Diversity

The Racial Impacts of COVID-19

Teri Yuan and Carole Copeland Thomas join me for this conversation on race to talk about race, racism and the COVID 19 pandemic. Teri talks about her experience as a Chinese-American and her perspective on the escalation of racist attacks against Asians who are being blamed by some for Covid-19. Carole shares her history, information and her perspective on the high death rate of African Americans

Key Topics in this Episode

  • The lack of race consciousness of many Asian people
  • What it means to be white adjacent
  • What Asian-Americans can do to be more aware of race and the history of racism in the United States
  • How people from targeted groups can be allies and support each other against racist attack
  • Racial health disparities that result in the high infection and death rate of African-Americans
  • The lack of PPE for essential workers, many of whom are people of color
  • How gender issues have resulted in women bearing the brunt of the pandemic
  • How white supremacy fuels the escalation of racism and blame of specific groups

Guest Bios:

Teri Yuan is a survivor, a feminist business consultant, and founder of the Engendered Collective, a platform for survivors, practitioners, and allies to connect in community, learning, and advocacy through the radical inquiry of patriarchy.  As part of the Collective’s work, Teri manages the Kanduit QNA social service community and hosts the weekly podcast, en(gender)ed, which explores the systems, practices and policies that enable gender-based violence and oppression and offers solutions to end it.  En(gender)ed uses gender as a lens to better understand power and oppression and its impact in the private realm, so as to better recognize and confront it in the public sphere. Teri believes that by developing a cultural literacy around power and abuse of power, we can reclaim how we define liberty in relationships and in civic life and solve many of our most urgent social (justice) challenges.

 

Carole Copeland Thomas  As an award-winning TEDx speaker, trainer, and global thought leader, since 1987, Carole Copeland Thomas moderates the discussions of critical issues affecting the marketplace, including global diversity, inclusion, and multiculturalism. She has her pulse on the issues affecting working professionals and regularly consults with industry leaders. She has spent 33 years of cultivating relationships and partnerships with local, national, and international clients and sponsors, including Walmart, Amtrak, and Emirates Airlines. Carole served as an adjunct faculty member at Bentley University for ten years. She has spoken in nearly every state in the US and seven other countries. Carole is the past president of The National Speakers Association-New England Chapter and served on the leadership team of Black NSA. She has been featured in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Black Enterprise, ABC Radio, and CBS News. Carole is a blogger and social media enthusiast using various technology platforms to enhance her business development activities.

Racist ZoomBombing: Racism or Just a Prank? with Laura Cathcart Robbins – Conversations on Race

Racist ZoomBombing: Racism, or Just a Prank ? with Laura Cathcart Robbins

Racist ZoomBombing has brought fear, disruption and even trauma to people who need the Zoom p platform for community, connection and their work.

Zoom has been a sanity saver for many of us during this Covid-19 pandemic. But there is an underside to the Zoom platform, one  of racism, sexism and white supremacy. In this episode of Everyday Conversations on Race for Everyday People, Laura Cathcart Robbins joins me to talk about her experience with racist ZoomBombing. While attending a Zoom meeting for women who are recovering alcoholics, her meeting was taking over by white supremacists yelling racist slogans and exposing themselves. Everyone was angry and upset, but as the only Black woman in the meeting, this attack had a deeper impact. She thought this was a place where she could feel safe and share part of herself. Despite what some people say ZoomBombing is not a childish prank. It is an assault and constitutes terrorism.

Laura Cathcart Robbins experienced ZoomBombing more than once while attending meetings that were meant to support her recovery from alcohol and the recovery or millions of other people from alcoholism, drug addiction and other issues. During the first incident the person had a picture of a lynching, started shouting KKK, slogans against Black and LGBT people. This happened again and again when she attended other 12 Step meetings.

As a result, Zoom had to start requiring a password to get into a meeting. This is really difficult for new people looking for help to get clean and sober or recover from other issues. If they are just seeking help they  have no access to the password unless they know someone.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Trying to get sober during a quarantine but not being able to get the password.
  • The challenge for a person of color, particularly a Black person to get sober, who attends a meeting where racists attack the platform. It’s terrifying and could stop someone from coming back.
  • What it’s like to be the only Black woman in certain places.
  • People claiming that racist Zoombombing is just a prank by young kids.
  • Racist Zoombombing is not a prank. It’s an assault and not “kids being kids.” It’s terrorism.
  • Do not tell someone who has been victimized by these racist, sexist, antisemitic attacks to not take it personally or that they are overly sensitive.
  • This is racist terrorism and has left her and other people attending recovery 12 Step meetings scared and afraid to participate.
  • This is a time when people with alcohol, drug or any other kind of addiction issues needs these meetings.
  • Zoom has responded and added security which helps deal with the attacks but also is an obstacle to people trying to get sober and clean from drugs.
  • It’s not up to someone who is not from a targeted group to tell people from any of those groups how to feel. It’s extremely offensive.
  • If you care and say you are against racism, homophobia, antisemitism then you need to demonstrate it by speaking up when you see it happen. Don’t expect that the person from the targeted group should be able to handle it or be the one to speak up.

