Category Archives: Authors A-H

Authors listed by last name A-H

Barbara Johns, overlooked no longer – by Terry Howard

Hey readers, with African American history top of mind, does the name “Barbara Johns” ring a familiar bell with you? If not don’t feel bad, you’re not alone. You see, when African American history comes up there are two realities; first, it gets compressed into February (or recently Juneteenth) and, second, it typically cites the well-deserved names as its founder Carter G. Woodson, Dr. Charles Drew, Rosa Parks, George Washington Carver, W. E. B. DuBois Dr. King and others. So, I figured that perhaps the Barbara Johns’ story of profound unprecedented courage, the focus of this narrative, may pique your interest.  

But first for context, consider the following imaginary scenario.

Continue reading Barbara Johns, overlooked no longer – by Terry Howard

Diversity and Speech No. 35: Rockin’ Diversity – by Carlos E. Cortés and Teri Gerent

Carlos:  Tell me, Teri.  How did you come up with the idea of teaching history through rock and roll music?

Teri: I’ve always loved music.  From the time I became a history teacher in 1998, I thought of music whenever we reached the twentieth century.  Then it hit me.  Why not help students reconsider U.S. history by structuring a course around music?  It worked.  

Carlos:  Well, if music works for teaching high school students, why not for diversity workshops, too?    

Teri: It certainly can.  Lyrics are a great way to generate discussions about tricky topics involving diversity.

Carlos:  Could you be specific about how you use music to explore diversity?

Teri: Sure.  I call one of my strategies “implicit vs. explicit.”  Explicit lyrics are usually straight forward.   For example, Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” explicitly critiques politicians who spend taxpayer dollars on the space race rather than helping poor communities that are struggling to stay afloat. 

Carlos: How about implicit lyrics?

Teri: Because implicit lyrics use metaphors, they foster differing interpretations and spur intense discussions.   Take the Rolling Stones’ 1966  “Under My Thumb.”  I ask students to identify lyrics that might be considered implicitly misogynistic and indicate why they came to that conclusion.  Then I ask them to compare that song’s treatment of gender with the Statement of Purpose of the National Organization of Women, which was formed the same year.

Carlos: How ironic, Teri.  But did your teaching approach encounter any criticism?     

Teri: When I tried to get my course into the District catalogue, my title, “A Socio-Political History of Rock ‘n Roll: the Blues through Hip Hop,” caused some resistance.  But I documented how the course met statewide curriculum standards and, over time, demonstrated that my use of music sparked students to explore historical dynamics in greater depth.  My students regularly scored higher on Advanced Placement national history examinations than students who had not taken my course.  When the California Council for the Social Studies gave me its 2011 Senior High Outstanding Teacher Award, most skepticism seemed to disappear.  

Carlos: Why did you focus on rock and roll? 

Teri: I was born in 1957 and grew up on rock and roll.  It commented on the world in which I lived and helped me think differently about such things as the many struggles for social justice.  So I decided to use rock music as social documents to explore the second half of the twentieth century, from Eisenhower through Clinton.

Carlos: So let’s talk about how your use of musical documents could be adapted for diversity workshops.  

Teri: There are lots of songs that deal with diversity, like TuPac’s “Changes” and Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”   Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” advocates for the LGBTQ+ community.  Rage Against the Machine’s “Freedom” challenges the incarceration of the American Indian Movement’s Leonard Peltier.

Carlos:  What are some of the approaches that lyricists use to address diversity?

Teri: Take the theme of equity.   Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” poses questions like “How many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?”   In “Talking Birmingham Jam,” Phil Ochs employs satire to tell the story of the 1963 Children’s March that challenged Alabama Governor George Wallace, who called for the maintenance of racial segregation in his inaugural speech.  War’s “The World Is a Ghetto” tugs at the heart strings by invoking a sense of hopelessness in black and brown communities.  People can examine the theme of equity by comparing these different approaches.  

Carlos: How about using music to consider how thinking about diversity has changed over time?   

