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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Donald Trump Will Make Diversity Work in America. Diversity Coordinator Says So

With the Republican Party having formally nominated Donald Trump as their official nominee for President of the United States, together with Mike Pence as Trump's running mate, his diversity outlook for the country deserves a closer look, for this will have a great impact on his socio-economic and immigration policies.

The main concern among American voters is how Trump will be able to unify a growing diverse nation and rally it to peace, progress and prosperity given his strong pronouncements against immigrants and Muslims, and perceived low opinion of women.

However, an interview by Esquire's Jack Holmes with Bruce LeVell, Executive Director of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump on the final night of the GOP convention seems to show that Trump has America in his heart, and he is the opposite of what many people believe him to be, a racist.

Le Vell is a former chairman of the Gwinnett County GOP. He owns a jewelry store in Dunwoody, and is Donald Trump's staunch advocate, defending him against those saying the candidate is a racist. 

According to The Washington Post, LeVell is a black man on a mission to change what he thinks is an unfounded and unfair perception that Trump is racist. He dismisses accusations that Trump has exploited racial tensions. He is even trying to persuade other people of color to support Trump’s campaign for president. He sincerely believes, he said, that “Donald Trump is a really, really good guy.”

Does Donald Trump indeed have what it takes to make diversity working in Amercian society?

Trump's characteristic divisive rhetoric in the campaign has alienated him from African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Muslims, and women, including members of the Republican Party, but Le Vell strongly argues that Trump is supported by a wide array of diverse people, and is the best president the USA needs at this point.

Here are Le Vell's arguments that Trump will be able to promote the cause of diversity, contrary to the presidential aspirant's critics, taking into account each of Trump's stand on the following issues and his dark vision of the world: skyrocketing crime, illegal immigrants flooding across the border, America on its knees.

* On the Muslim ban: Trump has called for a temporary ban on all Muslims until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.

Just recently, Trump announced an expansion of his Muslim ban - to suspend immigration from any nation compromised by terrorism. 

Le Vell says Trump's Muslim ban is a response to terrorism that is threatening the world, not just the USA. He even goes on to cite Sajid Tara, who represents all the Muslim Americans for Trump, quoting him as saying, “'We can't let refugees or anyone come in until we get a handle on what's coming in.”

* On illegal immigrants and Mexicans: Trump has been consistent in his strong objections against illegal immigrants, even proposing to build a wall at the Mexican border, for which Trump says, the Mexican government should pay. 

Le Vell defends Trump's position saying it is not a Mexican thing. It's an illegal immigration thing, all across the border, in terms of good border protection. We finally got someone who had big enough cajones to bring this to the forefront, so we at least talk about this."

In relation to this, Trump commented earlier this year that the U.S. has become dumping ground for everybody else's problems.  

Here are some of Trump's rationale behind his stand against illegal immigration, Mexicans and Muslims, to get a better understanding of the person, and see if he will indeed be a president that can ensure diversity and inclusion get a boost from his administration.

- Mexico sends criminals; and with Latin America send criminals and drugs.
- He wants to bring in people in a legal manner, hence his strong stance on a stronger border.
- He wants to bring in people with love for America, not hatred.
- Illegal immigrants take away jobs from American people.
- Illegal immigration hurts the country economically.
- Even legal immigration should be controlled, so as to focus more on the people already in the country.
- “Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the U.S., instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas,” wrote Trump. (See here)

- Trump sees Syrian refugees as a Trojan Horse, among whom some are potential terrorists or with ties with terrorist groups. “It's not fear of terrorist refugees; it's reality,” he was quoted as saying in January this year.

Trump indeed may sound un-American by his strong denouncement of those he perceives to be a threat to the country's security and economy. Yet according to Le Vell, that is just Trump if you strike at him, he strikes at you back. And that's one thing I like about him, is that he's teaching America: Stand up for yourself. You don't have to lay down.

And Trump himself said he didn't want to be politically correct. A self-made businessman, he reached the pinnacle of success through sheer grit, steely resolve, and strong leadership.

