Category Archives: Authors I-Q

ADR Authors by last name I-Q

The Audacity of Baby Steps and Hope! (Part 1) – by Leslie Nelson

racial healing“What are the typical saboteurs of genuine efforts to have cross-racial dialogues about race?”

That was the opening question posed to Phyllis and Eugene Unterschuetz, co-authors of Longing Stories in Racial Healing.  They were invited by Terry Howard, co-founder of Douglasville’s 26 Tiny Paint Brushes Writers’ Guild, to speak at our Nov. guild meeting. 

The book is a memoir of the White couple’s immersive journey across the nation exploring the deep, murky, irritable waters of racism. Their mission was to have a candid and honest conversation about racism in a room mostly filled with people of color.

Continue reading The Audacity of Baby Steps and Hope! (Part 1) – by Leslie Nelson

Antisemitic Rhetoric on Chattanooga Campus – by Rabbi Craig Lewis

Of all the times to learn that about antisemitic literature circulating in my city, the news reached me during the intermission of “Fiddler on the Roof.” It is a great show that captures a moment in time, combining the folklore of Sholom Aleichem, the imagery of Marc Chagall, and great music by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick to tell a story from the collective Jewish memory. As with true Jewish history, it includes the good and the bad parts of being Jewish. We love “Tradition,” but much of our tradition has been built under the weight of oppression. “Fiddler” does not ignore this as the Russian constable’s promise of a pogrom, a violent attack against Jewish communities, mostly in the Russian Empire. Like Chekov’s gun, the mention of a pogrom comes to fruition and disrupts the joyous wedding scene. Being that this is still musical comedy, the pogrom is sanitized: a few goose pillows are torn up, a table flipped over, and one wedding guest is beaten. There is just enough to suggest what really would have happened. An informed viewer of the show knows it more likely looked like the description from Chayim Nachman Bialik’s poem, “The City of Slaughter,” written about the 1903 pogrom in Kishinev. Here are a few excerpts:

Behold on tree, on stone, on fence, on mural clay,
The spattered blood and dried brains of the dead….

A tale unfold horrific to the ear of man:
A tale of cloven belly, feather-filled;
Of nostrils nailed, of skull-bones bashed and spilled;
Of murdered men who from the beams were hung,
And of a babe beside its mother flung,…

And when thou shalt arise upon the morrow
And go upon the highway,
Thou shalt then meet these men destroyed by sorrow.

These are the images brought to mind by the word pogrom, which marks the end of the show’s first act. Walking to the lobby, I opened my phone to discover a text message from a Jewish student at UTC (University of Tennessee- Chattanooga) who had discovered the antisemitic flier. 

As if it were fact, the flier stated:

“At the height of American slavery, 78% of slave owners were ethnic Jews.” It also asserted that “40% of the Jewish population were slave owners, while only 0.35% of white Americans owned slaves.”

Then there were three footnotes, one presumably to The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery by Junis Rodriguez, and the other two to census data posted on websites of legitimate Jewish organizations. There is so much that is wrong with this flier, my head spins trying to unpack it. First, we start with the statistics and the footnotes. The footnotes do not even come close to supporting the figure it claims. Following the first footnote brings you to a statement that Jews comprised about 1.25 percent of all the slaveowners in the antebellum South,” a far cry from the statistic the flier wanted to prove. Then from the census data linked to the other two footnotes, I tried to determine how the 78% figure was contrived, but it is impossible. Secondly, in addition to making unsupported statistical claims, the flier also sets in opposition “ethnic Jews” versus “white Americans,” as if the Jews in America were not true Americans. Thirdly, and this, in my opinion, is the most important consideration, we have to ask what motivates someone to plaster such misinformation around a college campus, which sits within walking distance of three synagogues and a Jewish cemetery?

