Do we have to continue with “I’m okay and you’re an idiot” in our political life? The short answer is no, but getting there will not be easy. For months now we have been subjected to unremitting political ads that attempt to portray the opponent as a bad person. “They will do this to you”…… “They are this (negative) kind of person” and so on. As people came out of the polls from recent elections, one of the common things said was how people were looking forward to the end of relentless attack ads.
To celebrate my birthday, I addressed a group of Global Scholars at Chattanooga State Community College on the societal trends in this political environemnt through the lens of cultural anthropology. Chattanooga is experiencing major cultural shifts as globalization transforms the South’s demographics. We are very much in need of a new generation with global leadership skills, multicultural expertise, and political involvement.
NOTE: This article was originally published on The Huffington Post.
On what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday the world will revisit his extraordinary leadership after his 1990 release from twenty-seven years in prison. Yet, Mandela’s influence was far-ranging long before the 1990s when he pulled together the South Africa that we know today, negotiated a rainbow nation, and became its first black president. I want to honor Mandela’s early impact and emphasize the global involvement in South Africa’s apartheid government and in its demise. The role of international financial institutions in the Mandela story is key for me both historical and personal. Lobbying the banks to divest in South Africa was the catalyst for my involvement not only in the anti-apartheid movement, but in the advocacy of civil rights over a life time.
Other than race (black) and gender (female), what else do April Ryan, Maxine Waters, Joy Ann Reid and Angela Rye have in common?
The answer? They’re smart as heck, forceful in expressing their politics and views, and more than able to defend themselves against disrespect. You see, while others (yes, men, this also includes many of you too) sit in silence these powerful women won’t hesitate to hit back despite the potential for being tagged “An Angry Black Woman.” (If you’re unfamiliar with these women Google them before reading further.)
I sat in the audience of a university theater and listened to elected officials and professors ruminate on inclusion in the upcoming political election. It was Chicago in the 1990s and as in-your-face then as it is now. The discussion over race was loud and raucous as the candidates, Caucasian and African American, went toe to toe. As the debate turned to women, the all-male stage veered into the surreal. It turned into a shouting match as to who was more popular with the ladies. They gestured wildly about the numbers of women who called them, trying to prove that who was the more politically correct and more popular among the ladies.
The world was stunned by the election of Donald Trump. People and pundits alike are debating with each other -How could this happen? – What does this mean for the rest of the world? The answers are as complex as the reasons Trump was selected by the Electoral College. As an entrepreneur living abroad in Paris, France I can tell you that recent events over the past year or so have this place spinning with dread, anxiety, and uncertainty.
There has been a recent and burgeoning trend towards materialism in Chinese cultures, perhaps coinciding with recent economic booms. I witness this anecdotally whenever I walk down 5th Avenue in Manhattan and see a disproportionate number of Chinese people outside luxury retail stores. After perusing through some studies, I confirmed my intuitions and discovered that 68% of people from Chinese feel a lot of pressure to be successful and make money and that 71% of people from China are most likely to measure their success by what they own. Both of these numbers are the highest among all countries surveyed. Chinese consumers have now overtaken Americans to become the world’s largest buyers of personal luxury items.
As a Filipina-American born in an apolitical Florida suburb, I was not raised to be politically involved. Surrounded by predominantly white peers, I did not find my second-generation Asian American identity wholly represented in the southeast. It also didn’t help that my parents had a natural distrust of politicians having come of age under Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law.
Some call the political trend towards “Me & Us First” as the new nationalism. I prefer to apply the label ‘tribalism’. Regional preferences, current events and heavy political advertising, are not shaping public opinion as much as the identity of a specific community and the resonance of a leader to that community. Communities are built on religious and ethnic values, family preferences, housing patterns, and health habits. Their political choices will be shaped by those cultural traits along with the education and economics of the community. Teams and political parties become a complex mix of leadership styles and subtle signals from body language, word choice, and facial expressions to backgrounds and biographies. Policy positions and biographical details will be filtered through the diverse communities with predictably diverse results.