenophobia in the Media Ten Years After 9/11” (with Jonathan C. Augustine), Dr. Satchel’s publications and presentations stimulate debate and a boundless research agenda. Her newest project addresses best practices in church responses to domestic violence.

Dr. Satchel earned a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Media & Public Affairs at Louisiana State University, Juris Doctor and Master of Divinity (JD/MDiv) degrees at Emory University, and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Communication at Howard University.

She is an Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church with 20 years in ministry. Her son, parents, and canine kids keep her inspired in a multigenerational village of love and caregiving.

Moderator: Andre E. Johnson, University of Memphis


Twitter: @aejohnsonphd

Instagram: aejohnsonphd

Andre E. Johnson, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Media Studies in the Department of Communication and Film at the University of Memphis. He teaches classes in African American Public Address, Rhetoric Race and Religion, Media Studies, Interracial Communication, Rhetoric, and Popular Culture, and Hip Hop Studies. Additionally, along with his academic titles, he currently serves as Senior Pastor of Gifts of Life Ministries an inner-city church built upon the servant leadership philosophy in Memphis, Tennessee.

In addition to collecting the writings of Bishop Turner, Dr. Johnson is the co-author (with Amanda Nell Edgar) of The Struggle Over Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. He is also the author of The Forgotten Prophet: Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and the African American Prophetic Tradition (2012) that won the National Communication Association (NCA) 2013 African American Communication and Culture Division Outstanding Book Award. He is the editor of Urban God Talk: Constructing a Hip Hop Spirituality (2013) and he is also finishing No Future in this Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner which the University Press of Mississippi plans to release in 2020. He is also the curator and director of the Henry McNeal Turner Project (#HMTProject); a digital archive dedicated to the writings and study of Bishop Turner.