Like to submit an article to the SIETAR USA periodical? If so, click here to see the guidelines. 

  • 14 Sep 2020 8:04 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    During a year of unprecedented uncertainty, the SIETAR Europa Board of Directors has been committed to be as agile and responsive as possible. Most recently we have had to take the difficult decision to postpone the SEU Congress 2021 for one year. The Congress is now scheduled to be held May 16-22, 2022 as previously planned in Malta at the University of Malta, Valletta Campus.

  • 14 Sep 2020 8:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The SIETAR USA monthly webinars focus on the ongoing professional development of SUSA members. With this development lens we seek out speakers and topics representing the thought leadership within our intercultural/DEI field.  Here’s the upcoming lineup to illustrate this commitment:

    In June, Michele Gelfand, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland and a researcher of cultural norms, will discuss her book Rule Makers, Rule Breakers:  Tight and Loose Cultures and the Secret Signals That Direct Our Lives.  As interculturalists we are steeped in “dimensions”, know a number of different sets, and definitely have our favorites.  Michele’s compelling research takes us deeper into understanding the tight-loose social-coding that distinguishes much of our behavior in adhering or not adhering to cultural norms.  See if the tight-loose dimension set becomes one of your favorites.

    July’s development webinar features Justin Sitron, associate professor of human sexuality studies at Widener University sharing his prospective on. interculturalism in the LGBTQI+ World Community. His interest in this field begins when teaching Spanish in public schools and realizing the need for human service professionals to better understand their students, especially their students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and students from other marginalized and oppressed populations.  As a community-based human sexuality educator Justin grounds his work in diversity, inclusion and social justice and in his academic work he continues to develop sexological worldview as a construct and framework to underpin and measure the impact of his work.   

    After a short summer break, Joyce Osland starts us off in September looking at global leadership development and her research at San Jose State University as founder and Executive Director of the Global Leadership Advancement Center, a part of the SJSU business school.   Joyce’s long research career in global leadership development (emphasis on “global”) has brought her focus to the practical--what are the “crucible” experiences that produce transformational development in global leaders, what types of activities best produce these experiences and how can this all be measured and transferred into organizations.

  • 14 Sep 2020 7:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Submitted by Rashmi Kapsi

    If you are a fan of Indian food then you have probably eaten “Paalak Paneer” (sometimes called “Saag Paneer”) at a restaurant. This is a traditional recipe from Punjab, a state in northwestern India. It is now common and well-loved throughout India. When I decided to contribute a recipe to our SIETAR newsletter, I wanted it to have a history and an important place in my life, but at the same time I wanted it to be easy enough for all my non-Indian friends to try and enjoy. So, I picked paalak paneer!

    I didn’t eat much paalak paneer growing up as I grew up in Mumbai (not near the dish’s birthplace). Instead, the recipe has a special place in my heart because my children love it.

    So, it’s the first dish that I taught my son how to cook when he went off to college. As an Indian mother raising her children in the USA, I’m happy that they enjoy food from so many cultures around the world, and it gives me pride when they can cook something from the culture I grew up in. Now that he’s graduated from college and cooks for himself, when my son wants a taste of home, he makes himself a delicious meal of paalak paneer.


    Spinach - 3 cups chopped
    Garlic - 2-3 cloves
    Ginger - 1” piece
    Green hot pepper or Red chilli powder- Optional
    Onion - 1 large
    Tomato -1 medium sized
    Oil - 2 tbsp
    Paneer – 1 cup, cubed


    1. Add the oil to a pot, kept over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, ginger, and onion and sauté until the onion is light brown.

    2. When the onion is light brown in color, add the chopped tomato and cook covered for 2 minutes.

    3. Add the spinach, stirring as it reduces and cook for 2 more minutes.

    4. Switch off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes. Blend to a consistency you like. Add a little water while blending to keep the mixture moving.

