Feedback Banneer


Please send your comments about Shattering the Silences to Gail Pellett, producer.

COMMENTS / APRIL 28, 1998.

From: Prof. Zain Abdullah (

I am an African American male who is a visiting professor and doctoral student. I teach at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ, and I am completing the doctorate degree in anthropology at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Let me simply state that Shattering the Silences speaks to all the issues, pain, joy, and bewilderment within the academy that I have been trying to convey to my students, family, and friends for a long time. I have made the showing of it mandatory in all of my classes, which averages eight a year (with about 400 students). They absolutely love it. My only question is: HOW CAN I PURCHASE A COPY! I was fortunate to borrow a copy of the tape from a friend of mine, who received it from someone who taped it from a cable show in Denver. Please make it available to a larger audience. A documentary like this should not be obtained by chance. Thank you.


From: Bob Hughes (

Thanks for finally telling my story. As an African American scholar and now administrator, after 12 years in public education and eight years in higher education, I've experienced much of what this story reflects. My college has licensed a copy so that I can share this with hiring committees, at faculty forums, and during campus events. The film you created shows that the diversity for which I advocate is more than my individual perception. Your work helps put my efforts (and those of many colleagues) into a larger context than our individual efforts.

Again, thank you.

Bob Hughes
Dean of Instruction, Academic Transfer Programs
Highline Community College, 9-3
P.O. Box 98000
Des Moines, WA 98198-9800


From: David Eide (

Interesting essay about 'cultural wars''- it's a piss and pot about nothing since the universities have not, yet, experienced what the general culture experienced. That is, 'the backlash'. The 60's still is the 'thesis' in colleges and has not, within itself, confronted the 'antithesis' which will have its own destructive fury. The point is, is that culture is created by men and women of talent not by politics. Politics comes in after the real work has been done and tries to usurp it for devilish ends. Any creative type who worries over the 'ethnic' 'racial' 'gender' 'religious' origin of something, some product in the world's culture isn't worth much anyway and won't create anything of value. Every 'multicultural writer or artist' I've expereinced has an intense, burning hatred and is as narrow minded, intolerent, ethno-centric, as anything one can imagine. And they can't be criticized! So, that's the story of the past 30 years of regrettable academic-American culture.

Culture springs innate from the 'thing itself'--in America it comes from nature, through city, through organizing principles, through main activities etc etc. It does not go, directly, through Mexico or Korea or France for that matter.

The frightening thing about some of the 'ethnic, racial, and gender' culture going on is that they are much more a fit for totalitarian societies than liberal democratic ones. That is ALWAYS the 'cultural war'.

David Eide

From: sheryl grochocki (

I am a latina doctoral candidate in English at the University of North Texas. Your website was a welcome sight. I am in a state of shock and disillusionment. I have never been exposed to such hostile remarks towards minorities in my life! I have lived the reality of discrimination, and although my name is polish my mother is Mexican. I am experiencing a great deal of turmoil and confusion. Thankfully, I have supportive professors on my committee. I have been looking for help and support, and I have found that there is little help or willingness to communicate about my situation with the English Department. I really admire these professors for their willingness to remain confident in the midst of a tumultuous time. I have tried to break silences, and I have found that the pressure to remain silent is unbearable. However, I will continue to write what I feel needs to be written despite the grumbling, and despite the fact that I have been deemed unworthy of learning. Merit is an ethereal concept in English studies. This seems especially true where I am at. I am sorry to have rambled, but your site has given me hope that I am not alone. However, I have never felt so alone in my life. Yet, I will not give up, and I will not lend myself to the accommodating draught which so many expect me to survive in so that their defensiveness/guilt can be aquiesced. Thanks.

