March 8, 2022
UPlift Black condemns attack on Shelly Skinner at International Women’s Day Event.
Uplift Black calls for increased protection at virtual events
Shelly Skinner, president and founder of UPlift Black was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack while speaking at an online International Women’s Day event for the Barrie and District Labour Council on March 7, 2022.
At an event intended to uplift and celebrate women, Shelly, an invited guest speaker and influential community changemaker, leader, and equity advocate was victimized with racist and homophobic slurs and imagery when the presentation screen was hacked/controlled by a person/people in attendance. Drawings of male genitalia, a swastika, and an image of a burning Pride flag, along with music utilizing the “n-word”, were all shared moments into Shelly’s address, and her name was spoken repeatedly.
This was a targeted attack meant to silence and defame a powerful Black woman in our community. No other speaker was interrupted and victimized. It is sad evidence of the rampant white supremacy, sexism, and heterosexism still so prevalent today.
Shelly was invited to share her experiences and knowledge, to inform and inspire those in attendance. Instead, she was harassed and had to leave the online space for her own protection. As we all know, the fight for equity is far from over. For this incident to occur in relation to a day designed to draw attention to progress is a compelling reminder that we must continue to raise our voices and fight back against oppression and abuse.
Just as an organization would prepare for security at an in-person event, the same care and preparatory work must be part of planning for an online event to ensure the safety of speakers and participants. We call on all event organizers to use this incident as a reminder to review their protocols.
Suggested actions for online events
- Ensure there is an organized and thoughtful registration for the event, obtaining contact information and affiliation of participants before they are able to attend.
- Create a Code of Conduct that all attendees must review and agree to before attendance.
- Have a specified event entry period and then close the room.
- Check your registration list against active participants if possible. Ask people to use the name they used for registration to quickly compare.
- Ask someone to be responsible for security who is ready to mute, kick out, close the session.
- Record the event if able so there is evidence if needed.
- Take responsibility and action if something does occur. Support the victim. File a police report. Follow-up. Continuously review and revise protocols for safety.
About UPlift Black
UPlift Black is a Black-led not for profit based in Simcoe County, Ontario working to UPlift the wellbeing of Black people locally and educate nationally about anti-Black racism and gender-based discrimination in Canada. Our ultimate goal is true equity through a conscious and UPlifted community.
Media contact: UPlift Black’s Advocacy and Accountability Council firstname.lastname@example.org
I am outraged at such an unwarranted attack on a young woman who is doing amazing work to bring Simcoe County into the modern age. The narrow minds and racist attitudes of some individuals absolutely astounds me. Obviously, the individual who perpetrated this senseless and ignorant attack, had nothing better to do with their time and ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Thank you for your support, Janie!
Shelly. I am so sorry that you went through this horrible situation yesterday. I support your stance as a warrior for the cause but also aware that there’s an agenda higher than yourself to continually attack progress. We must fight together and as a fellow warrior and woman at that. We will continually fight the enemy; if not for us but for our children and their children. There’s many who don’t understand what we’re fighting for because they don’t live their lives seen as a colour. We will fight with you and I thank you for all that you do for this community . Please be safe.
Shelly, I am so sorry to hear about the awful abuse, the racial and homophobic attack you had to endure at the International Women’s Day event last night. I know how strong you are, but I’m sure that last night’s abuse is very difficult to process.
Not sure what else to say except that I know you have the backing and support of many, many people in our community. Please take care Shelly. You are an inspiration to the community!
You have a large and loyal following of supporters that that will not tolerate this behaviour in our city!
To the “Zoom Moderators” and IT Secuirty that dropped the ball here,
Please tighten things up to keep these script kiddies and racistist homobics bullies out!!!!
This is sadly not the first time I’ve heard of this BS with online events with the city.
Shelley, I am astounded at the hatred directed at you. I cannot understand the fear of others that many Canadians have. I am heart broken for you. Can’t wait for the weather to change so I can put my “Hate has no home here” sign up on my lawn again. Bless you for the work you do to uplift others.
I’m so sorry you had to endure such a horrific experience. I hope there will be an investigation and those involved held accountable.
You are appreciated and supported by so many and I hope you will not let a few cloud the amazing work you do. The majority is with you and sending our love!