Forced to rebut falsehoods, we allow everyone to miss the point. There are nefarious forces trying to sow distrust of Jewish people. They advance a conspiracy theory that there is a hidden truth the Jews do not want you to know. They pit “ethnic Jews” against the pure “white Americans,” and they invite African-Americans to believe the Jewish people are singularly responsible for their oppression. It is damaging and painful, in part because of the historical bond between Blacks and Jews during the Civil Rights movement and beyond, and also because it makes the Jewish community, as a vulnerable minority, hounded by outrageous conspiracy theories since the Middle Ages, fearful that words will lead to action. Labeled as “Christ Killers” during the Crusades, Jewish villages were attacked by religious zealots as they made their way toward the Holy Land. Victims of the “Blood Libel,” a false claim that Jews kidnapped and tortured Christian children to use their blood in the making of Passover matzah, many Jews were wrongfully imprisoned and murdered. Viewed as being untrustworthy and greedy, Jews were expelled from Spain, France, and England. And as the subject of a fictional work, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which was sold as a historical document, allegations of a Jewish plot to control all the world’s wealth and government led to acts of violence against Jews, first across the Russian Empire and eventually around the world. The accumulation false claims about Jewish people motivated attacks, like the fictional pogrom represented in “Fiddler on the Roof,” or the very real Kishinev pogrom described in “The City of Slaughter,” and ultimately the Holocaust which leveraged baseless hate and propaganda to justify the systematic murder of 6 million Jews.

The real kicker is, even though those who posted the insidious flier want to pin responsibility for American slavery on the Jewish people, and even though a preponderance of Jewish Americans at the time lived in the North supporting and fighting for the Union, the vast majority of the world’s Jewish population prior to and during the Civil war was still in Eastern Europe, living under the oppressive rule of the Czar, fleeing from Cossacks, and enduring vicious attacks. Half a world away, America stood as a beacon of freedom, and waves of immigrants fled burning villages for the promise of equality and security. In 1880, there were roughly 250 thousand Jews living in America. Over the next 50 years, nearly 3 million Jews would cross the ocean to settle in the United States. Therefore, the experience of most current American Jews’ ancestors, at the time of the Civil War, was as an oppressed people. Still, those who posted fliers on the UTC campus, would have you believe a false view of history, motivated by the very same lies and bigotry that led to persecution, pogroms, and to the Holocaust.

All of this weighed on my mind as I returned to my theatre seat for the second act of “Fiddler.” I struggled to focus and enjoy the performance as I realized, in 2022 America, the very same lies and beliefs that led to the oppression of my ancestors in Europe, were very much alive. It is part of a larger pattern that is growing in plain sight. Amid the proliferation of antisemitic rhetoric and the permissive silence from those who know better, Jewish people in Chattanooga and around the world are rightly worried, and becoming increasingly afraid that history is about to repeat itself.

__________________________

1Pogrom is a Russian word meaning ‘to wreak havoc, to demolish violently.’ Historically, the term refers to violent attacks by local non-Jewish populations on Jews in the Russian Empire and in other countries.” (From the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum).

2https://faculty.history.umd.edu/BCooperman/NewCity/Slaughter.html

3 Gross overstatement of the Jewish role in the slave trade is a common trope shared by White Supremacist groups as well as the Black Hebrew Israelites (as in the film recently promoted by basketball player Kyrie Irving) and the Nation of Islam. Rather than factual statements about Jewish slave owners in the South, who comprised a small fraction, they attribute blame and responsibility for slavery to the Jewish people as whole. 

4 The flier just says “Rodriquez, p. 385.”

5 “The Jew in the Modern World,” Paul Medes-Flohr and Jehuda Reinharz, eds., Oxford University Press, 1980, p. 528.

6 “The Jew in the Modern World,” Paul Medes-Flohr and Jehuda Reinharz, eds., Oxford University Press, 1980, p. 529.

 

A Thanksgiving to Remember – by Shayne Perry

A young boy, sat at a table full of people he didn’t know. A large family, all helping to make their thanksgiving dinner. Smells and laughter waft through the house. No television to distract from the face-to-face interaction. All the food is scratch made. The kitchen is littered with bits and pieces of dishes and ingredients, a messy labor of love. The smiles and plate passing keep the energy up. The boy is confused, there is no turkey, but a large plate of chitlins, and a ham. There aren’t any scalloped potatoes, but collard greens. As much as Thanksgiving is a universal experience, it differs house to house, culture to culture. This is a short story about how he came to know his neighbors.