    5. Pour the blended mix back into the pot and let it boil, over medium heat.

    6.  Cut the paneer into cubes. To the cubed paneer, add salt to taste and a little red chili powder or paprika. Marinate the paneer with this dry rub for a few minutes. 

    7. Add the cubed paneer when the spinach mixture starts to boil.

    8. Cover and cook for 5 minutes

    9. Your Paalak Paneer is done!

    10. Serve with a hot roti, paratha, naan or just a slice of bread. ENJOY!

  • 14 Sep 2020 3:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    September 22, 2020 – SIETAR USA Pre-Conference Workshop: "One New Tip Could Make All the Difference: Virtual Training, Teaching & Presenting"
    with Shelley Morrison, Founder-Consultant-Trainer-Facilitator, SMA
    . This is a pre-conference workshop which is included in your 2020 Virtual Conference registration. Go to www.sietarusa.com/invited-workshops to learn more and get registered!

    October 7, 2020 – SIETAR USA Invited Workshops: Don’t miss this full day of workshops included in your 2020 Virtual Conference registration! Visit www.sietarusa.com/invited-workshops to read about the sessions; register TODAY at www.sietarusa.com/registration.

    October 8-13, 2020 – SIETAR USA 2020 Virtual Conference: Join SIETAR USA at our first-ever virtual conference! Don’t miss this chance for 5 full days of education, networking, connections and rejuvenation all from the comfort of your own office! Check out the schedule and concurrent sessions here: www.sietarusa.org/concurrent-sessions.  Register TODAY at www.sietarusa.com/registration!


    Native American Day Sept 25September 25: Native American Day, a federal holiday observed annually on the fourth Friday in September in the state of California and on the second Monday in October in South Dakota, United States. *Image courtesy of KTUL TV, Tulsa, OK

    September 27-28 (sundown to sundown): Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, a day of atonement marked by fasting and ceremonial repentance.

    September 28: Teacher’s Day in Taiwan. This day is used to honor teachers’ contributions to their students and to society in general. People often express their gratitude to their teachers by paying them a visit or sending them a card. This date was chosen to commemorate the birth of Confucius, the model master educator in ancient China.


    October Disability Awareness MonthOctober is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This observance was launched in 1945 when Congress declared the first week in October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1998, the week was extended to a month and renamed. The annual event draws attention to employment barriers that still need to be addressed.

    October is LGBT History MonthOctober is LGBT History Month, a U.S. observance started in 1994 to recognize lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history and the history of the gay-rights movement.

    October 4: Blessing of the Animals, in congruence with St. Francis Day. Many Unitarian Universalists have picked up on the Catholic tradition of blessing animals, particularly pets, as St. Francis was known for his special connection to animals.

    October 11: National Coming Out Day (U.S.). For those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, this day celebrates coming out and the recognition of the 1987 march on Washington for gay and lesbian equality.

    October 12: Canadian Thanksgiving, a chance for people to give thanks for a good harvest and other fortunes in the past year.

    October 12: National Indigenous Peoples Day, an alternative celebration to Columbus Day, gives recognition to the indigenous populations affected by colonization.

    Holidays list courtesy of:https://www.diversitybestpractices.com/2019-diversity-holidays

  • 12 Jul 2020 9:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As the corona virus pandemic, police violence, and social justice crises swirl around us, SIETAR USA is working on using what we are learning from the crisis—while we are still in it. Even with the harsh partisan atmosphere, there is some hope for positive outcomes. It appears that Congress might pass a police reform bill. Despite initial negative prospects, some common ground where compromise can happen is beginning to open. The Opinion article by guest columnist Marc Brenman, a retired civil rights investigator for the U.S. Department of Education, is especially timely and offers concrete suggestions for reducing police violence.

