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Zoom bombings on the rise: growing concern for BIPOC communities

Last Updated Mar 26, 2021 at 7:06 am MDT

CALGARY (CityNews) – It’s racism that’s taking place in Canada, and online. More commonly, it’s coming in the form of so-called “Zoom bombings.”

“You can see it. It’s there. And if you’re blind, you can still sense it. If they, in terms of people in the community, say that there’s not racism in Canada, I don’t know which rock they’re sleeping under.”

Taking part in an online anti-racism arts festival last week, Wunmi Idowu found herself silenced, and attacked.

“I was speaking, and as soon as I went to open my mouth, to talk, I just heard, three or four voices, saying my name ‘Wunmi Idowu is a mother f***ing n*****.’,” she explained.

The attack went on for 45 seconds straight, with the participants yelling racial slurs before the presenter of the event shut the entire thing down.

While she was silenced, she says the so called “Zoom bombers” didn’t get what they wanted.

“I was silenced, but I wasn’t at the same time, because they spoke for me. I didn’t have to share any story, my story was just lived out in front of everyone, and we were all hearing and living that moment.”

“Zoom bombings” are becoming more common. Generally what happens is there’s an interruption of a video conference call by unwanted, disruptive, and sometimes racist guests.

The anti-defamation league in the states say that more than 30 virtual events celebrating Black History Month and anti-racism have been disrupted by racist attacks.

“These big tech companies are multi billion dollar companies, so we need to keep in mind that they have a huge budget, they make a lot of money, from every day folks, including the BIPOC population, so we should be able to get that safe environment,” said Founder of the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation, Iman Bukhari.

Online racism isn’t something new – and it’s not new for big tech either. The debate about who’s responsible for policing hateful content online has been raging since, well, the internet was invented.

“The onus is on us. The tools are there, the problem is that a lot of people are trying to have meetings that are very inclusive. I know that some are going to a more thorough registration process,” explained Tom Keenan, author of Technocreep.

Idowu says she isn’t super interested in any more Zoom events.

“Guys, let’s move from Zoom to something else. Because I don’t feel safe. I don’t want this to happen again.”