Over the years, I’ve attended press conferences, graduations, receptions, and concerts at Volkswagen Chattanooga’s conference center, but I’ve never before seen it decorated entirely in pink. The event was the first ever Volkswagen Women Who Rock Awards Brunch. After having my picture taken in the photo booth wearing a pink Volkswagen hard hat, I meandered through the crowd waiting to hear from the keynote speaker, Julie Baumgardner, CEO and Founder of Chattanooga’s family oriented nonprofit, First Things First.
We watched profiles of the award nominees on the overhead screens as we listened to each of their favorite songs. It was a musical lesson in diversity. True to Volkswagen’s techie mindset, the playlist could be downloaded on Spotify. After much munching and brunching, we were brought to attention by Shireena Avery, the Volkswagen Diversity Sponsor to the featured Employee Resource Groups (ERG). The Women Who Rock program got underway with Megan Herndon, President of Volkswagen’s Women in Motion ERG.
How Silatech created 600 jobs for women in Somalia … An update on International Women’s Day, a day that recognizes the social, cultural, and economic achievements of women. Once celebrated in only a few countries where women fought for equality, the event has now spread to all groups, countries, and organizations everywhere.
In Lahore, Pakistan, NPR followed the women in their first-ever march for equal rights on International Women’s Day. Hundreds of women came together for the same reason, giving women a proper education so they can obtain successful careers. Journalist Haleema Shah spoke with one of the thousands of women there who defined freedom as, “the ability to own a business and the understanding that such endeavors should not be considered avenues to indecency.” Women’s social standing is changing with the help of a new program created by the regional social organization in Qatar, called Silatech.
March is Women’s History Month.
I had that in mind when I started writing on the significance of that recognition. That is until I came across an eye opening piece, “The boys are not right,” in the February 21 issue of The New York Times by Michael Black. He wrote it in part in response to the recent shootings in Florida where 17 students lost their lives. The shooter –as is the case with the majority of mass shootings in America – was a young man.
Men feel isolated, confused and conflicted about their natures. Many feel that the very qualities that used to define them — their strength, aggression and competitiveness — are no longer wanted or needed; many others never felt strong or aggressive or competitive to begin with. We don’t know how to be, and we’re terrified.
I didn’t know Morgan Spurlock. Never heard of him.
Until one recent Wednesday night. You see, several friends knew that I was toying with the idea of publishing something new in response to the recent explosion of sexual harassment/assault charges emerging almost daily against high profile men. And before the ink is dry on this piece more allegations are probably forthcoming.
But before I get to Spurlock’s “confession,” here’s a feedback request I sent out recently to a number of people, male and female, whose views I greatly value:
Dr. Elwood Watson: Professor of History and African American Studies at East Tennessee State University. His areas of specialty are in 20th Century Post World War II U.S. History, African American History, African American Studies, Gender Studies, Popular Culture, and ethnographic studies. He is one of the editors of Mentoring Faculty of Color: Essays on Professional Development and Advancement in Colleges and Universities. He is the recipient of the Faculty Teaching Award and Faculty Distinguished Research Award from the College of Arts & Science.
When it comes to courageous writing, it doesn’t get much better than James Ragland. He constantly serves up a menu of thought-provoking lines that allow for wannabee writers like yours truly to do some free cherry-picking.
“And when did civil protest — of any form, really — become the object of scorn in America, even when it’s not hurting anyone except the guy whose butt is on the line? You may not like what Colin Kaepernick is doing, but fighting for what he believes in is about as American as it gets.”
–James Ragland, Dallas Morning news
Observations and Tips from recent training in the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) trenches (especially hostile or militant audiences)
CURRENT EVENTS – Current events are just “upping the volume, the passion, the conversation in the workshop.” Do not shy away from current events. I do not answer “what do you think about…” questions at first, I deflect to rest of room to get them talking. Do your homework, stay up to date on current events – be ready! Address vacuum, hearsay and gossip with facts. You might have to revisit ground rules more than once. Between Trump, Confederate Flag, Terrorism (domestic and international), Law Enforcement News, shootings, etc., – who can keep up? Well, you have to. I read multiple newspapers and watch multiple news hours every night (I watch all sides, all perspectives). You have to be a historian to do this work correctly.
Religion has long institutionalized the subservience of women. Today’s woman fights for tangible equity as a way of claiming equality, but will never fully succeed until the root of the problem, religion, either alters its interpretation, or is no longer considered a reputable source of societal authority. Because religion structures the family, hence society, the elimination of sexism must proceed concurrently with the eradication of archaic attitudes within the churches, and servile innuendoes within the home.