    Masks have become an important part of our daily lives and they help save lives. But there is still too much resistance to wearing masks in the United States and I believe that interculturalists might be able to offer some helpful ways to approach the issue of masks. We know that masks mean different things across the globe. We can introduce people to the many perspectives on masks and mask wearing that are part of the world. An office worker in Kyoto wears a mask to help protect her co-workers. An elder in a Southwest Pueblo wears a mask to participate in a ritual dance or ceremony. In West Africa, masks are considered to “connect the wearer (and by extension the rest of the community) to ancestors who represent stories and guide moral behavior” (Silberstein, Art insight, p.11). Those are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of stories about the meaning of masks across cultures.

    What does that have to do with us? We have all probably run into people (maybe even in our own social circle or family) who refuse to wear a mask in public. Telling stories of different ways masks are regarded and used has a chance of getting people interested and engaged in talking about masks in a less judgmental way. And in the process, it could neutralize a tense situation so that we could get the message across that masks help save lives. It’s also an opportunity to help people reframe the mask-wearing experience.

    We often teach reframing to make a scary experience in an unfamiliar culture more neutral and even positive. My sister worked in a bank for many years. She said that if someone walked into the bank wearing a mask, she’d be reaching for the emergency button to call the police. A very negative reaction to a mask but realistic just months ago. Masks in the context of the old West were associated with bank robbers, bad guys out to get ranchers’ hard-earned money.

    So not only can we talk about reframing but also context. In the context of the theater, masks are a metaphor for taking on a role—putting on the face of a different person. There is a psychological theory regarding masks that people in society wear a mask to portray emotions that are more socially acceptable than the ones they are actually feeling. In theater, comedy and tragedy masks are a metaphor for the actors portraying the emotions of their character adding richness to the play and keeping the plot moving.

    There is a hint of a positive outcome regarding masks. As mask-wearing becomes more common, there is reported easing of the public judgment experienced by Muslim women who wear their traditional face coverings in Wester society. Some Muslim women report that they are no longer being given dirty looks—perhaps because they don’t stand as out so much as different. I happen to like different but unfortunately, not everyone does.

    As you might guess, I like masks. I will give the last word on masks for now, to Tyler Cowen “What can we do to convince people that a mask-laden society, while it will feel weird and indeed be weird, can be made stable and beneficial through our own self-awareness? While there is no simple answer to that question, mask advocates should recognize that they have been treading into unusual cultural territory, and should not be surprised by unusual public responses” (San Diego Union Tribune, July 5, 2020, p. B-11).

    Until September this will be the last issue while we take a summer break. We are taking a month off to work on the conference, the webinars, the special Thiagi workshop and other things SIETAR USA is exploring to be able to provide good service to our community of intercultural and DEI professionals. And be sure to read the Bookmarks column. It made me think about the movie in a whole different way. Read more about the list of things we will be working on this summer in each of the articles in this issue. Watch for both Thiagi’s workshop registration and the conference registration to open! Thiagi’s workshop is excellent preparation for the conference, so sign up to see how you can use his Live Online Learning Activities to expand and encourage interaction in your session.

    I wish you a happy, safe, healthy summer,


    Sandra Fowler
    President SIETAR USA

  • 12 Jul 2020 9:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Virtual workshop by Thiagi and Matt Richter

    What would you say if someone offered you an 80% discount on a quality product? Too good to be true? In this case, it really is true. SIETAR USA is offering a virtual workshop by Sivisailam Thiagarajan, known to his friends as Thiagi and his talented co-trainer, Matt Richter. This will be a special day of Thiagi’s Live Online Learning Activities (LOLA) at a super bargain price.

    Want to know more? Details are:

    Date: September 12, 2020.
    Time: 10:30AM CDT to 5:00 PM CDT (US Central Daylight Time)
    (Several breaks and a lunch break)



     $27.00 USD


     $57.00 USD

     Member Sponsor*

     $77.00 USD


     $97.00 USD

    All Registrants receive Thiagi’s electronic LOLA manual that accompanies the exercises and more. (Price of the manual is included in registration fee.)

