2020 turned into a momentous year for diversity training. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many diversity trainers, myself included, to re-invent themselves by adapting their workshops into an online format. The Memorial Day killing of George Floyd thrust anti-racism into the center of diversity training, challenging those presenters who had generally soft-pedaled the issue. President Donald Trump’s September 22 executive order, “Race and Sex Stereotyping,” caused government agencies and contractors, including some higher education institutions, to suspend or mute their diversity training.
Why, in many instances of social unrest, do we look the other way; that we do nothing? But before we offer some possible answers, last week’s rampage in Washington gives us some context, a starting point.
Like millions, I watched in disbelief thousands of “protesters” (or whatever you choose to call them) converge on the Capital building. The images of them scaling walls, overwhelming police and breaking windows while lawmakers cowered in hiding or were rushed out for their safety will be etched into my memory forever.
Chatting off-topic one day with one of my favorite editors, Deborah Levine, I talked about feeling like an outsider at age 7 in my own family. Perhaps she had not discussed her similar feelings before because she embraced the topic and told about similar feelings in her childhood. Deborah told her mom how she believed she belonged to gypsy parents who must have left her on the doorstep. Then without surprise or forethought she asked her mom, “Would you please return me to where I really belong?” Her mom was amused by her hyperactive daughter with the quick mind and tongue.
I then shared with Deborah that I felt I’d been left behind by aliens as part of an intergalactic experiment by my far-away family. This was not as far fetched as you might think when I explain how my father was a scientist working for the government in Radiation Biology. He had security clearances, and this was to explain why he was gone a lot to places he could not speak about upon return. was often on the road to places he could not tell us about. It was also the 1950s when the red-scare atmosphere filled the very air and our television programing the paranoia of the McCarthy era.
We don’t know yet what the future will bring. We never know what the future will bring. Analysts often say it’s a mistake to predict the future by extrapolating the trends of the past. The world is too complicated a place. With the current pandemic, it’s been “up jump the Devil.” But never in our lifetimes has a Devil occupied the White House. Will we forget an important lesson we should have learned—that Evil exists, and walks among us? I’ve said for years that many people believe in good, but deny that evil exists also. Yet there can be no good without evil.
In the 1960s, sociologist Harold Garfinkel founded a new field of inquiry called ethnomethodology. As such, Garfinkel uses the term indexing to describe how we depend on whatever information and experience we have to make sense of every social context. We call this social cues. For example, when a man in the US meets a person who is wearing a dress and a pair of high heels while carrying a lady’s purse, the man instantly concludes that this is a woman and therefore will instantaneously interact with this person according to the social etiquette between a man and a woman.
Garfinkel calls such mental exercise indexing. When we are unaware of social cues because we have not had interaction with members of a particular social group, we would depend on the common information available, whether true or not. This is when stereotyping comes into play.
3 Women Share & Inspire
Many of you are changing your lives and work to care for others and yourselves in new ways. The ADR honors all of your efforts and shares these COVID stories to inspire and motivate.
How does one consider achieving peace while living in a world that is currently confused, polarized and disunited? How do we live in a manner that leads to peaceful cooperation? We have, historically, tried various political and economic systems and yet we, as a society, continue to exist in a seemingly endless downward spiral with only brief peace-like respites. Given our current set of conditions, we can guess where it all leads if a fundamental change doesn’t occur.
It appears that humanity is in need of asking itself certain fundamental questions, such as: Who am I? What is the purpose for my existence? What do I believe in? How should I correctly act towards others? Once we begin to discern answers to these and other questions of value and character can we start to move ourselves and our society towards a more unified and productive direction. A direction that leads us out of ourselves and begins to widen our vision.
Look inside to shape your impact
This pandemic has affected the world population and we are facing different kinds of problems. But we believe that we will come out much stronger from this crisis. Hence we need to take some steps to ensure that the world becomes a better place for living in post pandemic era. We need to take some steps towards that. Helping others is not only good for them and a good thing to do; it also makes us happier & healthier too. It also helps us to build a strong communities & a society at large. It is not only making money & creating wealth, but also sharing time, energy and ideas.
“The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane… Change yourself – you are in control.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
A couple of mornings before Thanksgiving (or Indigenous Heritage Day, depending on how politically correct or “woke” you are) I got a call from a Native American friend who has run into a patch of bad luck. He initiated a conversation on the political situation in the United States, and how he was glad that he could go to sleep and not be afraid of waking up to more craziness by President Trump. My first thought was “It’s a new morning in America.” Only later did I remember that this was a slogan used by Ronald Reagan in his 1984 Presidential campaign.
Organizations gripped in COVID-related fear, uncertainty and job insecurity these days are ones that are most vulnerable for empowering bullies who thrive and exploit those realities.
Keep that thought in mind as you read this recent email.
“Terry, those in our office love your articles and want to know if you have written – or could write – something on bullying; not the overt type, but the subtle kind we’re seeing that’s hard to put your finger on. Got anything?”
When I got that email, two things entered my mind. First, given the havoc COVID is wreaking today, why on earth should we worry about bullying of all things?