Organizers of an Anti-Racism Arts Festival say a recent cyber-attack on the event discussing race is highlighting the urgent need for anti-racism work.
On March 20, at the 2021 Anti-Racism Arts Festival, facilitated by the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society (CVIMS) and created by the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation (CCMF), had one of the Zoom festival events hijacked with anti-Black, incredibly horrific racist comments, inciting the multiple use of the racist term, the N-word, that was directed to the panelist Wunmi Idowu.
“As a panelist, I was not given the opportunity to share my story but the incident that followed spoke for me and highlighted the struggles of Anti-Black racism in Canada. What happened on Saturday highlighted the fact that there is a growing problem with Anti-Black racism in our community that needs to be addressed. It’s a global issue and people who live in Canada are affected by it everyday,” said Wunmi Idowu, panelist and Founder & Director of Woezo Africa Music & Dance Theatre Inc.
This disturbing incident is an example of why anti-racism work is needed and a continued process.
“This violent event of anti-Black racism exemplifies just how much more vulnerable the Black community members are to hate, ignorance and divisiveness when they are working in the very field meant to protect them. Wunmi, or any other community member, does not deserve this. There is a need for change,” said Iman Bukhari, CEO and Founder of Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation.
The incident is being referred to as a "Zoom-bombing," a term used when people take over digital meetings and cause mayhem or post disturbing content. This incident also speaks to the magnitude of cyberbullying, and how systemic these concerns are as there is little accountability from multi-billion companies such as Zoom.
According to ADL, it has been reported that more than 30 virtual events celebrating Black History Month and anti-racism events have been disrupted by racist attacks.
Racist incidents during events online have become more pervasive, often even when organizers do what they can to put precautionary measures in place. "This was a violent, disruptive and traumatic event," said Jennifer Fowler, co-coordinator and Executive Director of the CVIMS. “I hope that others can learn from our experience, and many others who have experienced this. It is unfortunate that when planning anti-racism events, this is now something that organizers and facilitator’s need to be more prepared for.”
The organizers condemn this incident, are putting in more safety measures for future events, and are investigating with law enforcement and Zoom.
For more information contact:
Wunmi Idowu (she/her)
Founder & Director
Woezo Africa Music & Dance Theatre Inc.
Iman Bukhari (she/her)
CEO & Founder
Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation (CCMF)
Jennifer Fowler (she/her)
Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society
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