    *The Member Sponsor category is for members who want to add a little extra to help support SIETAR USA and the programming it provides to intercultural and DEI professionals—our community. They will be recognized for their gift and our gratitude goes out to them.

    Click here to register for this event!

    Now I bet you are thinking: tell me more about these LOLAs and the workshop. Thiagi and Matt describe it this way…

    Live online training (also known as virtual classrooms or training webinars) have several cost-effective advantages in the field of intercultural training:

    • You can reach participants from different countries and different cultures at the same time.
    • Most trainers and participants are familiar with the basic technology required, whether it is based on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or a smart phone.
    • Trainers can easily upload slides, video and audio recordings, and other media as a part of their online training session.
    • Online training sessions can be recorded and archived for study by people who missed the original session or those who want to review what they learned earlier.
    • The technology behind webinar platforms are becoming less expensive and more reliable, flexible, and user friendly.

    Live online training sessions have limitations and disadvantages also. Here are some of them:

    • Webinars have become synonymous with dull one-way data dumps. They encourage subject-matter experts to indulge in pontification.
    • Participants who lack computer literacy have difficulty figuring out how to participate in a webinar.
    • In spite of their increasing reliability, webinar platforms still present some technical problems.
    • Webinar platforms look and work differently on different browsers and on different devices.
    The major disadvantage of live online training is the lack of interactivity among the participants and between the learning content and the learners. To reduce the impact of this problem, Thiagi and Matt have been designing and delivering interactive experiential activities in virtual classrooms. Not all face-to-face activities can be exported to a webinar session. However, there are creative techniques for adapting classroom activities to a webinar. In addition, some online strategies (example: instant polling) can be conducted more effectively in a virtual classroom than in an actual classroom.

    About LOLAs

    LOLAs are different types of live online learning activities that are incorporated in training sessions to provide effective and engaging activities.

    Here are a dozen sample types of LOLAs:

    • Shared Learning LOLAs help participants learn from each other and with each other. These LOLAs typically create a format for sharing, organizing, and evaluating the participants’ experiences, best practices, knowledge, and opinions.
    • Interactive Lecture LOLAs transform passive presentations into active exercises. The facilitator conducts different activities, quizzes, tasks, projects, and discussions before, during, or after a lecture presentation.
    • Textra LOLAs combine the effective organization of text documents with the motivational impact of games. The participants read some online or offline text materials and participate in interactive exercises that use peer pressure and peer support to encourage the recall and application of what they read.
    • Opener LOLAs are conducted at the beginning of a live online training session. These LOLAs are used for previewing the training objectives, content, and format.
    • Closer LOLAs are conducted at the end of an online training session. They are used for reviewing main points, tying up loose ends, planning for future action, and celebrating successful completion.
    • Debriefing LOLAs enable the participants to reflect on an online activity, come up with insights, and share them with each other.
    • Graphic LOLAs are designed around images such as photographs, paintings, drawings, icons, illustrations, cartoons, sketches, and doodles. They require the participants to study, analyze, understand, verbalize, summarize, and caption the images.
    • Jolt LOLAs incorporate engaging experiential activities that last for less than 5 minutes. These LOLAs force the participants to think, come up with insights, and share them with fellow participants.
    • Roleplay LOLAs involve the participants in taking on characters, personalities, and attitudes to achieve different multicultural outcomes. The participants act out their roles in a spontaneous and natural manner under imaginary scenarios.
    • Sampling LOLAs involve collections of examples of different elements (such as email subject lines, conference session descriptions, limericks, or lead paragraphs of articles). The participants analyze the samples, arrange them in categories, identify key features, and prepare checklists.
    • Story LOLAs incorporate fictional narratives in the training session. In this approach, the participants modify, expand, shrink, analyze, deconstruct, and roleplay the stories presented to them. The participants also create and share their own stories.
    • Thought Experiment LOLAs require the participants to mentally rehearse new patterns of behavior or hold imaginary dialogues. Combined with self-reflection, these activities produce increased self-awareness and mastery of new knowledge and insights.

