A Jewish Perspective on MLK

Social Justice – ADR TRENDS 2019

Many of the contributors to the ADR 2019 TRENDS project are disappointed and fearful as the increasing divisions in society become the new normal.  The wide range of writers expressing their concerns includes philanthropists, poets, and diversity experts. Many are pessimistic, but there are rays of hope, too, in their predictions below.

Some of the predictions are global

“2019 has been the Year of Authoritarianism and right-wing populists have been gaining strength. However, 2020 will begin to see the world right itself and, with enough push, these autocrats will slowly begin to fall. The divide between rich and poor will continue to widen, however, as the oligarchs have amassed such power. Europe may well unite again to counter the U.S. and China – and Russia will remain an outlaw nation. North Korea will continue to play games, and Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, and Turkey will remain intransigent. Israeli and Indian leadership will remain conservative and nationalistic. The future of the world will depend more than ever on the U.S. 2020 election.”
~ Jim Luce, Founder & C.E.O. at The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation

Some of the predictions are national

“I sense that the 2019 portal opens upon a fragile entrance, tinged by darkness. The lyrics for 2019 could very well be “Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.” In this surely-to-be-unique year, Trump arrives at the pinnacle of our often hidden right-wing, fascistic Amerikkkan culture. (He frequently mixes a cocktail made from racism, fear and violent threats. I believe it was originally served in 1492. And rarely has this cocktail been poured so frequently at the White House). Nero fiddled while Rome burned, Trumps tweets as he delivers chaos.  Half of me believes we will eventually arrive at a #TrumplessNewYear; and that he will resign by March at the latest. Perhaps that could usher in an American Renaissance. But if he lingers past Spring, then the current resistance will have failed; and the belligerent GOP deliver us into a Medieval 21st Century Dark Age.

Along these lines, I expect many of our cultural products (music, art, movies, performances and literature) will go dark. I have seen that trend bubble up in my own efforts. Currently I write poetry and plays to name and then externalize the gloom and bitterness. This is how I exorcise the darkness from my soul. It helps helps me make space for future threads of light and hope. As I reflect on Deborah’s challenge to share my sense of trends and premonitions for 2019, I return to these notions and my 202nd Quatrain poem.”

I’ve spent a third of my life in dreaming,
the rest belonged to thinking and feeling.
What fragile skin holds this all together?
Gauzy threads connect real
~ Martin Kimeldorf, Poet

Some of the predictions involve the diverse workplace and emphasize the need for training

“We see ‘bad actors emulating what they see in current events.’ Certain parties “feel emboldened by current events.” We are continuing to see emerging gender, race, sexual orientation, religious issues in the workplace and too many organizations wait till things get desperate. Too much reactivity and not enough pro activity. We are doing Harassment Prevention training, Diversity and Inclusion training, Executive Coaching, Assessment/Diagnosis – you name it, we are doing it.
~ Mauricio Velasquez, President, CEO & Owner – The Diversity Training Group

1) Continued expansion of flexible work options, especially remote work and Results-Only Work Environments (ROWE). This is due in large part to more Millennials progressively assuming leadership positions and demanding greater autonomy to balance work-life issues in our ubiquitous mobile, digital and virtual Information Age.
2) Increased corporate training on prevention of sexual harassment due to the success of the #MeToo movement and continuing media attention to raise awareness about this persistent and pervasive problem.
3) More race discrimination complaints filed by white men as this demographic continues to shrink, while the minority-majority demographic continues to grow (total number of traditional minority groups).
4) More focus on diversity due to the business case and demographic shifts. We will see more women and minority CEOs, C-suite executives and corporate board members. This will include more workforce diversity training, including on cultural competency and respectful workplaces.
~ David B. Grinberg, strategic communications consultant, brand ambassador, featured writer and advisory board member for American Diversity Report

Some of the concern revolves around education both in the workplace and in academia. There is optimism in the ability of education to counteract social tensions and divisions.

“Over the past two years, social tension has increased within the United States. Yet, one byproduct of this tension which has only lightly been addressed in the media are the positive responses to these social changes. First, many people find themselves in self-reflection of their attitudes toward and in greater advocacy for marginalized groups. Second, many companies have found themselves accountable for diversity policies and initiatives where previously such policies were formally stated but with no direct action or measurable outcomes. Now, these organizations are held accountable by various stakeholders and employees to deliver on promises and policies.

Further, from a psychological perspective, we realize that for some fear of their place in the social hierarchy has driven these attitudes against marginalized groups while among more liberally minded individuals shifts from Obama-era policies have created social, existential concerns related to social policies. Again, readers from various political or social positions in society may see these changes in a variety of ways. However, one could argue that at least people are now more engaged in social issues, complacency has fallen and social awareness has increased. The challenge for many of us in diversity work is to engage our fellow person in real and meaningful conversations regarding our position on these issues finding ways to listen to people’s concerns actively. As the contact hypothesis has demonstrated, prejudice decreases when high-status individuals interact with marginalized individuals. Further, education should be more systematic regarding repeated engagement with those individuals.”
~ Christopher F Silver, Professor at U. of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Despite the harsh realities, there are good reasons for optimism.

Our writers emphasize the growing investment in social justice. In the midst of growing distrust and hatred, trends in activism and advocacy are leading to hope that leaders and fair-minded people will counteract the destructive prejudice being played out in so many places.

“Although I hope that I’m wrong, I see more acts of hate and violence by domestic terrorists. On the other side, I see more pushback on the part of fair minded folks who are growing increasingly tired of these acts of hate and will fight back with counter protests and lawsuits aimed to bankrupt bigotry.”
~ Terry Howard, Diversity expert & writer

“I see a trend where Social Justice becomes the next “new religion” for the NONES (unaffiliated). The last several Interfaith gatherings I have attended, there is more spotlighting of causes and actions than reflection on faith practices accepting each other. I am speaking from observations at Reimagining Interfaith in DC and the Parliament of World Religions in Toronto.”
~ Robyn Lebron, Award winning Author & Champion of Interfaith understanding


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