Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community: The start of every new semester brings with it excitement and anticipation. This year, those emotions are heightened and for some include anxiety associated with a return to campus life during the COVID…
Hip Hop DJ, Culture Critic Jay Smooth to Speak April 22 on Fostering Racial Diversity, Inclusion
Acclaimed DJ and hip hop culture critic Jay Smooth will speak on Monday, April 22, at the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium, Newhouse 3, on fostering racial diversity and inclusion, student engagement and free speech versus hate speech. The event will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and will include a Q&A with the audience.
The Office of the Interim Chief Diversity Officer is partnering with Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity and the Student African American Society to bring Smooth to campus.
As the former host of “The Underground Railroad,” New York City’s longest-running, hip-hop radio program, and the popular video blog “The Ill Doctrine,” Smooth has established himself as a unique and leading voice at the nexus of sociopolitical issues who brings a singular perspective on society and culture.
“Diversity comes in many forms. Being inclusive of racial diversity is another dimension of excellence. Difference should never mean devaluation,” says Interim Chief Diversity Officer Keith A. Alford. “I am excited because I believe Jay Smooth will further enlighten us toward greater understanding of each other. I am looking forward to Monday’s event.”
Students, faculty and staff are all invited to attend the event, which will add to the continuing conversation on diversity and inclusion on campus, says Alexander Tsemberis ’21, co-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity.
“This event is a beautiful example of what can be achieved when different student groups work together with the administration toward a common goal and shed light on an important topic,” says Tsemberis, a sophomore in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School. “This will be a very exciting night that we hope will lead to an insightful and productive conversation on how we can further improve our SU community.”
“Race matters for students, and it is important that we respect our differences. We can make our campus environment better when we appreciate each other,” says Abigail Covington ’19, a student in the College of Arts and Sciences and a senior class marshal. “I am hopeful that Jay Smooth’s conversation will move us in the right direction.”
American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) will be provided. For more information about the event, email interimCDO@syr.edu.
Smooth enlightens with poignant observations about music, race, politics and other important cultural and social issues, while promoting the importance of mutual respect. On “The Underground Railroad,” Smooth helped break artists, including the Wu Tang Clan, Naughty by Nature, Jean Grae and Natural Elements.
Through thoughtful examination, Smooth makes sensitive topics like race remarkably accessible, demonstrating the power in actively engaging in direct conversation about complex subjects. He credits his mixed race heritage for his “unique position to travel between different worlds” and to help facilitate healthy discussions about race and racism.
Smooth challenges audiences to set aside what they think they know about race, politics, hip-hop culture and other social issues with insightful commentary that expands perceptions. He has been featured by NPR, CNN and MSNBC.
Smooth’s videos on “Ill Doctrine,” including his video about how to start conversations surrounding issues of race, have become part of the curriculum in many schools and universities, and his TEDx talk, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Talking About Race,” has been among the most widely viewed on the TEDx website.