Many quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr. were posted on line this week. A fellow Chattanooga colleague got my attention with, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Then I got an email from a synagogue buddy asking me why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) was being silenced and suggested that I write about this for my TFP column. Interesting coincidence! But I was busy mailing a DEI book that I’d written. Holding the book in one hand, I picked up an unmarked envelope mailer only to find that there was something already in it. And that’s when coincidence became weirdness.
I’m Jewish. My first personal memory of antisemitism was when I was eight years old. I was in the synagogue with my father on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, a day of fasting, praying, and atonement.
We were engaged in silent prayer when all that silence was broken by loud yelling and banging as the door crashed in. A group of young white Christian boys were attacking us. They threw things at us and called us names like “sheeny” and ‘kike.” “Go back to your country. You don’t belong here,” they screamed.
I was terrified. We knew about the Nazi genocide of over 6 million Jews and other people who did not fit the Aryan “bloodline’. Many in our neighborhood had numbers tattooed on their arms from the Nazi concentration/extermination camps. All of that trauma was passed down to us.
I remember thinking, “How could they hate us so much? They don’t even know us.” At that early age, I wanted to get to know people who were different than me and have them get to know me so we wouldn’t hate each other. I also realized that to end hate, stop violence against us and find safety, Jewish people needed to join other people who had experienced discrimination. That became my mission.
Have you heard that Kanye West might buy the self-styled free speech platform called Parler? Supposedly “conservative”, the app was used to organize and recruit for the Capitol siege. Parler continually enables hate with accounts that use swastikas as their profile pictures along with posts with Holocaust denial, antisemitism, and racism. Proud Boys, QAnon conspiracy theorists, anti-government extremists and white supremacists have all promoted their views on Parler.
Originally written for Generation 42 Global Reformers July 4th Prayer Service
As we gather together virtually for the July 4th celebration, my first thought is to ask for the blessing of our Creator who has placed us all on this precious planet. Our faith leads us to a shared hope for a future where we can harmonize, not homogenize, at the intersection of race, ethnicity, religion, generation, and gender represented in this country. That hope was not a conscious one growing up in British Bermuda as the only Jewish little girl on the island. But I’m honored to now be recognized as a Diversity & Inclusion Trailblazer by Forbes Magazine. And I’m both honored and astounded to be an Award-winning author of 15 books on cultural diversity and the founder of the American Diversity Report where I’ve served as editor for 15 years.
I’m astounded because my early dream was to be a ballerina, forever in pink ballet slippers. But God had other plans for me. Perhaps that’s why, even as a youngster, I was surrounded by diverse cultures and appreciated their artistic expressions.
Continue reading July 4th Prayer – by Deborah Levine
Believe me, it wasn’t easy but I took a deep breath and returned to an eerie intersection, the scene of a nearby church and scene of my auto accident four years ago.
Like back then, a motor cyclist pulled out in front of me, this time from a nearby gas station and thankfully with an entirely different result. He sped off and I, shaken by the coincidence, pulled into that church parking lot to catch my breath and reflect on what just happened, what could have happened and what happened back then.
Continue reading Hey, I’m Alive! – by Terry Howard
Antisemitism goes back long before the term was coined by a German historian in 1781. Violent attacks and expulsions of Jewish communities span centuries. The Babylonians exiled Jews from Zion, the earliest use of the term, into Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions. The Romans forced Jews into Europe. Blamed for causing the Black Plague, Jews were driven out of England, France, Germany, and Italy. They fled to Eastern Europe but experienced violent pogroms and isolation into The Pale. Throughout it all, the elements of antisemitism rarely changed.
For example, the Blood Libel dates as far back as the Temple in Jerusalem with claims that Jews sacrificed Greeks. It reappeared in the Middle Ages when an English cult announced that Passover Seder wine was actually Christian blood. Centuries later, a mob destroyed a synagogue in Damascus for this blood libel. As recently as 1928 in New York, Jews were accused of kidnapping and ritually killing a young girl.
Allyship is an inclusion and diversity strategy through which individuals with privilege support members of underrepresented groups in positive ways. Implementation of allyship strategies in work environments is increasing. There are many opportunities to use this strategy beyond the workplace, particularly in person social networking and media activities, to combat hatred toward underrepresented groups.
Hate, as a noun, is a passionate dislike, disgust, hostility or learned moral resentment of someone or something. As a verb, hate is to feel intense dislike, resentment, or hostility toward someone or something. Hatred is a demonstration of these feelings. Typically, hatred toward a group or class does not begin with extreme behaviors; instead, there is an incremental escalation which begins with less severe activities.
It’s a very hard thing to figure out what to do about reducing police violence in the US, especially reducing and eliminating racist violence. These issues keep coming to our attention largely because of undue and inappropriate police violence against unarmed African-American men. Recording of videos on cellphones and subsequent distribution on social media have made these tragedies much more public and apparent. These tragedies have been occurring for a very long time. Progress has been spotty and inadequate.
In classic strategic planning, we talk about what to stop doing, what to do more of, and what to do less of. There appear to be issues of organizational culture, where a substantial number of police departments are disconnected from morals, ethics, humanity, cultural competence, and the surrounding communities. Clearly, if an organization is being overtly discriminatory, they should stop doing that. But most of us aren’t overtly discriminatory, so our connection to the larger society must be producing discriminatory effects. The issues are complicated by the fact of about 19,000 largely independent police departments in the US. Continue reading Reducing Police Violence – by Marc Brenman
This time of year should be all about kindness, generosity, and, of course, love. But there’s precious little love in the air these days. Whether watching the news, looking at Face Book, or checking out Twitter, what we see is the glorification of snark. Insults, meanness, threats, and derogatory language permeate every thread of our society’s fabric. We are at war with each other and love is hard to come by. So I resorted to love expressed in a different era, in a different war.
FBI Director Christopher Wray recently told Congress the following about hate groups: “A majority of the racially motivated violent extremist domestic terrorism is at the hands of white supremacists.”
Hate crimes increased by nearly 20% in 2017, according to the latest FBI data. The actual numbers are likely larger because many hate crimes go unreported or are misclassified for various reasons.
Another study on hate crimes among 30 big cities nationwide, by The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, states the following: “Hate crimes rose 9 percent in major U.S. cities in 2018, for a fifth consecutive increase, to decade highs, as cities with increases outnumbered those with declines two to one. In contrast, crime overall in major cities has declined in both of the last two years.”