Teri: Well, you could listen to Sam Cooke’s 1964 “Change is Gonna Come” about the treatment of African Americans and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ 2012 “Same Love,” which deals with the LGBTQ+ community.  Different groups.  Songs nearly half a century apart.  These two songs can be used to spur reflection on continuities and changes in thinking about social justice.  

Carlos: What was your most fundamental framework for using music as social documents?

Teri: That’s easy.  Multiple perspectives.  To understand diversity, you need to recognize that human experience is comprised of multiple stories.  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s video, “The Danger of the Single Story,”  reveals how uniquely each person experiences, interprets, and communicates about the world.  Rock music is social storytelling replete with different, sometimes conflicting, points of view.  

Carlos: You’re so right, Teri.  Could you give an example?  

Teri: Let’s go back to the Rolling Stones’ 1966 “Under My Thumb.”  Just six years later Helen Reddy came out with “I Am Woman.”  Consider the change of perspective from the misogynistic lyrics of “Under My Thumb” to the roaring words of “I Am Woman,” which became a sort of 1970’s anthem for the women’s movement.  

 Carlos: Terrific idea, Teri.  So do you have any final thoughts?

Teri: One in particular.  I’ve found that using music to explore social phenomena reduces defensiveness and sparks meaningful conversations about difficult issues.  It could work in diversity workshops as well as classrooms.


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

“No” is a complete sentence! – by Terry Howard

Kicking off year 2023 by making New Year’s resolutions, although we may not keep them, is no different from what we’ve always done. However, looking back over what some would argue was a tumultuous 2022, it’s not inconceivable for many of us to regret not having said no in some situations and to some people. That may include, for example, a bad loan to someone, allowing inappropriate behaviors, making promises you couldn’t keep, ordering a few extra desserts, taking on unreasonable requests or holding onto personal grudges and toxic relationships. Thus, this being another year for fresh starts, you saying (without regret) “no” will save you some unnecessary headaches.

Continue reading “No” is a complete sentence! – by Terry Howard

Diversity and Equity Trends 2023 – by Marc Brenman

What we can anticipate and expect

The current Supreme Court will continue to whittle away at civil and human rights. Advocates will continue to sign petitions, march, and hold demonstrations, as if these activities would cause the federal judiciary to change its mind. They won’t. 

The US will continue to become more diverse, especially by Hispanics and Asian-Americans. More people will identify as multi-racial. The percent of African-Americans will continue to remain relatively constant. However, despite this, the diversity practitioner and CDO field will continue to be dominated by African-American women. 

The Chief Diversity Officer function will continue not to be represented at the executive team table along with other mission critical functions. 

Continue reading Diversity and Equity Trends 2023 – by Marc Brenman

Diversity Trends 2023 – by Dr. Gail Dawson

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Hosea 4:6

Throughout the years, the approach to dealing with “diversity problems” has included fundamental concepts, such as education, training, and communication. While the terms diversity training and diversity education are sometimes used interchangeably, others differentiate between the two terms. Diversity training involves providing people with skills and tactics to enable them to navigate a specific diverse environment while diversity education is more comprehensive and involves mindset shifts and frameworks that enable one to utilize broader knowledge to navigate various, complex environments. Communication also plays a key role in building awareness of similarities and differences as well as building respect and trust among people from diverse backgrounds. Together, diversity training, education, and communications have been regarded as essential in creating diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Continue reading Diversity Trends 2023 – by Dr. Gail Dawson

Diversity and Speech Part 34: Revisiting Privilege – by Carlos E. Cortés

Diversity language seems to wander through a series of predictable phases.  First, someone comes up with a new term like micro-aggressions, or retrofits an old dictionary word like violence.  A few terms catch on and become diversity specialist standard fare, then enter public lingo, sometimes celebrated, sometimes mocked.  Finally, after the heat dies down and new verbal fads replace them, those formerly-hot terms settle in for the long (or short) haul, during which people tend to mouth them in a relatively mindless, sometimes authoritarian fashion.  

