Diversity

Episode 37 : Being the only one in the room: Laura Cathcart Robbins


 

Have you ever been at an event, in a class or attended a conference where almost everyone was the same race, ethnicity, gender etc. except for one person? Has that ever been you or have you wondered what it was like for that person? Have you seen been at an event where someone was excluded because of the color of their skin, seen or heard someone be targeted by racism or ignored and wanted to intervene but didn’t know what to do?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, or if you care about making people feel included then you need to listen to this episode.

Being the only person who looks like you in a group of people can be uncomfortable, awkward and impede participation. Author, speaker and podcaster Laura Cathcart-Robbins recounts her experiences as the only Black person in the room at a writer’s conference of 450, in classrooms and other events in her life which inspired her to produce her podcast, “The Only One in the Room.”

In this conversation on race, you’ll get to hear how Laura’s mother gave her the tools she needed to excel despite being excluded, stand up for herself and speak out and be heard as a Black woman. You’ll learn what you can do to support diversity in the room and actively support inclusion. Plus you’ll hear what songs Laura and Simma are listening to this week that reflects their thoughts and feelings on race, racism and eliminating fear of differences.

Help us stop hate and spread the message of love across the globe by sharing this podcast.

 

Laura Cathcart Robbins is a freelance writer, podcast host, and storyteller, living in Studio City, California with her son, Justin and her boyfriend, Scott Slaughter.  She has been active for many years as a speaker and school trustee and is credited for creating The Buckley School’s nationally recognized committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Her recent articles in the Huffington Post on the subjects of race, recovery, and divorce have garnered her worldwide acclaim. She is a 2018 LA Moth StorySlam winner and host of the popular podcast, The Only One In The Room, which is available on all podcast platforms.  Laura currently sits on the advisory board for the San Diego Writer’s Festival and is also a founding member of Moving Forewords, the first national memoirist collective of its kind. You can find her on Facebook @lauracathcartrobbins, on Instagram @official_cathcartrobbins and follow her on Twitter @LauraCRobbins.
Laura Cathcart Robbins

Episode 36: Millennials: Racist. Color Blind or Woke?



Are Millennials less racist than other generations?

What do people from Africa have in common with African-Americans?

What generation is most in denial about racism?

What’s it like to be the only Black person in your class?

These questions and more are answered on Every Day Conversations on Race. My guests are Mary-Lou Milabu, a millennial black Christian woman, whose family is from Congo, and Sara Bierman a millennial white Jewish woman from California who is also a lesbian.  Both women share their experience and views on race, racism and perspectives on white privilege.

Mary-Lou shares what it was like to be one of the few Black people in her school and constantly being asked to be the spokesperson for African-Americans. While learning about Black history, a white teacher kept asking her about her family’s history going back to slavery. When Mary-Lou said that was not her family’s history since she was second generation Congolese the teacher kept insisting. She had to school the teacher.

Sara shares what it was like for her growing up on a street where she was the only white kid and learning about racism towards people of color. She shares stories of talking to other white people about race and racism.

This exciting conversation on race with two millennial women, one white and one black will open your eyes to stereotypes, white privilege and racism.

Episode 35: How Living the Principles of Kwanzaa Fights Racism



 

Phyliss Williams co-host of Living the Principles podcast joins Simma to talk about the importance of the principles of Kwanzaa, and how her time in the Marines impacts the good work she does today.

Phyliss shares stories and experiences as an African American woman growing up in the south dealing with racism, and what it’s like to see the racism today across the USA.

We talk about the importance of involving family and friends in the race conversation and having an impact on them.

Topics covered:

  • Why it’s essential that people vote
  • Selfish reasons why people don’t vote and not voting is a vote against equal rights
  • Tactics used today to repress voting particularly in Black neighborhoods
  • Parallels between the past and the present in preventing people from voting
  • During her time attending a Christian College, she experienced racist dog whistles from other students and racism goes against all the principles of Christianity
  • How the Trump administration continues to dehumanize Black people and other people of color, Jewish people, LGBT People and immigrants

What we can do to have the conversation about race, eliminate hate and fear of differences and spread love

  • Be mindful of our energy, share resources and support each other
  • Remember that the holocaust happened because “nice” people said nothing
  • Speak out against gerrymandering which will impact the results of our voting
  • Speak up when people are told “go back to your country”
  • Listen to the stories of Black people and their experiences with racism, police brutality
  • Check assumptions and generalizations
  • Think about how different forms of privilege or automatic advantages impact us
  • Dismantle stereotypes

Episode 34 : Why Talking to White People About Race is Draining



 

In this conversation on race, LeRon talks to Simma about why it’s often draining for him to talk to a lot of white people about race. Simma and LeRon agree that allies are important and that it’s more effective for a white person to talk to another white person about race and racism in order to educate them, and raise their level of understanding.

