Posts tagged ‘diversity’

Chloe Kim and America

I, as I am sure millions of others, watched Chloe Kim win Gold on the half pipe. I am an ex-snow boarder (age and knees) so I was amazed at her last almost perfect run. But that is not what amazes me most and brings tears to my eyes. What amazes me most is the diversity I see from the American team and the respect all the competitors have for one another. It is the opposite of what President DFF and his Republican cohorts want for America. Think about the luge silver medalist, Chis Mazdzer, who almost gave up the sport but was helped by a Russian in an earlier competition when he lent Chris his sled. That is an amazing act of kindness. That is most of the world where instead of them or us, it should be all of us. That is the America we need to get back

Watching the Americans march onto the field in the opening ceremony was a display of what makes America great. There was so much diversity, you had no idea what country this team was from except with so much diversity it must be America. And think about Chloe Kim whose father immigrated here. Make no mistake about Republican aims, they are looking mostly for white Europeans in their immigration policies. Yes, they want to purify the country. We have no idea who will be the next Chloe Kim or the next Elon Musk. America is the country where we welcome diversity at all levels of education and abilities. It should be a country where you can be what you want to be. It is that very immigrant diversity that makes us what we are and allows us to grow.

President DFF does not get that. His demonization of immigrants utilizes anecdotal examples to his deplorable base that do not represent the vast majority of immigrants, The immigrant population when compared with non-immigrants are better educated, employed, and commit far less crime. So watch the Olympics and just look at a person and guess what country they are from. When it comes to America, you will be stumped. That is what makes us great. Let’s keep it that way and get rid of the real threat to our country, Republicans and President DFF.

What Happened to Us?

That really is the critical question. I sit here this morning reading various pieces about the white supremacists who came to Charlottesville to cause violence and I wonder how did we get here? How did we get a President who is a white nationalist and could not bring himself to condemn them? How did America lose what makes us great, our embracing of diversity? We elected Barack Obama twice and almost elected a woman, and we thought we were putting racism and the fear of diversity behind us, and all of a sudden we are back in the 1950s. How did the very values within our own Constitution and the lessons and great sacrifice of WWII just get forgotten and tossed out by the voters when the elected Donald Trump who legitimized white nationalism?

I have been struggling with that question now for some time. The election of Donald Trump was unfathomable. How do people still defend him when we see who he is? Well probably for the same reason they voted for him when it was plainly obvious who he was during the campaign. After George Bush, who may I add is no Donald Trump, I thought we learned our lesson about conservatism and ignorance. But they made a quick comeback and the national memory turned out to be short termed.

I have some ideas about how we failed and how we are failing the vision of the Founders:

  • When Democrats had the three branches of government, they grossly underestimated the obstructionism and moral depravity of the Republicans where making a President fail regardless of what it did to the country was the goal
  • Both Parties were too tied up with, oh dare I say it, elites or the party establishment, far to wedded to Wall Street and the economic status quo so nothing changed
  • Critical thinking and science had been under attack for years as conservatives tried to create a false reality that supported their ideology, whether that was flow down, immigration is the problem, fear the debt, or all government is bad
  • Election of a black president who many of us thought was the sign we have moved on, not recognizing he terrified a large part of our population, who never admitted their inherent racism, and believed all kinds of nonsense about him

So we entered a period where government was highly ineffective and seemed to be untethered totally from Main Street, reliable sources of news and facts were being attacked and undermined, and the progress we were making socially was used as a club to blame our economic woes upon. Those economic woes came from the uncertainty that many now feel in their lives due to how corporations were moving into the global market place and leaving Americans behind, the reality of secure job loss, automation, and the environment was ripe for mob rule, fear politics, and an outsider who promised to fix it all.

What I cannot come to grips with is how anyone could not see through Donald Trump or what he represented. That is the part that is so hard to deal with. I have no problem understanding how Republicans fell in line to support him. After sabotaging the country during the Obama administration, it was clear that it was and is all about power and how to get it. Their ideology is flexible to that anyway. But the American people should have been asking questions about an obvious sexual predator (grab her pussy), pathological liar (how many Pinocchios again), who incited violence, had trouble disavowing white supremacists, and made promises like building the wall that Mexico would pay for, and bringing back coal jobs with no plan on how to do anything. He was going to tear down everything we have done (Obamacare, Iran nuclear deal, trade agreements, EPA) with no plan to fix or replace them. How could they be so stupid to select someone who was going to tear down our democracy and reject our fundamental beliefs because they didn’t get listened to? More importantly how could the nation fall so far so fast?