Beneath his roughness, braggadocio, arrogance, nastiness, lies a heart filled with love for his country and his people. In every worse in a person, lies goodness. So it is with Donald Trump.

Although he may not be the typical politician, or perhaps because he is of a different mold, he is able to get hold of his supporters with his unfiltered statements. As this article on leadership says, his “in your face” style is off-putting to some but refreshing to others. No matter where you land, the fact remains that Donald Trump has been an effective businessman.  

If so, then perhaps he can indeed rally people of various persuasions behind him towards his goal of making America great again. Donald Trump has awakened people's frustration with the Establishment, and his stand on the various issues caters to populist sentiments.

In Trump, many of the kind of white working-class voters once called Reagan Democrats have found a tribune who represents their views and values more consistently than conservative populists like the Dixiecrat George Wallace, the Old Right paleo-conservative Pat Buchanan or the “theo-conservative” Pat Robertson,[...] His populism cuts across party lines like few others before him.
Read more: 

Yet, many too are wary of the same naked appeal to fear and resentment, the same scapegoating of foreigners, the same preoccupation with national supremacy, and the same cult of personality Donald Trump shares with Russia's Putin. See here:

Despite this side of him, can diversity grow in America with Trump at the national helm?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Dallas: How to Heal Racism with Diversity Working, Why Now

Racial diversity means a heterogenous mix of different types of people classified and/or grouped together, and who must live and work together in the same environment.

Just as in a family where each member is unique, each share similarities as well as differences, so it is with the American nation.

America's population has become more and more diverse, and the only path towards a peaceful co-existence is acknowledging, accepting and respecting one another, regardless of race, ethnic background, religious/political views, social and economic status, gender, sexual orientation and identity, among other factors that constitute individual and group differences.

This diversity, when harness well, contributes to the progress and enrichment of the nation; hence it is important that every effort is achieved to keep diversity working in the society.

But diversity scares or turns off many people. Many also ask what is diversity working about?

For many people, it is not enough to tell them that diversity is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual. - See here:

The definition is clear, but hard to get because what many see in the concrete is the opposite.

It makes people feel that diversity divides people more; that exclusion, being left out is more like it than inclusion, because that is the reality they see in most sectors.

One writer notes in her article that it is ironic that with the country's diverse population, lack of diversity describes the state of American society today: we’re not diverse enough.

She also commented that the push for diversity is actually killing it, to wit: this incessant focus on guaranteeing diversity versus focusing on character, talent and ability has the potential to turn the next generation into exactly one of two things: trembling cowards who live in fear of being accused of racism or bigotry; or, actual racists and bigots.

For her and other like-minded individuals, diversity keeps racism alive.

It may seem so because the ugly pangs of racism continues to bite, as shown by incidence of racial profiling targeting mostly African Americans and Hispanics, the rise in hate crimes, police brutality. As in Dallas.

Yet, these are not due to diversity efforts. What breeds racism? It is NOT the promotion of diversity and inclusion.

On the contrary, these are what kills diversity in this country:
- Harboring wrong notions, ignorance, fear about other people;
- Feelings of superiority (white supremacy, for example);
- Ambivalence and indifference towards diversity can unconsciously drive away people from exerting their own effort to understand and appreciate people coming from different background.
- Maltreatment of others due to their background or gender or beliefs. Racial profiling for one.

Racial profiling, as defined by ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), is the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual's race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. […] Examples of racial profiling are the use of race to determine which drivers to stop for minor traffic violations (commonly referred to as "driving while black or brown"), or the use of race to determine which pedestrians to search for illegal contraband.


Dallas is hurting. Relationship between its citizens and the police is broken. Candles are lit in the aftermath of the shooting of 5 white cops and a lone gunman, who happened to be a black war veteran.

According to reports, the gunman, identified as Micah Johnson, a black Army veteran, shot the white cops out of retaliation.

Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown said that the shooter's motivation was to make cops pay for their unjust treatment of “people of color.”
We’re convinced that this suspect had other plans and thought that what he was doing was righteous and believed that he was going to target law enforcement — make us pay for what he sees as law enforcement’s efforts to punish people of color,” Brown told CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday on “State of the Union.” - See more here

True indeed that cops unfairly treat people of color, racial profiling them even for minor infractions.

