The last few years seem to have been challenging for many people, myself included. Last year, I had the privilege to take a bit of a sabbatical. Even though I found it difficult to fully pull myself away from my work, I was removed enough that when Deborah Levine, Editor in Chief for this publication, asked the Advisory Council members to write on upcoming trends, I felt a little out of touch. I decided I needed to catch up a bit, and I started my research. Much to my dismay, I felt like the more things changed, the more they remained the same. I wasn’t seeing much different than what colleagues and I talked about over 20 years ago. People were still focused on hiring and attraction and leadership development. Some spoke of developing business cases and strategies around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)—or whatever form it’s currently taking.
Frankly, I had hoped we had a lot of this figured out by now.
Most public surveys about free speech and the First Amendment go something like this.
“Do you believe in the idea of free speech?” Overwhelmingly yes.
“Should group slurs be allowed?” Overwhelmingly no..
“Do you support the First Amendment?” Overwhelmingly yes.
“Should hate speech be permitted?” Overwhelmingly no.
What gives? Aren’t these positions inconsistent? Yes, in the abstract or in the arcane world of constitutional interpretation. No, in the walk-around world where most people reside. Turns out most people like the idea of being protected from government interference with their use of speech. But they also like it when governments and private entities step in to mute certain categories of speech, categories that they might consider harmful, divisive, offensive, or misleading. The problem is that people do not agree on which speech categories should be banned. One person’s sense of truth telling is another person’s sense of disinformation.
The Native American community in the United States makes up a mere 3% of the population, yet they have perhaps been one of the most misunderstood and stereotyped groups in the nation. While Blackface has been frowned upon for at least 40 years now, sports mascots and symbology intended to “honor” Native Americans are still considered acceptable by far too many people. Many attempts have been made to erase Native American culture, and their history has been whitewashed.
However, these negative trends have been reversing. As we head into a new year, let’s look at three areas where Native Americans and their stories are headed in a more positive direction.
BREAKINGNEWS: Using slurs to make a point sparks debate on academic freedom. Emory University law professor Robert Saunooke said he tells his students before the start of his first class that there are words and phrases he’ll use that might be uncomfortable (Atlanta Journal-Constitution 9/19/19). And he delivered on that promise by uttering the “N-Word” a couple of times.