Dr. Ken Harris is a retired Milwaukee Police Lieutenant and an Assistant Dean of Professional Development at Concordia University. Harris can also be heard on 101.7 FM The Truth weekdays from 4p-6p. Harris spoke with Libby Collins in this episode of WTMJ Conversations. A portion of their conversation can be seen below.
Transcription provided by eCourt Reporters, Inc.
LIBBY COLLINS: You’re not on the other side anymore. You’re not teaching journalism students. You’re not a police officer. You’re part of the media. You’re — you’re going to be responsible for airing topics and talking to people. What’s your attitude as far as that? I mean, talk radio certainly has had a lot of criticism over the last several years as to, you know, stirring up people and, you know, passing along false information, particularly conservative talk radio. How do you intend to approach things with the Truth?
DR. KEN HARRIS: Well, I don’t know if that’s necessarily true if people are saying that conservative talk radio is firing up people. I think the problem with that is it’s coming from people who are liberal, which in and of itself makes it a problem. I think that we are in a — we live in a democracy where people should be able to say what they feel and still be open to the criticism, but not just tear somebody down because they’re different. And I think we’re going to be able to open that door where I’m more of a contrarian, so to speak. So, I probably get called a liar.
LIBBY COLLINS: How do you mean that?
DR. KEN HARRIS: Well, if you say left, I’m going to go right; if you go right, I’m going to go left. I want to see, do you really believe what you believe. I’m can respect that. If you’re just arguing because you’re liberal; if you’re just arguing because you’re conservative and you want to make your point, my thing of arguing is this: I need you to say what you want to say. I don’t need you to counter what I said. In other words, speak your mind, don’t just call in and counter what I’m saying, because that’s not a conversation. Let’s deal with the facts, let’s deal with the truth. And if we agree, that’s fine, but if you call in and say, “Conservative talk radio has caused all these troubles,” I’m going to ask you why. I’m going to explore that. Just as if you had called and said, “Liberal talk radio has caused all this trouble,” then I’m going to attack you from the other end and go, “Why? And why do you feel that?”
And I think those are the types of conversations that will be had on the Truth, that all of the — all of the hosts are vastly different in age, gender. And so we’re able – generationally. So, we’re able to see the world, and being Black, we’re able to see the world because we’ve had to live in two worlds. We’ve had to do things like code switch in terms of living in multiple worlds all of our lives that it’s just normal for us. But now we don’t have to do that, we get to speak, and in some instances in a sublanguage, as most people have done, and really deal with some issues and help everybody grow. It’s — I don’t really look at it as a Black talk radio station. I look as it as a talk station for Milwaukee that happens to be Black.
LIBBY COLLINS: And that’s interesting. What could White listeners learn from listening to the Truth?
DR. KEN HARRIS: I think White listeners can learn what something is. I’ll give a perfect example: Blacks speak with a sublanguage. Now, any — any linguist worth their salt will tell you that every culture has a sublanguage. Italians have it, Polish, German, you know, there’s High German, and, you know, Russians have it, and African Americans have it, but when it comes to Black America, they call it bad English. So, why is it other people that are White can speak High and Low German and it seems to be okay, but if a Black person uses what linguists have called Ebonics, there’s a problem. Well, all my life I’ve been able to speak multiple languages by being a Black male and speaking in, I guess, a Black sublanguage; whereas, other people have done it as well and they’re never castigated about it. But if I do it, it’s called bad English. So, if you use the word ink or kink or round out certain vowels or consonants, all of a sudden, oh, that’s bad English. Well, based on who? Based on what?
And so helping people understand culture and understand that they are differences, it’s not bad, it’s just different. But I think that will open up the dialogue and open up the questions that people can ask without making people feel bad for asking.