The shooting was the kind of retaliatory violence that people have feared through two years of protests around the country against deaths in police custody, forcing yet another wrenching shift in debates over race and criminal justice that had already deeply divided the nation,” a New York Times article said.

Chief Brown also said Johnson himself stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers. (CNN).

How to make diversity working in society? Who should be contributing to the promotion of diversity and inclusion in society?

A police job is never easy. It is a noble job – cops risk their lives in order to safeguard communities, to enforce peace and order; they serve as people's protectors. And many die in the line of duty – as when a robber or any armed goon shoot it out with them.

But it is another thing when police themselves perpetrate violence towards the constituents whose safety, dignity and rights they are sworn to protect, especially minorities.

And it is sad that violence begets violence when a member of oppressed groups retaliate in order to exact justice.

This has been a week of profound grief and heartbreak and loss,” Lynch said. Noting that the attack in Dallas happened during a protest sparked by police shootings, she added: “After the events of this week, Americans across our country are feeling a sense of helplessness, uncertainty and fear … but the answer must not be violence.” - See here: 

There are two sides of the same fence, meaning each has their own role to play in building a peaceful, harmonious, civilized society: cops are to protect the citizens and implement laws, and not abuse their authority; citizens are to respect and abide by the laws.

When either side violates the law, justice is rendered through due process.

But the problem comes each side sees the other through the lens of biases and prejudices, and when aggrieved parties take the law into their hands. Is this how diversity working should be at all?

But for whatever reasons, violence indeed is never ever a welcome act.

Violence never wins. Everyone loses – those who commit violence from both sides of the fence, law enforcement and the people.
What about their families, their friends, their communities? The whole nation is hurting, and has become more wounded.

Both sides have their faults, the police and erring citizens. Yet, the police are sworn to uphold the law, and should set good examples. At the same time, good cops are being negated by the abuses of their colleagues; they too are hurt.

Good cops need validation not just from among themselves, but more from the people they serve. There are for sure many cops who serve with dedication, passion and compassion.

As seen in Dallas and in other places, people are not the sole victims of police brutality and violence committed against cops; people's mistaken notion, that diversity divides rather than unites people, is given all the more given credence. They keep asking where is diversity working in our communities?

Police Workforce:

It can never be stressed enough that the more diverse a workplace is, the better it can serve the community it serves.

But a look at the police force in major cities in the U. S. will reveal that there is lack of racial diversity, and this is a crucial factor in the relationship between law enforcers and the cconstituents they are sworn to serve and protect.

According to a report last year based on an analysis a government survey of police departments made in 2007 ( the latest comprehensive study available), the percentage of whites on the force is more than 30 percentage points higher than in the communities they serve.

A breakdown of the racial makeup of the Dallas police department shows it is is more than half white, despite its having mostly Hispanic and black populations, according to the same report.

Baltimore, on the other hand, has a structure that balances the lopsided representation of residents in its police force. The same report says Baltimore’s police department has a lower percentage of blacks than the population it serves. But in contrast to other cities that have been wracked by tension and protests over police confrontations with black men, the city’s mayor, its police commissioner, the state’s attorney are all black.

Detroit police force is now said to be made up of more African Americans than it did in the past. Sixty-one percent of the 2,306-member force is black in a city that's 83 percent African-American. The lag, department officials say, is due in part to a dearth of minority candidates. - See here:

It has also been noted that there has been sincere efforts to make the country's police workforce more diverse and more representative of the communities they serve.

New U.S. government data show that between 1987 and 2013, the percentage of minority police officers in U.S. local law enforcement agencies almost doubled. The Bureau of Justice Statistics(BJS) reported in 2013, racial or ethnic minorities comprised 27 percent of local police officers.
However, studies unreleated to the findings above also show diverse departments don’t equate to improved relations between cops and communities of color. 

How to Heal

Now, how to go from here? The healing process must start painful, difficult it may be.