    During the past 10 years, Matt and Thiagi have field-tested and improved more than 20 types of LOLAs. Eleven of these LOLAs are explained and elaborated in our book, on LOLA: Live Online Learning Activities.

    This one-day workshop walks the talk and teaches you to use different types of training activities in live online sessions. Thiagi and Matt will provide you with a conceptual framework for LOLAs, as well as countless activities you can modify and adapt to your own multicultural training sessions. You will learn activities for technical, management, sales, and interpersonal content. We will use these activities to also teach you how to adapt them to best fit your needs, handle the virtual participants, and decide which activity will best work with your training objectives.

    About the Facilitators

    Sivasailam Thiagarajan, conveniently known as Thiagi, has conducted interactive training in 25 different countries in five different continents. He has written more than 40 books on designing and facilitating engaging and effective training for intercultural communication. For the past 12 years, he has specialized on Live Online Learning Activities (LOLAs). Thiagi is known as the Resident Mad Scientist at The Thiagi Group.

    Matthew Richter is the co-author of the revised and updated second edition of the book on Live Online Learning Activities (LOLAs). He has conducted online training session on this topic. An experienced user of different virtual platforms, he has also conducted live online training around the world on how to use the Zoom platform for improving interactivity in training. Matt is President at The Thiagi Group.

  • 12 Jul 2020 9:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As I sit here on my front porch, we are in Day 5 of a heat wave.  High temperatures and even higher humidity tell me it’s summer in Michigan.  It’s July and, if Facebook is any indication, a lot of us are deep into dipping our toes in the warm waters of local lakes and oceans, camping, hiking, sharing special days with friends and relatives and just generally enjoying the specialness of summer. It’s not that the specter of COVID-19 and the impact of institutionalized racism doesn’t still hang over everyone. It just that, from my viewpoint, we all seem to be stopping for a moment, taking a deep breath and finding small spots of joy and healing. (Hamilton, anyone?)

    Meanwhile, your Conference Planning Team is managing to find time to build our first Virtual SIETAR USA conference. Proposals are being read, potential speakers are being contacted, and sponsors are being located, all very typical activities when planning a SIETAR USA conference. However, creating a virtual conference also demands that a lot more be considered. For example, what platform do we use to create our virtual world? I had no idea there were so many options for conference platforms!  Each one has different features, tech support, ease of use and attractiveness and, of course, prices. Although virtual conferences are, in general, less expensive than brick and mortar ones, we did incur notable expenses in the transition from a location based to a virtual based conference. By the same token, we want to bring to you the best, most exciting and easiest to use platform. Making this decision is an interesting and difficult process to be sure. But our options are being narrowed, people are being contacted, and services are being negotiated.  Stay tuned for a decision about the platform, coming soon!

    Meanwhile, we are gathering a diverse, stimulating and creative group of Invited Workshop presenters as well as keynote speakers. I wish I could let you know who they all are but most of them are still in the process of developing their material. However, it’s shaping up to be a sensational line-up.  Our first confirmed Invited Workshop presenter is one of SIETAR’s best known interculturalists, Rita Wuebbeler. Rita is dynamic, fun and profound.  She will be doing an Invited Workshop on Mindfulness, specifically how to use mindfulness in our work as interculturalists. Our closing keynote will be given by the dynamic Patricia Malidor Coleman, aka Ms. Globaliscious, a former President of SIETAR USA and founder of SIETAR Florida. Patricia is known to embrace change with a smile and great energy. Her vision 2020 motto is “Stretch into Change” which she says illustrates the fact that we are not comfortable when facing a crisis thus must STRETCH toward the change.  How?  With a Shift of Consciousness!  I can’t wait to hear Patricia’s keynote and know you won’t want to miss it either.  

