In July of 2020, GBH partnered with the NAACP Boston Branch, The Boston Globe and The World Channel to produce “The State of Race,” a live-streamed, digital series on Facebook, YouTube and Zoom Webinar examining racial inequity in Massachusetts. We dedicated ourselves to uncovering systemic racism at the local level, as Massachusetts’ progressive politics often shield it from being considered a state that is “part of the problem.”
From July 2020 to May 2021, we produced six, hour-long episodes exploring systemic racism through topics such as; COVID-19 and its disproportionate impact of on communities of color, education, police reform, the housing gap, voter suppression and the year following the murder of George Floyd. Each live-streamed episode was hosted by Dan Lothian, Executive Producer of GBH’s and PRI’s “The World”, accompanied by a three-person panel consisting mostly of people of color with both national and local expertise.
Given the large amount of research required on topics of this scope and importance, the logistics of producing during a pandemic and the small size of our production team, each hour-long show took six to eight weeks to produce.
“The State of Race” took a hyper-local approach to covering issues of race and inequity, featuring interviews with real people whose lives have been directly impacted by systemic racism. Whether it was a mother who felt her Black son was perceived differently than his white peers at school or a former police sergeant recounting her experience with a racist superior, with each episode, our goal was to illuminate the reality of systemic racism in Massachusetts through the voices of people of color.
The live-stream component of “The State of Race” added a unique layer of audience engagement to what would typically be a standard panel discussion. We amassed hundreds of questions from our audience before each show, incorporating them into the show as well as answering live questions from our virtual audience. As a result, we encouraged viewers to go beyond the role of spectator to become an active participant in the conversation.
Each show examined a specific topic. When viewed together, the episodes created a complex mosaic of thoughts, questions and facts revealing the systemic racism present in Massachusetts and the country. We told stories that illustrated the problems, asked difficult questions to uncover the issues and provided our audience encouragement and information to be part of the solution.