Category Archives: Social Issues

Social causes, activism, and projects

Freedom and Feudalism in the U.S. – by Debasish Majumdar

I just love the U.S. I have no desire to visit there, but I am thrilled by their homeland history where feudalism was eclipsed by the  American struggle for independence, where from slavery there was an elevation, to a capitalist economy which paved the way to become an epitome of Justice, Liberty and Fraternity.

But, of late, the essence of feudal vices being emanated from their very core of social life is a grave concern for all who love freedom and liberty. I am worried that it may lose their pristine essence of the land of liberty, for which many aspire to embark upon.

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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

First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” – by Terry Howard

She knew full well that a lot of my waking hours are spent reading, writing, listening and reminiscing. Knowing that – and, I suspect, on a hunch – she picked up an extra copy of former first lady Michelle Obama’s soon to be best-selling memoir, Becoming.

The “she” I’m referring to here is “Shree,” a regular among our daily conversation crew at a local coffee shop.

Now on this particular Sunday morning, I was halfway through Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts’ excellent review of Becoming when Shree walked in and plopped Michelle’s book down in front of me. She saw the look of jubilation on my face and, Shree being Shree, refused my command to pay for the book and left in a hurry.

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Dismantling Images of Slavery: Interview with Ken Venable – by Terry Howard

Recently I sat down with Ken Venable inside a coffee shop in Staunton, Virginia, a city recently made famous when the school board – with Venable a member – voted to remove the name of the confederate general Robert E. Lee from the one high school in town.
Now it’s important to cast our conversation against an uncomfortable reminder; that being the complexity of race in small southern towns like Staunton where the specter of race remains ever lurking beneath the distinctive charm of many such towns. Strong feelings on both sides of the contentious debate – “Save the name” versus “The name still hurts” – about the image of Robert E. Lee is a contemporary example.

Here’s our conversation:
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Disability Awareness: Five Questions for EEOC – by David B. Grinberg

In case you missed it, October was National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). However, you may not have noticed due to several other monthly observances nationwide. NDEAM is sponsored annually in October by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, which says the observance dates back to 1945.

Did you know? The employment population ratio for people without disabilities (65.7%) was more than triple that of people with disabilities (18.7%) in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Continue reading Disability Awareness: Five Questions for EEOC – by David B. Grinberg

Get Back Out There & Vote! – By Terry Howard

Outside his immediate circle of family and friends, chances are that not too many will recognize the name “Bernard Strong.” But that will soon change because he’s working on a book, a collection of his life stories. Now unlike a growing number of those patiently waiting for his book (with credit cards in hand) a combination of the timing of next week’s midterm elections and his latest story forced my hand.

Here’s that story.

“21” was my jersey number. I chose that number because some said I had a running style like Mike Garrett of the Kansas City Chiefs. Unlike Garrett however, my football career ended shortly after the Lindblom Tech Class of ’71 march across the stage in caps and gowns.
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The Great Flood – by Lydia Taylor

In the early morning of October 16, 2018, I was awakened by the muffled voices of my parents who were scurrying around their home.  I could hear them speaking but did not know what they were talking about. Besides, I was interested in getting a bit more sleep.  At approximately 7:00am one of them appeared in the doorway.  She told me what time it was and that we were evacuating.  Initially I thought, is it that serious?  Nevertheless, I immediately got out of bed and put on some jeans and tennis shoes, grabbed my Vera Bradley duffle and put a few toiletries into the matching cosmetics bag.  I was visiting, so my bags were readily available.  It took very little time and we were out the door and into the driving rain.

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Immigration leads to a vibrant culture and prosperous economy – by Richard Fields

On May 7, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration.
“If you smuggle an illegal alien across the border, then we’ll prosecute you,” Sessions said. “If you’re smuggling a child, then we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally. It’s not our fault that somebody does that.”

Immigrant families were forcibly separated, with parents being caged in one location and their children elsewhere.

Nearly all Libertarians, most Democrats, and many Republicans were repulsed by the harshness of that policy. Previous administrations used only civil procedures for misdemeanor illegal border crossings, usually resulting in no more than deportation.

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Pastor Paul McDaniel and the Interfaith South — by Deborah Levine

When I arrived at Chattanooga’s Second Missionary Baptist Church, A true Southern gentleman, The Rev. Paul McDaniel, met me personally met at the door.   Born in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Pastor McDaniel has been part of the Southern landscape and its African American community for most of his life. After attending Morehouse College in Atlanta, he received a Masters of Divinity degree from Colgate-Rochester Divinity School and a Masters of Arts degree from the University of Rochester in New York. A Chattanooga resident since 1966, Rev. McDaniel is stepping down from his post at the Second Missionary Baptist Church after almost 50 years of service.  A larger-than-life figure in the community, I share our conversation in his honor.

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