From: Yvonne Kendall (

I found out about your program after the fact (way after) from a musicology online discussion group. I would love to see the documentary. So far, I've only looked at what you have online, including comments, but that has truly whetted my interest. My comment is in harmony with those who request that you look at minorities who work in non-minority-specific fields. Talk about problems! Even with a doctorate from a highly respected university, there are still those who don't believe a Black female could really be competent in European music of any century, but especially not the renaissance, Europe's glory days. If you look at the numbers, I would be willing to bet you'd find that most minorities with the best academic positions work on minority-specific topics. Perhaps academia is emulating art (a la Lawrence Welk).

Yvonne Kendall


To: Ron Dorfman (
From: Parker Johnson (

Thank you for the work that you have done on the culture wars, racial justice and white supremacy.

Parker Johnson
graduate student in higher education, USC


From:Tiffany N. Hinton (

Dear Ms. Pellett,

After six months of waiting, "Shattering the Silences" was finally aired by my local PBS station. Thank you for airing such a provocative and timely piece. As a doctoral student, I watched the documentary with piqued interest and discovered much resonanance in its portrayals.

I am enrolled at the University of Florida at Gainesville. Here I have found a relatively supportive department (English) where I pursue my interest in African Diaporic women's literature and culture with little hassle. This is truly an exciting time to be an academician, what with multiculturalism and deconstructionism shaking up the white-male-perspective-masquerading-as-universal-trut h paradigm on which Western culture was built and continues to flourish.

Still, views like those presented by Dr. Searle are prevalent and make my course of study all the more challenging. Dr. Kelley's comments about self-doubt resonates: so much about the political nature of the academy creates feelings of personal inadequacy. Hardly a week goes by when I don't ask myself questions like: "Am I rigourous enough?" (translation: is this topic deemed valid research material by my majoriy-staus peers); "Am I essentialist?" (translation: how do I reconcile my desire to revision traditional thought regarding non-European thought and culture without assigning certain sensibilities and essences to non-Europeans?);"What The heck do I think I'm doing anyway?" (translation: at the academic level, the premiere site of knowledge production and dissemination, resisting European hegemony is truly an overwhelming and confusing process). Dr. Searle's and other's insistence that the existing paradigm is not in itself always already a political arena just gives fuel to my fire: what I'm doing is changing the world!

One organization that is sponsoring such a revolution is the Florida Education Fund (FEF) which sponsors, among other educational initiatives, the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship (MDF), of which I am a grateful recipient. Each year,since 1984, FEF provides financial, academic, and often, emotional support to 25 African Americans pursuing Ph.D. degrees at participating Florida universities. With MDF, FEF's goal - to paraphase - is to increase the numbers of Black academics who, in turn, will help to further the slit non-Europeans continue to make in the veil of higher education. It is a phenomenal and much-needed program and, in these days of affirmative action backlash, it's good to know that such private organizations are dedicated to furthering diversity in the academy.

Again, thank you for STS and the continually insightful programming for which PBS is known.

Tiffany N. Hinton

COMMENTS / MARCH 30, 1997.


I am an American-Indian working on my Ph.D. Believe me there is NO HELP financially - that is part of the reason why so few of us are in academia. The funds that are available from the tribes really is set aside for those working on undergraduate degrees. To get this far, I have had to go into tremendous debt.

I get discouraged because the grants and fellowships just aren't there for [us], but I know that somehow some of us must keep on trying. Otherwise, there will never be any American-Indian Ph.D.s in higher education.

I thought you might be interested in why the statistics reflect only .5% American Indians in academic positions. Diana Kyle

COMMENTS / APRIL 12, 1997.


I would like to comment on the program Shattering the Silences of which I had the most pleasure in being a witness of last night on SC PBS. I do not even know where to begin really but thanks would be a great start. My best friend in life is about to have an interracial child in which I hope to someday be able to look it in the eye and say you can do anything and everything you desire in this world reguardless of what you must do to achieve it. In watching the program last night I only have to have this program play for it.

In this world that I live in I have managed to live by the creed that each is a human being and should be given a chance to excell. In living in a state that cannot see past a flag of hatred, I find myself observing every day that we have gotten absolutly no where since the Reverend M.L. King. On one hand I want to do nothing but hold my head down in shame; on the other I want to shout to the top of my lungs that we are at war over something that is so irrelevent and idiotic to say the least. I grew up with a mix of all kinds of color and learned from all. I now only wish that this child we are about to bring in this world in about 7 months will do the same.