You cannot heal an open wound by just putting bandage over it; you deep-cleanse it, just as it is with society's wounds inflicted by indifference and ambivalence to diversity and other great issues of the country.

Now no matter how deep the chasm all this has caused, it is time to move on. Time to heal.

Concrete ways to mend the broken relationship between law enforcement and the people can include:
- Increasing racial diversity in the police force to increase their credibility with the communities they serve;
-Owning up to their culpability and responsibility by police departments in cities wracked with bitter, violent confrontations between law enforcers and citizens; no blaming or finger-pointing;
-Improving police credibility through sincere efforts to stop abuse of power and the unnecessary use of force in apprehending unarmed people of color;
-Initiate open dialogue between police and the communities of color in their jurisdiction;
-Open up avenues of communication between law enforcers and citizens for the airing of grievances, from both sides.

We all are humans; all are different and unique, so that makes each one special. Acceptance, respect, compassion. Seeing others through their own lens, so there can be empathy.

According to one observer, what is important is to make people of color – Blacks, Hispanic/Latinos – feel accepted. Diversity conversations need to be about making marginalized individuals/groups feel more appreciated, and made to feel part of the American experience.
Walls need to be torn down, and the broken fence mended, by listening more openly to each other's view(s). And through this, the wise observer says, the ongoing rage, anger , distrust, will dissipate and the need to be always right will stop too. True.

The time to heal is Now. It's high time to let diversity working real hard in our communities. If not today, it may be too late.

Friday, July 8, 2016

How Elie Wiesel's Inspiration Fosters Diversity

A great man has passed away, yet his inspiring story of quiet determination to live, and his mission to tell the world of the evils and horrors of the most inhumane period in modern history, serve as inspiration for humanity to take up where he left, and not let such atrocity ever destroy humanity.

Indeed, much can be learned from the thoughts of Elie Wiesel - the man who became humanity’s most eloquent spokesman for the indomitable human spirit, as he became the greatest witness to the operation of industrial genocide, a unique and unprecedented atrocity, as Thomas Lifson wrote in his blog article. 

Elie Wiesel, whose voice rose from the ashes of the Holocaust, having lived through and survived that painful episode, and who later became a Nobel Peace Prize awardee - passed away on July 2, 2016, yet he leaves a legacy of courage, of constantly be on guard against the evils that humans are capable of inflicting upon fellow humans, and encouraging each one not to remain indifferent to the sufferings of others.

One of Elie Wiesel's most memorable quotes:
Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.”

The above Wiesel quote should daily remind us living today in a world at the risk of being drowned by the same all-consuming sentiment that overtook Europe at that time – to fight against any form of injustice, discrimination, exclusion, even in our individual small ways.

What challenges does society face today?

Xenophobia, bigotry, racism, ethnocentricism still plague the hearts of many, and add to this list of life-threatening attitudes, opposition to immigration. These tear at the fabric of humanity, thus global peace and solidarity, diversity and inclusion are at constant risk.

Elie Wiesel had something to say about immigrants: You who are so-called illegal aliens must know that no human being is ‘illegal’. That is a contradiction in terms. Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?

Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, Wiesel wrote. Indeed.


But hatred of other human beings is as old as history. In the case of Jews, long before Hitler who only saw them as a race to be exterminated, and other humans as tools for his megalomaniacal visions, anti-semitism had long been in existence since the early church.

From an article on the Holocaust by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, here's an excerpt:
The racial antisemitism of the National Socialists (Nazis) took hatred of Jews to a genocidal extreme, yet the Holocaust began with words and ideas: stereotypes, sinister cartoons, and the gradual spread of hate.
In the first millennium of the Christian era, leaders in the European Christian (Catholic) hierarchy developed or solidified as doctrine ideas that: all Jews were responsible for the crucifixion of Christ; the destruction of the Temple by the Romans and the scattering of the Jewish people was punishment both for past transgressions and for continued failure to abandon their faith and accept Christianity.

