Category Archives: Make a Difference

Projects that are making a difference, improving lives, and building communities.

Ending the park equity divide – By Diane Regas

Years of research has shown that spending time in nature reduces cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma and mental illness. The last 18 months have underscored the immense benefits that our parks and public greenspaces provide. As the nation struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic, parks were outdoor oases that allowed millions of Americans a safe place to escape the confines of their homes. And parks in 98 of the nation’s 100 most populous cities doubled as venues for meal distribution, COVID testing and outdoor classrooms.

But parks and the benefits they provide are not evenly distributed in those cities. New research is demonstrating that the absence of these green spaces is disproportionately and negatively affecting our nation’s communities of color.

Continue reading Ending the park equity divide – By Diane Regas

Culturally Competent Healthcare in America – by Pearl Kasirye

Not all Americans have the same experience when they try to access public services like healthcare, security, or even justice. That’s historically true, but when you take a closer look at the issues within the healthcare system, it’s clear that there’s more beneath the surface.

There are factors like socioeconomic status, education level, geographical location, racial and gender bias that can affect one’s experience with the healthcare system. In this article, we’ll look at those factors and briefly analyze what can be done to make healthcare more accessible and inclusive for all Americans.

Continue reading Culturally Competent Healthcare in America – by Pearl Kasirye

Yummy or Yucky: from Halloween to Thanksgiving – by Deborah Levine

Every year, we struggle to resist the temptation minute to minute to sugar ourselves.  It begins with Halloween candy and proceeds to Thanksgiving dinner, exploding with holiday eating extravaganzas with the year’s tastiest foods. By the New Year, the scale shows our over-indulgence. It’s no coincidence that 12% of gym members join in January.

Given COVID, I suspect that the number of Americans  suffering from the obesity-related disease of diabetes will surpass the 30 million when I first wrote this 3 years ago.  Did you know that the ten states with the highest rates of type 2 diabetes were here in the South? The same region where COVID vaccinations are so often rejected.

Continue reading Yummy or Yucky: from Halloween to Thanksgiving – by Deborah Levine

Ode to Breast Cancer Awareness Month – by Deborah Levine

Both my mother and brother had breast cancer that spread and was joined by other cancers. During Breast Cancer Month, I am compelled to write about  the loss of these loved ones. I often stress the breast cancer that  my brother Joe experienced, because too many of us think that breast cancer is a women-only disease. So, this is an ode to Joe. Not only do I write for men with breast cancer, but for all those experiencing the loss of loved ones to cancer, especially the siblings with whom we expect to experience old age together.

Continue reading Ode to Breast Cancer Awareness Month – by Deborah Levine

Black-Jewish Dialogue November 2021

Black and Jewish

Welcome to the Black-Jewish Dialogue, a virtual exchange of information and perspectives .  On Nov. 14 at 5:00pm ET,  the topic is “Black and Jewish”. Scroll down for the link to join the Dialogue.

Bryant  Bryant Heinzelman

Bryant is a veteran of the US Army, and a graduate of the Military Intelligence Cryptologic College of Corry Station, Pensacola. After a particularly difficult deployment to Iraq he shifted his focus from intelligence analysis to Jewish community building, interfaith outreach, and inclusion initiatives. Bryant is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultant working primarily with North American Jewish organizations, a Jewish Educator, Teen Engagement Mentor, a 2018 Union for Reform Judaism Jew V’ Nation Fellow, and bluegrass hobbyist. Bryant is currently studying the “Intersections, Conflicts, and Alliances of the Black and Jewish Diasporas” at Western Washington University (in preparation for Rabbinic school), and resides in Bellingham, Washington.

Barbara Weitz  Dr. Barbara Weitz

Barbara is the former Director, Film Studies Certificate Program at Florida International University English Dept. She has done research for years with Dr. Tudor Parfitt and with the Kulanu Organization in identifying and supporting Isolated, Emerging and returning Jewish Communities around the world. She also has been on the steering committee of FCOS (Faith Communities Organizing for Sanctuary) and has spent time at our southern border trying to assist migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. She is currently heading up the organizing group preparing to help refugee Afghanis settle in the community. Through her research with Jews of Color, she has spoken at conferences and given webinars on the growing topic.

CLICK to join Dialogue

Dialogue Partners:
American Diversity Report,  Chattanooga News Chronicle, Mizpah Congregation, Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga, C.U.R.B. – Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda.

DIVERSITY TOWN HALL: LINKING BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY

Diversity Town HallDiversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) of the futureUTC

 

October 2021:  American Diversity Report presented its 2nd annual Diversity Town Hall in partnership with the Gary W. Rollins College of Business at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). Speaking virtually, the panel of business leaders explored the relationship of business and community in creating the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) of the future.