I would have missed out on a lot of knowledge and understanding if I would have only chose arian people to surround myself with. I feel if I would have let myself down as a human if I would have chosen that path. Like Professor Kelly said in his interviews I could have very easily been with my friends and gone down a different path in life. Look what I would have missed. Thank god for open minded parents as guides in my life. I was never taught color as a guide to who to pick as your friends, heros, mentors in life, or admirers. I was taught to pick these people by their talent, drive and ethics.

I would love to personnally thank these professors that were on this program. This has got to be a hard life to have to lead. But in all their struggles they are making it just a little bit easier for the next to follow in their footstep. Their struggles will never go to the wayside or be overlooked.

I am a white female. I do not like to label people in this way but I hope it gives you a little insight to the outsider view that I have but also the insider view because I am also gay and the same fights that these fine people have been fighting too many years are the same battles that I see happening to the gay and lesbian communites in the 80/90's and further.

One thing that should be clear to any one is that you should not be proud to say you are tolerant of other races and creeds. Something that should come natural should not even be an issue. It should be like breathing or eating. In my 27 years of living I still do not get why all of this should be such a problem. God said to love everyone reguardless. When all the God fearing hipocrits remember that, then the world will be ok

This has turned out to be a long letter but it stirs the soul to think of the impact this show can have or hopefully has had on some people. Thank you so much for the program. In the time I have written this I have told 4 people of it and all well delighted to hear of a show like this. D. R. Mintz email address: Pebs 38


This was an excellent program. I only wish it had been shown during our struggle to prevent the passage of Prop.209 which ended gov't Afirmative Action.

However, I saw it almost inadvertently. It should have been promoted and marketed more strongly. Perhaps it can be reshown frequently.

From: Daphne & Frank Benfante (

I am a community college professor and also a doctoral student nearing completion of my PhD in education. I so thoroughly enjoyed your production. If brought tears to my eyes and also many smiles and chuckles as I could relate, or knew of friends who could relate to so many of the struggles that minority and women scholars have gone through.

COMMENTS / APRIL 25, 1997.

From: (Center for the Study of The Great Ideas)

We enjoyed your web essay.

Justice and freedom; discussion and criticism; intelligence and character -- these are the indispensable ingredients of the democratic state. We can be rich and powerful without them. But not for long.
--Robert M. Hutchins
Center for the Study of The Great Ideas
Mortimer J. Adler, Chairman and Co-Founder
Max Weismann, Director and Co-Founder
325 West Huron Street Suite 304
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Tel 312-440-9200 Fax 312-440-0477

A not-for-profit educational corporation
Publishers of "Philosophy is Everybody's Business"

A review of Dr. Adler's latest book:

Biographical sketch and partial bibliography of Mortimer J. Adler:

The Great Books Foundation

The Paideia Group

Archive of Comments


From: Giacomo Rondinelli (

I was simply blown away by this program. I'm currently finishing my A.A. degree at Rio Hondo Community College and preparing to go to U.C.Santa Barbara. This program gave me a needed boost and direction to why I am going to school. Now I'm totally convinced that I could earn a PhD degree. Thanks for the program.

Question. . . it was by accident that I caught your program. . .do you [know] if and when KCET 28 (Los Angeles) will re-air your show?

From: Victor Manalo (

I just watched the documentary this evening, and it was just what I needed to see. I am a first generation Filipino-American, and I am pursuing a Ph.D. in Social Work at the University of Southern California. Not only will I be trying to find Filipino professors for my own mentor, I would like to use the documentary in my Social Welfare Policy class. I am truly inspired! Thank you.

