Category Archives: Social Issues

Social causes, activism, and projects

How I’m Trying to Make a Positive Difference – by Marc Brenman

I’m trying to make a positive difference in American political life by investigating whether and how it’s possible to draw some Trump voters toward the political center. In November 2020, about 48% of American voters voted for Trump. Voting for Trump is a proxy measure for rightwing feelings and beliefs. Many of these beliefs are extreme. None contribute to the American Dream of fairness, equity, opportunity, equality, and compassion, or the Good Society. Do we want to live in a permanently ideologically divided country, with the risk of civil war?
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Voices of Asian American Women – by Terry Howard

Reports are that there are over 23 million Asian Americans living in the United States. Other reports are that over the past year, there are at least 4000 reports of various forms of harassment, including assaults, directed against Asian Americans in the United States. And tragically, during recent shootings in Georgia, eight lives were snuffed out, among them six Asian women. These are the facts.

So I begin this by introducing you to incredible Asian American women – Wei Wei Jeang and Lisa Ong – long-time friends of mine during the years I lived in Texas. Not only did I want to check in on the well-being of Wei Wei and Lisa, both outspoken and strong advocates of equality and fairness, I wanted to get their thoughts on what’s been happening to Asian Americans over recent years. I’ll begin with a little bit about their backgrounds.
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My Salute to Women Overcoming Challenges – by Soumaya Khalifa

Resilience, Determination, Support and Hard Work

This Women’s History Month I am thankful for the many women who paved the way for me. These amazing women include my mother, sister, daughter, mentors, friends, colleagues, managers and too many others to list.  With these women as guides and companions, my path has been smooth yet challenging, steady yet adventurous.  For all of those women, I am deeply grateful.

I know a beautiful five year-old named Samira.  At birth, she was diagnosed with a rare genetic mutation that doctors thought would keep her from seeing, speaking, walking, running and living her life like any typical child.  Of course, her family was devastated: they wanted only the best for their newborn daughter.  Samira’s mother, however, immediately jumped into action.  She sought doctors who specialized in Samira’s condition and found the physical, occupational, speech and other therapies that she needed to thrive.  Samira’s mom fought the doctors, therapists and insurance companies to make sure her daughter received the best treatments and support.

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Diversity and Speech Part 18: Hate Speech – by Carlos E. Cortés

Hate speech may be the thorniest point of contention between diversity advocates and free speech absolutists.  Of course most people oppose hate and detest hate speech.  But what should we do about it?  That’s where disagreements begin.

Let’s look at hate speech from four perspectives.  Legal: what does the U.S. Constitution say about hate speech?  Behavioral: is hate speech merely speech?  Aspirational: ideally, what would we want when it comes to hate speech?  Operational: how might government hate speech restraints work in practice?

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Diversity and Speech Part 17: Diversity Training – by Carlos E. Cortés

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.

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Bystanders and the Sergeant Schultz Syndrome – by Terry Howard

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.

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Feeling Like An Outsider? – by Martin Kimeldorf

OutsiderChatting 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.

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The Future: Coming Trends – by Marc Brenman

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.

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Let’s Deconstruct the Stereotype – Dr. Julia Wai-Yin So

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.

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