LeRon and Simma both believe that you have to go where people are at and not assume they know more than they do. However, people need to be called on racist, homophobic, etc. statements. Being an ally and intervening can mean losing friends and even family members who want to hold on to hate. LeRon says he won’t sit with certain family members who insist on making homophobic remarks.

It’s usually more effective for someone to hear about race issues, racism and bias from someone who is more like them in some way. That’s true for LGBTQ and homophobia. A straight person will be less defensive and more open to listen to another straight person.

Other topics are the challenges of talking about race and racism, race and d vegetarianism and whether Chicago pizza is better than New York pizza.

Episode 32 : Former Black Panther discusses current political climate



Elmer Dixon was one of the early leaders of the Black Panther Party in Seattle, Washington  and in Oakland, CA. In this episode of Every Day Conversations on Race, Elmer talks about the history and legacy of the Black Panther Party.

The Black Panthers were created some of the first Food Banks, were responsible for hot breakfasts for school children that are now provided in many public schools.

Topics in this episode:

  • The lack of adequate health care for working class and lower income people
  • How he lives his values today of equity and equality while working with CEOs and other C-suite leaders and making sure that our communities and families survive
  • The increase in progressive people who are now CEOs who have the well-being of their customers and employee as priorities
  • Working with Steve Reinemund, former CEO of Pepsico and then his successor Indra Nooyi, as well as other rich people who are looking to give back
  • The importance of continuing to have conversations on race between white people and people of color different levels
  • Speaking to young white kids in Finland and around the world who are well-schooled on the history of the Panthers and want to organize against racism
  • The need to stood up against bullies and how the Black Panther Party stood up to bullies
  • White elementary school kids are interested in learning more about the Black Panthers and applying it to make the country and world a better place
  • What it’s like to work with police today and why it’s important to develop good relationships with good cops
  • The work that Elmer does in training police to understand issues in the Black community, and for police and the community to know each other
  • If police live in the communities they serve, there will be less police shootings of unarmed people

Throughout the episode Elmer recounts stories of the Panthers and we all can work together to combat racism

Elmer Dixon

edixon@executivediversity.com

Episode 30 : Cross-Race Friendships; Can They Work?



 

Chip Conley and Wanda Whitaker join me on Every Day Conversations on Race for Everyday People  to talk about the evolution of their friendship and bringing people together across race.

Chip grew up in an affluent white family in Southern California. He was the  founder and CEO of  Joie De Vivre Hospitalitythe first group of boutique hotels and is presently executive advisor to the CEO of Airbnb. Chip is also the founder of the Modern Elders Academy.

Wanda was raised in a middle-class African-American family in Washington DC. She is a healer, author and spiritual coach, and also on the Board of the Create Peace Project.

From very different racial and economic backgrounds, the two of them met 30 years ago in San Francisco, when Chip owned Miss Pearl’s Jam House a Jamaican restaurant where Wanda would hang out to listen to Reggae. They’re best friends and spiritual but not romantic soulmates.

I begin by asking each of them when they first became aware of race and racism.

Wanda:“I think, my first experience was when I was in junior high school. I was watching television and there was a commercial about an amusement park. And I said, mom, I really want to go, I want to go. She told me I couldn’t go because of the color of my skin and I was really sad. That was my first kind of experience with racism. And then I’d drive with my father to North Carolina and I couldn’t use the bathroom because it would say white people only.”

And of course in DC during the riots, I saw people taking to the streets. I also saw Martin Luther King speaking and watched on television civil rights marchers racism being attacked by dogs and police.

Chip: “I grew up in Long Beach, California. I was the oldest of three kids. Long Beach is actually considered to be the most diverse city in the US because of the racial mix. I was a white kid in a predominantly white neighborhood but the high school in my district was predominantly Black.

My parents could have sent me to a private school that would be all white but they said they wanted me to go to the public school. It was a huge high school of  about 5,000 students So I went there,  was one of the few white kids and was called curious white boy.

I was a culturally curious white boy, and a minority in the school
I wanted to know people who were different than me. I had the best time with my Black friends and Black girlfriends. Some of my white friends in the school were awkward around the Black kids, but I felt like I could really be myself. I also got to experience being the “other,” the person who was not from the dominant group in the school.