MODERATOR

Dr. GAIL DAWSON
Associate Professor of Management
Director of Diversity and Inclusion
Gary W. Rollins College of Business/UTC

PANELISTS

ERIC FULLER
President and Chief Executive Officer – U.S. Xpress

DEBORAH LEVINE
Founder/Editor/Consultant – American Diversity Report

DAVID ORTIZ
Corporate Diversity Officer, former board member – La Paz

LORNE STEEDLEY
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusive Growth – Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

CLICK FOR VIDEO OF DIVERSITY TOWN HAll

CLICK  for transcripts
Presentation #1 by Deborah Levine

 

NOTE: The Town Hall is also the October Black-Jewish Dialogue in partnership with: American Diversity Report,  Chattanooga News Chronicle, Mizpah Congregation, Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga, Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda (C.U.R.B. )

 

Photo by John Schaidler on Unsplash

Diversity and Speech Part 23: Health Equity – by Carlos E. Cortés and Adwoa Osei

In July, 2020, the two of us met for the first time as inaugural co-directors of the University of California, Riverside, School of Medicine’s new Health Equity, Social Justice, and Anti-Racism (HESJAR) curricular initiative.  The school handed us those six words.  The rest was up to us.

We started by looking and listening.  We looked at what other medical schools had done.  While we found some useful ideas, this strategy had built-in limitations.  No other medical school that we encountered had triangulated those three intersecting but disparate ideas: health equity; social justice; and anti-racism.  We had to address all three and integrate them into a coherent curriculum.
Continue reading Diversity and Speech Part 23: Health Equity – by Carlos E. Cortés and Adwoa Osei

Equity, Social Justice and Education – by Godson Chukwuma, Joseph Nwoye, Katina Webster

As the debate rages on the extent of equity and social justice for all, two perspectives are emerging. On the one hand, the traditional school of thought represents people who believe that things are going well and that the system operates well based on their conception of equity and social justice for all. These traditionalists assert that our system is fair and that it works as it is supposed to do. They further claim that the system’s operation aligns with the founding fathers’ statements in the 1776 Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that their Creator endows them with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Continue reading Equity, Social Justice and Education – by Godson Chukwuma, Joseph Nwoye, Katina Webster

Diversity and Speech Part 22: The Critical Race Theory Donnybrook – by Carlos E. Cortés

A year ago, who would have predicted that Critical Race Theory (CRT) would have become a 2021 national buzz word?  A buzz word for those attacking it.  A buzz word for those defending it.    Probably with relatively few of those attackers and defenders actually having read much of it.

I have, but it’s not easy going.  Lots of ideas.  Lots of jargon.  Lots of obscurantist legal analysis.  But if you stick with it, CRT can be very thought-provoking.

CRT is based on a simple premise: the law is not neutral.  As a result, institutions and systems that arise from the law will not be neutral.   When Mark Twain asked a friend to explain his position on a controversial issue, the friend answered, “I’m neutral.”  To which Twain responded, “Then whom are you neutral against?”

Continue reading Diversity and Speech Part 22: The Critical Race Theory Donnybrook – by Carlos E. Cortés

Equity in Education Podcast

ADR PODCAST
BLACK-JEWISH DIALOGUE

Hear the conversation about equity in education from these experts  based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This podcast is part of the ADR Black-Jewish Dialogues.

of education

Ardena Garth Hicks: Education Activist 

Ardena is a Hamilton County native and practicing attorney who is the 2020 Legal Aid Society Pro Bono Attorney of the Year. She is a member of the Hamilton County Partnership Network Board of Directors, appointed by TN Education Commissioner Candace McQueen. The Partnership’s charge is to “review the progress of the five schools in the Partnership Network- which have been deemed priority schools by the state…and make recommendations to the Hamilton County Board of Education and Network leadership to support students’ growth and development.”
She is President of Chattanooga Endeavors, Inc., a non-profit organization which advocates for the interests of citizens repatriating from incarceration. Ardena previously was Special Prosecutor for Child Abuse cases with the Hamilton County District Attorney’s office. She served as Hamilton County’s first elected District Public Defender from 1990 to 2014 (3 successive 8-year terms), having been appointed to the newly-created position by Gov. Ned McWherter in 1989. Ardena graduated as a Ooltewah HS valedictorian, earned her bachelor’s degree at Middle TN State U. and earned her Juris Doctor (JD) degree from the U. of Kansas.

of educationDr. Jill Keegan Levine: Education Administrator 

Jill is the Chief of Innovation and Choice for Tennessee’s Hamilton County Schools, a district of over 45,000 students. Prior to this role, she served as the Chief of the Opportunity Zone, a learning community focused on turnaround of the twelve highest needs schools in the district, as well as serving previously as the Chief Academic Officer of the school district.
After graduating from Wellesley College with a double major in Music and History, Jill began her career teaching 3rd grade and directing musical theater productions in the New Orleans Public Schools. She was the principal of Normal Park Museum Magnet, a Chattanooga Pre-K through 8th grade school, for 14 years. She led the transformation of two low performing schools into award winning, innovative, exciting and challenging places of learning. In 2012, Jill was recognized as the National Magnet Schools Principals of the Year. From 2013-2015, she served in the Obama administration as the first full time Principal Ambassador Fellow at the US Department of Education. In that capacity, she worked closely with Secretary Arne Duncan to increase the department’s focus on the importance of school leadership.

 CLICK for PODCAST LINK

Also hear: BLACK-JEWISH DIALOGUE PODCAST: POETS SPEAK

Dialogue Partners:
American Diversity Report,  Chattanooga News Chronicle, Mizpah Congregation, Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga, Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda (
C.U.R.B. )

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