Ever watch the old sitcom Hogan’s Heroes? If so, no doubt you’ll remember Sergeant Schultz’s famous line, “I know nothing … nnnoooTTTTHHHING!” when he witnesses Hogan’s shenanigans.
During these times of mind boggling incivility, blatant disrespect, school shootings and outright bullying, I find it disheartening to watch those who sit quietly on the sidelines (or behind them on the stage) while someone verbally demeans others with vicious bullying rhetoric. It’s unbelievable how calling someone a “SOB” and other unprintable words have become an acceptable norm these days.
And even worse are the spineless ones not wanting to offend their political base who choose to stand silently in the background and utter tepid responses, but only when called out on their silence.
Let me to peel back the onion as to why the Sergeant Shultzs, the silent bystanders, in the contemporary world appear to be so prevalent during these turbulent times.
Continue reading Silence and the Sergeant Schultz Syndrome – by Terry Howard
Too many Millennials and members of their younger cohort, Generation Z, consider civil rights history as ancient history at the dawn of a new millennium. However, there are profound and poignant lessons which today’s young people need to learn. The most important lesson is how to make major changes in society through the type of peaceful means championed by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow civil rights leaders of the time.
A term of significance for young people to comprehend is: “civil disobedience.”
POP QUIZ: What elite body of the world’s most democratic government still has a conspicuous scarcity of women in today’s modern era?
ANSWER: The United States Senate, of course, which is one of the most traditionally male dominated workplaces in American history.
The Senate has an unflattering age-old reputation of being a “Good ‘Ole Boys Club” comprised mainly of privileged rich white men. In fact, women’s representation in the Senate has been dismally low for over 200 long years — even though women now comprise half of the U.S. labor force and earn more college degrees than men, according to government data.
Yet there’s one female former senator who has been an unsung hero and trailblazer for women’s rights inside and outside the U.S. Capitol for decades. She recently resigned from the 114 Congress after becoming the longest-serving woman in Congressional history (House and Senate combined).
Nevertheless, few Americans outside of the Washington-DC area know her name — much less her groundbreaking achievements for women in a legislative body dominated by men for 228 years and counting.
March is Women’s History Month.
I had that in mind when I started writing on the significance of that recognition. That is until I came across an eye opening piece, “The boys are not right,” in the February 21 issue of The New York Times by Michael Black. He wrote it in part in response to the recent shootings in Florida where 17 students lost their lives. The shooter –as is the case with the majority of mass shootings in America – was a young man.
Men feel isolated, confused and conflicted about their natures. Many feel that the very qualities that used to define them — their strength, aggression and competitiveness — are no longer wanted or needed; many others never felt strong or aggressive or competitive to begin with. We don’t know how to be, and we’re terrified.
Continue reading Juggling Balloons and Life- by Terry Howard
After many mass shooting murders in the US, many elected officials and members of the public condemn the shooters as mentally ill, and want to forcefully control their access to guns. The issue has many dimensions. For example, most mass shootings in the US are by white men, but when they are caused by Muslims, the politicians and members of the public condemn them as terrorists. When African-Americans do the shooting, they are condemned as being racially motivated. What is mental illness, and how severe must it be before action is taken to restrain the freedom of those who have it? A third dimension is that by ascribing the cause of mass murder to mental illness, we provide an excuse, a relief from responsibility for the crime.
Continue reading Mental Illness and Reducing Gun Violence – by Marc Brenman
This essay is written to address how we have devolved into a form of idolatry through the proliferation and use of symbols. Symbols are used to evoke a set of behavioral expectations to which we are beholden to subscribe if we are to be deemed acceptable by others. Symbols are all too often the proxies used to substitute for meaningful interaction and relationship. They are designed to reduce fear and risk, but they often mitigate against the courage necessary to relate meaningfully to each other.
For thousands of years, we have lived our lives largely in response to symbols- religious, political, social, natural- to the point today that we substitute symbols for relationship substance. We think because someone wears a cross he must be a Christian or a hijab she must be a Muslim, or emblazon their clothing with the American flag they must be a patriot. Symbols govern our expectations of what to anticipate in the behavior of others but this can be confusing, and often misleading.
Continue reading Today’s Idolatry of Symbols – by William Hicks
Here’s part two of my African American History Month story – what it was like growing up in my neighborhood in a small southern town. This episode highlights the largely untold stories of the unbelievable strength and resolve of black mothers who managed, as our preachers would say, to “make a way out of no way” in keeping families, community and traditions intact in the face of incredible challenges. So please join me as I take an imaginary walk through my old neighborhood and replay the “voices” and recall the unique experiences of “Momma Nem.”
Continue reading The Powerful Voices of Momma Nem! – by Terry Howard
The Year of the Dog begins this week which means, among other things, this is the season when western companies fall over themselves by slapping zodiac animals on their products in hopes of appealing to Chinese consumers. Gucci dog purse, anyone? At the same time, digital payments in China continue to accelerate. Last year, the Chinese New Year tradition of ‘hong bao’ – where cash-filled red envelopes are given as gifts – saw 46 billion electronic transfers. Yes, billion.
China’s transformation continues to play out in astounding ways both internally and globally. The country’s growing relevance on the world stage should not be underestimated. Globalization has never been so confusing as it is today thanks to the Middle Kingdom.
The mere mention of China triggers consumer brand executives to salivate over the growing army of shoppers and their wallets. Conversely. the same word causes western technology executives to back away with their tail between their legs.
Continue reading The Year of the Dog for Globalization – by Kyle Hegarty
When I started teaching civil rights in graduate school, I developed a timeline of civil rights events in the United States. I included positive ones as well as tragedies, and tried to include more than African-American connected events, to represent a fuller picture of American history than is usually represented. I also included some world events to provide context and some removal from a “calculus of suffering” so often indulged in by one group comparing its history with anothers. The timeline makes no promises of completeness, and is a work in progress. It is generally referenced, and is fairly reliable. This timeline proved to be popular with students, who mostly had been raised and educated on the myth of progress, American Dream, and City on a Hill themes. They were surprised by the uneven progression of social equity in American history, with its frequent “one step forward, two steps back” meme. I’ve chosen some examples from just one year in this timeline for black History Month.
Continue reading One Year in the Life of the American Dream: To help us wake up during Black History Month – by Marc Brenman
Although traditionally the month of February has celebrated famous African-Americans throughout history, maybe it’s time to augment how that history is told with our personal history stories, ones that define and shape who we are today.
The neighborhood I grew up in conjures up images of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” Hal Rauch’s “Our Gang” with scenes of Mayberry from the “Andy Griffin Show” added to the mix. The folks in my neighborhood were caring, creative and resourceful because we had to be. Our survival depended on it.
Continue reading My Neighborhood: African-American History Month – by Terry Howard