Knowing what does it feel like to be the other is a really important thing that everybody should experience. When you experience being the other, it makes it easier to understand and empathize with people who experience it on a daily basis.

Listen in to hear the rest of the conversation on race with Chip Conley and Wanda Whitaker.

Other topics we cover:

The need to sometimes be uncomfortable when talking about race, racism and other differences in order to later be comfortable.

Wanda goes to a deeper level about conversations on race with white people and how they have to move beyond shame and blame about slavery in order to move forward and take action to stop racism.

The Modern Elder Academy in Mexico, and issues of race and other differences.

How to get past defensiveness in the conversation on race, finding commonalities and making connections to prevent defensiveness and understand privilege and power.

Why diversity, belonging and being willing to make mistakes are essential in bringing people together to change

How to be curious, ask questions and be aware of personal bias.

Ways to talk about race and other differences even when you’re uncomfortable and the role we all play in eliminating racism and fear.

Guests Bio:

Chip Conley

New York Times bestselling author Chip Conley is a rare entrepreneur who has disrupted his favorite industry…twice. At age 26, the founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality (JDV) took an inner city motel and turned it into the 2nd largest boutique hotel brand in America. Inspired by the work of famed psychologists Maslow and Frankl, Chip’s books, “PEAK” and “Emotional Equations,” share his theories on transformation and meaning in business and life. His new book, “Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder,” was inspired by his post-50-year-old experiences as both a mentor and unexpected intern at Airbnb.

Chip was CEO of his innovative company for 24 years and sold JDV in 2010. He accepted an invitation in 2013 from the young founders of Airbnb to help transform their promising home sharing start-up into what is today the world’s largest hospitality brand. In four years as Head of Global Hospitality & Strategy, Chip taught his award-winning methods to hosts in close to 200 countries. Today he serves as the company’s Strategic Advisor for Hospitality & Leadership. Chip also founded Fest300 to share his love of travel and festivals (now part of Everfest). And in January 2018, he founded Modern Elder Academy (MEA), the world’s first “midlife wisdom school,” where attendees learn how to repurpose a lifetime of experience for the modern workplace. MEA’s beachfront campus is located in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Chip is a recipient of hospitality’s highest honor, the Pioneer Award, and was named the Most Innovative CEO in the San Francisco Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times. He is the founder of the Celebrity Pool Toss that supports families in the Tenderloin neighborhood where he opened his first hotel, and San Francisco’s Hotel Hero Awards. Chip holds a BA and MBA from Stanford University, and an honorary doctorate in psychology from Saybrook University. He serves on the boards of the Burning Man Project and the Esalen Institute, home of the Conley Library.

Wanda K. Whitaker
Hypnotherapist, Visionary Artist and Spiritual Life Coach
www.anchoredinspirit.com

www.wandawhitaker.weebly.com
(415) 760-7751 cell
Originally from Washington, DC, humanitarian, healer, artist and author/illustrator, Wanda K. Whitaker, believes that “the best relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.”  A certified hypnotherapist, visionary artist and Spiritual Life Coach, she currently spends her time working with individuals and groups on changing beliefs and bad habits that are not serving them, conducting workshops on self-awareness, personal growth and development, creating art that educates and advocates and helping to guide others to lead a more holistic lifestyle with spiritual practices.

Her life spans years of community service beginning when she was in her early 20’s in Washington, DC when she co-founded, Inner City Inner Beauty Productions to build self-esteem amongst at-risk youth to serving and volunteering with various nonprofit organizations. She was President of Whitaker & Associates, an events marketing and cause-related consultancy business she started in 1991 and Vice-President of the Board of Directors of Global Exchange, an international human rights organization. Today, she serves on the board of directors of the Create Peace Project.

She believes her life purpose is to promote brotherhood and awaken people to their higher selves and greatest potential.

 

Episode 29 : White City Welcomes People of Color



Karen Nelson shares journey as a young Black girl growing up in the segregated south to become the Chief Diversity Officer of Appleton, Wisconsin.

She had to overcome the sabotage of her career success early on by a white boss who refused to listen to her ideas because she was a Black woman. Karen went on to become an activist for civil rights and met the white mayor of Appleton who is a strong believer in diversity, inclusion and eliminating racism.

A predominantly white city,  of only 13% people of color, Karen and the mayor have created an environment in Appleton where people across all differences, especially immigrants are welcomed and encouraged to succeed.

