At Real Talk, we make it our mission to spark conversation by addressing higher education’s role in creating social change.

We engage in dynamic discussions that are informed, authentic, and vulnerable. Our hosts, Dr. KC Councilor, communication professor, and Jamil Harp, student activist turned community activist, create a dynamic atmosphere where with the help of a diverse set of guests, we can all begin to reimagine higher education.

We hope these conversations lead to more conversations among educators, students, and administrators in higher education in their work toward justice.

We also know that these conversations extend beyond the walls of the university and that our listeners come from all walks of life.

We’d love to bring more people “on-campus” for these important conversations. Email us if you’d like to be a guest or know someone who should be!

The Start-Up

Real Talk’s first episode was released on October 26, 2020, through the then newly-formed Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Southern Connecticut State University.

The podcast was created in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, and became increasingly critical as universities across the country came to terms with their failure to substantially address systemic bias and racism in higher education.

Real Talk first sought to amplify the voices in our own university’s multicultural and marginalized communities.

The podcast’s first episode, “Starting the Conversation,” featured Ariza and Southern alumna Shanté Hanks, the Deputy Commissioner of Housing in Connecticut. Ariza and Hanks hosted all seven episodes of Season One, leaning on professional staff and faculty to cover health, politics, culture, and race.

Season two of the podcast introduced a new pair of co-hosts, Jamil Harp, then-student activist now community activist, and KC Councilor, Communication, Media, and Screen Studies professor. Harp and Councilor have hosted more than 20 episodes between seasons two and three, broadening the range of topics to include student activism, politics, allyship, immigration, gender, and LGBTQIA+ issues in higher education.

Since Season One, more than 20 guests have joined in the conversation with KC and Jamil, creating a diverse group of community leaders and scholar-activists. Guests have included Ala Ochumare, the co-founder of the New Haven, Connecticut chapter of Black Lives Matter, Southern Connecticut State University President Joe Bertolino, Eliot Olson, transgender, non-binary, and intersex program officer at the New Haven Pride Center, and Dr. Abigail Adams, a professor of Anthropology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Why We’re Here

Historically, public colleges and universities have played an important role as agents for grassroots activism and social change. At Real Talk, our hope is to channel this energy and:

  • establish consistent opportunities for nuanced conversations

  • elevate and engage the voices of those seeking social justice

  • promote safe, productive activism for our rising generations

  • raise awareness and understanding of anti-racist, social justice work

  • model complex conversations with positive outcomes

We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas! Email us at and let us know what you think.

About your host institution

Meet The Team

Southern Connecticut State University

Southern Connecticut State University is committed to identifying and addressing systemic barriers to equity, access, and success for all members of our community. We are also committed to constructive dialogues where we treat one another with dignity, respect, kindness, compassion, and civility as we share varying perspectives, with the goal of creating an inclusive culture. By joining social justice and free speech with critical thinking in and out of the classroom, we prepare students to engage with societal issues on campus, as well as in our local communities, our nation and our world.