Bio of Laura Cathcart Robbins

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

https://theonlyonepod.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 50: Everyday Conversations on Race with Damona Hoffman

On this episode of Everyday Conversations on Race for Everyday People,  we talk about racism in Hollywood with  Damona Hoffman. Damona is a dating coach & media personality who starred in two A+E Networks’ TV series: #BlackLove and A Question of Love. She’s a contributor for The Washington Post, CNN Headline News (HLN), Match.com, BET.com, and more. Previously, Damona held creative executive & diversity positions at CBS, Paramount, and NBC Universal. Now, she hosts and produces two podcasts, I Make a Living (by FreshBooks) and Dates & Mates with Damona Hoffman.

Damona talks with me about what it was like growing up Black and Jewish with an African American mother and white Jewish father.

photo of Damona Hoffman, a Black, Jewish woman/ talks racism

Damona Hoffman, Black/Jewish/Biracial woman

Her first awareness and experience with direct racism and hate. was when she was 16 years old. “My friend took me to a party where I was the only Black person. A white guy holding a hockey stick kept pointing at people and asking them their name. When he pointed the stick at me, she said, “N……, Bitch that what we call all of you.”

She felt f threatened- scared, and shocked. When she jumped up and told her friend they had to go, the friend said she was over reacting.

For Damona Hoffman, this was the moment for her that every person of experiences when they know that things will never be the same.  And this is another reason why conversations on race are so crucial because too often, people who are not Black or not people of color do not understand how serious racism is.

Key learning

Those of us who are white need to understand that racism doesn’t go away on its own. If you’re in a situation where you hear a racist statement, see a racist action or witness a person of color being targeted, we have to speak up. We have to intervene. If we claim to be against racism or anti-racist, we need to back up our words with action. If we don’t, we are colluding, and if we say nothing, we are colluding. Silence equals consent. Do not leave it up to the person of color to have to be a lone voice. In those cases, you are either part of the solution you are the problem.

It might be dangerous for a person of color to say something

Damona was lucky she got out, but she wanted the friend to speak out and instead her friend made her feel more unsafe.

Being Black, Jewish, and bi-racial helps her connect with people on many levels. There are also times when she gets excluded.

Listen to the rest of the podcast to hear more from Damona Hoffman

 

  • When she feels included and when she thinks people look at her like she’s an enemy.
  • Issues of colorism in the Black community and how she worked through it
  • Thoughts on internalized racism and oppression
  • How she launched talent diversity programs at NBC and CBS
  • Experience and speaking out against microaggressions in Hollywood
  • About her starring role in “Black Love” on A&E

 

 

 

Episode 49: A Different Kind of Conversation on Race and Racism

 

In this conversation on race,  “Julian on the Radio” talks to me about his experiences and thoughts on race, diversity and being the child of Chinese immigrants. We talk Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the need to continuously build a diverse community.

Julian grew up in the Washington DC  area  amongst people from different cultures, races and ethnicities. His parents were originally from Shanghai and came to the US when they were young. Julian says that most people want to spend time with people who are most like them, but he has thrived by being around diversity of people from different races and cultures.

Although he wasn’t focused on race growing up there were times when he felt different from the other kids in high school. He wanted to be accepted but there times when he was left  out, and felt “less than.” There were times when he just wanted to “fit in,” and asks “doesn’t everyone?” As we go deeper, he talks about the seemingly subtle racism he dealt with, and maybe he was even mad at his family for being from China.  He’s gotten more comfortable with himself, and no longer feels that way. Racism is all around us and Julian talks about how he lives his life.

We continue to talk and the conversation on race gets more introspective.

Julian barely graduated from high school and went on to have a successful career in radio.

Key takeaways:

  • Travel outside the US to open perspectives
  • Julian appreciates being raised in a multi-cultural environment and can’t imagine only being around one culture.
  • No group is a monolith and we all have more than one culture
  • Julian on the Radio offers some advice for young people who are having a hard time accepting who they are, who may be different and feel excluded, and who hear negative messages about their groups
  • Befriend, pick people who will be your real friends
  • Look for people who will support you
  • Listen and absorb podcasts that talk about self-acceptance
  • Have good people around you

We want to show that not everyone from the same culture is the same. We all have multiple identities, that make up our co-cultures. Diversity helps us understand the world around us.

If you like the show and want to hear more conversations on race, go to www.raceconvo.com .  And if you want help us grow, please share it with at least one other person.

