Category Archives: Authors R-Z

ADR authors listed by last name R-Z

At the El Paso/Juarez Border – by Dr. Barbara Weitz

I got back late Saturday night and, I have to say,  I’m even more frustrated, disheartened and angry than I was before I went.   As I learned instantly from organizations working at the border that first day:  with the restrictive government policies in place right now, there’s not much we can do legally (or illegally).

the borderI was under the impression that I’d be working at the shelters and detention centers, doing anything that needed to be done—working with these people who are desperately trying to claim Political Asylum ; doing anything to help them wile away the hours and days they spend there,  possibly, teaching them some English or geography or anything else that interests them.  I was even ready to help with folding towels or serving meals.  However  the organization I was working with had the volunteers (there were 6 of us that week) spending all day interviewing as many immigrants who walked into CAIM (Mexico’s Center for Comprehensive Migrant Services).  Ironically, CAIM was situated in view of the International Bridge where they had been pushed back across into Juarez by Border Patrol due to the administration’s new MPP (Migrant Protection Protocols) more properly dubbed the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

Continue reading At the El Paso/Juarez Border – by Dr. Barbara Weitz

What Makes Someone Latinx? Part 2 – by Susana Rinderle, Addy Chulef

Intersectionality in 2020

Camila and Susana are two Latinx professional women.  Also, they are not Latinx – there is more to them than meets the eye or ear.  Camila grew up in Buenos Aires with an Argentinian mom and a Guatemalan dad, but as the Jewish granddaughter of European immigrants, she feels most connected to Israel.  Susana is biologically White, but as a fluent Spanish speaker with decades of close ties to Mexico, and cultural comfort with Latinos, she often passes as Latinx.

Since most organizations strive to categorize people into simple identity boxes, intersectional multi-identity people like Camila and Susana present challenges we’ve already discussed. “Intersectionality” was coined by scholar and civil rights advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe how interlocking systems of power affect marginalized people through the combination of our various identities – for example a woman of color’s experience is different from that of a man of color because of her gender. And while there are concrete practices others can adopt that create more inclusive environments for multi-identity people, those like us who live intersectionality every day often struggle with existential questions: What makes someone Latinx?  And who has the right to claim a Latinx identity?

Is identity a choice?

While others can adapt to be more inclusive of multi-identity people and reap the rewards, intersectional individuals have to adapt by engaging the questions our multi-identity raises. When the world constantly asks us to choose between our multiple selves, or regularly dismisses one of them, how do we identify in a way that makes sense and feels right? What do we have the right to identify with?

The individualistic answer would be: you have the right to identify however you wish. This approach is tempting because it’s simple and empowering. However, identity has always been co-created with one’s group because it functions to identify a person as a member of that group and bestow the corresponding benefits and responsibilities. The individualistic answer can be dangerous precisely because of those benefits and responsibilities.

Is it ok to claim a Latinx identity without biological Latinx heritage?

While “passing” as White or male is an historic strategy that women and people of color have long employed to enjoy greater physical safety, work opportunities and social access, proclaiming membership in a community of color without the corresponding genes presents an entirely different dynamic because it represents a “power-down” rather than “power-up” move in the social hierarchy. Doing so at one’s own discretion can confer unearned benefits without taking on the responsibilities. Responsibilities include assuming the duties and disadvantages of the identity. Individuals who claim membership in a community of color only when it’s convenient, and do so without “permission,” are rightly accused of exercising white privilege or cultural appropriation. One need only look to Rachel Dolezal’s infamous “passing” as an African American for an example of the destruction such identity appropriation can cause.

However, if a community confers their identity on an individual, that is another matter. Susana has only identified herself as Latina twice – both in superficial social situations just to see if she could get away with it. On official documents she identifies as White, “other” or “it’s complicated.” However, many Mexicans, Latin@s and Chicano@s have identified her as Mexican, Latina or Chicana for three decades. It’s through an interplay between others’ perceptions and Susana’s own sense of belonging in Latinx culture that her multi-identity was forged.

Is it ok to not identify primarily as Latina if one was born in Latin America?

