By Ruth Martinez
Panhandle PBS, the Amarillo College licensed public television station, is preparing to debut a series about the Black experience. “Living While Black” will feature six 30-minute episodes that will air in March. In preparation for releasing the show, the station began posting some short segments on the Panhandle PBS website, YouTube channel and other social media platforms in the fall of 2020.
The show will feature 25 Black residents from the Amarillo area and five experts from around the country to contextualize their experiences. The guests will discuss topics such as the Black experience in Amarillo, the history and vocabulary of racism and the reactions to recent protests and social justice movements. Through these conversations, the people featured will connect emotionally about what it’s like to live while Black.
PPBS Content Manager Hilary Hulsey is leading the PPBS content team with more than 30 hours of footage. Heavy work has been put in with editing and post-production of the program as well as making sure the guests came into the studio feeling safe, Hulsey said.
Brian Frank, the PPBS content producer, said he knows that they were asking people to become vulnerable about a subject that involves difficult experiences. “It was hard to control your emotions,” he said.
Hulsey said she also struggled with her feelings when the show’s guests discussed their experiences. “Our crew is an entirely white crew, so we felt that our emotions had to remain in check because we needed to hold space for these people who are sharing these incredibly raw and emotional moments of their life,” she said.
Some of the guests who appear in the show are David Lovejoy, Melodie Graves, Meesha Westmoreland, Idella Jackson, Patrick Miller and Isaac Butler. PPBS Senior Content Producer Karen Welch interviewed all 30 people on the show and said the key to successful interviews is creating a connection with the guests.
“The most important thing was listening. We all want to talk and fill in space, so sometimes it’s hard to just make sure that what we’re doing is truly listening,” Welch said.
Kyle Arrant, the PPBS director of operations, said producing unique local content like “Living While Black” is an important part of the station’s mission.
“Panhandle PBS is uniquely positioned to educate our community and allow us to begin conversations around this topic,” he said.
The show will air on television Thursdays at 7 p.m. from March 11 through April 15.