To join the race conversation and support Everyday Conversations on Race, go to  www.patreon/raceconvo

 

 

 

 

Episode 47 : A Conversation on Race, Health Care and HIV from the US to Africa with Maurice Graham

Maurice Graham joined me on Everyday Conversations on Race to talk about race, racism and health care.

In this episode we talk about health care inequities particularly in regard to access and information about HIV and AIDS. There are many people who think that we no longer need to provide care for people with HIV since in the United States it is considered a chronic disease and not a death sentence. Maurice shares what it was like in the 1980’s to see so many people dying very quickly, and what it’s like now.

As an African-American gay man. Maurice has seen how HIV and AIDS decimated so many communities of gay men and people of color.

He says, “I have a Global view of HIV with an American response in the people of color communities here in Oakland California and some African nations. I am using education, medical intervention and collaboration as tools, working through a non-profit organization founded by myself and other like-minded individuals, known as AID for AIDS/AFRICA (AFAA). AFAA has operated informally since 1998 and became a non-profit in 2001. I serve as the volunteer Executive Director and Program Coordinator. Managing a staff of volunteers, we have initiated major programs of collaboration with AIDS service organizations, government, faith-based, recovery and community organizations here and in Africa.”

An early activist, Maurice was one of the founders of the non-profit Aid for AIDS Africa. He frequently travels to Ghana and other parts of Africa to bring information, medical supplies and other necessities to help people dealing with issues of addiction and HIV. Maurice is spreading the message of love, addiction recovery and living well with HIV across Africa. He recounts stories about his travels and the difference he has helped make in people’s lives.
Here in the US he created a speakers bureau, Positively Speaking to go into schools to talk to young people about addiction and HIV.
Outspoken in the conversation and dialogue about race and racism, he believes in the importance of talking about race from a position of empowerment and action. His global work and perspective on social justice for over twenty-five years makes this an episode to listen to and share with others.

Maurice Graham
I have a Global view of HIV with an American response in the people of color communities here in Oakland California and some African nations. I am using education, medical intervention and collaboration as tools, working through a non-profit organization founded by myself and other like-minded individuals, known as AID for AIDS/AFRICA (AFAA). AFAA has operated informally since 1998 and became a non-profit in 2001. I serve as the volunteer Executive Director and Program Coordinator. Managing a staff of volunteers, we have initiated major programs of collaboration with AIDS service organizations, government, faith-based, recovery and community organizations here and in Africa. We are facilitating building a voice from the community perspective to affect positive change increasing the overall health and well-being of the entire community. Working locally and traveling to Africa yearly since 1997 a vision for advocacy and peer support has emerged. This vision has become the focus of my work as an educator and consultant in our local community

Maurice has been a part of two spiritual communities for the past thirty years; a twelve-step recovery program dealing with addiction, as well as an adherent of Science of the Mind, an inclusive new thought spiritual movement.
His involvement in both of these communities has helped shape his outlook on race and his practice of confronting racism with love and self-empowerment.
Maurice is a founder of the non-profit Aid for AIDS Africa which takes him to Ghana and other parts of Africa every year.
A mentor to people across the world, he is making a difference in helping people recovery from addiction and live whole lives with HIV.

Contact info:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/maurice-graham-6b30b025/

Read his article:  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/treatment-beginning-addicts-west-africa-maurice-graham/

 

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 44: Conversation on Race, Racism and Mental Health


Gerald Chambers, Marriage and Family Therapist, and Dr. Ronnie Siddique, Psychologist, address issues of mental health in different communities of color and race-related trauma.

Ronnie and Gerald talk about stigmas attached to getting treatment for mental health issues.

There are trust issues of the mental health and medical profession because of historical racist treatment by mental health professions.

Ronnie as a member of the South Asian community and Gerald from the African-American community say that too often they hear people say, “Suck it up. Deal with it yourself.”

Gerald says that in drug treatment research shows that the darker someone’s skin the more severe the diagnosis and the less likely to get effective treatment.

There has been a denial of racism as a factor in trauma and other mental health issues related to race and culture. Intake questionnaires need to include questions about race and cultural experiences.

Therapists need to be trained in cultural intelligent therapy and be able to understand how racism impacts people from early ages physically, mentally and emotionally.

While it’s crucial for therapists and the whole mental health profession to understand historical issues of race, oppression and trauma, the need for help is real. At the same time every mental health issue of a person of color is not necessarily due to racism.

Diversity and inclusion have to be part of the conversation and education of people in the mental health field.

Listen to this episode to hear Dr. Ronnie Siddique and Gerald Chambers break down  the challenges, issues and solutions to provide access to  mental health treatment for low income and people of color.