    One of the joys of being a SIETARian is knowing you are part of a group of like-minded individuals who are dedicated to creating a better world. As we each go to fight and work for racial justice, while we assist our clients and communities grow within a global health pandemic, it’s reassuring to know there are others doing the same thing. Often those others are invisible to us, but when we attend a SIETAR USA conference, we know that the invisible will become visible and we will be able to stop, rest, be supported, learn and grow with a magnificent group of people. This year will be no different. I am truly thrilled by the opportunity we have to bring you one of the best, most memorable conferences you have attended. Watch the newsletter and our website for more details about the conference, interviews with speakers and other important information. Keep checking our website for updates and hold on to your hats. We are still climbing to the top of the first roller coaster hill but soon we’ll be on the downswing and wow, it will be an amazing, fun ride!

    Deborah Orlowski

    2020 SIETAR USA Conference Chair

  • 12 Jul 2020 9:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Craig StortiA Room with A View by E. M. Forster, film adaptation (1986) directed by James Ivory. Reviewed by Craig Storti.

    We got excited here at BookMarks a few months back when we featured our first movie review. So this month we decided we’d have the best of both worlds and review a book that was made into a movie: A Room with A View, by E. M. Forster, the film directed by James Ivory (with a screenplay, incidentally, by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala whose novel, Esmond in India, was reviewed previously in this space.)

    E. M. Forster almost certainly did not know about the intercultural field; in fact, it didn’t even exist in his day, although anthropology was probably around. That said, he wrote at least two novels that are close to intercultural classics; the other is A Passage to India (also made into a film). While Passage sounds like it should be especially cross-cultural, and it is in many ways, to my mind Room, although set mostly in the UK, with a key early sequence in Italy, has even more to say about culture, especially about the impact of encountering a different culture on an individual’s personal growth.

    The individual concerned here is one Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter in the film) who is engaged to the ever-so-staid, proper, buttoned-up Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis) when she goes off to Florence with a stuffy chaperone (Maggie Smith) and where she meets and spends time with the Emersons, George (Julian Sands) and his father (Denholm Elliott), in the pension where they are all staying. Lucy and her chaperone had been promised a room with a view (across the river Arno), but they don’t get one, until they mention this fact at dinner, whereupon and the Emersons, who have such a room, offer to trade with the ladies. George Emerson, a passionate, romantic, rather un-English lad—he would have been a hippie if this were the 1960s—who also happens to be from not quite the right social class, George falls for Lucy even as Lucy falls under the spell of the vibrant, unrestrained, carefree Italian culture which is nothing short of a revelation to her.

    A room with a view is a metaphor for a vision of and exposure to a wider world, and having had such a vision during her stay in Italy, Lucy goes back to England a changed woman. She has been prompted by her experience to examine herself for the first time, her feelings for Cecil and also her views of the social conventions of her time and her class. It has never occurred to her that she could live a different life if she chose to, that she could marry for love, for example, and even marry outside her class. None of which bodes well for poor Cecil.

    That’s the set-up, after which the book and the film spin out the many consequences of Lucy’s personal, cultural, and emotional awakening, including the reactions of those around her, some of whom are delighted at who she has become (her own person) and not a few of whom are appalled. The book and the film alternate between passages of sheer hilarity and great poignance. A fine example of the latter is an especially touching scene in the film when the new Lucy breaks off her engagement to the uncomprehending Cecil, who until now has been presented mainly as a harmless and clueless fop, and then, in this scene, he suddenly becomes utterly sympathetic—a testament to Forster’s ability to draw multi-dimensional characters who you think you know until suddenly you don’t. For an example of hilarity, you need look no further than the scene when Lucy, her chaperone, the Emersons, and a visiting English prelate take a ride into the country in a carriage driven by a young Italian sitting next to a lovely maid to whom he pays much more attention than to his two horses. It’s scandalous.

