Most of us think about how we can make the world a better place but we all struggle with just how to do it. The challenge is daunting. In 2009, I spent about two weeks in the tiny village of Dago, Kenya and came away determined to do what I could to improve the lives of these hard-working, incredibly kind but extremely poor people. I decided I wanted to make the world a better place, one child at a time.
Bill Maher, host of the quasi political/entertainment program HBO Real Time with Bill Maher, recently had renowned Black intellectual and ordained Baptist minister Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and rapper Ice Cube as guests. They discussed the n-word controversy that erupted on the May 31 edition of the program when Maher flippantly referred to himself as a “house nigger” in an interview with Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska). The senator had been invited to the program to discuss his book on what he sees as the increasing problem on prolonged adolescence occurring in American society. Sasse and Maher agreed on the issue and provided examples and suggestions on how to rectify the problem. Things seemed to be going well up until this exchange transpired between both men:
Maher: Adults dress up for Halloween. They don’t do that in Nebraska?
Sasse: It’s frowned upon. We don’t do that quite as much.
Maher: I gotta get to Nebraska more.
Sasse: You’re welcome. We’d love to have you work in the fields with us.
Maher: Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house nigger.
In 1986 colleagues Barney Olmsted and Suzanne Smith asked me to join them at New Ways to Work, the original flex think tank, in a national campaign to promote “equitable flexibility.” It was one part response to the promising emergence of Job Sharing, Part-time, Telecommuting – and possibly Phased Retirement – as scheduling flexibility in a range of corporations steeped in industrial habits.
And it was another part defense against the growing popularity of the “contingent workforce.” This strategy of creating a ring of benefit-less part-time, temporary and contract workers surrounding a core of “regular employees” offered companies staffing flexibility – but it was flexibility at the expense of employees. (The DNA of these practices seems emergent on steroids in today’s “Gig economy.”)
Many years ago I authored an article entitled “Gender Quake” and it was all about the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings – the first time sexual harassment and gender equity issues entered our living rooms (through TV) and never left. Before these hearings – these issues did not garner attention or coverage, they did not make the newspaper or even local news – not even a blip or a mention. The current political climate and our President is a major contributing factor – a backdrop for this conversation. Now, national, international news and hours of coverage (educating public) on the nightly news and cable is the norm, our new normal.
credit card snatched,
nor driver’s license,
nor picture ID.
Not her universal number
intercepted on the Internet.
Not the checkbook swiped
while her head was turned,
nor bank account number
pilfered from a pile of trash.
radiance snatched from her brow,
her voice knocked down an octave,
shoulders drooped from weight
of falling self-esteem.
Pride ripped from her psyche,
guilt smeared on her mirror,
ugliness glaring from the future
like a finger-wagging stepmother.
She sees Used scrawled across her forehead,
dreams the only wedding dresses
available are ones already worn.
She winces remembering his gaze,
shivers at the thought of solitude,
freezes at the prospect of another intimacy.
near to abort
the theft, he forced her
into an alley, stripped
away her innocence, tore off
her self respect, ripped off
her smile, her confidence,
stole her special gift. Filled her
future with depression and fear.
The trumpet sounds a piercing blast
Yes, I hear it, it drowns out the past
Some may complain of ringing in their ears
And cannot wait until it clears
Still others hear it and unfortunately deny
That they have been chosen to reach for the sky
I have been in the diversity-training field for nearly 20 years and everybody talks about “Diversity Best Practices” today. Well, I think it is time, overdue really, for more conversation and deliberation about Diversity Worst Practices. I suggested this at a recent ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) Diversity Conference and it was very well received and they encouraged me so here goes. I am surprised to find very little in print about this so I am just going to “add to the conversation.” At DTG we tend to be contrarian; we tend to look at issues from many different and often “nontraditional” angles and perspectives. That is really what the diversity field is all about –right? What value do our differences add or bring to the organization.
Editor’s Note: Click for Mauricio’s podcast
I have been in the diversity training field for nearly 20 years and everybody talks about best practices but I feel too many of my colleagues really make it more complicated than it really needs to be and here at DTG we have always tried to make diversity issues and the related training more easy to comprehend and embrace. The prerequisite reading for this article is an article I recently wrote entitled – “Diversity Worst Practices.” Another article that would be helpful to read is our article on our website diversitydtg.com about ineffective or bad diversity training – what I like to call “Blame and Shame” diversity training and please find the related article on what exactly is the definition of a diversity issue. Continue reading Diversity Best Practices – By Mauricio Velásquez
Like many of you, it is my practice to prepare for the day with quiet meditation and prayer. It was during such a time that I heard the words ‘you are a woman’ within my spirit. At the time, I had no idea of the relevance of that statement; but thought its interpretation must be a mystery well beyond female gender. Surely, there must be some deep meaning in those words. After all, they came during a time of meditation and prayer. But what could it be and why were those words given in the late summer of 2016? I had no idea, and tucked the words away in my memory to reflect on them at another time.
Earlier this month, President Trump convened a press conference where he surrounded himself with an assorted group of Black celebrities, Black athletes, a few Black conservative policy makers and other relatively well known Black individuals who lean politically right. This, in and of itself, was nothing out of the ordinary. After all, February is Black History Month. Moreover, one would fully expect Donald Trump, (like his more recent predecessors), to demonstrate some degree of acknowledgment to the significant accomplishments of Black Americans. OK, so far, so good.