Simma Lieberman

Episode 46 : Growing Up Brown in Australia, a Conversation on Race with Ben Stokes, founder of SocialTable

 

Ben Stokes joins me on “Everyday Conversations on Race,” to talk about his experience being a person of color adopted by a white family in Australia. He didn’t become aware of racism until his family moved from a small town to a larger city. That was when he would frequently encounter white people who would keep asking him where he was from and look at him in disbelief when the told them he was Australian. Despite having a strong Australian accent, he was often discounted as an Australian because of his brown skin.

After coming to the US, with so many people of color, the questions still persisted from white Americans who couldn’t believe that someone with brown skin could be from Australia.

Ben has lived and worked in the US for over four years. You’ll want to hear his story of how he was harassed by security agents as he re-entered the US from a trip abroad.

His story is unique and not uncommon. Despite his experiences, Ben is the founder of the start-up SocialTable.

SocialTable  brings people together across differences over great food, great conversation and the desire to connect and build community.

 

Biography

Ben is the CEO and Founder of SocialTable. His personal, academic and professional journey to date is impressive and colourful – to say the least! View Ben’s LinkedIn profile.

Born in Sri Lanka, Ben spent his early years in a rural orphanage before he was adopted by Australian parents who raised him in Tasmania. Ben started his Uni years as a Med student, studying Medicine and then a Masters of Tropical Medicine and Public Health. Along the way, he recalls encountering great mentorship by the then CEO of St Vincent’s Hospital. Funnily enough, Ben’s mentorship with the St Vincent’s Hospital CEO actually prompted his realisation that Med was not where he would be most happy. So Ben took some fairly drastic turns and completed a Law degree. The skilled communicator and leader’s story of becoming a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist (having worked on the success of several med-tech products in the US market, as well his own enterprise SocialTable, along with his building projects for his very own orphanage in Sri Lanka) is too long for me to document here but it is full of insights, intelligence and authenticity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben can be contacted through email: ben@socialtable.co or through his LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bpstokes/

Episode 45: Mass Incarceration of Black and Brown

Mass Incarceration of Black and Brown men and women is a long-time problem that reflects historical and systemic racism in the criminal justice system.  In this Conversation on Race, guests Shelly Hughes and Garrow Vincent share their experiences as African-Americans who spent time in the California prison system and what their lives are like today.

 

You’ll hear how mass incarceration was set up as a deliberate system right after slavery in order to continue white ownership of Black labor, and how that racist system continues to perpetuate.  We go beyond books and theory and talk to individuals about their lives before, during and after incarceration.

 

Topics in this conversation on race and the criminal justice system include:

  • How Black and Brown people are targeted for incarceration
  • Racial and economic inequities in sentencing
  • Racial segregation in women and men’s prisons
  • How two former felons turned their lives around with the help of a larger community
  • From living the drug life to living clean, staying clean and making a difference in other people’s lives
  • The personal side of systemic racism, mass incarceration and economic inequities

 

Listen now to hear another enlightening, real conversation on race and the criminal justice system.

 

Episode 43: Don’t Say This to Black People

Don’t Say This to Black People or Other People of Color

 

In this episode of Everyday Conversations on Race, Selena Wilson and LeRon Barton talk with me about “backhanded compliments,” or compulsions to describe, that are actually racist.

To hear more, download this episode of Everyday Conversations on Race for Everyday People

Here are three examples.

  • Describing a Black or Brown person (usually a man) as being “so articulate.”

It sounds like you’re surprised that a Black man can be intelligent and be understood.

Even if unintentional it sounds racist.

  • Feeling the need to describe every Black woman as beautiful when the topic is completed unrelated.

Always mentioning how beautiful a Black woman is before you talk about her accomplishment or quote her is weird. Why is this necessary? It has no impact on her credibility and reduces yours. Even if unintentional, it sounds racist.