    No one deliberately sets out to write an “intercultural” novel—how boring that would be—but much of what is called expatriate fiction is necessarily intercultural, and Forster wrote the two mentioned in this review, as well as a third Where Angels Fear to Tread. While one of his two best-known novels, Howard’s End, is not intercultural, I have always thought that the celebrated, albeit enigmatic epigraph of that novel—Only connect—would do very nicely as a motto for the intercultural field. He may not realize it, but in A Room with A View Forster demonstrates very clearly that he’s one of us.

    Be advised that there have been two film versions of A Room; this review refers to the 1986 film with an all-star cast, including those named above as well as Judi Dench, Rupert Graves, and Simon Callow. There is also an excellent 2007 film version, although many people of a certain age seem to prefer the earlier one.

  • 12 Jul 2020 9:08 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This article is used with permission of the author, Marc Brenman. He writes:

    These are difficult times, and it's hard to know what to do. I'm familiar with SIETAR through Carlos Cortes and through work on my manuscript on culturally appropriate alternative dispute resolution. My work has primarily been on social justice and equity. A number of years ago I was Executive Director of the Washington State Human Rights Commission. Last year, Deborah Levine and I published a book on community response to neo-Nazis and extreme rightwing groups, When Hate Groups March Down Main Street. Lately I've been working on a book on dangerous speech: metrics, risk assessment, and harm reduction, which was prompted by a question from Carlos, challenging me to apply some of the concepts from my paper on diversity metrics to harmful speech.

    Reducing Police Violence in the US
    Marc Brenman

    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.

    It helps to start by admitting there is a problem. Like all societal problems, they are complex, with connections, externalities, spillover benefits for some people, historical antecedents, complexities, etc. America still suffers from the vestiges of slavery, Jim Crow, white supremacy, institutional racism, and discrimination. The disparities between white and Black communities in wealth, education, health, housing, and incarceration are large.

    Where’s the causality for police violence? If the violence were random, then many fewer African-Americans would be victimized. What responsibility and blame do we as ordinary citizens have? Choking a Black man to death is clearly wrong. So is setting fire to a police station. So is looting. So are the disproportionately adverse effects of the Covid pandemic on the Black community. Most people have a breaking point. For you or me, it might be for defense of our children. The Black community feels particular frustration because these tragic incidents have been happening since the invention of Black slavery in North America in the 1600’s. The horrible experiment of cutting people off from their families, culture, religion, language, education, and tribe succeeded in creating a group of people who became unmoored to those values. Is it surprising that sometimes they will become fed up and rebel?

    But while we discuss African-Americans, we need to be clear that there are indeed outsiders in the violent demonstrations. Historically, these outsiders have included faux Anarchists, who are mostly young, white, wear black, wear masks, and like committing violence like breaking windows and starting fires. They believe that the “system” must be destroyed.

    Urban rebellions must be understood as complex, deliberate mechanisms through which the desperate seek political recourse they feel they cannot get by other means. By understanding the texture of these modern rebellions, activists, elected officials, and policymakers can hope to find solutions that improve upon past failures. The pandemic is making conditions much worse. Fifty years ago the Kerner Commission (officially the National Advisory Board on Civil Disorders) following long hot summers of racial rioting concluded that America was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.” These findings are still true:

    • African-American unemployment is consistently double the white rate, and Black workers are crowded into the lowest-skilled and least-well-paid occupations.
    • “Redlining” by mortgage lenders restricted the areas in which Black urban dwellers could live, resulting in overpriced, overcrowded and inferior housing.
    • Black students experienced de facto segregation, lack of Black teachers, overcrowded schools, and biased school boards.

    One would hope that after all the horrible incidents and tragedies, the 19,000 police departments in the US would have de-escalation policies and training. De-escalation means using non-violent means to prevent police use of violence, like using guns. Instead, some police departments keep making things worse. It is time for local elected officials to stop appointing recalcitrant police chiefs. When hiring police chiefs, their records should be examined, their references checked, and they should be asked questions about how they would issue orders and provide training to their blue suits about how to react in troubled circumstances.

    The power of police unions also needs to be decreased. Police unions almost always cover up for their members.

