Politics and Culture

Karen Controversy

The term “Karen” to describe certain white women who exhibit extreme privileged entitled behavior  began on social media and is quickly becoming part of today’s lexicon. As my guests in this episode of “Everyday Conversations on Race” explain, the archetype of a “Karen” would be a  white woman who goes to Starbucks, usually dressed a certain way and expects to be treated like the only customer. When the barista spells her name wrong, she demands to see the manager and must have a new cup.

However, a group of white women complain that the term is “racist towards white women, ageist and classist. They are demanding the end of this term.

In this Conversation on Race, I’m joined by two women named Karen, who share their perspective on calling certain white women “Karens” for their white privilege behavior.

Karen Fleshman is a white woman, who  founded the organization “Racy Conversations,” an anti-racist group. She has written about the term and why she agrees with it. In this conversation on race, this Karen shares her background and how she came to be an active, outspoken anti-racist.

Commissioner Karen Clopton is an African-American woman who grew up in South Central Los Angeles. It was segregated by race but had a mix of professionals and working-class people. She is a member of the SF Civil Rights Commission. She shares her experience as a young Black  woman in a family that taught her early on about what it meant to be Black growing up in the USA.

Key Topics:

  • Is it racist against white people, sexist against white women or ageist against white women to use the descriptor “Karen” to describe entitled behavior by certain white women.
  • How to talk about racism to white people
  • Why not talking about race and racism to children is racist
  • The way racism has been institutionalized since the founding of the US
  • How white people by default are beneficiaries of racism and have privilege as a result
  • Why white supremacists think they are shielded from COVID
  • Bringing the controversy to light of the “Karen” phenomena
  • What the term “Karen” means when it refers to actions of some white women
  • Why the two Karens don’t take offense at the term and why they think it’s justified
  • What “peak Karen” looks like
  • If you would like to see a “Karen” in action, look for the video of Amy Cooper, a white woman walking her unleashed dog in Central Park in an area that clearly stated dogs must be leashed because it was a habitat for birds. When an African-American man who was there to study birds asked her to leash her dog, she threatened him and called the police saying she was afraid for her life of an African-American man harassing  her.

Guest Bios:

An award-winning trailblazer, Karen Valentia Clopton brings deep knowledge, demonstrated operational expertise, and non-partisan insight into the political and regulatory arenas. She has served in top leadership, board, and executive roles in both governmental and non-governmental organizations across many regulated industries. General Counsel and Vice President of Access and Inclusion for Incendio International, Inc. and a nationally recognized civil rights advocate, she also serves as a San Francisco Human Rights Commissioner.

 

Karen Fleshman is the founder of Racy Conversations and is a racial equity trainer and government accountability activist striving to build and support a community of people committed to love, learning, accountability, and action on race in America. She is the author of the book  White Women, We Need to Talk: Doing Our Part to End Racism

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Racism Against Asians During Covid-19 with Michelle Meow

Michelle Meow, well known radio and TV host on LGBTQ+ and other issues, joins me on Everyday Conversation on Race, to talks racism against Asians during Covid-19. Michelle shares her background as the daughter of Laotian immigrants in Stockton, California and her experiences with racism. She offers her perspective on the increase of physical and verbal attacks against Asians, as well as how to stop them.

Key points from Michelle Meow:

  • In order to understand the recent racist attacks against Asian people we have to talk about race and racism in general as a historical and systemic issua around mostly southeast Asians. The median income for families is $35,000. When her father died and her mother was left with five kids to raise, they moved into the projects and she became friends with more Black and Latino people.e
  • We have to talk about race and racism on a systemic level and how it impacts all of us
  • Everyone has bias and those biases are more acute during crises. Michelle is always checking her own biases.

Her Background

She grew up very poor in Stockton, California

Views on the Covid-19 pandemic and racism

  • This pandemic is scary and people need to stay healthy
  • People are looking for other people to blame. The president has empowered people who are in extreme fear to blame Asian people for Coved- 19. As a result, elderly Asian people have gotten beaten up, yelled at, spit on and stabbed.
  • Asian people are scared about the virus and also scared about being targeted by racists and people who have bought into what Trump has been saying in the media. It’s very painful for her to know that now Asian people have to be scared of getting beaten up by people who are also scared.
  • If people did their homework, they would understand more about Covid-19, how it all began, the fact that the US was warned about Covid-19 and did not prepare. Instead of taking responsibility many people in the US government who should have been preparing us are blaming China and Chinese people.
  • Scientists and doctors have talked about it for a long time and begged the world to pay attention
  • With all the messages and racist beliefs being spouted from the White House and allies, there are concerns amongst Asians about bias and getting the right care if they do get sick.
  • Even in other Asian countries there is discrimination and stereotyping of Chinese people. There have been incidents in Thailand of restaurants refusing to serve Chinese people.
  • There are also incidents of Chinese restaurants in China refusing to serve Black people

What we need to do

  • We should focus on how to keep humans healthy
  • Understand racism and how racism is being used as a distraction to not look at government responsibility
  • Covid-19 is a global pandemic and will take a global solution
  • We are the wealthiest country with the most resources and are the most impacted. Most of us never thought this could happen in the US. Even that was racist, thinking it cou
    ld happen in China or countries of people of color but not here.
  • We have to pay attention to who is dying and that it is mostly Black and Brown people who are losing their lives. They are the essential workers in the frontlines of the public.
  • Racism creates a barrier from people coming up with solutions.
  • There are more good people who don’t want to give power to racists and haters.
  • There are African-American and Asian leaders who have been reaching out to work together and stop racist attacks against any group.

What we can do as individuals

  • We can speak up and intervene if we see or hear racism against Asians
  • Offer to help shop for older Asian people who are afraid to get what they need
  • Educate ourselves about historical and structural racism. Educate other people and speak out against hate and fear of differences.

Contact information

www.MichelleMeow.com

https://www.commonwealthclub.org/michelle-meow-show

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ABOUT MICHELLE MEOW, Radio & TV talk show host 

In her own words:

I’ve always dreamed big. As a little peculiar kid who grew up in Stockton, CA, I had an imagination that was too big for my little brain. I fantasized about a lot of things but as young as I can remember, I fantasized about being loved and accepted. The first time I tried to make friends with kids around my neighborhood, I was told to go “back to my country.” Born here in California, I didn’t know what they meant until the fights in the neighborhood became violent. The hatred you face from childhood to adulthood is dangerous and damaging. I hope one day we can change this for all of us. Why can’t we learn to love and accept one another for our differences and our similarities? That is the journey or quest I am on and the reason behind the “Michelle Meow Show.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 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 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/

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