Tag Archives: michael pearce

At community forum in Berkeley, W. Kamau Bell and Elmwood Café launch ‘implicit bias’ training initiative

Kamau Bell Elmwood Cafe forum Photo: Pete Rosos
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At a community forum held in the wake of a well-publicized accusation of racism at a Berkeley café, a new initiative was announced to help train local businesses in handling implicit bias.

An estimated 300 people turned up to Willard Middle School Friday night to take part in the public discussion prompted by the incident which happened when comedian W. Kamau Bell and his wife, Melissa Hudson Bell, were at the Elmwood Café on Jan. 26 this year.

The comedian, who is African-American, made public on his blog how he was asked to leave the café on College Avenue while he was talking to his wife and her friends, who are all white, at an outdoor table.

After he read Bell’s blog post, Michael Pearce, the owner of the Elmwood Café and a social justice activist, reached out to the Bells and they agreed a public conversation would be a way to turn a negative experience into a teaching opportunity. Their goal was to achieve a broader understanding of racial issues, in particular the implicit bias that can explain micro-aggressions inflicted on people of color. … Continue reading »

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Date set for public forum with W. Kamau Bell and Elmwood Café in wake of racism accusation

Kamau Bell. Photo by Matthias Clamer Courtesy of FX
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A date has been set for a public conversation between comedian W. Kamau Bell and the owner of a Berkeley café where Bell says he was the victim of racial abuse.

The forum will be held on Friday, March 13 at 7:00-8:30 p.m. at Willard Middle School at 2425 Stuart St. after Berkeley Unified offered to provide a venue.

The event hopes to tackle “implicit bias and micro-aggression experiences in the East Bay.”

The need for a public conversation became apparent to Bell and Michael Pearce, the owner of the Elmwood Café on College Avenue, after the comedian, who is African-American, made public on his blog how he was asked to leave the café on Jan. 26. while he was talking to his wife and her friends, who are white, at an outdoor table.  … Continue reading »

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Comedian W. Kamau Bell reports being victim of racism at Berkeley’s Elmwood Café

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By Tracey Taylor and Frances Dinkelspiel

UPDATE: 1.30.15: The Elmwood Café posted on its Facebook page around noon that it has fired the employee who made the unacceptable remark.

UPDATE, 1.29.15, 6:40 p.m.: Bell posted on his Facebook page at 4:48 p.m that he spoke to Pearce after this article was published. He wrote: “My wife & I just talked to Michael Pearce, the owner of Elmwood Cafe, & we’ve decided to have a public conversation about this. Details soon.” On its Facebook page, the Elmwood Café appears to have deleted its first post in which it expressed how horrified it was (see a screen-grab captured by Berkeleyside). At 5:31 p.m., it posted the following: “We have reached out [sic] Mr. Kamau Bell and expressed to him how truly sorry we are. He and his wife have graciously accepted our invitation to have an open dialogue about the incident, and what steps can be taken. This conversation will be forthcoming and transparent and public as to what went wrong, and what actions we take to rectify what happened.”

ORIGINAL STORY: A popular African American comedian took to the Internet on Thursday to complain that an employee of the Elmwood Café on College Avenue told him to “scram,” or words to that effect, Monday while he was talking to his white wife and her friends at one of its outdoor tables.

W. Kamau Bell, who performs regularly in Bay Area comedy clubs, said he was shocked when the employee tapped on the window from inside the café and indicated that he should leave the area. The employee apparently thought Bell might be trying to sell something. Bell said he was dressed in a dark Oaklandish-brand hoodie at the time.

“It is the definition of prejudice,” Bell, a Berkeley resident, said. “They looked at me, they judged me against other people, an idea they had in their head about what a person like me is going to do, and then they acted in stupidity and ignorance.” … Continue reading »

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Claremont branch library reopening delayed two months

Claremont library construction
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The reopening of the Claremont branch of the Berkeley Public Library has been pushed back two months because of construction delays.

The Claremont branch will now reopen in late March or April next year, rather than late January or early February, according to Donna Corbeil, the library director.

“It looks like it is four to eight weeks behind our originally anticipated schedule,” said Corbeil.

The delay is a result of some vendors not delivering items on time, Corbeil said. For example, the new windows are taking longer to arrive than expected.

So far, there are no cost overruns for either the Claremont or North branch projects. The North branch remodel is expected to be completed in March or April 2012 as well. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Bites: Kara Hammond, Elmwood Café

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A decade ago, and fresh out of North Carolina, Kara Hammond landed a gig at Café Fanny, a tiny slip of a place in North Berkeley opened 25 years ago by, oh, a certain famous local chef.

Hammond, who had run a homespun bakery in Greensboro, wanted to get some kitchen experience in the Bay Area. Someone she knew knew someone who had a contact at Café Fanny; she called up and scored a job, just like that. Hammond … Continue reading »

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