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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 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 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 experiences 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 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 33 : What is behind the cancel-culture movement?


Joel Brown talks about the need to allow people to grow, and the problems that arise when they are not given a chance to change. Racism doesn’t get eliminated by attacking people who want to stop racism but may say the wrong thing. That’s different than someone who is a racist, supports racism and takes actions to perpetuate racism.

Everyone is going to make mistakes. What is the point of having conversations if we can’t do that? Joel says it’s making him tired. While some of these issues are valid, they don’t call for canceling people out. We need to be savvier.

When do we allow benevolence to be a good thing? When the billionaire keynote speaker at Morehouse said he would pay off everyone’s school loans, someone asked on social media “why didn’t they do that for Spelman?”
People are angry, not being heard, and want to be heard. Other people are cosigning because they don’t want the other person to be in pain.

There is a hypersensitivity to issues that have not been addressed. At the same time, there needs to be room for conversation.
The USA has not dealt with its history of racism and slavery. We need to figure it out, or nothing will change. By calling out every single thing someone says, and putting so much energy in shutting people down, we end up not dealing with systemic racism.
It’s easier to deflect from our own issues by making someone else “the enemy” when they are on our side. If we want to eliminate racism, we need more dialogue, conversation and education.

Conversations on race can only happen when people are open to listening, learning and talking.
If we want change, we have to look at manifestations of racism. Ex. At a high school white kids had “thug day,” and dressed up as their stereotype of Black rappers. The white woman who exposed it was getting death threats. More attention needs to be on those issues and why this is going on.

Different issues need to have different consequences. We need to address how egregious is it? What were the intentions? How willing is the person to listen, learn and change?

Joel also says that it’s essential for people of color to learn about each other, that Black people need to learn about Asian people, Asian people need to learn about LatinX people, etc.  Just because people consider themselves a person of color doesn’t mean they understand or have any contact with people from other groups and may have biases about other groups.

There is too much conversation and too many people saying that Democratic candidates for president are not “gay enough” “Black enough” or made a comment 20 years ago. If we want to defeat Trump, we will need to get behind whoever is running. Change and progress don’t happen under repression. Racism, loss of rights, gender inequality only gets worse. Hate crimes go up.

People can create change under a liberal government. It’s up to the people to take power together. Even under Obama, changes like gay marriage happened as a result of people putting pressure.

Increase in tribalism makes it easier for people to be co-opted, particularly white people who are alienated, many of whom are being targeted and recruited by white supremacists.

Solutions
Look at ourselves
What part do we play, what do we need to change about ourselves?
How do I heal myself?
Hold politicians accountable, even those that look like us
Everyone needs to vote- think of the most vulnerable
Have the conversation
Have more conversations on race, real conversations beyond social media
We need to be in the same spaces and think about things differently
See the “other side.” We need to listen and hear the basis for other people’s thinking
People who are privileged have to look at what part they play and look at imbalance
We all have privilege and power in some level and need to share
Recognize when someone is making a good faith effort and be patient and educate
This is different than someone who is an active racist?

Episode 19 : Are LGBTQ People of Color Viewed as Sexual objects?


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My guests were in this episode are Paoi Eulalia and Alessandra Stevens from MXD Magazine.

MXD Magazine is a publication that celebrates LGBTQ People of Color (POCs), non-conformists, and allies. Both Paoi and Alessandra are Filipino-American but represent different genders and generations.

 

One of their objectives is to fight racism masked as sexual preference, among other façades. Too often LGBTQ people of color are either objectified as exotic sexual objects or are totally invisible. We discuss the different ways LGBTQ people are seen as sex objects and not as real people.

 

MXD Magazine aims to celebrate and bring LGBTQ people of color deal with issues that concern them.

 

It’s still all too common that LGBTQ people are presented in the media as all white men. Not only are people of color in general missing from the conversation but also Transgender people who are most often targets of violence and discrimination are discounted.

 

Within the LGB community there is still a lack of education, bias and transphobia.  MXD Magazine is all-inclusive and features several people who are transgender. The magazine is still in its infant stages and most of the articles and features are male focused but by bringing in Alessandra and other women they hope to change that.

 

We discuss how the right therapy and therapists can make a difference in people’s lives for self-acceptance, internalized homophobia and transphobia.  Both Alessandra and Paoi see the importance of increasing the amount of LGBTQ therapists who are people of color and eliminating the stigma that some people still have regarding therapy. They each share their own experiences as to how therapy has helped each of them become the healthy emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

 

We agree that there needs to be more attention paid to intersectionality in the LGBTQ community in order to have the conversation on race and other differences. No one is just one identity, or just LGBTQ.  People are from different cultures, generations, religions, races, etc.  Those multiple identities can create commonalities and connections if we are willing to look at them. No conversation on race, gender identity, or sexual orientation can be meaningful without understanding intersectionality.

 

Resources mentioned in this episode

www.MXD.com

Paoi Eulalia   Publisher@MXDMagazine.com

 

www.RaceConvo.com

www.simmslieberman.com

@theinclusionist

Simma@sSimmaLieberman.com

Episode 2: Why Are People of Color Invisible in the LGBTQ Community?


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Guests:
Kevin Hawkins and Ali Marrero Calderon

Kevin Hawkins

Ali Marrero-Calderon

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