I guess more fundamentally how can you not understand our basic fundamental beliefs enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and then elect a man so antithetical to those basic values when he advertised exactly who he was. The one and only thing that makes us exceptional is that we were a place where people can come and based upon their own drive and initiative, secure for themselves and their families a future, where tolerance and diversity are our strength? And then they elected someone who eschews all of this and openly ran against diversity and tolerance. How can that be?

Well they did it. I don’t say we because the majority of us did not vote for this abomination as a president. So the question is, how do we fix it before it is too late? First, like any alcoholic, we have admit we have a problem. Republicans can’t seem to bring themselves to this revelation. And the only fix is to take to the streets and resist, and then get the vote out in 2018. Donald may fall of his own weight with the help of Robert Mueller, or the Republican Party may be too depraved to respond to the inevitable findings. But we would have another overly religious and self-righteous man in the White House who also eschews diversity and lives in the fantasy land of Republican ideology. We have to get organized and vote. If the events this weekend did not tell you how far we have fallen, then you are sleep walking through the wreckage.

Irreverence

I did my knee excercise today, about 4 hours of consulting, lifted weights, practiced my golf swing and then was on the couch clicking between the baseball game and the Republican Convention when I fell asleep.  When I woke up they were doing an interview on the convention floor in front of the cowboy wearing Texas delegation whooping and dancing (sort of). It was an old white fat people convention. Now I am 70 years old and these folks made me look like a young hipster.  Then I had this very irreverent thought.  If somebody dropped a nuclear bomb on the Cleveland Quicken Loan Center the average IQ of the United States would go up.  I know, I should just keep these things to myself.

And Here at Home …

I don’t have to look very far afield to find our own home grown racism and sense of entitlement.  I live about 45 miles east of Sacramento in a white conservative community* that can be down right scary when you consider the level of ignorance that abounds.  But we do have a lot of poor people and that may be our saving grace.  Growing up with someone who has a lot less makes you at least aware and maybe tolerate of the differences.  Not so about 20 miles to my west in a community called El Dorado Hills.

We actually live in El Dorado Hills back in the late 70s and early 80s.  Now it has become yuppieville.  It is home to basically white, rich, and conservative.  It is a place where everyone is in a hurry and everyone is special and entitled.  You don’t see a lot of smiles or eye contact in yuppieville just get out of my way, I am special.  Well the local high school, Oakridge, had a girl’s basketball game the other night and the fans (mostly students) provided us with this (Sacramento Bee):

Racial taunts and body-shaming insults directed at McClatchy High School girls basketball players during a recent playoff game at Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills continue to anger parents from the Sacramento school.

…the taunts came from the Oak Ridge student section during the Feb. 25 game in which Oak Ridge defeated McClatchy, the defending CIF State Division I champion, 40-33 in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.  The taunts included chants of “soy sauce,” “go back to Fiji” and references to “small eyes,” Kumamoto said. In addition, students delivered insults that were not racial, but still hurtful.  “We have one player with a heavier build, and every time she came in they would yell, ‘Outback Steakhouse,’ ” he said. “They would yell, ‘You’re ugly.’ ”

…Aaron Palm, Oak Ridge High’s interim principal, said Wednesday that school and district officials were aware of inappropriate behavior, although he said the racial comments are believed to have come from only one person, whom school officials have not been able to identify.

Of course it wasn’t just one student as the other team will testify to.  But this is a community where everyone is special and rules are for everyone else.  These are the parents from hell, where everyone is above average and it must be someone else’s fault.  I know because I know several teachers in the school district.  Political pressure on the principal is immense.  All in all, it represents some of the best and worst of America.  Oh, and isn’t local control great?