Continue reading A Thanksgiving to Remember – by Shayne Perry

Gender Creative Parenting – by Rachel Jordan

As you’re standing in line at the store, someone approaches you with the question, “Do you know what it is going to be yet?” as they stare at your pregnant belly. The individual is looking for the answer of whether you’re going to be having a boy or girl but, with a new aspect of parenting emerging, parents are participating in a new practice of raising their children outside of typical gender roles called gender creative parenting. By allowing your child to be gender creative, you’re allowing them to express themselves freely, and without judgement. The surrounding idea is that this will help children as they grow up to feel fully supported in their own gender expression, rather than the stereotypes that are placed upon them at birth. Essentially, gender creative parenting means granting children full autonomy to decide what they like and dislike, with no regard to labels such as “boy” or “girl.”

Continue reading Gender Creative Parenting – by Rachel Jordan

RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN HIRING EMPLOYEES – by Stephen Morgan

Hiring minorities in the workplace is a topic that is uncomfortable, yet relative for discussion. It appears that Arabic people face discrimination in the workplace at a high level, especially since September 11, 2001 when the Twin Towers fell. I have experienced such racial oppression myself through my friend when we both applied for the same job. 

When I applied to work at a tire repair shop in Chattanooga, I asked my friend, Ali, if he would be interested in working with me. He was eager at the opportunity since his father used to have a repair shop of his own, and he was already experienced from what his father had taught him. Therefore, the chance to work at a place that was high paying and allowed us to work together seemed like the perfect opportunity. However, due to my friend being of Arabic descent, I did not know the implications that would have when we both submitted our applications at the same time. 

Continue reading RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN HIRING EMPLOYEES – by Stephen Morgan

Discrimination in America’s Healthcare Systems – by Rose Joneson

Where Can Change Start?

A considerable number of patients experience discrimination in the country’s healthcare system. Over 21% of adults report being discriminated against, and 72% of this group say they’ve experienced discrimination more than once. Racial and ethnic discrimination are the most commonly experienced by Americans seeking medical attention. These events affect the kind of care patients receive, putting their well-being at risk. For instance, a doctor’s refusal to treat a person of color (POC) in an emergency highly endangers the patient’s health.

On that note, let’s dive deeper into discrimination in America’s healthcare systems—and what’s being done to address it.

Stories of discrimination in healthcare



Gender discrimination



The LGBTQ community is receiving the brunt of gender discrimination. Take the story of Jacob Gammon, a Black gay man in his early twenties. Clinic staff kept refusing him when he went for a checkup, persuading him to seek care in other places after learning of his sexual orientation. This experience discouraged him from seeking and taking care of his health needs, as he only started looking for another care provider a further 6 months after the incident. In more urgent situations, such a delay would have more seriously worsened Gammon’s health condition.



Racial discrimination



Racial discrimination is prevalent despite efforts like the Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate movements. Tomeka Isaac is a Black woman with an undiagnosed condition that affected her pregnancy. As it turns out, her OB did not perform standard procedures like urine testing that would have detected her HELPP syndrome. This resulted in a horrible birth experience that traumatized Isaac and her husband. Moreover, she shared that doctors often assumed Black women’s pain tolerance to be higher. Her experience and these baseless assumptions continue to endanger Black women’s health.

Where can change start?

Improving healthcare management education



With the above stories proving the dire need for more equal treatment in healthcare, changes to improve diversity must start with healthcare leaders. This way, they can set the tone for these changes and encourage other medical professionals—doctors, nurses, and other health staff—to follow suit. Healthcare leaders at universities are leading the charge by upgrading their healthcare management degrees to help prepare healthcare leaders. This education more effectively trains them to identify modern healthcare challenges in their respective institutions and present practical solutions. For instance, they can propose organizational policies that promote anti-discrimination in their healthcare facility.

