BATON ROUGE—The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication will kick off the sixth season of the Racism: Dismantling the System series with its first episode, “Sickle Cell Disease: Looking at the Medical Distrust & Health Disparities Facing Black & Brown Communities,” on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 3:30 p.m. CT.

The Racism Dismantling the System team is partnering with the Sickle Cell Association of South Louisiana for the season premiere. This episode will include a panel of sickle cell experts to discuss healthcare disparities that are harming Black and Brown lives, specifically those with sickle cell disease. This conversation will cover the chronic, internal pain many individuals living with sickle cell disease experience and the struggle to receive attentive care due to discrimination and health-related stigmas based on their race, disease and socioeconomic status.

Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder, inherited mainly among Black Americans, but affects all. Approximately 100,000 Americans are living with sickle cell. However, the disease disproportionately affects Black Americans, occurring in about one out of every 365 African American births. The discussion will provide more information about the disease and how communities can help break the stigma to support sickle cell warriors in Louisiana.

Panelists are as follows:

  • Quenton Buckhalter, Moderator, LSU Manship School of Mass Communication Master’s Alumnus
  • Dr. Corey Hebert, Director of Medical Research and Development at Emmaus Life Sciences, Inc.
  • Dr. Renee Gardner, Hematology/Oncology, Children’s Hospital New Orleans
    Tanisha Burrell Smith, NP, Hematology/Oncology, Our Lady of the Lake, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Ernest DeJean, MSW, Program Manager, Tulane Sickle Cell Center of Southern Louisiana
  • Sherell Jones, Sickle Cell Warrior

This event series is in partnership with Loyola’s School of Communication and Design, Southern University and A&M College’s Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences, Louisiana Budget Project, NAACP Louisiana State Conference and the LSU Office of Diversity & Inclusion.

“I’m not only excited about this discussion because I’m an advocate for sickle cell disease but because the doubt and disparities sickle cell warriors battle highlight the long history of biases and medical discrimination that have and are still costing Black Americans their lives,” said Buckhalter. “Everyone is encouraged to attend this event to become more educated about sickle cell disease and to hear firsthand stories from carriers in our community. Together, we can make a difference through awareness.”

“I am excited to participate in an event that raises awareness for Sickle Cell Disease. As a Sickle Cell Warrior, I believe it’s important to tell my story and educate society on the health disparities affecting African American communities,” said Jones.

The episode will be hosted on Zoom. Admission is free, but you must register in advance on Eventbrite to receive the Zoom meeting access code. The episode will also be recorded and uploaded to the Manship School’s YouTube channel and broadcast live on the Reilly Center’s Facebook page.

For more information, contact