How could you solve this?  I think the answer is quite simple, diversity, economic and racial. One thing we do have a lot of data on is that when people grow up in diverse societies, they develop empathy.  There for the grace of God go I.  Or if they were Christians who actually practiced Christianity (the brave few), the golden rule might apply.  But they have neither and the lack of diversity coupled with their sense of entitlement (money they (students) did not earn), allows them to degrade their fellow human beings.

So no, it is not just ignorant hick from the sticks who can act out his racism by sucker punching a black man escorted from a Trump rally.  It is also a product of our increasing lack of diversity in many of our communities where economic inequality allows us to wall ourselves off from humanity and then make fun of them, well, because they are not special like us.

*Just as an aside, when my son was about 8 or 9, my wife and I took him to an Oakland A’s fan (he has been hooked ever since).  I am a mass transit kind of guy so we drove to Berkley and then took BART to the Coliseum.  The train was full of black, brown, yellow, gray, you name it.  On top of that it was the day of the gay pride parade in SF, so the train was also full of gays, and there was a lesbian couple and one with a lizard on her shoulder.  His eyes were the size of saucers.  He had grown up in a lily white community.  But then like me, he came to love that diversity, all the panache and difference that makes this nation great.  It is probably what makes him a great counselor in a high school today. Celebrate our differences people, they are our strength.

Some Food for Thought on Diversity and Tolerance

Fareed Zakaria was interviewing Singapore’s deputy prime minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and he asked what he regarded as the country’s biggest success. The answer will surprise you:

“What’s interesting and unique about Singapore, more than economics are our social strategies. We respected people’s differences yet melded a nation and made advantage out of diversity,” 

Over 80 percent of Singaporeans live in public housing. All of it well regarded, some of it very upmarket. Every block, precinct and enclave has ethnic quotas. This is what people mean when they talk about Singapore’s nanny state. And the minister readily admits it.  (From Fareed)

“The most intrusive social policy in Singapore has turned out to be the most important,” he says. “When you ensure every neighborhood is mixed, people do everyday things together, become comfortable with each other and most importantly the kids go to the same schools. When the kids grow up together, they begin to share a future together.”

Now here is the part that is going to upset those who think the free market solves all problems:

 “The natural workings of society rarely lead to diverse and integrated communities, not in Singapore, not anywhere else. They more likely lead to mistrust, self-segregation and even bigotry which we see in abundance in so many countries today.” He pointed out that in Britain half the Muslim population lives in the bottom 10 percent of its neighborhoods by income. “Did that happen by chance,” he asks. 

You cannot simply assume that the natural workings of the market or of society will produce social harmony or equal opportunity. They won’t,” Shanmugaratnam said. “Government — an elected government — has a role to play. And it’s not about speeches and symbols. It’s about specific mechanisms and programs to achieve the outcomes we all seek.”

 The point is that as inequality increases, so does our self segregation and it is to our detriment.  Tolerance and understanding come from when people grow up together.  They can see each others humanity with their own eyes.  As we segregate, whether by race or wealth, we lose touch with our fellow man, it is easy to sterotype, and we all lose. Certainly we are not going to mandate everyone live in government supplied and integrated housing in the United States, but the fact that our schools and communities are becoming more and more segregated should concern all of us. 

HBCs

I have some irreverent and probably uniformed thoughts about Historically Black Colleges. They were formed primarily in the South and East to provide advanced education for black kids (men and women really) in a world that tried to deny them that education. Some of the more famous are Howard University in Washington D.C., Spelman and Morehouse in Atlanta, and Tuskegee in Alabama. Many are now in financial trouble as the cost of education soars and many are trying to figure out how to survive

What goes through my mind is that do we ever want universities and colleges that serve primarily one race? Do they then have their own built in biases? Yes I get the hypocrisy of my statement. Clearly in the past universities primarily served the white race*. It doesn’t mean that was a good thing. Clearly HBC had their place, and where blacks were still ostracized in a mostly white population, it was a place where being black was normal and one could relax in an environment of sameness. In many places in the country, that is still true. But still …

I guess my thought is that the HBCs would have to evolve into more diverse (meaning inclusive of whites, hispanics, asians) places. I want to believe that at the lowest level there is only one experience, the human experience. Certainly I do not know or would want to know what it is like to be the only black kid at a school or the racism he/she might suffer. But then again, the basic feelings of being singled out and hated (see gays) is not something that only blacks suffer.

