How to begin a conversation about racial bias? Forum at UNT to give suggestions

Friday, October 16, 2015 - 14:22

What:     "We Can’t Stop Racism If We Can’t Talk About It" — The annual Fall Forum

                 presented by the University of North Texas College of Public Affairs and

                 Community Service. Featuring musician, author and entrepreneur Simon

                Tam, who has received national attention for his social justice activism

                through the arts.

When:     11 a.m.-noon Oct. 27 (Tuesday)

Where:    UNT Coliseum, 600 Avenue D in Denton    

Cost:       Free

Contact: Courtney Banatoski in the College of Public Affairs and Community Service, 940-565-3230 or


DENTON (UNT), Texas — A recent MTV national poll of teens and young adults, ages 14 to 24, indicated that only one third of white respondents and fewer than half of people of color said they grew up discussing race and racial bias in their homes. And while 8 in 10 of those surveyed said they believed every person has a responsibility to address bias, only about 20 percent said they were comfortable talking about it.

University of North Texas students, faculty and staff members will learn how to start the conversations, recognize their own biases that may play into social inequality and learn how their singular actions could impact the social structure of race in the U.S. during the College of Public Affairs and Community Service annual Fall Forum Oct. 27 (Tuesday).

The free event, "We Can’t Stop Racism If We Can't Talk About It," is scheduled from 11 a.m. to noon in the UNT Coliseum, located at 600 Avenue D in Denton.

Thomas Evenson, dean of the College of Public Affairs and Community Service, says the Fall Forum is "designed to engage the UNT and Denton communities in discussions and activities related to social and cultural issues that are important, regardless of individual majors, occupations or professions."

This year's Fall Forum will be led by musician and entrepreneur Simon Tam, best known as the Asian American dance-rock band The Slants, based in Portland, Oregon. Tam is dedicated to raising awareness of racial disparities, social justice and issues that affect the Asian American community through his music, with his approach to activism through the arts featured on BBC World News, NBC, The New York Times, NPR and Time magazine, among other media outlets.

Since 2000, Tam has performed and presented at more than 1,200 events sponsored by Comic-Con, the Department of Defense, Harvard University, the South by Southwest festival, Stanford University and TEDx, among others.

He is a founding member of the Board of Directors for the Oregon Center for Human Rights and the Policy and Equity Committee for the Jade District neighborhood in Portland. Currently the marketing director at the Oregon Environmental Council, Tam taught at three higher education institutions in Portland and designed one of the first college-accredited social media certificate programs in the U.S. Tam also led strategic communications efforts of two of Oregon’s largest higher education institutions, which serve 130,000 students. Tam received more than a dozen marketing awards for his efforts.

Those who attend this year's Fall Forum can continue the discussion with Tam at a reception from 2-4 p.m. in the second floor forum of UNT's Chilton Hall, located at 410 S. Avenue C.

The Fall Forum is the first of a series of events that the College of Public Affairs and Community Service has scheduled during this academic year to continue dialogue on discussing race. For more information, contact Courtney Banatoski at 940-565-3230 or

UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108