Category Archives: Make a Difference

Projects that are making a difference, improving lives, and building communities.

Climate Change and Global Cities – by the Rev. Dr. John Pawlikowski

I recently participated in a session hosted by the Chicago Council of Global Affairs during this conference on climate change. The conference has brought some 51 mayors and their staffs to Chicago at the invitation of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel of Chicago to develop a flexible mayoral covenant on climate change within North America. The session in which I was a participant was led by the mayors of Chicago, Vancouver,Montreal, Washington and a modest size city of 150,000 in Mexico. NY TIMES writer Thomas Friedman chaired this session.
Allow me now to share some of the important points that arose from the discussion.

Continue reading Climate Change and Global Cities – by the Rev. Dr. John Pawlikowski

Stopping the Stigma of Mental Illness – by David B. Grinberg

May is Mental Health Month, a nationwide effort to raise awareness and help end the stigma for people with mental health conditions.

Let’s remember that as public discourse about mental health increases, the associated stigma decreases. That’s why it’s critically important to shine a spotlight on a range of mental health issues affecting people of all ages, from depression to dementia.

Fostering open communication, education, transparency, advocacy and outreach — both online and off line— are solid strategies to eradicate prevalent myths, fears and stereotypes.
Continue reading Stopping the Stigma of Mental Illness – by David B. Grinberg

Navigating the “touch, no touch” quagmire: Part 2 – by Terry Howard

“Reach out and touch someone and make this a better world if you can.”  ~ Diana Ross

Wow, before the ink was dry on my, “Hug me not Joe Biden,” fundamentally a “don’t touch” (or touch selectively) advisory, in the American Diversity Report, along comes Tiffany Field who has spent decades trying to get people to do just the opposite…. touch one another more.

Okay, I say don’t touch, she says do touch!

So what gives?

Continue reading Navigating the “touch, no touch” quagmire: Part 2 – by Terry Howard

Stopping Sex Bias on Wikipedia – By David B. Grinberg

International Women’s Day was March 8. 
Women’s History Month ended March 31. 
Equal Pay Day was April 2.

Yet Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia, continues to marginalize women on its English language pages and among its staff. This conclusion is not theoretical but unequivocal. It’s based on academic studies, public statistics and anecdotal evidence.

Wikipedia’s data is daunting, according to the Wikidata Human Gender Indicator.
To wit:

• Less than 18% of 1.6 million English Wikipedia bios are about women, up from 15% in 2014.

• Put another way: of about 1,615,000 bio pages, fewer than 300,000 are about women.

• Meanwhile, men account for about 90% of all English Wikipedia’s volunteer editors.

Wikipedia’s brand image is more reflective of 1920s paternalism than 21st century modernism. The San Francisco-based nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, which oversees Wikipedia, has a noble mission: Democratize the free flow of information and knowledge to diverse populations worldwide.

But is English Wikipedia practicing what it preaches?

Continue reading Stopping Sex Bias on Wikipedia – By David B. Grinberg

Hug me not Joe: Part 1 – by Terry Howard

Joe hugged!

Joe’s hugging ignited a media firestorm!

Joe as in Joe Biden, former VP who’s tottering on a decision to make a run for president.

Now this narrative less about Biden and more about hugging and the need to both establish and/or reset social norms relative to personal boundaries. More than anything this is a wake-up call on hugging and the issues and questions the behavior raises.

So let’s get started.

Continue reading Hug me not Joe: Part 1 – by Terry Howard

Thou art the outside agitator! – by Terry Howard

In her enormously important book, Going Southern, Deborah Levine takes the inquisitive reader deep into many aspects of life in the South, Southern culture and other things people need to know about we Southern folks.

And she courageously touches on the thorny issue of race as an undeniable part of southern history. Her experiences and mine are about occasionally stepping into racial landmines, reconciliation, contrition and hope.

Here’s one of my recent ones.

Continue reading Thou art the outside agitator! – by Terry Howard

Diversity and Speech Part 2: A Changing Context – by Carlos E. Cortés

In my first column in this series, I began a discussion of the intersection of diversity and speech. This has grown out of my research as a current fellow of the University of California National Center  for Free Speech and Civic Engagement.   Let me expand upon those ideas.
The basic point is this: in the United States, free speech does not really exist.  It is an inspiring metaphor, but not an actual reality.  Unfortunately, the term has been overused.  Today people throw “free speech” around in a helter skelter manner.  Too often the term serves as an all-purpose knee-jerk response to diversity advocates when they raise issues of inequitable and non-inclusive language.  At times it can short-circuit serious diversity discussions.
 Our nation’s speech system is far too complex to be captured by those two words, “free speech.”

Continue reading Diversity and Speech Part 2: A Changing Context – by Carlos E. Cortés

From “I wish” to “I’m glad!” – by Terry Howard

“I wish I’d spent more time with her,” shared “Paul.” His moistened eyes trailed off over my shoulder as he talked about having recently lost of his mother.

For sure, it’s an uncomfortable thought, but I suspect that we all can relate in some way to Paul’s remorse. Replace his “her” with your “her” (or “him”) and put it into a different context – a child off to college, the military, etc., or like Paul, the passing of a loved one – and we can understand the impact of missing those irretrievable moments of opportunity in life.

Okay, think for a few seconds about a “I wish I’d spent more time” situation in your life. Jot it down on a piece of paper. What got in the way of your spending that time? Were there factors within your control? What could you possibly do to avoid that the next time?

Continue reading From “I wish” to “I’m glad!” – by Terry Howard

Drug Maker Must Be Held Accountable for Putting Profits Ahead of People of Color – by Ben Crump

It’s bad enough that blacks are already more likely than whites to die from HIV/AIDS. But a drug company’s scheme to put profits ahead of lives only compounds the anguish of targeted communities and amplifies cries for justice.

It’s an absolute outrage. We believe pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences knew its popular and hugely profitable HIV/AIDS drugs were harmful but purposely delayed releasing safer versions. Company executives didn’t see patients as people — they saw them only as dollar signs. That is why I have joined with co-counsels at the Hilliard Martinez Gonzales and Morgan & Morgan law firms to file a federal lawsuit against Gilead.

Continue reading Drug Maker Must Be Held Accountable for Putting Profits Ahead of People of Color – by Ben Crump

Diversity vs. Free Speech Part 1: An Invented Conflict – by Carlos E. Cortés

“That’s against free speech.”  “That’s censorship.”  “That’s unconstitutional.”
Those are the kinds of responses diversity advocates are likely to receive when they challenge hate speech or other forms of demeaning and marginalizing expression.  Unfortunately, diversity supporters often take the bait and respond by arguing for the importance of limiting free speech.  But they shouldn’t go down that road.  They don’t have to challenge free speech because free speech doesn’t actually exist.  Let me explain.
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One year ago I was selected to be a fellow of the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement.   My research project focused on the intersection of diversity and speech.  In my fellowship application I proposed to address the following historical question: over the past fifty years, what factors have driven many higher education diversity advocates to oppose our nation’s tradition of free speech?  However, my research quickly convinced me that I had posed the wrong question.

Continue reading Diversity vs. Free Speech Part 1: An Invented Conflict – by Carlos E. Cortés