Talking About Racism

Nationwide protests in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and other Black people have brought renewed attention to longstanding issues of racism and social justice. Talking about race can be difficult, but with curiosity, knowledge, and empathy, it’s possible to come together as a community to listen, learn, and work for change.

Community members are invited to join in the conversation through a series of presentations followed by question and answer sessions held via Zoom on Thursdays from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. beginning October 1. Registration is required to receive Zoom information.

Series Presentations:

• Arthur Breese, Director of Diversity, Geisinger
• Teresa Grettano, PhD, Associate Professor of English/Theatre, The University of Scranton
• Moderator: Cathy Ann Hardaway, President, Greater Scranton MLK Commission

• Leon John, PhD, Director of Alumni Engagement, East Stroudsburg University
• Jessica Nolan, PhD, Professor of Psychology, The University of Scranton
• Moderator: Ida Castro, JD, MLK Commission, GCSOM

• Glynis Johns, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Black Scranton Project
• Yerodin Lucas, PhD, Interim Director Office of Equity & Inclusion and Title IX Coordinator,
Marywood University
• Moderator: Lia Richards Palmiter, PhD, MLK Commission, Marywood University 

To continue the learning journey, below please find the additional information on these sessions including a recording of the opening panel presentation from each session along with the pdf of the presentation and references with additional readings and materials listed. 

As we each consider on our own relationships, behaviors, and attitutes to become a source of change in our commuity, please consider the following Reflection Questions as ways of futher engaging in your own process of growth and work to create a more fair and equitable community for all. 

Talking About Racism - Post Series Reflection Questions

For more information or if you have questions, please email

This series is a project of the Greater Scranton Martin Luther King Commission in collaboration with: Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Johnson College, Lackawanna College, Marywood University, Penn State Scranton, and The University of Scranton

Session 1 Information

Session One Speaker Bios

Arthur Breese is the Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Director of Title IX at Geisinger Health Care System.arthur-breese-headshot.jpgHe. was the past Director of Diversity and Campus Mediation at East Stroudsburg University. A native of the Wyoming Valley, Arthur holds a bachelor degree in psychology from Temple University, a master’s degreein organizational management and master’s degree in education from Misericordia University.His academic work centers on social work and psychology.  He was trained in diversity through the Anti-Defamation League.Arthur is certified as a Train the Trainer for Unconscious Bias with CookRoss consulting.Currently he is the co-chair of the Luzerne County Diversity Commission, the President of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Diversity Education Consortiumand a member of the local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. In 2012 he was the recipient of the NAACP Diversity Leadership Award and was recently awarded the 2020 Pennsylvania LGBTQ+ Leadership Award.  



Teresa Grettano, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of English & Theatre at The University of Scranton,where she teaches courses in rhetoric and writing and directs the First-Year Writing Program. Teresa also directs the Ellacuría Initiative, a group that supports justice-related programming and faculty/staff development,as well as co-leads the Dialogue Across Difference group that works to facilitate dialogue across campus about difficult and polarizing issues.  


Session One Presentation Session One Recording

Session One References: 

Session 2 Information

Leon John, Jr., Ph.D. was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to the son of immigrant parents from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.john-jr,-leon-001.jpg
 His professional experience is exclusive to higher education, where he has worked in various departments that include enrollment management, student affairs, alumni engagement, academic affairs, and university advancement. His published dissertation: Self-Efficacy among Students of Color at Predominantly White Institutions of Higher Education in Northeastern Pennsylvania contains insight to the issues that the ever increasing population of students of color face at colleges/universities in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  He is currently the Director of Alumni Engagement at East Stroudsburg University, and an adjunct instructor at Penn State University-Scranton. 


 Jessica M. Nolan, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology at the University of Scranton.  She received her B.S. in natural resources from Cornell University, her M.A. from California State University, San Marcos, and her Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Arkansas.  Her research focuses on how to use psychological tools and principles
to understand and solve social problems, including research on how people react to feedback about their implicit biases. 
nolan_headshot2018-cropped.jpgShe is a native New Yorker who currently resides in Scranton with her husband, 2 kids, 2 dogs and 3 pet rats.   

