Zoombomber attempts to deter Black History Month presentation in Brookings

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Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 4:56 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - February is Black History Month, and all month long the Brookings Public Library has been hosting events to start conversations surrounding the topic.

A recent Zoom presentation, about the history of Black baseball players in the United States, was interrupted with racial slurs and profanity. The incident highlights the fact there is still work to be done on this front.

It happened last Tuesday when Phil S. Dixon, a Black man and baseball historian, was giving a PowerPoint presentation on the history of Negro league baseball.

“About three slides into the presentation, I noticed someone started writing on the screen,” Dixon said.

Those words were racial slurs. And, things quickly escalated when the Zoombomber unmuted their mic, began cursing, and finally played a video of someone defecating.

*According to Wikipedia, “Zoombombing,” refers to the unwanted, disruptive intrusion, generally by internet trolls, into a video-conference call. In a typical Zoombombing incident, a teleconferencing session is hijacked by the insertion of material that is lewd, obscene, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamophobic, or antisemitic in nature, typically resulting in the shutdown of the session.

“When it happened, I knew I needed to talk to the people who were online. So, I just told them, this is one example of how people are coming against history as a whole, and that this history needs to be told,” Dixon said.

The crude images, racial slurs, and profanity serve as a real-time depiction of why conversations like this are needed.

“We can pretend that this is just a fun month full of activities, but when you see this actual moment happen in front of your eyes, this is a real action of racism,” Mikaela Neubauer, the community services coordinator for the Brookings Public Library, said.

Neubauer planned the event that was disrupted by the Zoombomber(s).

The incident has been reported, however, it’s unclear exactly how many people were responsible for the Zoombomb, or if they even live in Brookings.

“Our city’s vision is that we’re actually a welcoming and inclusive community, so this is in direct opposition to what our city’s vision statement actually is,” Brookings Public Information Officer Chelsie Bakken said.

Dixon says by trying to sabotage his presentation, these perpetrators have actually shed new light on the situation.

“They’re not going to stop me because what they’re doing is being exposed,” Dixon said. “I think that most of America is not going to have that, I’ll just say there are a few people out there who are trying to have an alternative agenda, but as you can see, it’s not going to work, and that’s why I’m talking to you today.”

To watch Dixon’s full presentation, click here.

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