Barbara Hamm Lee is the executive producer and host of Another View on 89.5 WHRV-FM; managing director for SkillsOnline, WHRO’s workforce development initiative; and moderator of WHRO’s Race: Let’s Talk About It town hall series.
When we created Another View eight years ago, the goal was to give African Americans another view of themselves, and to give the larger community another view of African Americans.
I was so tired of stories of black men in handcuffs. I wanted to bring experts to the table and to focus on issues that affect everyone but may disproportionately affect us. On the show, we have people from all different backgrounds and across the political spectrum. We’re not a monolith: There is no one black community.
One of the hardest things for me is remembering that I’m the moderator. I have to examine myself to make sure I’m not interjecting my own thoughts. If someone says something that’s not true, that’s another story. Then it’s game on. I’m a voracious reader. I over-prepare for each show, because one of my greatest fears is that someone will say something outrageous and I won’t have the facts in front of me to correct them on the spot.
Race is a hard topic, but a lot of people are having hard conversations lately. I think the important thing is to stay curious. Even though we all live on this one planet, we experience it differently. That makes life interesting. If you really listen to someone, you can find more commonality than difference. You may not agree with them, but you can understand where they’re coming from. Of course, sometimes it’s best just to say, “OK. We can agree to disagree on that.”
Growing up, my family always had dinner together. My dad was a police officer who worked shifts. When he could be there, he was there. Otherwise, it was my mom, my sister and I, sitting at the table, talking about things going on, issues of the day, protests, life. My mother would share stories about growing up in rural North Carolina. We had our differences, but we talked. I worry that dinner together has become a lost art.
It’s flattering when people recognize me – they’ll hear my voice and turn around – but I can’t let that go to my head. I’m a pretty simple person. I’m here to speak to the audience and bring them a new or different perspective. I take that responsibility seriously.
– Conversation condensed and edited by
Mary Architzel Westbrook