This session of the African Townhall meeting aimed to discuss:
1. The harassment and cyberbullying of Africans on Clubhouse.
2. Solutions to cyberbullying and the way forward.
Observations/Feedback from last week’s meeting:
– A lot of people try to start the same thing. We can do so much if we work together rather than duplicating effort. It’s not about being a founder of a club, it’s more of the value that you bring through what you’re creating. Building forces together we can host bigger rooms, rather than hosting smaller rooms across different clubs.
– Africans need to build partnerships across the board. The Cool House is doing a great job at collaboration. We should be open to collaboration rather than duplicating efforts. We can do more and build better together if we have more diversified thoughts. When we aggregate our efforts, it’s stronger than duplication.
– There can be duplication of ideas, but if you’re going to stand out on Clubhouse, you have to do things differently to stand out.
– We are more impactful if we work together. It’s important to be able to communicate and see things as “we” and not “I”. We need to come together as Africans and communicate on the same page how to move Africa forward.
– In collaboration, it’s necessary to allow partners to grow together and make them feel appreciated.
– Before starting a club, you need to affiliate yourself with people and build a community, while asking the right questions. You need to have the strategies you want to implement and form relationships and networks. Many people doing well on the app formed collaborations.
– Africans are not very known to be collaborative. We need to ask ourselves important questions like, “How receptive are we as Africans when people approach us to collaborate?’, “How receptive are you to people beneath you and do you create an environment to make them feel welcome?”.
– Some best practices that will facilitate our abilities to build strong responsive communities (through collaboration) are:
1. You need to be able to engage.
2. You need to build a routine and a set of programs you run consistently and via that program, you then invite people to join you.
– One thing that’s consistent about good collaborators is that they have a good schedule of programs run consistently that people can refer people to. Because of that, people can collaborate with them on those programs and there will be a lineup that can make people know them as subject matter experts and reach out for more collaborations.
– It’s important to understand that with collaboration, you have to remove yourself from the centre. It’s about doing something for a greater good and it could be the greater good of both entities that are collaborating or the greater good for a particular project that you’re both passionate about.
– Also, with collaboration, ensuring reciprocity is important. Oftentimes, people say they want to collaborate with others but everything is focused on them as opposed to understanding what others are passionate about and how they can amplify what they are both doing and how to have a greater impact.
– One very sad thing is when some rooms and discussions have to do with Africa but no representation exists. It feels like people are constantly trying to write our story without us.
1. Individual experiences of harassment and cyberbullying:– Officially it says that clubhouse has a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, harassment, and abuse including any bullying behavior that prevents or inhibits constructive communication and if you go to “clubhouseapp.com/antibullyingpolicy”, there is some information there.
– It’s important to discuss this because seeing as clubhouse has expanded to android users, that means there are more Africans and when people are new like that on the app, they don’t know what to expect. They may go on stage and be harassed or even receive threats.
– As for experience in some rooms, they gang up on you most times, and when you start speaking facts, they’ll pull you down. They will attempt to bully you for the most part.
– There are two main issues when it comes to cyberbullying: i. Cyberbullying within our community: this means among Africans themselves who are far ahead with numbers and have territory on the app, bullying relatively new people. ii. Cyberbullying from outside our community: people bullying Africans from outside of the African community. There’s a big issue now around ADOS and the African community itself and if not properly addressed could degenerate into xenophobic attacks.
– We need to talk to our African brothers in the diaspora about the need to be on the same page. These ADOS rooms are very toxic. We need to discuss a way forward by asking:
i. How can we address this issue and foster love?
ii. How can we protect our mental health when we get into these conversations?
– Even when you report someone, it doesn’t guarantee anything will be done. When you report someone, they go back and investigate and the person could get removed or suspended.
– There’s a big agenda that’s been pushed in some of these hate rooms. We need to recognize that and pull ourselves off it. It is pushing a certain ideology which is a dangerous one and it’s starting to influence a lot of our mindsets. So we need to pull out and close them and not be a part of it.
2. Reasons for cyberbullying:
– The ADOS is a very small population of people, mostly Clubhouse-driven. They are non-existent when we’re talking about issues that affect the blacks. They are a small group of people with an agenda and they don’t represent the majority of the African American people.
– In terms of the root cause, it seems to be that Africans believe they are better than African Americans.
– One of the major reasons ADOS have started this journey is that they believe if they’re able to segregate themselves from the entire population of “melaninated” people in Africa, they’ll be in a better position to receive reparations for slavery.
– There’s a perception that these Africans are taking some of their jobs, some of them think supposedly Africans are better than them.