Unfortunately, such has been the trajectory of the term privilege.  Beginning with its entrance into diversity world in the 1980’s, privilege has passed through several stages, ultimately becoming corrupted into little more than a simplistic, polarizing accusation.  This is a real loss, because as formulated by Peggy McIntosh, privilege provides a valuable lens for examining the world around us.  It does so by calling upon people to recognize and reflect on the unearned advantages that have been handed to them.    

Continue reading Diversity and Speech Part 34: Revisiting Privilege – by Carlos E. Cortés

Increased Youth Engagement and Educational Productivity – by Ainesh Dey


Education is a passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those, who prepare for it today”, as proclaimed by eminent civil rights activist, Malcolm X, bears a deeper intellectual connotation. It brings out the very holistic foundation of education as an instrument of social awareness and development,  with a subtle mention of its contemporary beneficiaries, “the Youth”. Yes, it is the young people who through their rational interpretation of core educational principles, harness the progressive socio-political development of the world. 

The recent phenomenon of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent shift to the digital mode of learning, have accentuated the need for increased efforts towards larger educational accessibility, quality and affordability, central to the role of global development in complete coherence with the recently initiated in the “Education for All” under the broader purview of the “Millennium  Development Goals”, laid out by the United Nations, thereby demanding more nuanced responsibility of the young blood in spearheading a meaningful atmosphere of social inclusion , cohesion and stability.

Continue reading Increased Youth Engagement and Educational Productivity – by Ainesh Dey

EHLI: Inclusive or Elitism – by Dr. Deborah Ashton

 Stanford University’s Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative (EHLI)

Stanford University in December of 2022 issued the Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative (EHLI) to eliminate potentially harmful terms used in the United States within the technology community. Most of the recommendations are trying to avoid trivializing people’s experiences and avoid devaluing others. Other recommendations, from this reader’s experience, are a stretch and assume that we are not able to distinguish the context in which a word or phrase is used. 

The EHLI is a courageous and noble endeavor. I would also argue it is US-centric, Anglophilia, and elitist! And may or may not be transferrable to the larger society.

The following is a sampling of the terms/phrases in the EHLI’s thirteen pages of terms and my reaction to them. 

Continue reading EHLI: Inclusive or Elitism – by Dr. Deborah Ashton

Threats to Affirmative Action and DEIA – by Marc Brenman

There is much confusion today between affirmative action, which is under threat by lawsuits in the U.S. Supreme Court, and Diversity, Equity Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA), which is under no such threat, as long as practitioners stay away from race-based quotas and preferences. How can we educate the field about this?

The Supreme Court cases involve allegations by some Asian-American groups that their applicants should be admitted to prestigious colleges like Harvard at a higher rate because other applicants like African-Americans are given a preference. One should bear in mind that Asian-American students are already enrolled in such colleges at a rate far exceeding their presence in the American population, so these cases are not about proportional representation, or a “student body that looks like America.” In some cases, such as the University of California at Berkeley, the undergraduate enrollment is about 48% Asian-American. So these cases involve an extreme form of a desire for merit-based judgments by gate holders.

Continue reading Threats to Affirmative Action and DEIA – by Marc Brenman

Diversity and Speech #33: Bi-Religious – by Carlos Cortés, Gary Cortés

Brotherly Perspectives on Religious Experiences

A co-authored Interview

Carlos: Last year I wrote a column about the tribulations of Growing up Bi-Religious in our religiously-mixed household in Kansas City, Missouri: Dad a Catholic with a Mexican immigrant father – Mom, a Reform Jew with a Ukrainian immigrant father and an Austrian immigrant mother.  I had to deal with family conflict and I avoided mentioning my religious background to parents when I picked up my dates.  But your experience was so different.
Continue reading Diversity and Speech #33: Bi-Religious – by Carlos Cortés, Gary Cortés