Everyday Conversations on Race

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

 

 

 

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