– There’s a mindset of scarcity that drives us to compete with one another for resources. It’s unclear where that mindset originates from. When you approach things from a mindset of abundance you start to see that there are more options in play. We can build a mindset of abundance thereby bridging a gap among all black people.
3. Suggestions on solutions:
– It is important that we black people use the app for the betterment of our community of people rather than allow such a small group of people on both sides to go back and forth on each other. Let’s create room for solutions.
– We can be organized in documenting and stating that there is real hate speech. It’s not about opening opposing rooms but really just challenging this issue and putting it forward in any mental space and mental health space that exists on Clubhouse.
– Whether it’s a reaction room or a room just to discuss these things, it’s important to be careful with your titles when you create rooms.
– We can control the flow of these conversations. We can’t control how people will react in these rooms but we can control the dynamics of the conversation generally. We can own some of these conversations.
– Try to resolve the conflicts in a weekly room. We can start to run the room weekly where we get well-trained moderators from both sides to handle the room, so that way, regardless of the ADOS conversations, we can control the dynamics of that conversation.
– Mass reporting can be effective because when they see a lot of people reporting a room, they will most likely prioritize it. We should all come together and move collectively as one people.
– Most of the people representing ADOS have “exoticals” in their bios. So you could look out for that when following or engaging.
– We must create more rooms on how to learn to create businesses. We should facilitate rooms that teach business creation.
– There’s no need for segregation, we don’t have to put ourselves in different boxes. There’s no need to feel superior. We complain of racism but even within the black community, some people just want to separate themselves from other people and segregate other people from themselves and it just doesn’t make sense.
– There are not enough business collaborations. There are rooms on business but they all run in silos, apart from the big ones which happen in clubs like Goodmorning Africa. We can find a pool of collaboration amongst all of us to be able to pump up these rooms. If we have those rooms once a month and it’s very effective, people can learn from real business leaders and experts on topics, things like marketing, entrepreneurship, etc within Africa.
– Africans in the diaspora should start involving themselves in the politics of where they are at, and the reason why that is so important and urgent is because of the discussions that have been surrounding what it means to be black and who belongs to what group. We need to dive into politics and probe. We need to see who’s advocating for us and understand that we are an entity that needs to advocate for ourselves and be a voice in politics as far as we can go in our several cities and countries. Because there’s a real possibility of being left out if we don’t gather ourselves as an entity that needs to advocate for ourselves.
– We are Africans coming together from all over the world, let’s not be distracted or derailed, we have to stay focused.
– Business, excellence, and trying to put ourselves in the right space will be a good way forward.
– Clubhouse needs to work on the discovery of rooms by using user data to show rooms in the hallway. Because a lot of times, these business, tech, etc. rooms are there but the discovery of the rooms is the problem.
– If you are creating reactionary rooms, realize your energy is much more valuable giving value, exchanging, connecting for business purposes, etc. because when someone keeps you on a constant reactionary mode, they do have a certain power over you. Make sure you’re reacting from a place of power and not disempowerment.
– It’s not just sidelining occurring, there’s also the issue of polarization. You find out that Africans are just on their own and they aren’t integrated into the big rooms. And even when they go there to try and represent themselves, they’re not being acknowledged. And that’s something that all of us are responsible for. We need to start moving into these spaces and not get too comfortable where we are. We should start to go up on stage and contribute in a meaningful way. And also start having rooms around polarization and diversity because that way we’ll bring awareness to the issue.
– Regarding the effect of some of these things, there’s a lot of ignorance and knowledge gap. Many of these ADOS people don’t have historical knowledge. That is why we need to be able to broker these conversations. Get at least five good moderators from each side who are unbiased with good knowledge of history to broker these conversations.
– A lot of Africans take things personally with each other and therefore things lead to conflict. The issue of not being accommodating or understanding where people are coming from can be a big issue. It’s important to be more receptive to each other so that we can progress.
Community announcements/ Key highlights for the next session:
1. Briefing on Africa Day on Clubhouse was done by Ngozi.
2. What we are planning regarding creating a reward system within the African community: we will find a medium through which we can vote for the best club within the community for the month or the best personality. So we can reward people that create good content.
3. Ngozi is collating a list of African clubs, so if you have an African club that’s quite responsive and you want to join the main moderators we’ve curated, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. We are going to create a list of clubs and the kinds of content they want to put forward so people can attend events in your club and that way it’ll increase traction for your club. Maximum of two programs from each club that runs regularly.
5. Our discussion for the next session will focus on how we can collaborate and do business (leverage for business opportunities) as Africans. Our goal is collaborating and winning together and we should never lose sight of that.