Session Two Presentation & Session Two Recording

Session Two References: 


  • White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, Peggy McIntosh
  • Interrupting the Cycle of Oppression: The Role of Allies as Agents of Change, Andrea Ayvazian
  • So you Want to Talk About Race,  Ijeoma Oluo
  • White Fragility: Why Is It So Hard for White People To Talk About Racism?, Robin D’Angelo, Ph.D.
  • Collins, C. (2018). What is White Privilege Really?
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning,  Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds



Session 3 Information

Glynis Johns is the founder of Black Scranton Project, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization,  local heritage initiative, glynisjohns-copy-.jpgand public history venture dedicated to archiving and celebrating African American history of Scranton and NEPA. Glynis is also a first-year doctoral student studying 19th and 20th century African American history at Rutgers University. A native Scrantonian, local historian, sociologist, artist, documentarian, and advocate; Glynis spends a lot of time researching Scranton in attempt to piece together narratives of the black community. She is proud to shift local perspectives on culture, inclusion, representation, and history. For Glynis, passions and projects are indistinguishable from each other.  She received her BA and MA in sociology at St. Johns University. Highlighted in the March 2020 issue of Happenings Magazine as one of the most “Influential Women in NEPA,” and NEPA Business Journals Top 20 under 40 Young Business Professionals 2019 honoree. 

yerodin-lucas-headshot.pngYerodin Lucas, Ph.D. is the Director of Institutional Equity and Inclusion and Title IX Coordinator at Marywood University located in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Arcadia University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations. He went on to complete his Master’s degree in Education, and he earned his Ph.D. in Administration and Leadership from Marywood University in 2019. His published dissertation titled: Factors Affecting African American Male Students at Predominantly White Institutions: A Case Study in Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) highlights the support structures necessary for first-year Black male student persistence. As a Philadelphia native, Yerodin enjoys good food and city life. He moved to Scranton, PA four years ago to complete his doctoral studies. Yerodin has traveled and worked abroad in Asia, Canada, and Europe. He enjoys spending quality time with family and friends.

Session Three Presentation & Session Three Recording

Session Three References:

Movies/TV Shows:


  • Dear White People (Select Episodes) – TV Show
  • Sorry to Bother You – Movie



Readings – Books:

  • Hillbilly Elegy - J.D. Vance
  • First They Killed My Father - Loung Ung
  • Citizen 13660 - Mine Okubo
  • The Things They Carried - Tim O’Brian
  • The Measure of a Man - Sidney Poitier
  • My Side of the Bars - Cleo Dunnit
  • In the Garden of Beasts - Erik Larson
  • Things Fall Apart -  Chinua Achebe
  • The Bluest Eye -  Toni Morrison 
  • The Other Wes Moore - Wes Moore
  • The Fire Next Time -  James Baldwin
  • I Am Not Your Negro - James Baldwin
  • White Rage -  Carol Anderson
  • Whistling Vivaldi - Claude Steele
  • Raising White Kids: Bringing up Children in a Racially Unjust America - Jennifer Harvey
  • Decolonizing Academia - Clelia Rodriguez 
  • White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism - Robin DiAngelo, PhD
  • Black Feminist Statement, Combahee River Collective- - republished by Keeanga Yamahtta Taylor with introduction concerning a re-definition of “identity politics”
  • Choosing the Margin as a Space of Radical Openness - bell hooks
  • Freedom is a Constant Struggle - Angela Davis
  • Whistling Vivaldi - Claude Steele
  • Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? - Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • This Book is Anti-Racist:20 Lessons on How to Wake up, Take Action and Do The Work - Tiffany Jewell
  • White Washing Race: The Myth of a Colorblind Society  - Brown, M et al. 2003 U of California
  • White Awake - Daniel Hill

 Short Stories & Essays:


Scroll to Top