Bios:

Gerald Chambers
Gerald Chambers is a licensed marriage and family therapist who focuses on interpersonal conflict, domestic violence, substance abuse, and 12-Step recovery. He leads a 52-week domestic violence psycho-education group for court-mandated spousal batterers. and frequently speaks to lawyers, psychologists, social workers, as well as middle and elementary school children. Well known for his innovative strategies to reduce domestic violence, Gerald has been a guest speaker at the Boalt Hall School of Law, Golden Gate University, and various community-based organizations.

Contact info: Gerald B. Chambers, LMFT

510-761-6554

www.geraldchambers.com

View my blog

Dr. Ronnie Siddique

Dr. Siddique is a licensed clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist who works with clients of

all ages representing a broad range of concerns, from ADHD and learning difficulties to depression and anxiety. She is the founders and owner of Embolden Psychology, her practice, with three locations in the Washington DC area. She specializes in community mental health and advocacy, clinical work and assessment, and writing and blogging about mental health.

For the past 18 years, she has run a weekly community mental health clinic in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. She is a consultant for Doctors Without Borders, the Suhki Project, and the Pro Bono Counseling Project, in Washington, DC.

In the summer of 2020, her book about anxiety and young people, Fight/Flight/Flow, will be released.

Contact info: Ronnie Siddique, PhD
Embolden Psychology
Licensed Clinical Psychologist/Neuropsychologist
Virginia, Maryland, Washington, DC

https://embolden.world

703-973-6534

https://www.facebook.com/Emboldenpsych/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/embolden_psych/

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 41: Does Culture Fit Hiring Promote Racism?


This week on  Everyday Conversations on Race, Simma is joined by Barbara Williams Hardy, former head of Global Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging for a large tech firm, and LeRon Barton a well respected journalist and speaker on the experiences of being a Black man in America. The main theme is Culture Fit Hiring and it’s impact on diversity, equity and inclusion.

They offer their perspectives and answer the questions:

  • Does hiring for “culture fit” promote racism and discrimination?
  • Is it only the responsibility of white people to promote diversity, equity and inclusion?
  • What is the role of Black people and other people of color in culture change and inclusion?

Topics covered include:

  • Culture Fit hiring- friend or foe of diversity, equity and inclusion
  • How we’re all capable or making wrong assumptions
  • Breaking up status-quo hiring and with inclusion
  • Where to find Black computer engineers
  • Asking the right questions to determine whether a statement has racist intent or meaning, and opportunities to educate
  • What recruiters and leaders need to do ensure inclusive hiring, making people feel welcome across difference and supporting their success
  • LeRon, Barb and Simma share songs that represent thoughts about race, racism and bringing people together

Barb Williams Hardy and LeRon Barton

Barbara Williams Hardy is a visionary, innovator, connector, catalyst for change and global citizen of the world. She is an award-winning thought leader with a global mindset and is known as a “Go To” leader who develops high-level relationship alliances that foster inclusion, belonging, collaboration and commitment to align diversity strategies with business objectives to accelerate employee engagement, experience, innovation and organizational success.

Barb grows leaders. She is the former Global Head of Global Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at NetApp, Leadership speaker and the creator of the Barb List, Principles for Achieving Success and Living an Amazing Life.

Barb’s mission is to unlock the untapped brilliance in all of us.


LeRon L. Barton is a writer from Kansas City, Mo that currently resides in San Francisco, Ca. He has been writing poetry, screenplays, and short stories since he was way young. LeRon’s essays have appeared in Salon, The Good Men Project, Eastbay Express, Those People, AlterNet, SF Bay view, Buzzfeed, Gorilla Convict, and Elephant Journal. His first book, “Straight Dope: A 360 degree look into American drug culture” was released in Feb 2013. LeRon’s new book, “All We Really Need Is Love

Episode 40: How Black and Brown Communities Are Destroyed By the System of Mass Incarceration


Vincent Garrett joins Simma on Everyday Conversations on Race to talk about race, mass incarceration and creating a “prison to school pipeline.”

A former addict and incarcerated felon, Vince has been clean from drugs for over twenty years.  He shares his experience of being released from prison, finding a mentor, getting his BA from UC Berkeley and being part of Underground Scholars, a program for the formerly incarcerated.

We talk about race, racism and mass incarceration and the unequal way Black and Brown people and White people are sentenced for the same crimes.

Vincent and his whole family were caught up in the crack epidemic in Oakland. He saw people around him being arrested and sent to prison for a few rocks of crack, while white people and upper income people in the Oakland Hills using powdered cocaine were ignored by law enforcement.

He is now working towards a master’s degree and is the program outreach and retention specialist for Restoring Our Communities (ROC), at Laney College.

Vincent and ROC are working to advance the “Prison to School Pipeline,” to ensure that formerly incarcerated people get what they need excel in college and in life.

Additional topics are:

  • Racial disparities and inequality in our society today
  • Images of Black and other people of color in the media and how that contributes to mass incarceration
  • Internalizing racism from outside messages
  • Repairing the damage of mass incarceration and race
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