Another excerpt, on the reason for the Holocaust: The Jews’ presence in the German-occupied parts of Europe was seen as a problem and a great annoyance. At best, they were to disappear from the face of the earth, so that the Nazis could reach their goal: a Greater Germany free from Jews. 
Yet not only the Germans harbored this anti-Jews sentiments: The Germans, like the Poles, Austrians, French, Croats, Slovaks, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and others, were all taught, almost from the moment they could understand language, that Jews were evil, that they worked together with the Devil [...]long before the time when the Nazis came to power in 1933, the various peoples of Europe already viscerally hated Jews.

Thus, such was the all-consuming hatred that sealed the fate of Elie Wiesel, and systematically exterminated millions of Jews, including members of his family.

Wiesel was compelled to write about this dark night in their lives in his widely acclaimed memoir, Night:
"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed."

Elie Wiesel's Night trilogy should be a must-read as a grim reminder of that dark period in the history of humankind, of how more savage than beasts humans can be capable of becoming, of our worst selves, a specter haunting us as sureb ly as death, and so this horror should NEVER be allowed ever again. 

Yet today, because of extremism or fanaticism, terrorism has become the greatest threat to world peace. Because of ignorance and fear of others, prejudice and racism still pervade.

In America, despite collective efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, minorities such as African Americans and Hispanics suffer discrimination, unfair treatment, and violence at the hands of whites who believe they are more supreme than other races.

To make things more complex, ignorance and fear are not the only factors underlying prejudice and racism, which can be addressed through education and meaningful cultural exposure and interchange.
Whether we are talking about ethnic cleansings, group hatred or retraction of equity laws under the guise that these are unfair, the underlying issue is the same. One group, threatened by the perceived loss of power, exercises social, economic and political muscle against the Other to retain privilege by restructuring for social advantage. - See more here

Blaming others for one's problems also cause discord in society.
"We're in a mode where we feel like we have to protect ourselves, where we feel that everyone who is clearly not 'us' needs to be scrutinized," says Ervin Staub, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an expert on helping, altruism and the origins and prevention of ethnopolitical conflict. "When people are victimized as individuals or as a group, it creates a diminished sense of self, a view that the world is a more dangerous place."
Most Americans would never overtly act on the feelings of mistrust that may have developed since the attacks. But a small proportion of Americans have participated in incidents ranging from name-hurling to full-blown hate crimes.
Thus, the inspiration from Elie Wiesel's holocaust experience, his insights and writings must compel us to become active advocates for humanity's dignity, each time any of these negative factors hinder us from forging closer ties and understanding with our fellow humans.

And as the article above just mentioned, one way is to apply our own American values--inclusion and the right to free speech, and ensure diversity working in society every time, everywhere.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Role of Political Rhetoric on Diversity

With the recent Brexit win, one can surmise some underlying factors that could have led to the favorable support for the “Leave” vote:

-Political rhetorics fueling fear or suspicion of immigrants;
-Exploiting the less advantaged sectors of society;
-Exclusivist attitude

While these may not be what could have really driven the Brexit vote, as some are saying that the Brexit vote is even a vote for diversity, as one opinion article tries to describe it in the sense that Japan is able to maintain its disctinct culture, even as it builds relationships with other countries through trade and socio-cultural exchanges:
Those who oppose this homogenization with Europe tend to be those who voted to exit the EU. As much as anything, the polls show, they took the long view, protecting that which made them culturally distinctive, even if it came at a financial cost,” – it is clear that the above mentioned can impact the diversity efforts of any organization, society and country.

A look at Trump's campaign makes it clear his statements on minorities, such as Hispanics and Blacks show he does not have a high regard of them. 