From: "Frederic Thompson PC" (

I am a 41 year old African American woman pursuing a Ph.D in medical microbiology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. However I'm in a nonsupportive academic environment. If things do not change soon I don't think I will be able to last past a Masters degree. Is there any way you can send me the email addresses of the two or three African American professors that appeared on your program "Shattering the Silences"?

From: Rodney Michael Heines (

Thank you for making the program. It is time for America to stand up and sing about itself in all colors. We have been modeling our culture on Europe alone for too long and it is nice to see that universities are truly becoming universal.

It was interesting to hear Mr. Searle's comments about ethnic/minority classes being anthropological areas of study. What then are sociology, pyschology, history, art, philosophy, political science, writing and other areas of the humanities? It seems as though some professors believe that we should only study mathematics and sciences in higher education.

From: "Nicki Rivers" (

I watched the program on Friday, Jan.24th. I thought that it was an insightful program. It seemed to me that success for minority professors was bittersweet.

For the minority women, success in the higher level world of academics meant sacrificing a family. Why was it that all of the minority women professors featured on the show were single? Can a minority woman not have it all? Successful career and family? The [male] minority professors that were featured on the show were both husbands and fathers. (most of them).

Of course there was the usual comment made that affirmative action is not fair when it allows an underqualified minority applicant to obtain a position over a highly qualified white applicant.

While I can understand this point, what non minorities seem to forget is this:

Up until recently, as late as the 1970's, opportunities were closed for minorities in just about every aspect of life. educational, financial, sports. And this was upheld legally by the government. Whites who cry out against affirmative action seem to have forgotten that they have had the upper hand in the United States for years (and still do). Opportunities for qualified minorities were closed, because of racial discrimination.

In the south, Jim Crow laws were enforced and it was actually legal to suppress minorities because of their color.

Now that the government is trying to provide opportunities that were denied for so long to minorities (remember the civil rights movement is barely 30 years old; suppression of minority rights has gone on for much longer) whites are beginning to feel threatened.

Maybe that is why they suppressed minorities in the first place, because they were afraid of their intelligence, afraid of what they were capable of doing if given the opportunity.

Minorities who have achieved high positions in society are not taking away from anyone reguardless of race, because they give back.

Thank you for providing such an insightful program.

Nicki Rivers
Sarah Vaughan is the greatest!!!!

From: Neal Becker (nbecker@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU):

I enjoyed your program very much. The professors you profiled were incredible stars, and I enjoyed hearing about their trials and successes. I hope that I can invite some of them to speak on my campus.

However, I would also have liked to hear more about minority scholars who are not working specifically on cultural issues, but are in the trenches of the mainstream. How do they fare there? What sorts of problems do they face being recognized as authorities? Also, it would be interesting to see what changes and different perspectives minorities bring to the sciences. Or is science impenetrable by/impervious to multicultural issues?

Perhaps you can do more programs. Do you have any plans for more?

Ann Cudd

From: Robin Wilson (

As an African-American Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, I find your documentary most timely. Indeed, on the night of the broadcast premiere of "Shattering the Silences", I was attempting to explain to my Dept. Chair, a European-American woman, what was so difficult about being on faculty there. Many of my colleagues "jump board" after a few years of working in such an oppressive and high-pressured environment. Your documentary presents the point of view of many of my friends and colleagues in a compelling and thorough fashion and brings to the fore many questions that are long overdue.

Thank you and congratulations on a job well done and for getting such an overdue issue out into the mainstream.

From: (Patricia Taylor Braxton):

The presentation of "Shattering the Silences" on 1-24-97 was a riveting depiction of the reality so many of us face as a minority presence in American academia. So often, when we present ourselves in graduate classes, there is the perception that we are there by some type of societal largesse, when actually we are there because we are in fact qualified to be there. The statement by Prof. Kelley about affirmative action: "AA does not give privileges to unqualified people, but rather, it allows people access to the competition. If we don't measure up, we don't stay." -- this paraphrasing of what he said resonated within me.

As an educator with students on the secondary school level, i would like to obtain a copy of the tape to share with my students.