For intersectional, multi-identity people like Camila, the invitation is also to explore an interplay between self-perception and others’ views. Camila has every right to identify as Jewish instead of Latin American or Argentinian because she is a member of all three identities –in fact, her recent 23&Me genetic test revealed her to be 99% Ashkenazi Jewish. Conversely, she doesn’t have the right to deny the community that raised her their right to view her as Latina since Argentinian and Guatemalan heritage also defined her foundation.

Resolving the dilemmas of identity

Today’s complex identity milieu may require new terms, such as “transcultural.” In a research paper Susana presented at an academic conference in 2003, transculturals are “individuals that find themselves to be more culturally similar to members of groups that are not of their same race or ethnicity but with whom these individuals resonate, and perhaps identify, and by whom they are accepted.”

But being transcultural requires great conscientiousness. “I’ve had to ‘come out’ as White several times to friends, colleagues and clients – a few of whom still don’t believe I’m not biologically Latina,” says Susana. “It would have been easier to just assume a Latina identity. I’ve been selected over Latinos for jobs because I was more fluent in Spanish. I’ve had Chicanos and mexicanos tell me they consider me Latina or a person of color…It’s confusing and I don’t always know what’s right.”

For those like Susana, the invitation is to explore multi-identity with integrity, and to engage in ongoing internal dialogue with their motivations, choices and consequences. For Camila, being an intersectional person means she can choose to identify as both Jewish and Latina without apology – reveling both in Bat Mitzvahs and dancing salsa even if one of her identities prevails as her most defining.

Susana’s and Camila’s stories illustrate how identity is a combination of what we feel or claim as well as how others perceive us. This is what it means to be part of a human community. Taking on whatever identity we think is trendy – or an a-la-carte approach where we take a little of this-and-that without also owning the downsides and duties – is disrespectful and harmful. Identity then becomes like clothing instead of skin, with all the corresponding creative license but superficiality and capriciousness.

A Latinx answer to the question of “right to identity” might be “both-and” instead of “either-or.” The answer lies in the space between personal choice and absolute deference to what the tribe dictates – in an ongoing, active dialogue between self and other, self and society. Perhaps it also lies in the space between “should” and “is.” Many believe identity “should” not matter in how people are perceived and treated, but science as well as our human experience show that what “is” is that we inhabit bodies that others interpret and categorize – and that we interpret and categorize others all day, every day.

Note: Names and some details have been changed to protect anonymity.

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How to End the Generation War – by Simma Lieberman

I’ve been facilitating cross-generational dialogues for over ten years. I started them because I was tired of one-dimensional conversations filled with bias and wrong assumptions about people who were older or younger. After the first three sessions, it was clear to me that we have a lot to learn from each other. Cross-generational mentoring became an integral part of my inclusive leadership coaching process

People who participate in my cross-generation dialogues are always surprised at the connections they make with people a lot younger or a lot older. They find new ways to collaborate as whole people with multiple identities.

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Traditional New Year – by Lisa Scuderi-Burkimsher

New Year’s Eve had been a big event in my family. Every year we’d pack up and travel to Long Island spending the holiday at my aunt and uncle’s home with a house full of loved ones. Although I lived in Staten Island, New York at the time, and my cousin Christy lived in Long Island, New York, we were nonetheless close. We looked forward to New Year’s and when it was over, we’d count down the days until the next New Year.

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Diversity Mission: Minority Legal Firm Incubator – By Mauricio Velásquez

Advisor
Mauricio Velásquez

When people talk about “Diversity and Inclusion Best Practices in the legal profession” we hear a lot of the same things over and over again.  Well, I have come across a first, a truly innovative Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion leading best practice.  You heard it from me first, right here, right now.

Harrity is the nation’s leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas, and is considered a Go-To firm for the Patent 300. Harrity recently launched its first Minority Firm Incubator program to help train, develop, and launch minority-owned patent law firms. This paid program is an integral part of the firm’s ongoing diversity initiative to recruit, retain, and advance attorneys who will contribute to the increasing diversity of the patent field.

