Race

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 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 40: How Black and Brown Communities Are Destroyed By the System of Mass Incarceration


Vincent Garrett joins Simma on Everyday Conversations on Race to talk about race, mass incarceration and creating a “prison to school pipeline.”

A former addict and incarcerated felon, Vince has been clean from drugs for over twenty years.  He shares his experience of being released from prison, finding a mentor, getting his BA from UC Berkeley and being part of Underground Scholars, a program for the formerly incarcerated.

We talk about race, racism and mass incarceration and the unequal way Black and Brown people and White people are sentenced for the same crimes.

Vincent and his whole family were caught up in the crack epidemic in Oakland. He saw people around him being arrested and sent to prison for a few rocks of crack, while white people and upper income people in the Oakland Hills using powdered cocaine were ignored by law enforcement.

He is now working towards a master’s degree and is the program outreach and retention specialist for Restoring Our Communities (ROC), at Laney College.

Vincent and ROC are working to advance the “Prison to School Pipeline,” to ensure that formerly incarcerated people get what they need excel in college and in life.

Additional topics are:

  • Racial disparities and inequality in our society today
  • Images of Black and other people of color in the media and how that contributes to mass incarceration
  • Internalizing racism from outside messages
  • Repairing the damage of mass incarceration and race

Episode 32 : Former Black Panther discusses current political climate



Elmer Dixon was one of the early leaders of the Black Panther Party in Seattle, Washington  and in Oakland, CA. In this episode of Every Day Conversations on Race, Elmer talks about the history and legacy of the Black Panther Party.

The Black Panthers were created some of the first Food Banks, were responsible for hot breakfasts for school children that are now provided in many public schools.

Topics in this episode:

  • The lack of adequate health care for working class and lower income people
  • How he lives his values today of equity and equality while working with CEOs and other C-suite leaders and making sure that our communities and families survive
  • The increase in progressive people who are now CEOs who have the well-being of their customers and employee as priorities
  • Working with Steve Reinemund, former CEO of Pepsico and then his successor Indra Nooyi, as well as other rich people who are looking to give back
  • The importance of continuing to have conversations on race between white people and people of color different levels
  • Speaking to young white kids in Finland and around the world who are well-schooled on the history of the Panthers and want to organize against racism
  • The need to stood up against bullies and how the Black Panther Party stood up to bullies
  • White elementary school kids are interested in learning more about the Black Panthers and applying it to make the country and world a better place
  • What it’s like to work with police today and why it’s important to develop good relationships with good cops
  • The work that Elmer does in training police to understand issues in the Black community, and for police and the community to know each other
  • If police live in the communities they serve, there will be less police shootings of unarmed people

Throughout the episode Elmer recounts stories of the Panthers and we all can work together to combat racism

Elmer Dixon

edixon@executivediversity.com