Race

Episode 53: 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 48: How Success and Money Doesn’t Stop Racism and Discrimination

It would be hard to have a conversation on race and not address the contradiction that many successful Black people continue to face; having to deal with racism no matter how much money they have or how much they’ve accomplished.

 

What would it feel like to be a Black man at the highest levels of corporate America, and still feel like you have to leave a large part of yourself at home. How much would racism impact your life during and after work as you rise to the top? How do you talk about race and racism with your family while still encouraging them to reach for their dreams?

 

In this episode of “Everyday Conversations on Race for Everyday People,”  I’m joined by David Casey, Executive Vice-President of  one of the largest global pharmaceutical companies. In this very deep personal conversation, David shares how it feels to be a Black man in a position of power, influence and prestige in the executive suite while being seen as “just another Black man” in the street who can be stopped, and targeted because of his race.

 

In our cross-race conversation on race, David Casey recounts his arrest at the age of eleven, handcuffed and thrown into the back of the police car for bringing a gun to school after he was bullied. The arresting officer was Black but as he was  being taken down to the police station, a white officer pulls up next to him and says, “if I was there, I would have just shot you.”

 

Don’t miss this opportunity to listen in and learn about race, racism and what it takes to get people to talk to each other.

 

Key Topics Include:

  • How to talk about race, racism and ending racism at work
  • Lessons that young people of color in general and Black people in particular can learn about maintaining their integrity, bringing their whole selves to work today and feeling good about who they are
  • Lessons that white people who care about equality, equity and inclusion can learn by listening and hearing experiences about race, discrimination and working across race no matter how uncomfortable it might feel

 

Resources in this show

www.DavidCaseydiversity.com

DavidCaseyDiversity@gmail.com

 

David Casey bio:

David Casey is  Vice President, Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer for the national leader in retail pharmacy, pharmacy benefits management and retail health clinics. He has  responsibility for developing and driving strategic diversity management, equal employment opportunity/affirmative action and workforce development strategies across a Fortune 7 company with over $153 billion in sales and about 240,000 employees throughout the United States, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and Brazil with over 9600 retail stores in 49 states.

He alsos serve as the president of a public charity designed to help company employees during unanticipated and unavoidable financial hardships and emergencies. This fund provides short-term, immediate financial relief to employees who’ve suffered significant hardship as a result of a natural disaster, military deployment, family death, medical emergency or other unforeseen designated events.

 

In his previous role at a Fortune 33 company, he led the development and execution of corporate wide strategies to leverage the impact of diversity management and workplace culture for the nation’s largest health benefits company with annual revenues of $61.1B with 42,000 associates and 36M members.

 

 

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 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 43: Don’t Say This to Black People

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

 

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

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

Here are three examples.

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

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

Even if unintentional it sounds racist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Selena Wilson

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

www.leronbarton.com

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

Facebook.com/LeRonLBarton

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

Episode 42: An Afro-Latina Conversation on Race

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

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

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

 

Topics in this episode include:

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

 

Bios:

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

 

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

link: www.tresmercedes.com

Instagram: @TresMercedes

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Cecilia ” Cessie” Alfonso has received the following awards:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Contact info: cessiealf@aol.com

(518) 928-8199

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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