Category Archives: Social Issues

Social causes, activism, and projects

Will there be an Easter in 2020? – by Lisa M. Scuderi-Burkimsher

As a child, on Easter Sunday, my mother had my clothes neatly pressed laid on the bed. My wardrobe consisted of a light knee length dress, normally sky blue or ivory, with white socks, and white patten leather shoes. She’d tie a light blue ribbon in my hair and hand me rosary beads to place in my tiny white purse. Then my parents, brother and I went to church. I had been too young to understand the importance of the day. All I cared about was getting home to my basket of chocolate and toys. After mass we’d go to my grandmother’s house for pasta with simmering tomato sauce cooking on the stove and a rack of lamb with fresh garlic hot in the oven. It filled the room with a delectable aroma. Year after year we continue the same food tradition, not the wardrobe, and spend it with family. But this year may be different…

I’ve seen movies about it and even wondered if it could happen, but to live it, is surreal. Easter is April 12th. Will we be with family? Will anyone be able to spend it with their family or go to church? With Covid-19 aka Corona Virus across the world, who knows?

Continue reading Will there be an Easter in 2020? – by Lisa M. Scuderi-Burkimsher

Coronavirus Magnifies Need for Obamacare on 10th Anniversary – By David B. Grinberg

David GrinbergAs America wages a life and death battle against the skyrocketing spread of novel coronavirus, the critical importance of preserving Obamacare is more relevant today than ever. This is particularly true as more litigation to cripple the landmark law is pending at the Supreme Court.

In case you missed it, May 23 marked the 10-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly known as Obamacare. The ACA signifies one of the most groundbreaking and comprehensive healthcare laws in history, along with Medicare and Medicaid.

Continue reading Coronavirus Magnifies Need for Obamacare on 10th Anniversary – By David B. Grinberg

Domestic Violence: My Trouble Remembering Kim – by Terry Howard

Terry Howard
Terry Howard

On the way to I forget where recently, I was listening to the radio during which the news was, not surprisingly, about the coronavirus pandemic that’s sweeping the world. Businesses are closing, schools are closed, and people are strongly encouraged to stay home.

However, I was suddenly stunned when one report cited surges in reports of domestic violence when an increasing number of “stay home” directives are being issued. For me, there are few things more troubling than the thought of anyone suffering from domestic violence. More disturbing is the unsettling image of victims forced by edict to remain home with her abuser.

And on top of that, feelings of helplessness when grappling with what to do before – or what you could have done – when you find out later that the victim you knew was further abused …or worse… is unfathomable. 

Which takes me to petite little “Kim,” a credit union cashier of no more than 110 pounds soaking wet.

When we left church one Sunday afternoon, I saw Kim and her spouse who I’d not met heading to their car. But they drove off before I could say hello and introduce myself. The next day I went to that credit union to take care of some business.

“I saw you at church yesterday Kim and had hoped to introduce myself and my family to your spouse, but couldn’t catch up with you,” I said as I completed a deposit slip.

“Can I share something with you Terry?” she whispered while leaning closer to me to make sure no one was within earshot. “When we were halfway home my husband used the Bible you probably saw him carrying to hit me over the head because something upset him. He’s my second violent husband.  Because I only seem to attract abusive men, it’s all my fault.”

Recalling that conversation with Kim haunts me to this day, even after I assembled literature on domestic violence and slipped it to her in an envelope a few days later.

Was that enough? Did I further jeopardize her by sharing literature and he was to find out? Was there more I could have done? What can we do to help as outsiders to help people like “Kim”?

True, there are social services available, police (911), agencies and churches. But how can we help the victim who fears getting caught reading literature on the subject, let alone utilizing external resources?

And bring this into today’s realities, how can we help victims who are trapped at home because of a pandemic with no end in sight? Where once they could escape to a job outside the home, that’s no longer an option.

Well, if a home visit is not possible or safe, consider using technology. Check in on someone you know, or suspect, being abused by phone or text, particularly if they’ve evidenced signs of physical (and emotional) abuse. But here you should consult with local resources for other ways you could help since the abuser may monitor her phone calls and text messages.

