Category Archives: Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion

Hug seen around the world – by Elwood Watson

Advisor Dr. Elwood Watson
ADR Advisor: Dr. Elwood Watson

It was the hug  felt and seen around the world. Depending upon their outlook on the situation at hand, different individuals responded differently to the gesture. I am referring to the hug that was delivered to murderer Amber Guyger by Brandt Jean, the brother of slain victim, Botham Jean. As most people who closely followed the case were aware of, Guyger, a Dallas police officer was found guilty by a multi-racial jury and sentenced to a decade in prison.

The fact that she even found guilt sent shock waves throughout much of the Black community and likely the larger society as well, if we are being honest about it. Generally speaking, police, in particular White police officers who shoot and murder Black people, even those Black men and women that are unarmed and pose no direct threat to the officer in question , are often given the benefit of the doubt and exonerated by many juries and the legal system at large. Thus, surprisingly and justifiably, there was a kernel of justice in the verdict that was rendered. The reason I state that some small degree of fairness occurred is due to the fact that in spite of being convicted Guyger’s sentence was considerably lenient given the crime. Moreover, she will be eligible for parole in 2024. A minute modicum of justice indeed.

Continue reading Hug seen around the world – by Elwood Watson

Ukraine Makes the Headlines, Again – by Dr. Fiona Citkin

And Again, for the Wrong Reasons

Proud of the New Ukraine

I periodically become a target of all-around questioning just because originally—25 years ago—I came to the US from Ukraine as a Fulbright Scholar. Of course, this gives me the leverage to deeper understand what’s going on there, and why. But I do not hold a magic ball that predicts what the future holds in a largely unpredictable country – and even more unpredictable America under the current government. So, let me just answer some of these questions and clarify my positioning.

When people get my new book about immigrant women, “How They Made It in America,” many shrug shoulders on the explanation of the reasons for my emigration—and for leaving the high position in academia—rooted in snowballing corruption that I could not stand anymore. Yes, may be many countries have their own bureaucracy and corruption, but Ukraine is something special. And therefore, I am triple proud that in the recent elections 73% of voices went to the new President Volodymyr Zelensky, a Russian speaker from the Eastern region – and a Jew. This ran counter to the typical populist Ukrainian tendencies.

May be, this time around the social-economic situation was so bad that the people overwhelmingly voted for somebody who gave the most hope to uplift Ukraine from the hole the former management put it into. And President Zelensky, however young and inexperienced, makes big strides to fulfil his promises, and—most importantly—pull his country from a deadlock war with Russia. To reach this goal, he needs money, weapons and support of the United States. But will he do a “small favor” to the almighty American President who held this money, although approved by the Congress? I am no judge. Or, the better question is whether he has a choice.

Past Predicts Future

When thinking of Ukraine, consider the following:

  • For over twenty-five years of my life in the United States, whenever I answered “Ukraine” when asked where I came from, I’d hear, “Ah, Russia!” Home to 43 million people, Ukraine was little-known — until bloodshed in Kiev’s Maidan Square and continuing mayhem provoked by Putinesque instigators brought it into headlines. The media, however, often understated the situation, thus hurting American understanding of this strategically important European country.
  • Critically, Ukraine, the second-largest military state in Europe (after Russia), surrendered its nuclear warheads in 1994, after the U.S., UK, and Russia had guaranteed the integrity of its borders. Now, when Ukraine sees the army of Russian President Vladimir Putin at the gates and is torn apart by pro-Russian separatists, Ukrainians feel betrayed by the all former guarantors. And it looks like nobody cares.
  • The late U.S. Sen. John McCain, speaking on Late Night with Seth Meyers, dismissed Russia as a “gas station run by a mafia masquerading as a country.” I never agreed with that. Russia may be a mafia, but with many nuclear warheads! Their warheads can annihilate the world three times over. And by now, maybe four times.
  • And this mafia stops at nothing, as its track record in Chechnya, Georgia and Crimea had proven. It’s not to be downplayed! Unfortunately, many politicians in America and Europe alike appear unaware of Putin’s goal, which was applauded in the Russian Duma: to reconstruct the U.S.S.R., in a smaller but stronger version — including Ukraine. That statement from the past predicts the future.

