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.
7 critically important issues for the USA to thrive
As the USA observes National African American History Month in February, it’s an opportune time to examine several critically important issues confronting the black community. That’s because for America to truly thrive as “one nation undivided” then all citizens must be afforded equal opportunities to rise as high as their God-given talents and abilities allow — without discriminatory barriers.
This is the only way we can effectuate “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for all, as articulated in the Declaration of Independence. But, first, some background:
As we begin 2017, the results of the U.S. presidential election are rippling through the national consciousness. Not surprisingly, there is much discussion on the fate of diversity advocacy in the community and in business. The economics of diverse communities, particularly regarding race, gender, and generation have become a daily issue for news reporting. Debate over Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the workplace is a natural extension of the discussion. Opinions range from D&I as a failure to D&I as more necessary than ever. Here are the vision and goals of diversity advocates followed by comments by D&I consultants. Together, they demonstrate a determination and renewed passion for both a diverse society and the diverse workplace.
RAGE SERIES – PART 1
So here we are, and not in some far-flung foreign country either. We’re in America 2016, and hate is popping up across the nation. And as incidents of racist, sexist and Islamophobia harassment continue in the wake of the election, many are asking, ‘what should I do when (not “if”) acts of hate are directed at me or others?’
“God Bless You,” was her seemingly choreographed response to this question I asked my friend and her young black son “Mark”:
“Given the documented cases of hate crimes since the election, how would you respond if haters drove by you and yelled ‘Hey N—-r”, go back to Africa. We’re taking our country back!”
It was an honor to share my perspective as a Jew and diversity professional at Chattanooga’s MLK interfaith service commemorating The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. My passion for diversity is a legacy from my father, a US World War II military intelligence officer whose letters describing Nazi Germany reside in Cincinnati’s American Jewish Archives. Having dedicated decades to tikkun olam, Hebrew for ‘repair of the world,’ I resonate deeply to Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel words, “Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.”
My favorite “suit” is a pair of rumpled up bib overalls. The $199.00, “buy one, get one free” corporate “suits” I’ve accumulated over the years were dropped off in Goodwill boxes, or retired into the deepest recesses of my closet to be retrieved only on rare occasions, say a formal dinner or funeral. Continue reading Are you the president? – by Terry Howard & Bernard Strong
Even after forty years, I still remember the most important lecture I heard at college. It was delivered to me by a friend, standing in the dormitory hallway. I had once again done something thoughtless and self-centered. She had had it with me. She delivered a lecture on all of my failings, all of the ways I had let people down and acted in selfish self-interest. Defensively, I pushed back. But I also absorbed what she said.
There I was pecking away on my keyboard. Part Two of “Hey, Speak English,” was coming along nicely when last week, “the racial week that was,” kicked the legs out from beneath my comfort zone. In a dreadful span of 72 hours, seven lives were senselessly snuffed out in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas. Of course, many more lives ended that week, but thanks to the combustible mix of race, firearms and mobile devices, these are the ones that owned the headlines.
I insert here my worry, folks!
Although a bit of a stretch, a force fit, some may view the killing of those five white police officers in Dallas as payback in the same way that some jurors in the O. J. Simpson criminal trial delivered a not guilty verdict as payback for the beating of Rodney King and the atrocities heaped upon African Americans over the years. They may not have said it publicly, but the bet here is that the thought probably raced through some minds and showed up in private conversations. “The chickens have come home to roost,” as the saying goes and as some likely thought.
Although I can understand the sentiments, the simmering frustrations resulting from black lives constantly being snuffed out, payback utterings make me uncomfortable, very uncomfortable.
Turning now to why we need to careful.
You see, the problem with “paybacks” is paybacks begat a paybacks in turn. So before we realize it, the circular cycle spirals totally out of control. (Think about the revenge killings by gangs). And along the way widows and orphans are made, careers, relationships and reputations – and sometimes, bodies – are left in the wake. And at the end of the day, who really wins? None of us.
So what do we do? Or maybe the better question is what do we not do?
Well, if the thought of payback crosses the mind, Dr. King’s advice should put that idea firmly to rest:
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
-begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
So here we are – you, me, all of us – sitting back in the comforts of our living rooms, eyes glued to TV sets, or in our places of worship trying to figure out what all this means, where on Earth are we going and what can we do personally to make a difference. A conundrum that’s indeed a daunting one.
But here’s hoping that any thought of engaging in payback is one option that’s kept off the table.
Words are powerful. And the emotional reactions to certain words can be especially so. Case in point are the likely reactions to the words in the title above, light-skinned, negro. My hunch is that reactions probably ranged from shock, mild surprise to “what’s the big deal,” depending to a large extent on who you are and your experiences along the color line. Which takes us to Senate majority leader Harry Reid. Although the furor simmered down not long after, Reid found himself at the center of a firestorm years back for suggesting that then-presidential candidate Barack Obama had a political advantage over other African-American candidates because he was “light-skinned” and had “no negro” dialect, unless he wanted to have one. Remember that incident folks?
The debate over Black History Month is not new, but it intensified when this year’s Oscar nominees were all Caucasian. For the second year in a row, the Oscars earned the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. The Los Angeles Times noted that, “It’s another embarrassing Hollywood sequel … the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has nominated an all-white group of acting nominees…The news again provoked an outcry and raised fresh questions over a familiar issue: whether an industry that prides itself on its progressiveness remains stubbornly stuck in the past.”