You could also muster up enough courage to speak directly to someone you know, or suspect, may be a domestic abuser and point the person to resources for counseling and anger management. Here again, an expert can provide a composite profile of a typical abuser along with what and what not to do if you may be weighing speaking to him directly.

Will this help prevent domestic violence? I don’t know. However, this does present opportunities for education on domestic violence and sharing resources to those we know – or suspect – may be its victims. The National Domestic Violence Hotline – https://www.thehotline.org/ – available around the clock in 200 languages – is a good one to start with along with local resources.

For me, there’re few things more upsetting than regret for not doing something (e.g., intervening in alcohol/drug, tobacco abuse) you could have when you hear later about a tragic outcome you may have influenced differently.

So, what became of Kim? As much as I want to know, a part of me doesn’t want to know.

And that eats away at me to this day!

Honoring Vietnam War Veterans – Jenna Spain Hurley

National Vietnam War Veterans Day recognizes veterans who served in the US military during the Vietnam War – observed annually March 29.

It’s one thing to return to a place for the sake of your own memories, quite another to go there on the pretext of someone else’s, to walk through their shadows and rekindle their nightmares. As a member of the subsequent generation, the Vietnam War is not a living memory for me, much like the East-West divide and Berlin Wall are not so much defining moments in cultural identity for today’s German teenagers as they are fodder for museum exhibits and high school history exams. Even as someone raised in part by a Vietnam War veteran, somehow, the war was something that just simply was, a small, if persistent, shadow in the background of our lives. Continue reading Honoring Vietnam War Veterans – Jenna Spain Hurley

Beware of Cupid’s Arrow at Work – by David B. Grinberg

While office dating can send you to the honeymoon suite, it’s more likely to land you in the heartbreak hotel, outside on the company doorstep, or in a red hot legal mess.

Whether you’re shooting Cupid’s Arrow or being struck by it, workplace romance can have a detrimental impact on your career. Office dating can damage your prospects for advancement, negatively impact your health and wellness, while causing your productivity to plummet.

Continue reading Beware of Cupid’s Arrow at Work – by David B. Grinberg

Racing To The Bottom – by Martin Kimeldorf

In the 20th century, corporations and state enterprises perfected a “free trade” sleight of hand for extracting resources and cheap labor globally. Today, as sources of “cheap labor” become less profitable, artificial intelligence (AI) is wielded as a tool for further exploiting American labor.

When automated manufacturing first showed up in the 60s, the “pundits” (then called eggheads) worried about automation shortening the workweek. They argued that the increase in leisure would destroy the American work ethic. Today, automation’s potential for delivering the paradise of a 20-hour workweek has been largely forgotten, even though productivity per worker has rocketed off the charts. Today most people feel over-worked, and leisurely lifestyles remain the province of the rich.

Continue reading Racing To The Bottom – by Martin Kimeldorf

MLK Day: Civil Rights Lessons for Millennials and Gen Z – by David Grinberg

David Grinberg
David B. Grinberg

On Monday the nation will pause to observe the annual holiday honoring the life and legacy of iconic civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Yet 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 MLK Day: Civil Rights Lessons for Millennials and Gen Z – by David Grinberg

Hate Stories Entering 2020 – by Dr. Elwood Watson

Advisor Dr. Elwood WatsonThe names Grafton E. Thomas , Nicole Marie Poole Franklin, and Keith Thomas Kinnunens are among a few of the many that should, hopefully and highly likely, will live on in infamy. During this past holiday season, these three obviously deeply disturbed individuals engaged in shocking behavior committing , vile, horrific, sadistic, abominable crimes. In the case of Thomas and Kinnunens, murder was the end result.

For the few (probably very few) of you who are unaware of went down, Thomas wielded a machete and stabbed five people at a Hanukkah party in a New York City suburb critically wounding three of the victims. The following day, December 28th, Kinnunens donning a fake beard, wig and long coat, opened fire at the Church of Christ in White Settlement , Texas killing two worshipers before being shot and killed himself. Several days earlier, in Polk County, Iowa , Poole was charged with attempted murder for hate crimes – specifically attempting to murder two young children in two separate instances. Her first victim was a 12 year old Black youth in a Des Moines apartment complex. Franklin hit him with her vehicle and sped off. The young man suffered minor injuries to his leg.

