Emily Bailin Wells, Ed.D., is an adjunct instructor at New York University’s School of Professional Studies and she is the founder of Holding | Space: De/Centering Whiteness. She is also the NAMLE Conference 2021 Research Chair.
What do you do?
I teach a course called Document Design & Data Visualization in the Professional Writing program at NYU. In addition, I founded Holding | Space: De/Centering Whiteness this past fall.
Tell us about your latest work or project in media literacy.
My latest media literacy and social justice project is called Holding | Space: De/Centering Whiteness, a comprehensive dialogue and artifact-based program designed to support White people in deep and authentic racial identity exploration as a starting point for actively engaging in anti-racist work. While the project is largely designed and marketed as anti-racist, it is fundamentally rooted in media literacy tenets and concepts — namely, how race and racism are represented and perpetuated in popular culture and mass media.
Why is media literacy important to you?
Media literacy is at the heart of everything I do — my work, the way I consume and produce media content, the way I raise my children. Being critical of media and popular culture texts — asking questions, considering representation, pushing boundaries, and upholding commitments to anti-racism — is paramount and essential to our everyday lives and how we raise our future generations of leaders and citizens.
What are you most excited about in the media literacy field?
While media literacy has received a significant amount of attention and momentum in the last year as a result of complicated, infuriating, and tragic events — the pandemic, the Trump presidency, George Floyd and the murders of numerous other Black men and women — the need for media literacy has become undeniable at an unprecedented level. I am looking forward to an increasing and purposeful focus on the intersections between media literacy and social justice this year.
Why did you become a NAMLE member, what benefits do you see to membership, and how will it support your work?
I’ve been involved with NAMLE for more than a decade; it’s not only a community of friends and colleagues all committed to the same cause, but also one of the best organizations that provides the most comprehensive and important information and resources about media literacy education. One of the ventures I’ve been most excited about and proud to be involved with is the U.S. Media Literacy Week over the last several years. It’s wonderful to see it grow and gain traction every year. I know NAMLE will continue to support my work through networking and support from colleagues, educators, and activists doing similar work.
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