The Historical Roots of the Conflict

  • Despite their territories changing hands and enjoying only a short-lived independence, 77.8 percent of the population of Ukraine identifies as Ukrainian, whether or not their mother tongue is Ukrainian or Russian (which is often the case in Eastern Ukraine, where I have been born). Language issues notwithstanding, the growth of national consciousness began with the struggle of the independent Ukrainian People’s Republic from 1917 to 1921. Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin drowned it in blood, adding the man-made Famine-Genocide of 1932-33, the deportations of the so-called kulaks (rich farmers who opposed collectivization, and one of my granddads fell victim to it), the physical annihilation of the nationally conscious intelligentsia, and general terror to subdue the nation.
  • The people of the Ukraine are fighting a vicious battle against organized crime, corruption and the forces of evil. While we shook the Soviet yoke in 1991, many of the corrupt, communist apparatchiks unfortunately managed to hold onto their positions. The crime and corruption continued but the Ukrainian people have finally had enough and are bravely making their stand.
  • The condescending and dictatorial “big brother” habitually ridiculed Ukrainian nationalism (equating it to narrow-mindedness) and even the traditional love of borsch; everything Ukrainian was regarded as second-tier, inferior to everything Russian. Facing repressions, Ukrainians kept a low profile.
  • But no low profile anymore: Multiple sources inside the country report a sharp rise in Ukrainian national consciousness, and even people who used to be indifferent to the issue favor Ukrainian unity over Russian recolonization. This chronicle makes Putin’s takeover of Ukraine — and the ensuing, never-ending chaos and civil war — problematic.

Ukrainian Americans Provide Insights on Ukrainian Culture

As a believer in culture’s power to condition and predict our success, I think that in order to grow U.S. influence in this strategic geopolitical region, we need to better understand the mindset of its people — because the culture prophecy is as steady as it gets in our ever-changing world. In 2016 there was a sizeable number of 347,759 Ukraine-born Americans. Among celebrities who contributed big time to the US well-being and culture, the first names that spring to mind are from Hollywood: Ukraine-born actresses Mila Kunis and Milla Jovovich – as well as Dustin Hoffman and Steven Spielberg who are proud of their Ukrainian heritage.

Let’s look at two other successful Ukrainian-Americans for insights into the Ukrainian character, culture, and contributions.

Oksana Baiul: Queen of the Ice

  • Oksana Baiul, a retired Ukrainian figure skater, emigrated from Ukraine to America after becoming the 1993 World Championship Gold Medalist and the 1994 Olympic Gold Medalist in Ladies Figure Skating. Orphaned early, Oksana lived in Odessa with the wife of her coach, demonstrating talent and true grit on her way to becoming the queen of the ice. Her relaunched career in America went well; for example, she collaborated with renowned ballet dancer Saule Rachmedova to bring together the Ice Theatre of New York and had many public appearances, including on MTV’s Total Request Live.
  • A passionate person, Oksana never forgot her roots: She supports the Tikva Children’s Home, which aids the Jewish children of Odessa.
  • Oksana has been living in the U.S. for years, but her national consciousness is strong and prompts her to voice her support for the good of her former compatriots. She feels their pain at the Maidan events and beyond.

Helen Schneider, Ph.D.: Happy Health Economist

  • Helen came to the U.S. to study economics, knowing that America had given the world most of its Nobel Prize-winning economists. She proved to be flexible, moving from Kent, Ohio, to Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, then to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, then to the University of California, Berkeley, for her post-doctorate, then to the Los Alamos lab in New Mexico, and finally to the University of Texas in Austin.
  • Helen embraced the diversity of America’s regional cultures, thus becoming an all-American girl. Her integration into each place was heartfelt: her family still remembers how her immersion in Southern culture expressed itself as “Yankees are no good! Well, some may be…” Today Helen is an all-inclusive Texan — because everything is bigger and better in Texas 😊. She’s passionate about teaching health economics and econometrics, the tough subjects, plus some of her articles made headlines in top professional journals and brought her awards. Her cultural sensitivity helps in teaching a diverse student population at UT, and she’s happy to do what she loves.
  • Helen stays in touch with her old friends in Ukraine and Russia and remains poised and graceful, never taking sides when Russia-vs.-Ukraine opinions become polarized or even hostile, but she believes Ukraine deserves to be independent, not subservient to Russia, because of the specific culture.

Democracy Is Difficult to Dose or Dispense from the Outside

The flexibility, survivability, talent, passion, and national consciousness of these and many other Ukrainian Americans reflect the history-and-culture prophecies of their country of origin. Today’s Ukraine, a struggling nation, made the headlines again, and not in a favorable context. But America should not jump the gun and withdraw support; Americans can extend support differently, while never underestimating Putin’s track record and Russia’s warheads.

Besides, in any country, democracy and a sense of fairness are difficult to judge, dose or dispense from the outside, especially when one knows as little of the country’s history and culture as our typical politicians seem to. Let’s make a better effort—and we’ll continue to have Ukraine as a strategic partner in a geopolitical European region!

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First published at http://fionacitkin.com

Diversity & Speech Part 6: Equity and Inclusion – by Carlos E. Cortés    

Carlos E. Cortés
Carlos E. Cortés

This is the sixth in a series of columns based on my research as a former fellow of the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement.  In earlier columns I argued that our nation’s system of expression is far too complex to be encompassed by the simple, misleading couplet, “free speech.”  In fact, over more than two centuries, our nation has developed a complex constitutionally-based system that combines robust legally-protected speech with selective legal limitations on speech.   