This Every Day Conversation on Race demonstrates how just a few people can make a big difference in road to diversity, equity and inclusion in whole community.

Episode 25 : The Truth About Anti-Semitism at the Women’s March – A Jewish Woman of Color and member of the Women’s March Isteering committee


Download Episode

April Baskin,  a Jewish woman of color joined me for an Every Day Conversation on Race to share her perspectives on Judaism, race, the women’s march and social justice.

 

Her African-American, Native-American and White Ashkenazie Jewish background made her the person she is today, a social activist who has been instrumental in bringing people together across differences. She has had many every day conversations on race, ethnicity, religion, and economic class.

 

April has a very strong Jewish identity and has held several leadership positions in mainstream Jewish organizations.. Even though she was the VP of Audacious Hospitality at the Union for  Reform Judaism, she has experienced racism within the Jewish community. The false myth that all Jews are white, has sometimes led white Jews to question her Judaism, telling her she is not Jewish enough or interrogating her by asking, “How are you Jewish.” This is a question that white Jewish people are not asked, nor are they told they are not Jewish enough.

 

There is another false belief amongst some  more right wing  white Jewish people that there is a “special issue” of Black antisemitism. There is some antisemitism and racism in every group particularly when people don’t know each other.  Instead of getting to know individuals in any group, some people take the “easy and lazy” way out and rely on the media, one negative experience or Facebook and Twitter rumors to generalize a group. It’s a cognitive dissonance that when someone in  a group we are part of (racial, cultural, etc.) we see them as on individual but when it’s an individual from another group they represent everyone.

 

We also discussed her thinking that some of the claims of anti-Semitism are coming from trolls and people who don’t support equality and want to use Jewish people as scapegoats to separate us from Muslims and people of color who have also been targeted and attacked. Their strategy is to make Jewish people feel like they are being attacked by people on the progressive  side and no longer align with them.

 

This has been particularly problematic in the recent Women’s March, of which April is on the steering committee. In our conversation on race, April spoke about the misconception that the whole leadership of the women’s march was anti Semitic based on the relationship one of the leaders has with Minister Farrakhan who had consistently made anti-Semitic statements.

 

 

April made the compared that by saying that if a Jewish person in a synagogue makes a racist statement that doesn’t mean all Jewish people are responsible, and it would be wrong to assume that and condemn all Judaism.

 

It’s important for April and other Jewish women to be part of the women’s march and educate people who may not know about Judaism and what is considered offensive no matter who they are.  At the same time, it’s important for white women involved in the Women’s March to learn about racism. We need each other and the only way we can be successful and eliminate inequality is by education, experience and working together.

 

This is why April feels that open, honest and sometimes difficult conversations on race are crucial to stop hate and fear of people who are different.

Episode 20 : Political Correctness vs Cultural Competence, Expanding the Privilege Convo


Download Episode

Dr. Nika White

 

Dr.Nika White a thought leader in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion talks with me about race in South Carolina and her earliest memories of racism as an African-American woman. This is a very powerful discussion with real solutions.

 

Keypoints:

 

In order to have a meaningful conversation on race, across race, we need to be focused on cultural competence as opposed to being  “politically correct.” The emphasis on “political correctness,” hampers openness, listening to each other and can be a barrier to conversations on race and other differences.

 

There more kinds of privilege that need to be acknowledged and recognized. When privilege is not recognized, it can lead to bias, assumptions and biased behavior. At different times, different privileges are more prominent and have a more profound impact on people’s lives.

 

The point of talking about privilege is not to create shame or guilt but to have greater clarity in the conversation on race and foster more inclusion. Privilege is about the cards we are dealt that give people an automatic advantage in certain situations. Once we recognize our areas of privilege we can use those privileges to ensure equity and inclusion for everyone.

 

Diversity has a lot of layers beyond race; age, sexual orientation, socio-economics, etc. that need to be included in the conversation. For some people it’s easier if we begin by talking about the other dimensions and then talk about race.  Everyone must be included. If we don’t address issues of privilege we will not be able to stop racism.

 

White men can play a key role in change and creating opportunities for everyone else. There are great people of all backgrounds working in the diversity, equity and inclusion realm. It’s not just people of color doing it.

 

Nika shares a story of being in a meeting when a white man tried to shut her down. Another white man spoke up in support of her. Don’t wait for people who are the targets of biased behavior to say something. Speak up right away. We all need to play a role in building equitable workplaces and communities.

 

When people don’t see a problem when there is bias, they are perpetuating the problem.

 

Dr. Nika White