Louisiana Experts to Explore Sickle Cell Disease, Impact on Black and Brown Communities at LSU Reilly Center Event

February 13, 2023

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 acharbonnet1@lsu.edu.


The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs is partnership-driven, action-oriented and dedicated to exploring contemporary issues at the intersection of mass communication and public life. Its interdisciplinary approach draws together experts from diverse fields to advance research and dialogue. The intent is to inspire our communities to think deeply, take action, develop solutions and broaden knowledge. Underlying the Center’s endeavors is to strengthen and advance the Manship School’s national and state leadership in media and politics.

The Sickle Cell Association of Southern Louisiana is the only organization whose mission is to provide supportive medical and social services to people living with sickle cell disease in these areas. Sickle Cell is a painful genetic blood disorder impacting more than 100,000 people in the United States. With 2.5 million carrying the trait, it is the most commonly inherited blood disorder in the country. Newborns can be tested at birth, but others can be tested through a blood test. Last year marked 45 years of the Association's service in several parishes in the state of Louisiana.

LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication ranks among the strongest collegiate communication programs in the country, with its robust emphasis on media and public affairs. It offers undergraduate degrees in public relations, journalism, political communication, digital advertising and pre-law, along with four graduate degree programs: Master of Mass Communication, Ph.D. in media and public affairs, certificate of strategic communication, and dual MMC/law degree.

The Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences at Southern University aims to educate students who will matriculate with the spirit of service, superb competence and employability skills needed in a global marketplace. The College is located on the campus of Southern University and A&M College, the flagship of the only HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) University System in the nation.

The Louisiana Budget Project (LBP) monitors and reports on state public policies and how they affect Louisiana’s low- to moderate-income families. Using research, outreach and advocacy, LBP educates policymakers, the nonprofit community and the public about the economic and racial barriers that Louisianans face each day, and looks for solutions that can create a more widely shared prosperity.

The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.

The LSU Office of Diversity & Inclusion is a division of the Office of Academic Affairs and provides support, referral and information to students, faculty and staff on issues and concerns related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. For more information, please visit lsu.edu/diversity.

Loyola’s College of Music and Media serves as the preeminent center of performing and visual arts study among all Jesuit colleges and universities throughout the United States. The College recognizes the historical role of music, visual arts, and communication throughout the world. The School of Communication and Design educates students to become intellectual, ethical, and creative practitioners and leaders in journalism, advertising, design, filmmaking, and public relations. In addition, the School offers a master’s in marketing and communication to better prepare students for dynamic careers with multiple pathways to sustainable success.