Therefore, diversity advocates should not be drawn into the position of opposing free speech. They don’t need to, because it does not actually exist. Instead they should defend the basic societal value of  robust speech, while also reframing the discussion by clarifying the tensions that inevitably arise when the valuable imperatives of diversity and speech intersect. Simultaneously they should function within the American historical tradition by proposing carefully focused additions to the current list of legal limitations. 

Continue reading Diversity & Speech Part 6: Equity and Inclusion – by Carlos E. Cortés    

Why Inspirational Leaders Follow A Path Of Gratitude – by Andrew Scharf

When innovative thinking is at the helm, you can be sure that at its core is inspirational leaders. Real leaders have our back, and stand up for doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do. At a time when we are surrounded by the forces of darkness and authoritarian strong men, we owe to ourselves, our communities, our countries and the world to stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight to preserve the freedoms many of us have come to take for granted. Make your voices heard. Democracy dies in silence.

Innovative leaders shape positive behavior, communitarianism as well as business practices. Under this form of stewardship, optimism and gratitude prevail.

Continue reading Why Inspirational Leaders Follow A Path Of Gratitude – by Andrew Scharf

Living and Dying – by Deborah Levine

When an anniversary falls on Yom Kippur, the most solemn holy day of the Jewish calendar, thoughts of living and dying take on cosmic proportions.  Fortunately, it’s rare for the two milestones to collide given the differences between the secular and Jewish calendars. Both are celebrations, but Yom Kippur which ends the New Year’s ten Days of Awe, is a sacred time when the celebration of life is combined with contemplation its finite nature. This year, I have a double dose of introspection and my mind sought the path separating living from dying and wandered from wonder and gratitude to mourning and humility.

Continue reading Living and Dying – by Deborah Levine

Policies, Faith, and Calendars – by Deborah Levine

When the Jewish New Year arrived, I got many questions about faith and calendars from Human Resource departments. They wanted to know why the holiday occurs on a different day each year according to our secular calendar. And they asked about food associated with the holiday. Offering the traditional apples and honey for a sweet New Year was the easy part. Explaining the timing was the real challenge.

What should I write about religion and religious calendars in these contentious times? I know that many organizations and companies would prefer that the issue of religious diversity would disappear. But every year, thousands of religion-based lawsuits claiming a “hostile or offensive work environment” are registered with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).

Continue reading Policies, Faith, and Calendars – by Deborah Levine

Disability Employment Awareness: Five Questions for EEOC – by David B. Grinberg

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The observance, which dates back to 1945, is sponsored annually by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy.

Did you know? The employment population ratio for people without disabilities (65.7%) was more than triple that of people with disabilities (18.7%) in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Continue reading Disability Employment Awareness: Five Questions for EEOC – by David B. Grinberg

The “N-Word Still Stings! – by Terry Howard

Terry Howard
Terry Howard

BREAKING NEWS: Using slurs to make a point sparks debate on academic freedom. Emory University law professor Robert Saunooke said he tells his students before the start of his first class that there are words and phrases he’ll use that might be uncomfortable (Atlanta Journal-Constitution 9/19/19). And he delivered on that promise by uttering the “N-Word” a couple of times.

“Hey N_ger!”

Boom! Out of nowhere verbal lightning struck me directly. Continue reading The “N-Word Still Stings! – by Terry Howard

Experiencing Diversity Through the Marine Corps Training Process – Reginald Hairston

The Marine Corps’ purpose as stated on its webpage is to, “Defend the people of the United States at home and abroad. To do that, we make Marines who win our Nation’s battles and return as quality citizens.”  To the casual reader, the first half of the purpose, which is to defend the United States, is stated in simple terms and easily understood.  However, it is the latter half of the purpose that bears some investigating and begs the question, “What does make a better citizen mean?”  To answer this question, I want to take you on a journey through the process of becoming a Marine, the transformation that occurs and the life-changing impact of being immersed into a sea of diversity creates. 

Citizens from every walk of life you can imagine arrive by bus to one of three locations.  Young men and women who have signed an enlistment contract arrive at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina or Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego.  Officer candidates receive their initial training at the Officer Candidate School located in Quantico, Virginia.  For the purposes of this journey, we will focus on the experience of the recruits who matriculate through one of the training Depots.

Continue reading Experiencing Diversity Through the Marine Corps Training Process – Reginald Hairston

Breaking Down the Walls to Disability in the C-suite – by Louise Duffield

Overcoming obstacles to the integration of disabled people in the C-Suite should be at the top of every board agenda. Often, I hear about diversity, but diversity efforts alone do not  deal with the challenges facing disabled senior executives or aspiring leaders. These challenges can be addressed, and leaders have a responsibility to turn around the stigma surrounding disability in the C-suite.

Continue reading Breaking Down the Walls to Disability in the C-suite – by Louise Duffield