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Why Thanksgiving Matters – by Lisa M. Scuderi-Burkimsher

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the abundant amount of food we eat on Thanksgiving. In fact, I look forward to it every year. It’s one of my favorite holidays. But it’s more than just the food.

There are two reasons why Thanksgiving matters to me. The first reason begins when I was a child, we spent every Thanksgiving at my grandparents house in Brooklyn. My Sicilian grandmother barely spoke English and my grandfather had always been a quiet man; however, once the whole family with cousins, Aunts and Uncles were in the room, it had been a festive event of chortling and great food in a tiny apartment with one bathroom and approximately twenty-five of us. 

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Hug seen around the world – by Elwood Watson

Advisor Dr. Elwood Watson
ADR Advisor: Dr. Elwood Watson

It was the hug  felt and seen around the world. Depending upon their outlook on the situation at hand, different individuals responded differently to the gesture. I am referring to the hug that was delivered to murderer Amber Guyger by Brandt Jean, the brother of slain victim, Botham Jean. As most people who closely followed the case were aware of, Guyger, a Dallas police officer was found guilty by a multi-racial jury and sentenced to a decade in prison.

The fact that she even found guilt sent shock waves throughout much of the Black community and likely the larger society as well, if we are being honest about it. Generally speaking, police, in particular White police officers who shoot and murder Black people, even those Black men and women that are unarmed and pose no direct threat to the officer in question , are often given the benefit of the doubt and exonerated by many juries and the legal system at large. Thus, surprisingly and justifiably, there was a kernel of justice in the verdict that was rendered. The reason I state that some small degree of fairness occurred is due to the fact that in spite of being convicted Guyger’s sentence was considerably lenient given the crime. Moreover, she will be eligible for parole in 2024. A minute modicum of justice indeed.

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Why Inspirational Leaders Follow A Path Of Gratitude – by Andrew Scharf

When innovative thinking is at the helm, you can be sure that at its core is inspirational leaders. Real leaders have our back, and stand up for doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do. At a time when we are surrounded by the forces of darkness and authoritarian strong men, we owe to ourselves, our communities, our countries and the world to stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight to preserve the freedoms many of us have come to take for granted. Make your voices heard. Democracy dies in silence.

Innovative leaders shape positive behavior, communitarianism as well as business practices. Under this form of stewardship, optimism and gratitude prevail.

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Breast Cancer: Fight the Fight – by Lisa Scuderi-Burkimsher

For Breast Cancer Month

breast cancerA dear friend of mine passed away from breast cancer and I’d like to write about her experience and how we became friends.

My husband and I met Maggie and her husband Ray at a neighbor’s barbecue in 2005. We immediately clicked. I don’t know what it was about Maggie, but I found myself confiding in her. Concerned about my horrible experience on September 11, 2001, she understood my fear of driving and not mingling much with people. Twenty-four-years older than me and she offered to do my grocery shopping. Of course, I couldn’t accept. This was truly a kindhearted person. I’m sorry after that barbecue we didn’t speak again until 2011.

Continue reading Breast Cancer: Fight the Fight – by Lisa Scuderi-Burkimsher

Soldier’s Last Letter – by Wesley Sims

Soldier’s Last Letter - by Wesley SimsNearly unreadable now, paper wrinkled
as her hands, veins of ink blurred by tears.
But she had the words imprinted in her
mind to recall when memories surged.

She need not know that a fellow soldier
likely persuaded him, loaned him paper
to write an apology of sorts—I wish
I’d not enlisted,

yet she perceived his special gift,
a declaration of affection, the only way
he could voice it, I miss you all,
tell the children hello.

He mentioned shrapnel in his shoulder,
minor wound he claimed. She clutched
the letter to her heart, transmitted warmth
of her body, like a bird hovering her eggs,

as though, like a Holy Eucharist,
its ink might turn to blood, transform
the paper to pulsing tissue,
grow lungs and start to breathe,

become a living presence nurtured,
resting safe against her breast.

 

Image: A Letter from Pvt. Charles H. Austin, Civil War soldier