  • Having a compulsion when talking about a Black or Brown person in the business to first mention how qualified they are or how educated they are.

Do you do this with everyone? If not, why do you feel the need? Do you need to reassure yourself? Even if unintentional, it sounds racist.

This is a very deep, personal conversation on race, racism, colorism, privilege and other isms.

We had a few issues with the recording and sound but you will want to listen to the whole episode.

 

 

 

 

 

Selena Wilson

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQQNRv-5cQpuSMLf380E6-g

LeRon L. Barton is a writer from Kansas City, MO currently living in San Francisco, Ca. A graduate of Paseo Academy of Fine Arts, LeRon is the author of two books, “Straight Dope: A 360 degree look into American Drug Culture” and “All We Really Need Is Love: Stories of Dating, Relationships, Heartbreak, and Marriage.” In addition to the books, LeRon is an essayist; whose topics cover racism, mass incarceration, politics, gender, and dating.  These works have appeared in Black Enterprise, Salon, The Good Men Project, Your Tango, Media Diversity, Raconteur, Elephant Journal, East Bay Times, and MoAD.

As a young man, LeRon has had to live with a stutter. At times it was debilitating and confidence hindering, but he has learned to manage the stutter and not let it stop him taking on another passion: public speaking. LeRon has also given talks and speeches at TEDx Wilson Park about overcoming the fear of stuttering, the University of San Francisco on Black and Asian Solidarity, Glide Methodist Church on collective liberation, been a guest of Al Jazeera’s The Stream, Story Corp, Dr. Vibe’s Do You Know What Time It Is podcast, and has participated in panel discussions on race and prison recidivism. In his spare time, LeRon mentors young men in San Francisco and loves to backpack around the world.

 

 

 

 

 

www.leronbarton.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/leron-barton-cwna-2b700b1/

Facebook.com/LeRonLBarton

TEDx – How I Overcame The Fear of My Stutter – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrraoSk_j3A&t=16s

Episode 42: An Afro-Latina Conversation on Race

With social media buzzing about Gina Rodriguez, Cardi B, and what it means to be Black, African American and Latina this episode of Everyday Conversation on Race is timely.

If you’re interested in the topic, have an opinion or want to know more, you’ll love this conversation on race with Cessie and Mercedes.

Cessie Alfonso and Mercedes Martin join me to talk about cultural intersectionality and their own Afro-Latina identities. Spanning generations, geography and sexual orientation, they find that diversity, equity and inclusion are more relevant than ever today as more people identify become aware of their own intersections beyond race and ethnicity.

 

Topics in this episode include:

  • What it means to be Afro-Latina in the United States and accept their own cultural intersectionality
  • Afro-Latina identity is complicated and often misunderstood
  • Experiences of feeling not being accepted by either culture because it’s impossible to only “choose one” identity
  • Response to racism and rejection
  • Addressing the claims that someone can’t be Black if they speak Spanish
  • Why they can’t separate and only claim one culture since they are mixtures of all of their cultures
  • More Afro-Latinas, Afro-LatinX are speaking out about their experiences
  • Cessie’s response when people question whether she is Black or Latina, and why she’s speaking Spanish
  • How African slaves were brought to the Caribbean Islands even before slavery in the United States
  • The difference between race and ethnicity
  • Why conversations on race are important and how they are different today than in the 1950’s and 1960’s
  • Growing up in New York vs in the California suburbs as Afro-Latinas
  • The browning of America in US culture and how that will be reflected as more than Black and White but the multitude of identifications
  • How we create space for the multiplicity of backgrounds in our population now and in the future
  • Stereotypes and assumptions about Afro-Latina and Afro-LatinX
  • How to learn more and engage in conversations on race and ethnicity

 

Bios:

Mercedes Martin is a Cultural Accessory Designer, Entrepreneur, and Educator. She runs a successful African-Diaspora inspired brand called Tres Mercedes- designing embellished sunglasses, hats with African Fabrics, Ancestor candles, and statement piece earrings & rings. She self- identifies as a natural curl hair spiritual Black Woman, but if she gotta be more specific about ethnicity: Black and Afro-Cuban American. Born in California and raised in Oakland.