From: S. Bailey (

I just finished viewing subject documentary and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Can you tell me if, and when, it will air again?


From: ksl (

This was an excellent program. I only wish it had been shown during our struggle to prevent the passage of Prop.209 which ended gov't Affirmative Action.

However, I saw it almost inadvertently. It should have been promoted and marketed more strongly. Perhaps it can be reshown frequently.

From: Rosa Maria Pegueros (PEGUEROS@URIACC.URI.EDU)

Ms. Pellett--
Below you will find a note I sent about the video to the women's studies internet list, which has some 4000 members.
To: Women's Studies List (WMST-L@UMDD.UMD.EDU)

"Shattering the Silences," a program about minority faculty in the universities (see detailed description below), is getting short shrift. I was hoping that I would be able to see and tape this program as well as encourage my students to see it. Then I found out that it is not scheduled to be played on Rhode Island Public Television, and only one of the Boston public television stations--that one that most Rhode Islanders DON'T get on their cable service--is running it DURING THE SUPERBOWL! Since the numbers of tenured women in the the university is still disproportionately small, and the number of minority women is infinitesimally smaller, I think it is a program that not only deserves wide viewership but that we SHOULD show to our students. Check your listings and if your local station isn't showing it, or is showing it during the Superbowl, raise a ruckus. This, to me, is a typical example of an important documentary buried because some pointy-headed bureaucrat decided it wasn't important.

From: Lisa Marie Hibbard (

I am a white female but can relate to circumstances presented. Great show, great timing (african-american history month), great insight, unique. Lisa

Date: Mon, 27 Jan 1997 01:40:50 -0800

As a woman of African descent preparing for a doctoral program, it was wonderful to see the generation before. I am also saddened, that my aspirations are still so politically charged. I wish the challenge could be my research and not the representation of a people. Every individual who seeks higher learning adds diversity and new perspectives to knowledge. One would imagine that academia in particular would embrace different ethnic backrounds within the US, as openly as it embraces international scholarship. Shattering the Silences was a welcome intrusion into my life. It is not only the professors who must brave isolation to succeed. Thank you for such insipiring and, in these times, daring program.

Sincerely Yours,
Ruth Frowein



Thanks for an inspiring & insightful program. I am a Counselor for an Upward Bound Program and a Puente Program. I can't wait to show this to my Puente Students at the community college. This program reminds me and reinforces the reasons why I went into this field. Our voices must be heard. Many thanks.

Maria Jasso - Puente Counselor
College of the Desert
Palm Desert, CA.


From: Balaji Ganesan (

This program took my breath away. As an undergraduate student at Arizona State University pursuing degrees in both Literature and Decision and Information Systems Technology, I was both distraught to see the faults present in my state institutions and proud of the efforts the ASU West professors have made. I was reminded of how precious and awe-inspiring the work of educating others can be AND of how often the work of these dedicated professionals is ignored or unappreciated. Thanks to the producers and contributors of the program for reminding all of us in academic situations or considering academic careers just how vital learning and teaching are to the survival of our collective souls.


From: Archie Bishop (
Organization: YoFaxRaps

Loved what I saw of the show. Am also very impressed with your web page.

From: Brenda Durosinmi (

I am very interested in obtaining a copy of "Shattering The Silences" for our Cooperative Extension Department at University of Nevada, Reno. I think this may be material to share with faculty in a time of need as our department wrestles with issues of trust, team building and inclusion. Our university administration is committed to supporting a warmer climate for faculty of color and diversity to thrive in the university area. Information from a variety of sources can only assist the process.



Thank you for this powerful and insightful documentary. It made me cry, laugh, sad and also feel proud of my Cuban heritage. Although Cuban-Americans have had different shared experiences from some other Latino groups, I think this presentation speaks to all of us who have struggled to get here and keep our heritage alive. I hope the producers and the writers of this documentary feel proud of the work they have done in providing all of us with a glimpse of these remarkable academicians' lives and the work they continue to do.