In my simple mind I would like to see a diverse world where diversity is perceived as a strength. That the sameness of race, or religion, or sex is seen as a deterent to modern education, not a prerequisite. On that one, the Supreme Court and I do not see eye to eye. So I guess I would say, like all good advanced education, they should be an important priority to be funded, but their distinctness as mostly black universities and colleges is a relic that should no longer be part of our society. But as a fat old white man, what do I know?

*In California some universities might be said to be primarily Asian, the discriminating factor being exceptional grades in high school.

The Democrats Made Me Proud Today

I watched on television as the Democrats nominated the first black American to represent their party for President of the United States and I shed many tears of pride.  It was a great moment in the evolution of this country.  Of course there was the mainstream media trying to find a soap opera and create some dissent that just isn’t there anymore.  They have their own narrative and have been pursuing it as events have evolved to make that narrative obsolete.  Is Hillary really going to support Barack?  Will Bill come through?  Will Hillary’s supporters deliver?  It was a non-issue.  Hillary showed what she can do in her speech and in asking for unanimous consent in nominating Barack.  The Democrats did something they have never done before:  they were all running plays out of the same playbook.  It must be terribly disappointing for the 24/7 media personalities not to find someone out of step.  But they kept trying, because it is in their mind these guys aren’t following the narrative they wrote for this event.  What could happen next? Might we actually have to report what is going on instead of picking our stories to support the narrative we are selling?  Some of the most interesting speeches were ignored while they conducted inane interviews trying to generate some dissention.  Thank goodness for CSPAN which allowed me to hear some of the amazing stories these speakers told without the interference from the 24/7 talkaholics.

But forget all that.  I watched the nomination process with deep upwelling of pride.  I know, it was a choreographed vote, kind of, sort of.  Some States surprisingly threw all their votes to Barack in a show of unity.  But more importantly as I watched each State announce their state and take their 30 seconds (some went on much longer than that) of fame in the spotlight, I saw a cross section of America.  I saw Blacks and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans, and a very large contingent of women of all hues.  What I saw was a party made up of what makes America great and strong, our diversity.

It was the same when I watched the Olympics.  Teams from Africa looked, well African.  Teams from China looked Asian. And so it went till you got to the United States and the strength we showed was our diversity.  We looked like the whole world and it is a metaphor for what our nation is all about.  We bring the best out of the best regardless of nation of origin.  It is what makes us strong and different from any other country in the world.

In this mass of diversity I saw unity.  I saw States that were extremely proud of their accomplishments to unifying this country and give their citizens the best possible chance at succeeding.  They spoke of their pride in their access to schools and their school’s achievements.  Some States touted their ability to provide healthcare for the majority of their citizens.  The exhibited extreme pride in their past contributions to equality for all.  Massachusetts stood up and took great pride in being the first State to provide equality in marriage.  It was a great joyous moment about all that is right with America.  And I was so proud to be an American and part of that amalgamation of people and cultures with a common hope:  That America is still a place where hard work and discipline still pays off.  Where a black kid in a single parent home can be nominated for President of the United States.

And most of all I was proud of the message the Democrats have put on display:  Family matters and whether it is Barack, Michelle, or Joe Biden, it was their parents or parent pushing and supporting their kids that helped make the difference.  And in this country of equality, they got a chance and through their god given talents have achieved what they have achieved.  They talked about the importance of helping others.  That just making money is not enough.  We are all in this together.  That America is great as long as we continue the tradition of empowering our people to do what they can with their god given skills.  That in the Republican era we have just suffered through, that dream is fading and it needs restoring.

Now it is time to start to start taking direct aim at John McCain.  It is time to remind American what the Republicans have wrought and who John McCain really is.  It will hard because we all like John much as we love a family member who just doesn’t get it.  But for the good of the country it is important to show that John is in the last century and we really need to move on.  Bring on the Republican Convention or as I like to call it, the gathering of old fat white men who measure their success by their bank accounts.  The contrast will be sharp.  So which America do you belong to?