Of all the inauguration speakers, the one that truly hypnotized me was Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate. The tiny young powerhouse joins the roster of famous inaugural poets like Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. Reading “The Hill We Climb”, she had us all climbing with her. It was a joy to see her energy, hear her inspiring verses, and be reminded that poetry heals the soul.
The words bring optimism about the future. A colleague messaged, “The seed of hope has been planted. It is up to each of us to build upon that hope in order to cultivate and strengthen the ties that bind us together as a People —one Nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all!”
The monthly Black-Jewish Dialogues began in Chattanooga virtually in July 2020 and quickly spread across the USA and internationally. As our communities progress in understanding each other, we explore new topics each month. History is frequently an underlying theme.
Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press
I should write about the siege of our Capitol but my brain has oozed out of my ears. I’m rendered speechless at the gallows and chants calling to hang Vice President Pence who refused to illegally overturn the election. My loved ones hid under the covers seeing the nooses, Viking-like horned helmets, Confederate flags, Auschwitz T-shirts with skull and crossbones and 6MWE (6 Million Weren’t Enough) signs referring to Jews killed during the Holocaust. Not surprising that people wondered if America, not just Trump, lost its mind.
When I considered doing an article on the iconic Greenpeace movement which started much of our environmental activism, I thought it would be an intellectual and historical project. But, my 92-year old Aunt Polly informed that Green-ness runs in the family,. Greenpeace is just a cousin away, including one of the movement’s matriarchs.
Our Black-Jewish Dialogue for January 2021 featured presenters Mike Green and Dov Wilker. Many thanks to them and Mizpah Congregation, our co-host.
Mike Green is an award-winning journalist headquartered in Colorado. He is the Chief Economic Strategist for The National Institute for Inclusive Competitiveness (niicusa.org) and also co-founder of Common Ground Conversations on Race in America.
He is also co-founder of ScaleUp Partners LLC, a nationally networked consulting practice focused on changing the nation’s economic narrative.
Dov Wilker is the National Director for. Black-Jewish Relations for the American Jewish Committee and heads the AJC Atlanta Regional Office with the goal of enhancing the well being of the Jewish people worldwide and advancing human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. The office has worked with the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition for nearly 35 years.
We’re on the cusp of receiving a vaccine for COVID but we’re also at an all time high for cases and deaths. It’s time to get real. Researchers at Johns Hopkins and Texas State University noted that, “If poorly designed and executed, a COVID vaccination campaign in the U.S. could undermine the increasingly tenuous belief in vaccines and the public health authorities that recommend them.”
My first reaction to that was to deny we’d have a problem. Isn’t the United States the most advanced country on the planet scientifically and technology-wise. Surely folks will listen to the scientists and epidemiologists and make a logical judgement. But then I was reminded that we have increasingly fallen under the conspiracy syndrome. Just a few days ago, A Wyoming Department of Health official insisted that the “so-called pandemic” is a plot by Russia and China to spread communism worldwide. And he told the audience that the vaccine was a biological weapon.
Music moves, heals, and inspires us.
Enjoy this beautiful New Year’s song by a wonderfully creative group of artists.
Many thanks to the writer/producer of this song, Michael A. Levine, who also composed for: science fiction series Siren on Freeform, for George Lucas-produced Star Wars Detours animated parody, and for Jerry Bruckheimer/CBS dramas Cold Case and Close To Home for which he received 8 ASCAP awards. He scored films: Landfill Harmonic & The Makeover, and wrote the theme song for Resident Evil 7 Biohazard and closing credits song, Running, sung by Roberta Flack for the documentary feature 3100: Run and Become.
Levine produced, with Michael Wolff, the songs for the Nickelodeon TV preteen comedy series, The Naked Brothers Band. Levine also wrote “Gimme a Break”, the Kit Kat jingle, named one of the 12 greatest jingles by MSN in 2013.
Levine was also a Governor of the music branch of the Television Academy (Emmys).
I’m addicted to watching TV news shows, especially “This Morning’s Eye Opener: Your World in 60 seconds”. It’s everything I need to know in just one minute.We ran out of names for hurricanes predicted to decimate coastal lives and Trump’s EPA prevents legal suits against polluters and allows drilling for oil in Alaska. The CDC warns us not to travel on Thanksgiving and the White House encourages rebellion against state-mandated masks. Trump plans to pull down troops from Afghanistan and maybe bombing Iran. Defense experts freak out.
Now for the fun part. Sometimes the 60 seconds ends in a comedy shtick. It’s no accident that the popularity of political satire goes back to the ancient Greeks. Scholars describe the power of satire as a way to express truths in ways that are blunt, digestible and even enjoyable. George Bernard Shaw said it more succinctly, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”
But some scholars say that TV satirists alienate folks from any political involvement:Letterman, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Sarah Cooper, Dave Chapelle, and the list goes on. They echo the general disgust that Mark Twain voiced, “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
Yet given the record-breaking vote counts of the 2020 election, we’re more political than ever. And everyone’s a comedian, too. Go on Twitter and you’ll see what I mean. Better yet, go see Pinterest and check out how satire and cartoons have blended into a hypnotic flow of irony, puns, goofy images, and a bit of fantasy. One of the cartoons that combines all of the above got stuck in my mind. A mermaid, unicorn, and a leprechaun was into a bar and sit down in a circle. The mermaid points to an empty chair and says, “I’d like everyone to welcome out newest member to the group, Ethical Capitalism.”
Some are over the top like, “Breaking: Dr. Fauci discusses new life-saving face mask.” The cartoon pictures Dr. Fauci and behind him is President Trump with masking tape over his mouth. Then there’s the meme caption, “FBI uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot to just sit back and enjoy collapse of United States. They’re funny, horrible, and mind-blowing all at once.
For better or worse, research shows that while satire may educate and entertain us, it doesn’t change how people vote. The politics remain nerve-racking. But it does give us comic relief and disrupts the anxiety of our COVID-19 era. We can sure use some relief these days.
So let’s give a shout out to all the comics out there. Thank you for your satire and periodic goofiness. The laughter that you generate is healing and inspiring.
Now I gotta try some humor myself. A liberal politician, a conservative politician, and a turkey walk into the bar. The bartender says, “What’ll you have?” The liberal votes for a turkey sandwich and seltzer water. The conservative votes for a turkey sandwich and a beer. When it’s the turkey’s turn, he gives them the stink-eye and says, “I want a recount.” The politicians stare at him as he gobbles out the door. They nod to each other and call over the bartender, “Make that whisky instead. We’re gonna get basted.”
OK, so I’m a lousy comic, but I had to at least try to make you smile. Now it’s your turn. Go out and make someone smile. Bring on that comic relief and knock the stuffing out of us!
DIVERSITY TRAILBLAZER DEBORAH LEVINE HONORED BY GLOBAL WOMEN’S PEACE NETWORK
FOR LIFETIME OF COUNTERING HATE
CHATTANOOGA, TN – The American Diversity Report announced today that founder and editor-in-chief, Deborah Levine, has received the distinguished ‘HerStory Award’ from the Women’s Federation for World Peace USA (WFWP), with chapters nationwide in all 50 states and locations in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, South America and the Middle East.
Levine is a leading international expert and top management consultant on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the private and public sectors. Her unique neuroscience cognitive-based approach to advancing DEI helps employers and disparate communities harmonize, rather than homogenize.