A couple of mornings before Thanksgiving (or Indigenous Heritage Day, depending on how politically correct or “woke” you are) I got a call from a Native American friend who has run into a patch of bad luck. He initiated a conversation on the political situation in the United States, and how he was glad that he could go to sleep and not be afraid of waking up to more craziness by President Trump. My first thought was “It’s a new morning in America.” Only later did I remember that this was a slogan used by Ronald Reagan in his 1984 Presidential campaign.
Organizations gripped in COVID-related fear, uncertainty and job insecurity these days are ones that are most vulnerable for empowering bullies who thrive and exploit those realities.
Keep that thought in mind as you read this recent email.
“Terry, those in our office love your articles and want to know if you have written – or could write – something on bullying; not the overt type, but the subtle kind we’re seeing that’s hard to put your finger on. Got anything?”
When I got that email, two things entered my mind. First, given the havoc COVID is wreaking today, why on earth should we worry about bullying of all things?
The May, 2020, Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd launched thousands of anti-racism proclamations. Millions took part in that performative aftermath. Include me among those millions.
Like many people, I wear multiple hats. One is chairing the Mayor’s Multicultural Forum in Riverside, California. My half-century hometown is a sizable (330,000-person) city, whose steady but not explosive growth has enabled it to maintain a community feeling. My wife and I continually encounter people we know when we go to a restaurant or take our daily two-mile walks around a nearby lake loaded with noisy ducks, geese, and egrets.
It has become a truism that COVID-19 has widened the gap between America’s haves and have nots. As the wealthy add to their corpus, the poor struggle to survive. But beneath this master plot lie millions of disparity narratives, stories that repeat themselves over and over.
So it is with the narrative of English Language Learners (ELLs), educationese for kindergarten-twelfth-grade students who live in homes where English is not the primary language. Their parents may speak little or no English. Add the fact that many of these students — maybe most of them – come from working class families and are students of color. The absence of privilege triple whammy.
The American Diversity Report’s theme focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on our community is as visionary as it is timely. It also opens up opportunities for contributors to offer insights tangential yet related impacts. What follows is a look at a peripheral issue; visiting those homebound because of the pandemic and other illnesses.
Two years ago, I fell off a 10-foot wall and broke three ribs. I ended up in the emergency room. The pain was excruciating. Back home while holed up in my bedroom in recovery for over a month, and plying myself with pain medicine, I lost my appetite and close to 25 pounds. It was unnerving to steal a look at the barely recognizable person – me that is – in the bathroom mirror during that time.
Now although the last thing I wanted was visitors, quite a few well-meaning folks wanted to stop by. But the specter of being stared at like a car wreck on the side of the road was something I didn’t want and asking them not to visit proved more difficult than I could imagine.
“A recent report co-authored by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project and Atlanta-based Militia Watch, warned that Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Oregon are at highest risk of increased militia activity in the election and post-election period.”
I could kick myself in the behind for my oversight.
And still might.
You see, by the time the ink is dry on this, the 2020 elections will be behind us. But unfortunately, I missed an opportunity to offer some tips on how to protect yourself from potential spikes in violence by right wing militia should Trump lose.
In the aftermath of tragic police violence and subsequent street protests, many US corporations and other organizations have issued ritualistic and formulaic statements declaring their support for Black Lives Matter and decrying racism. What does this mean, and what will they do to follow through? Many of these companies already have diversity programs and are already required to comply with state and federal nondiscrimination laws and regulations. A number of states, cities, and counties have broader non-discrimination prohibitions than the federal government, for example, to include LGBTQ status.
The larger companies employ Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) or someone with a different title but similar responsibilities. The vast majority of people in these positions are African-American females. Some are male, and some are Hispanic. A few are white females. Almost none of the CDOs are members of the executive teams of these companies. Diversity does not occupy a place similar to core missions, such as production, operations, marketing/sales/ advertising/branding, finance, legal, logistics, supply chain, health and safety, etc. Only a relatively small percent of companies report their diversity demographics publicly, and almost none disaggregate the figures by level of employment, pay grade, responsibility, etc.
Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)
They are traditionally marginalized across all social systems, but it’s more apparent today than ever due to the devastating effects of COVID-19 on BIPOC communities. In 2020, BIPOC account for 27.3% of the U.S. population (Census.gov, 2020), yet BIPOC account for 58.1% percent of all COVID-19 cases to-date (CDC.gov, 2020). Researchers and social scientists point to structural disparities as the main cause of the disproportionate COVID-19 infection rate among BIPOC (Cantos & Rebolledo, 2020; Valenzuela et al., 2020). The data shows that a consequential proportion of the BIPOC communities are essential or service-related workers with limited or no access to health care, lower socioeconomic and education status, overcrowded housing with limited ability to social distance, and limited or no access to personal protective equipment. These realities have created conditions where COVID-19 affects every aspect of the BIPOC social constructs.
Completing her second year as a pediatrics professor at the University of California, Riverside, Adwoa was focused on providing clinical training for her medical students. A retired UCR history professor, Carlos had no way of imagining that he would soon be joining the staff of a medical school. .
Then the UCR School of Medicine decided to establish a new required curricular thread on Health Equity, Social Justice, and Anti-Racism. Shortly after that, the School asked Adwoa and Carlos to become co-directors of the thread in order to get it started.
It was decision time for the two of us. Still at an early stage of her medical teaching career, Adwoa had numerous obligations. Experienced in health care cultural competence training, Carlos had been giving annual workshops on that topic to UCR’s incoming medical students. But establishing an entire curricular thread? That was a challenge. But also an opportunity. We couldn’t turn it down. Continue reading Diversity and Speech Part 14: Health Equity – by Carlos Cortés, Adwoa Osei
We make the case here that neurodivergent thinkers should be an important part of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policies because every organization stands to benefit from the inclusion of different cognitive perspectives in creating the organization’s culture.
This argument can be made from several different angles. For example, it can be made from the standpoint of a single organization, competing with other organizations in a commercial or industrial pursuit. It can also be made from the standpoint of the larger society, which stands to benefit from more innovative and equitable organizations.
Wouldn’t we all prefer to live in a world that values individuals for the skills and talents each of us uniquely possesses? Wouldn’t we all prefer to live in a world where seeming misfit pieces of the puzzle find a suitable home in the tapestry of the larger machine that is a 21st century economy?