And it can also stoke negative feeling towards these specific groups of people, and other individuals/groups perceived to be --
*stealing jobs, health/social benefits and other opportunities from them;
*terrorists out to carry evil acts on American soil;

His trademark use of “we” reveals such an exclusivist mentality, which betrays the very ideals upon which this great nation has been founded. A report by The Atlantic quoted Trump as saying in his victory speech when it was apparent that he had become his party's presumptive presidential nominee:
We're going to bring back our jobs, and we're going to save our jobs, and people are going to have great jobs again, and this country, which is very, very divided in so many different ways, is going to become one beautiful loving country, and we're going to love each other, we're going to cherish each other and take care of each other, and we're going to have great economic development and we're not going to let other countries take it away from us, because that's what's been happening for far too many years and we're not going to do it anymore,” he said. [...]
We're going to have great relationships with the Hispanics,” he said. “The Hispanics have been so incredible to me. They want jobs. Everybody wants jobs. The African Americans want jobs. If you look at what's going on, they want jobs.”

The use of “we” and “they” when referring to others sets the tone of excluding others; it puts up a psychological barrier between ourselves and others, thus making it hard to forge mutual understanding, better appreciation of the differences and similarities that make up who we are – as individuals, groups, nations.

The use of language – the way we convey our messages – is such a powerful psychological tool, and an exclusive language is always a barrier to unity, cooperation and meaningful relationships.

Here is an excerpt on the psychology of language use:
...our everyday language use often ends up maintaining the existing structure of intergroup relationships. Language use can have implications for how we construe our social world. For one thing, there are subtle cues that people use to convey the extent to which someone’s action is just a special case in a particular context or a pattern that occurs across many contexts and more like a character trait of the person. According to Semin and Fiedler (1988), someone’s action can be described by an action verb that describes a concrete action (e.g., he runs), a state verb that describes the actor’s psychological state (e.g., he likes running), an adjective that describes the actor’s personality (e.g., he is athletic), or a noun that describes the actor’s role (e.g., he is an athlete).[...] Intriguingly, people tend to describe positive actions of their ingroup members using adjectives (e.g., he is generous) rather than verbs (e.g., he gave a blind man some change), and negative actions of outgroup members using adjectives (e.g., he is cruel) rather than verbs (e.g., he kicked a dog). Maass, Salvi, Arcuri, and Semin (1989) called this a linguistic intergroup bias, which can produce and reproduce the representation of intergroup relationships by painting a picture favoring the ingroup. That is, ingroup members are typically good, and if they do anything bad, that’s more an exception in special circumstances; in contrast, outgroup members are typically bad, and if they do anything good, that’s more an exception.

It behooves political leaders and politicians of all persuasions and class to use language in a positive way, so that diversity and inclusion can be promoted. Through their language use, those in power and authority can either create walls or bring them down.

Yet, some public leaders and personalities can be devoid of such sensitivity and compassion, and overcome with personal agendas, so they tend to cater to unfounded fears and biases of people with not enough knowledge and understanding of people, events and situations.

It takes political will to make diversity working in all strata and sectors of society, yet political rhetorics that pander to populist sentiments can undermine diversity initiatives, or as in the Brexit case, populist Nigel Farage was said to stoke up fear or anger towards immigrants due to perceived threats from them focusing, obsessively, on the threat from immigrants, both from inside the EU and out, thus the LEAVE votes taking over the REMAIN votes.

It also takes political maturity for people to discern whether their rational fear of terrorism, or non-acceptance of other people's faith or beliefs are being exploited by some politicians to suit their personal agendas.

As this article explains, there is such a thing as Terror Management Theory, which was developed in the 1980s by a group of social psychologists, and said to be based on human awareness of the inevitability of death.

According to the theory, people become anxious and scared when they’re reminded of this fact. This fear, in turn, makes them more likely to coalesce around a shared identity or worldview: a religion, country, culture or ideology. […]

Images of the aftermath of terrorist acts such as the horrific 9-11 tragedy are an effective means of reminding people of their human frailty, the article said. After attacks, politicians sometimes seek to capitalize on this vulnerability, turning speeches and press conferences into opportunities to rhetorically place the “nation” and cherished “freedoms” as at risk. The attack on a few becomes an attack on all. When speakers do this successfully, they are able to unite voters through a sense of shared threat. 

The world, not only America, faces all kinds of challenges: rising unemployment, unabated poverty, climate change, violence, terrorism, to name a few, and the last thing humanity needs are walls that isolate us from one another and weaken our defenses.