Diversity

Episode 54: 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.

Episode 52: 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 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 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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