Category Archives: Social Issues

Social causes, activism, and projects

Cheer Not Sneer: Black Gen Z Success – by Elwood Watson

Anyone familiar with the rituals of college life knows that we are in the midst of college acceptance and rejection season. Recently, Lamar High School student Micheal Brown of Houston, Texas made national headlines when he gained acceptance to all 20 colleges and universities he applied to, including four Ivy League institutions: Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania. Stanford, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins and 13 other top-notch colleges and universities said “welcome,” as well.

The story doesn’t stop there. Each institution awarded him a full scholarship – a remarkable accomplishment, indeed! Videos of the young Brown yelling ecstatically as he was surrounded by equally ecstatic friends upon learning the wonderful news made headlines across the globe.

Continue reading Cheer Not Sneer: Black Gen Z Success – by Elwood Watson

Allen Liu: Student Activist and Problem Solver

Allen LiuA senior at Chattanooga’s McCallie School, Allen is an articulate representative for student activism.  He is an avid violinist, has been recognized nationally for his scientific research, and will attend Princeton University (fall 2018).

Allen establishes an impressive image for student activist with his  resume: State Math Team, MathCounts Team Founder & Coach, Science Olympiad Captain, Violin (All-State Orchestra Concertmaster), and String Theory Youth Initiative Chair/President (Arts Leadership), as well as leadership in Chattanooga Students Leading Change (CSLC) and Young Democrats.

CLICK below for the Allen Liu interview podcast…

Silence and the Sergeant Schultz Syndrome – by Terry Howard

Ever watch the old sitcom Hogan’s Heroes? If so, no doubt you’ll remember Sergeant Schultz’s famous line, “I know nothing … nnnoooTTTTHHHING!” when he witnesses Hogan’s shenanigans.

During these times of mind boggling incivility, blatant disrespect, school shootings and outright bullying, I find it disheartening to watch those who sit quietly on the sidelines (or behind them on the stage) while someone verbally demeans others with vicious bullying rhetoric. It’s unbelievable how calling someone a “SOB” and other unprintable words have become an acceptable norm these days.
And even worse are the spineless ones not wanting to offend their political base who choose to stand silently in the background and utter tepid responses, but only when called out on their silence.
Let me to peel back the onion as to why the Sergeant Shultzs, the silent bystanders, in the contemporary world appear to be so prevalent during these turbulent times.

Continue reading Silence and the Sergeant Schultz Syndrome – by Terry Howard

Civil Rights Lessons for Millennials & Gen Z – by David Grinberg

Too many Millennials and members of their younger cohort, Generation Z, consider civil rights history as ancient history at the dawn of a new millennium. However, there are profound and poignant lessons which today’s young people need to learn. The most important lesson is how to make major changes in society through the type of peaceful means championed by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow civil rights leaders of the time.

A term of significance for young people to comprehend is: “civil disobedience.”

Continue reading Civil Rights Lessons for Millennials & Gen Z – by David Grinberg

Pandora’s Box of Hate – by Deborah Levine

Editor’s note: this article on anti-Semitism was originally published as an op-ed in The Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Russian President Putin got my attention when he suggested that Jews with Russian citizenship might have interfered in the 2016 US presidential election. “Maybe they’re not even Russians,” said Putin. “Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship – even that needs to be checked.” Putin reminded me why my great grandparents made the harrowing journey from Russia and the Ukraine to the United States. My ancestors weren’t the only ones. Between 1881 and 1924, over 2.5 million East European Jews sought to escape the relentless persecution and ghettoization. The slice of history was captured in the movie Fiddler on the Roof, but while Hollywood entertained, it didn’t fully show the history of anti-Semitism in Russia and Eastern Europe, or its ongoing ripple effect.

Continue reading Pandora’s Box of Hate – by Deborah Levine

#MeToo, Three, Four, and Five: A Leadership Challenge – by Deborah Levine

Why have women waited so long to tell their stories of sexual harassment, discrimination, pedophilia, abuse, and discrimination? How do we as individuals and as a nation process this tidal wave of #MeToo information as people come forward? I’ve hesitated to tell my stories of sexual harassment because I’ve never been able to comprehend and digest them. The first time I experienced my feminine vulnerability, I was only four years old. I was playing outside in the garden of our home in Bermuda, when a teen-age neighbor squatted down next to me as I was playing with my favorite marbles in the garden. Smiling at me, he reached under my skirt and stroked my privates through my underpants. Before he walked away, he made me promise not to tell my father, silencing me.

Continue reading #MeToo, Three, Four, and Five: A Leadership Challenge – by Deborah Levine

Making a Difference: Goodwill in Africa, Afghanistan, and the Middle East

Let us celebrate people making a difference in their own way. These stories from Global Goodwill Ambassadors will motivate you to pursue your efforts to change the world for the better. Their words of wisdom will inspire you to be a model for others to follow in your footsteps. Here are interviews with Dr. Nadia Cheaib and Abdul Asill Azizi.

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Mental Illness and Reducing Gun Violence – by Marc Brenman

After many mass shooting murders in the US, many elected officials and members of the public condemn the shooters as mentally ill, and want to forcefully control their access to guns. The issue has many dimensions. For example, most mass shootings in the US are by white men, but when they are caused by Muslims, the politicians and members of the public condemn them as terrorists. When African-Americans do the shooting, they are condemned as being racially motivated. What is mental illness, and how severe must it be before action is taken to restrain the freedom of those who have it? A third dimension is that by ascribing the cause of mass murder to mental illness, we provide an excuse, a relief from responsibility for the crime.

Continue reading Mental Illness and Reducing Gun Violence – by Marc Brenman

Today’s Idolatry of Symbols – by William Hicks

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

Our Society has Finally Reached the Tipping Point – by Kathleen Sullivan

For over two years now, every day and night, I have been scanning the media comments sections of mainstream media articles to gauge social ebbs and flows.  And I have been tracking the influence of obviously professional trolls and bots. (I should write a thesis about their unfortunately profound influence.) I have been alarmed at how they have been largely successful in guilting, deriding, confusing, distracting, frightening, and shaming genuinely concerned, good-hearted commenters from taking solid, necessarily no-holds-barred action to reverse major societal and political wrongs and destructive movements and trends that have drastically increased in power and control during the same time period.

Continue reading Our Society has Finally Reached the Tipping Point – by Kathleen Sullivan