Magalys Perez


From: Zakiya Carr (
Organization: The Children's Defense Fund

Your documentary represents the type of programming our children need to watch. I majored in film production at Howard University (a historically black university) and although I did not encounter the same hardships that these professional scholars have faced, I was not completely ignorant of the difficulty of feeling accepted, worthy, and needed that other students of color face on a daily basis.

I believe that you all thoroughly researched the climate of the day and what this new climate will mean for scholars and academia and especially for "minority" students like myself who want to keep reaching for the next level of education. I hope that you continue to make pertinent, informative documentaries that seek to bring about an awarenes of the problems America faces in the 21 century. All did not dissolve after the civil rights struggles. We still have a long way to go.


From: Lana Ford (LFord@ZIP01,FERRIS.EDU)
Big Rapids, MI 49307

Dear Sirs:
What an excellent documentary! Would there be a way to purchase a video of this program? Unfortunately my local PBS channel did not air "Shattering the Silences" so many of my colleagues were unable to view the program. Every higher education institution should have access to this outstanding program.

I would appreciate any assistance you could provide me. Please keep up the excellent programming.


From: Rafael Otero (

I am currently a graduate student at Ohio State University in Columbus, OH and had the great opportunity to catch the show as it aired on PBS. Growing up as a Puerto Rican child not many persons expected much from me. Fortunately, I was inspired at an early age by my educators to set my own expectations. Needless to say the individuals you highlighted in your show are also great inspirations for us all. My motivation to get a copy of the show is to share it with others - minority and non-minority group members.



I saw this program last night around midnight. It was the first time I had heard of it and was very inspired. I am a second generation Mexican- American junior biology major at a little, private, vastly Anglo college. Your program really made me realize the sacrifices those before me made and the responcibility I have to help my people and those in similar situations. I am convinced now more than ever that I can and need to earn my Ph.D. Thank you.

Sergio Y. Alcoser


From: (Steve Bistrup)

I caught your insightful and inspiring show last evening. I am currently a U.S. history graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison working on a dissertation with close connections to many of your show's issues. I am writing a history of the Western Civilization Course in American colleges. Both the show and your marvelous web page have given me an abundance of new quotes, sources, and most importantly ideas to work into my project. Thanks!

From: "christopher s. frisby" (

I have just watched "Shattering The Silences" on my local PBS station and I wish to congratulate you on a very fine production. I found "STS" to be quite timely, inspirational,and relevant to many of my own concerns as a young African-American postgrad.

My query concerns the subject of mentoring which played such an integral thematic role in "STS". I desire very strongly to establish a working mentor/advisee relationshipwith a professional in the field of documentary film production. I wonder if you or Mr. Stanley might know of any opportunities for an assistant position on the crew or staff of a working production team.

I received a B.A. in History from Kenyon College in May 1996. I have studied photography & design and last year produced my own 22-minute video documentary called "Changing Woman" which explores the issues of labor, sexuality, race, and motherhood as they concern a group of contemporary college women (students and professors). It is projects like yours and others like Olivia Olea's, whom I had the pleasure of meeting when she talked with my video art class last year, which inspire me to want to work in the field of documentary film.

As a historian I find the documentary form serves as a powerful tool in complementing more traditional modes of historical production. I am eager to partcipate in the ever-deepining and meaningful relations between the two.


From: Daphne Figueroa ( or (

I am a community college professor and also a doctoral student nearing completion of my PhD in education. I so thoroughly enjoyed your production. It brought tears to my eyes and also many smiles and chuckles as I could relate, or knew of friends who could relate to so many of the struggles that minority and women scholars have gone through.

I have been trying to find out if the production is available for purchase on video. My local PBS station and also the national PBS 800 number have no record of its availability. Could you or one of your staff please tell me if I may purchase a copy, or if it will air again in the San Diego area. I want to share it with as many people at my college as possible.

Thank you so much for taking the time to produce such a fine piece of work.

Daphne Figueroa
Professor of Chemistry
San Diego Miramar College

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