Hiring more diverse healthcare professionals



Aside from patients, healthcare workers experience discrimination in the healthcare system. POCs and LGBTQ medical professionals have a more challenging time getting hired. For example, overseas nurses are discriminated against for their supposed inferior and foreign nursing education. Despite being qualified nurses, they’re stripped of the chance to provide care due to race. These can potentially cause problems for America’s healthcare system amid nurse shortages. A less diverse system also endangers patients. Previously mentioned was a Black woman’s traumatic birthing experience because doctors had assumptions about her pain tolerance. With a more inclusive and diverse medical staff, patients like her will be treated without prejudice. Lastly, a diverse team can educate fellow professionals on any false assumptions they may have.

Better anti-discrimination education for the healthcare industry



The Office for Civil Rights has enforced several anti-discrimination regulations regarding healthcare. One includes Section 1908 of the Public Health Service Act, which prohibits discrimination based on age, color, race, and disability. While this is a great initiative, it will improve with better anti-discrimination education for health professionals. This should include a better understanding of such policies, suitable actions when witnessing discriminatory acts in medical facilities, and the dangers of discrimination in the industry. A deeper understanding of these issues can prevent discrimination within the healthcare system more effectively.

While discrimination still exists in America’s healthcare system, there are several ways to change it. Improved healthcare management education, a more diverse healthcare staff, and better anti-discrimination education can help address the issue.

 

Graphic by pexels

UN Declares the Right to a Healthy Environment – by the Rev. Dr. John Pawlikowski

On July 28, 2022, the General Assembly of the United Nations took a bold step in the ongoing process of caring for the creation we have inherited. By an overwhelming vote of 161 – 0, with eight member nations abstaining, the General Assembly approved a resolution which establishes a sustainable and healthy environment as a basic, universal right of all people. Over one hundred nations co-sponsored this resolution. The large co-sponsorship (unfortunately, the United States was not a co-sponsor) testifies to the strong support for this resolution among the UN delegates and their national governments. 

Because a livable human context is absolutely central to the continuing viability of creational life on our planet the United Nations’ vote placed this right at the core of our understanding of the longstanding human rights tradition, which includes social/political values such as freedom. This newly affirmed right is seen as standing at the very heart of that tradition. Its recognition and enhancement are not marginal but integral to the maintenance of the entirety of humanity and the universe with which we are intertwined. 

Continue reading UN Declares the Right to a Healthy Environment – by the Rev. Dr. John Pawlikowski

Impacting Education in Low-Income Countries – by Pearl Kasirye

Educators like Dr. Gillian Kabatereine believe that education is the key to developing young minds and helping them improve their economic circumstances. Dr. Gillian got her PhD in education and curriculum design at Columbia University in New York and returned to East Africa to use her knowledge and skills to make a difference in the education sector.
Continue reading Impacting Education in Low-Income Countries – by Pearl Kasirye

Supporting Employee Diversity and Wellness – by Julia Morris

During the COVID-19 pandemic, employee diversity and wellness came under the spotlight like never before. Corporations sought to support workers both in the office and at home, and a major pre-pandemic cultural shift completed its arc. In addition, employers have been making significant strides in diversifying their workforces.

Focusing on diversity and offering innovative benefits that enhance work-life balance don’t just boost employee satisfaction. These efforts help attract new talent in a competitive market, and improve productivity no matter the size of your organization.

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Diversity in Tech Tips – by Pearl Kasirye

The tech industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. We live in a digital era where technology has become an essential part of our daily lives and work processes. For this reason, we need tech companies that create software that improves our lives, cybersecurity agencies that protect our online data, and experts who develop new technologies annually.

There is a high demand for technology and people who specialize in this field. What strikes me the most is the lack of diversity in such an essential industry like tech. Are the most qualified people always white and male? Or are other groups of people intentionally underrepresented?

Continue reading Diversity in Tech Tips – by Pearl Kasirye