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
I have moved quite a lot in my life, especially in the first part of it, clocking one to three schools per year on average and as many caravans, mobile homes, flats or apartments until the age of 16. The good thing with this nomadic lifestyle is that it has forced me to be quite ruthless over the years in terms of keeping or discarding belongings.
We are now in the process of converting our attic into an adult bedroom in our family home with a view to get me a small desk for my musings and a walking wardrobe for my other half. This not a move but it almost feels like one. To do that I have to get rid of quite a lot of bits and pieces that have been accumulated since our previous move 10 years ago or so.
Continue reading Attics, Old Photos and a Concentration Camp Song – by Pascal Derrien
The “ho hum,” been there/done that remedies for stopping sexual harassment have been sitting in seldom-read policy manuals and preached about in awareness workshops for decades. And yet harassment still raises its ugly head in organizations large and small, public and private. There’s no better validation than the recent “me too” movement and outed perpetrators who have seen their personal lives and careers go up in smoke.
So, what effective personal strategies should potential targets of harassment consider? How do they ward it off in the first place, or respond to it in the moment?
Continue reading Advice from the Harassed – by Terry Howard
Let’s face it men: more of us need to “man-up” by proactively helping to end the scourge of sexual harassment. We must collectively stop being the main cause of the problem and start being part of the solution.
This means standing up and speaking out to support women. This also means swiftly shaming and punishing male perpetrators for their despicable deeds.
Continue reading Memo to Men: Help Stop Sexual Harassment – By David B. Grinberg
I have doubted the Zombie Apocalypse meme for some time, lumping it in the same category as vampires, werewolves, and romance novels. But lately, I’ve started to doubt myself. I developed the idea of the Rule of Stupids and the Epidemic of Stupidity long before Trump was elected President. I could not, however, explain why the American people were becoming so stupid. For several years I have suffered being called all sorts of vile names on social media because I obsessively believe in logic, reason, evidence, and facts. Most recently those names include “sealioning,” I kid you not. Look it up.
Continue reading Welcome to the Apocalypse – by Marc Brenman
We in the diversity world need a new pair of words. Or maybe they already exist and I just don’t know about them. Here’s my concern.
In November I had a discussion with my cyberpal Neal Goodman, president of Global Dynamics. Neal had just read “Toward a 21st-Century Interculturalism: Reflections of a Cranky Old Historian,” my keynote address at the October, 2017, national conference of the Society for Intercultural Education, Training, and Research. In that talk I had contrasted the words ethnonym and ethnophaulism.
Continue reading Needed: Some New Diversity Language – by Carlos E. Cortés