Category Archives: Authors I-Q

ADR Authors by last name I-Q

The Audacity of Baby Steps and Hope! (Part 2) – by Leslie Nelson

“I take two steps forward, I take two steps back…”

The first line of those lyrics to the 1989 hit song, “Opposites Attract,” composed by Oliver Leiber and sung by Paula Abdul, swirled in my head as I thought about how to pick up from part one of this article series. If I apply those lyrics to matters of race, lack of racial progress in particular, what baby steps come to mind and what do two (or more) steps back look like?

Now for those of you that read it, Part 1 was about Phyllis and Eugene Unterschuetz’ RV journey across the nation, leading discussions about racial healing. That work culminated in their book, “Longing Stories in Racial Healing,” which they talked about during the November meeting of the 26 Tiny Paint Brushes writers’ guild. I ended part one with this challenge and question – “What should we, as individuals, consider doing next to further racial progress?” 

Continue reading The Audacity of Baby Steps and Hope! (Part 2) – by Leslie Nelson

Dialogue to counteract hate – by Simma Lieberman

I’m Jewish. My first personal memory of antisemitism was when I was eight years old. I was in the synagogue with my father on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, a day of fasting, praying, and atonement.

We were engaged in silent prayer when all that silence was broken by loud yelling and banging as the door crashed in. A group of young white Christian boys were attacking us. They threw things at us and called us names like “sheeny” and ‘kike.” “Go back to your country. You don’t belong here,” they screamed.

 I was terrified. We knew about the Nazi genocide of over 6 million Jews and other people who did not fit the Aryan “bloodline’. Many in our neighborhood had numbers tattooed on their arms from the Nazi concentration/extermination camps. All of that trauma was passed down to us.

I remember thinking, “How could they hate us so much? They don’t even know us.” At that early age, I wanted to get to know people who were different than me and have them get to know me so we wouldn’t hate each other. I also realized that to end hate, stop violence against us and find safety, Jewish people needed to join other people who had experienced discrimination. That became my mission.

Continue reading Dialogue to counteract hate – by Simma Lieberman

DEI: What’s Old Is New Again – by Susan McCuistion

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.

Continue reading DEI: What’s Old Is New Again – by Susan McCuistion

Living in an Axial Age – by John T. Pawlikowski, OSM, Ph.D

Prominent religious thinkers and activists such as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry have defined humanity in recent decades as living in an axial age. In simple terms, an axial period is one in which there are major mutations of our social fabric regarding consciousness and social structures.

I believe we today remain living in an axial period announced by the likes of de Chardin and Berry. Living in such an age that occurs every few hundred years in history is both challenging and uncertain. We cannot easily predict the eventual outcome of the transformative process. The significant changes that are likely to occur may move civilization in directions that are productive and fundamentally enriching for all created life forms or, on the contrary, they may enhance the further deterioration of our social fabric and sustainability foundations. People will come to know and experience the final verdict when the current axial age reaches its conclusion. The new age that dawns will retain some forms of previous creational existence. But the new existence will undergo significant, even radical redefinition. 

Continue reading Living in an Axial Age – by John T. Pawlikowski, OSM, Ph.D

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Trends: 2023 – by Soumaya Khalifa

Whether you traveled or stayed home this past holiday season, you paid attention to the news about Southwest Airlines’ struggles to get  people where they wanted to go.  Bad (really bad) weather, canceled flights, long lines, lost luggage, and exhausted and cranky passengers and airline staff all led to an operational disaster that will take Southwest a while to overcome.  

In a statement on its website, Southwest called its own performance “unacceptable.”  Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said Southwest had not put adequate systems in place to manage operations during the storm. “The fact is: We weren’t prepared,” Murray said.

But some observers weren’t at all surprised: Southwest’s crisis was inevitable after years of prioritizing stock dividends and executive compensation over necessary investments, including improving its outdated IT and crew scheduling systems. Southwest’s own employees issued plenty of warnings about those.

Continue reading Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Trends: 2023 – by Soumaya Khalifa

Bridging the Choice Chasm – by Dr. Shalini Nag and Surya Guduru

A path to a sustainable future

As we get look ahead to 2023, sustainability takes center stage, yet again. Can we really achieve a sustainable future? Today, we posit that we can, if we are able to apply the equity and inclusion lens to the problem and bridge the Choice Chasm – the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the haves and the have-nots, between developed and developing nations, between incumbent practices and emerging norms.

Aftershocks from the Covid19 pandemic exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, combined with climate chaos made 2022 a chronicle of global challenges. These include the intermittent resurgence of Covid variants, the mental health epidemic, continued supply chain disruptions, internal displacement in Ukraine, worsening food crisis in the world’s most vulnerable regions, and a global energy crisis. By October 2022, weather disasters alone cost nearly 20,000 lives and 30 billion dollars, refocusing governments and organizations alike on sustainability. 

Continue reading Bridging the Choice Chasm – by Dr. Shalini Nag and Surya Guduru

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.”

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