 

Part of the Millennial generation she has had her own small business, Tres Mercedes since 2010.

link: www.tresmercedes.com

Instagram: @TresMercedes

 

 

Cecilia “Cessie” Alfonso, MSW, ACSW, LCSW, is a nationally recognized expert in forensic social work, domestic violence and organizational development in the area of cultural competence and valuing diversity.  She is the founder and president of Alfonso Consultants, Inc. For the past 20 years, Alfonso Consultants, Inc. has provided social work and psychosocial assessments to the clients of civil and criminal attorneys throughout the United States, as well as internationally. As a mitigation specialist, she and her associates have conducted over 700 mitigation investigations since she began providing services.

Ms. Alfonso is a bilingual (Spanish speaking), bicultural (Afro-Puerto Rican-Cuban) social worker who has trained attorneys and professionals to appreciate and integrate into their practices and organizations the ethnic diversity and cultural aspects of their clients’ lives. She is also a nationally recognized domestic violence/battered woman’s expert who has appeared on national television and British Broadcasting Company (BBC) radio and is one of the few African Americans qualified as an expert in domestic violence in the State of New Jersey.  She has conducted training in domestic violence to professionals in the criminal justice system.

 

Ms. Alfonso has received the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association’s (NLADA) Life in the Balance Achievement Award for her pioneering work as a forensic social worker/mitigation specialist. In 2008 she was recognized by Governor Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey as a leading mitigation specialist who significantly contributed to the ultimate abolition of the Death Penalty in the State of New Jersey.

 

In 1987, Ms. Alfonso, along with her associate, Kathryn Bauer, wrote one of the first articles ever written that details how the social worker skill set can assist criminal attorneys in preparing and presenting the life history of their defendants facing the death penalty.  Ms. Alfonso has been qualified as an expert social worker and has testified in the penalty phase of capital cases in states such as Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Her expertise has contributed to criminal defense attorneys obtaining life sentences for their clients.

 

Ms. Alfonso’s ability to educate attorneys on how to engage and defend individuals who are different from themselves in terms of race, class, gender and/or sexual orientation has enabled attorneys to communicate to the jurors why they should give their clients life as opposed to death.

 

Cecilia ” Cessie” Alfonso has received the following awards:

 

Recognition Award, First President of National Association of Sentencing Advocates and Mitigation Specialists (NASAMS), NASAMS 20th Anniversary Conference, March 2013

 

Life in the Balance Achievement Award – National Legal Aid and Defenders Association, March 2008

 

Recognition Award, presented by Governor Corzine of New Jersey – Leading mitigation specialist who significantly contributed to the ultimate abolition of the Death Penalty in the State of New Jersey, 2008

 

Mim George Award – National Association of Sentencing Advocates (founding member 1995), 2005

 

Outstanding Faculty Member in the Defender Institute Basic Trial Skills Program – New York State Defenders Association, June 2000

 

Contact info: cessiealf@aol.com

(518) 928-8199

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 26 : Why Having an Interracial Family Doesn’t Make You Free of Racism


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In this fascinating conversation on race, John Blake, the CNN reporter who covers race, religion and politics shares his experiences and thoughts on race. You definitely want to hear this episode of ”Every Day Conversations on Race.”

 

Race has always been an important issue to John Blake. He shares his experience as a biracial young man growing up in West Baltimore where the Freddy Gray riots occurred, and where The Wire was filmed.

 

Regarding Governor Northam of Virginia, and the issue of Blackface, John refers to Lyndon Johnson and Abraham Lincoln who had racist histories, but later did great things for Black people., “Some of our best friends have been racist,” he wrote in a recent article.