Continue reading Hate Stories Entering 2020 – by Dr. Elwood Watson

Diversity and Speech Part 9: Hate Speech 2070 – by Carlos E. Cortés  

Carlos Cortez
Carlos Cortez

During my tenure as a fellow of the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, I examined how the diversity movement of the past half century has influenced our nation’s conversation concerning speech. Then, in October, I ran across a call for proposals to present at a December 2019, symposium on Speculative Futures of Education. 

This seemed right down my alley.  For the past forty years I have been dabbling in futurism, including giving a popular public lecture, The Future Basics in Education.   Why not apply this projective thinking to diversity and speech?  So I submitted a proposal, which was accepted. 

Continue reading Diversity and Speech Part 9: Hate Speech 2070 – by Carlos E. Cortés  

When anti-Semitism raises its ugly head – by Terry Howard

Terry Howard
Terry Howard

In one of the most memorable forewarnings in social history, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere!”

Hold that premonition in the front of your mind now and in the days, weeks and months ahead. If you remember nothing else about this narrative, I urge you to remember that line.

“Donna” is a writer. She’s also Jewish, does podcasts and publishes a newspaper column. She takes risks with the topics she takes on which has, on an occasion, drawn the ire of hate groups in the US and from abroad. Yet “Donna” just keeps on writing.

“Donna” is also a friend and, as one can certainly understand, finds the recent spate of violence against Jews more unnerving than maybe for those of us who aren’t Jewish. (For her safety, I’ve chosen not to publish her actual name or location.).

You see, I reached out to her recently after the horrific anti-Semitic attacks on Jews and Jewish establishments which culminated with stabbings of multiple people at a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s home in New York. I wanted assurance, first and foremost, that she and her husband were safe. I also needed advice on what those of us who aren’t Jewish could do beside uttering the usual “thoughts and prayers” before moving on the other things.

“Thank you, Terry. My husband has my back as do many friends and colleagues like yourself. Yes, what is happening is horrifying. These are scary times to put it mildly.”

Vintage “Donna,” she then turned adamant.

“I have no intention of going underground like many Jews do nowadays, and folks who know me know that about me. If my dad was still alive, he’d be proud but would have a bloody fit. “

“Yeah, ‘thoughts & prayers’ don’t really fit what’s happening. I’d say try visiting your local synagogue and ask if you can attend a Sabbath service. Stay after for the “oneg” (fancy word for snacks) and get the flavor of the congregation. Bring some folks with you if they permit. And get to know the people. Maybe you could write an article on what this anti-Semitism craziness looks like from an African-American perspective.”

Now like so many, we’re often left with what else can we do personally before moving on before the next assault grabs our attention. So in addition to the aforementioned advice from “Donna,” I reached out to several colleagues, including long-time friend, “Lisa,” an Asian-American. We shared our collective disgust with what’s been going on and exchanged ideas about what we in the non-Jewish community could do.

“Terry, I do believe strongly in prayer, so I would not discount the power of prayer. However, one addition may be to include more prayers out loud specifically on those facing religious persecution for their beliefs as I hear similar concerns from my Muslim friends and colleagues as well.”

“One thing we can do is to continue to support great venues that promotes shared values of kindness and how to be an upstander for human rights for all by remembering the past but also recognizing the work is still needed around the world today,” shared another colleague who asked to remain anonymous.

Said another, “A unified effort to focus on shared values of peace, harmony, love, respect, and creating a sense of belonging and inclusion for all would be my wish. If we can amplify the light of the world more to drown out the hate speech and those doing evil in the shadows, we can reach more people who are desperately in need of that hope.”

“Stemming the tide of hatred should start in the school where kids at an early age can learn the basics about tolerance, respect for differences, compassion and sharing,” shared author and playwright “Sheila,” who added that we all can speak up forcefully in the face of injustices.

Added “Lisa,” we can support organizations that promote religious understanding with donations or promoting them on social media and following and liking their posts too.” 

There’s no doubt that Jews have taken anti-Semitism very seriously. We who aren’t Jewish must do the same.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere! – oops, did I say that already?