 

“Thinking about Lincoln and Johnson,” he states “made me ask whether we want someone who works for  Black people who has made mistakes that we can talk to, or someone who is able to successfully hide their racism and do nothing.”

 

He said that social media will destroy people over one wrong statement and there’s no redemption. “We fixate on other people but not how we all have issues of race. Even I do,” he admits.

 

We talk about the myth that if there all you need to get rid of racism, is more intermarriage and biracial children.

 

Listen now if you want to know

  • why you can still be racist even if you have people of color in your family or a Black best friend
  • what’s whitesplaining and how some white people try to tell Black people what racism
  • why John Blake was accused of mansplaining by his wife
  • how reporting on gang activity in Los Angeles affected his thinking on race and systems
  • what he thinks of Rachel Dolezal
  • why we need new ways and language of talking about racism
  • actions we can take to look at ourselves, further the conversation on race, and stop racism

 

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


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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 22 : Latin X in the Conversation on Race


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Conversations on Race and LatinX with Bernardo Ferdman and Placida Gallegos

 

What is LatinX? Bernardo Ferdman, a Jewish Latino, born in Argentina and raised in Puerto Rico, and Placida Gallegos, a Chicana woman define LatinX, and talk about issues of race, skin color, and ethnicity in the Latin culture.

 

They share issues of skin color, ethnicity and race in the Latino culture.  Placida talks about her family and how being light skinned was valued more than her siblings who were darker, as well as how men had more power and value than women.

 

Bernardo talk about his experiences as a white Latino who is also Jewish, and what binds LatinX people together.

 

The Spanish language is gender based, and there are different endings of words based on gender. LatinX includes all genders, ethnicities and skin colors.

 

Topics of interest:

  • LatinX- why, how and impact of the term
  • Questions about the term and pushback
  • Origin and meaning of the term Chicano
  • Colorism in the overall LatinX culture
  • Terms that used to be acceptable and is no longer
  • Conversations on race within the LatinX community and outside the LatinX community
  • Generation differences in the Latino community
  • History of Salsa and Caribbean music and new music blends
  • Intersections and complexities of Latin culture
  • Bad Bunny, Cardi B, and the popularity or Latino reggaeton, and trap music
  • Objectification of Latina women
  • The racial aspect of immigration issues today in the US
  • Patterns of racism in the immigration discussion
  • Impact of the media, dehumanization and villification of people from Mexico and countries who are fleeing violence and oppression

 

Bernardo

Placida Gallegos

 

 

Episode 21 : Healing from racial and economic trauma


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Key topics:

Block Chain for Social Justice

Resilient Wellness

Black female entrepreneurship

Racial and economic trauma

Diversity, Equity  and Inclusion in the Block Chain world

 

Daisy Ozim who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Lagos, Nigeria, is the founder Resilient Wellness, a co operatively owned healthcare system that provides holistic medicine and health education to marginalized and underserved communities.

 

She’s also the director of Blockchain for Social Justice that uses Block Chain technology to uplift marginalized communities and eliminate poverty and close the wealth gap.

 

Daisy says it important to talk about race because racism is one of the biggest issues that we’re facing in society as a whole.  It’s also important for us to talk about race because we cannot heal or address racism and  all of its manifestations if we don’t have a conversation about it.

 

Her organization Block Chain for social justice is a collaborative organization and that focuses in three key areas,

  • Block Chain developer training. Daisy helps people of color and people in lower income communities become block chain developers because they can make $250,000 to $400,000 a year

 

  • Education and access that results in creativity

 

  • Equity in the Block Chain community

 

Block chain technology can be used for social justice and to help low income and people of color or it can be used to further nefarious goals that hurt people of color.

 

She wants to ensure that people of color can generate wealth and protect themselves from economic trauma like the Black Wall Street Massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

 

Her public health work helps people physically, mentally and emotionally heal from racial trauma and internalized racism

 

Guest: Daisy Ozim

Daisy Ozim