    The legal standards for justifying police violence need to be changed to provide less of a shield for misbehaving police.

    Police action records need to be released to the public.

    Police cameras need to be used more, and turned off less. The film needs to be released to the public.

    Applicants for jobs as police officers need to be tested for racism, authoritarianism, and high control needs, and rejected if they score high. Such psychological tests exist. About 80% of police departments already use psychological tests, but clearly they are the wrong tests and/or the results are not be used for employment decisions.

    It is possible that the wrong people are doing police work. Too many men inclined to shoot first and ask questions later. Men inclined to feel under fatal threat. Men inclined to misperceive reality. Men with very high control needs.

    More racial diversity on police departments will help, but studies show not by much. Hiring more female officers can help. Female officers are less likely to use excessive force. When a police department cultivates a diverse workforce, preferably hiring from the community it serves, it doesn’t just send a message of equality to that community. It also creates the conditions within the department for contact between groups that can reduce negative implicit bias among officers, particularly when the leadership makes a special effort to facilitate dialogue and positive experiences.

    In Deborah Levine’s and my book, When Hate Groups March Down Main Street, on community response to neo-Nazis and extreme rightwing groups, we include a chapter on what police departments can do. Each chapter has recommendations.

    Teach your children well. Instill good morals, ethics, and values about equality and fairness. Set an example by treating everyone fairly.

    In the workplace, become an advocate for diversity, equal employment opportunity, and affirmative action.

    Contribute to the campaigns of Democrats running for office at all levels, especially the US Senate, and vote for Democrats.

    Support civil rights law enforcement agencies.

    Work at a local level to create civilian police review boards that have real power over the police; not just advisory boards. The police are a particularly hard nut to crack, because there are about 19,000 police departments in the US, and most act very independently. Partly we members of the public bear responsibility because we want the police to maintain social order and social control. We call the police when society gets out of order, regardless of actual laws or lawbreaking. They’re not equipped to do all the things we want them to do, like be mental health first responders. The thresholds for identifying an incident as needing social control may be too low and/or too discriminatory.

    When the paradigm shift to seeing police work as maintaining social control happens, a major role of police should become engaging with the public, and not alienating people. There is great and reasonable mistrust in the African-American community for police. How can that be overcome? In international negotiations, experts speak of “trust-building exercises.” It is sometimes best for an officer to simply pause if his or her presence is causing unreasonable, but not necessarily illegal, behavior. Ask open-ended questions, paraphrase what a person has just said so that he or she knows the officer is listening, and make statements that connote empathy with the person’s situation. Allowing suspects to explain their side of the story can reduce compliance issues.

    There is a slowly emerging procedural fairness methodology of policing, which emphasizes real-time explanations to civilians of why police are taking particular actions. This seems to be a superficial change that is consistent with changing present, race-based targeting of suspects.

    Police officers sometimes punish disrespect because they believe “a challenge to their respect is a challenge to their manhood.” For many police officers, disrespect requires an escalation in force. Such escalation is commonly known as “contempt of cop.” Being found in contempt of court is a punishment for disobeying a judge. “Contempt of cop” occurs when an officer punishes a person for failing to comply with her request.

    Stereotypes about the criminality of Black communities affect a police officer’s decision to shoot a suspect. Racial bias training can address the preconceptions and subsequent racially based brutality. After extensive training with a computer simulator in which the race of the suspect was unrelated to the presence of a weapon, a Florida State University study showed that officers were able to reduce their biases. In a separate study, California officers also found that listening to the community and giving suspects time to explain their side of the story reduced compliance issues and increased cooperation. How do we train police officers to avoid making fatal errors? One theory of discrimination is that it is a subset of bad thinking.

    Sometimes the punishment takes the form of being charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest or a similarly amorphous crime simply for verbally standing up for one’s rights. Sometimes it takes the form of physical force.

    Police, at least in theory, are trained to avoid racial profiling. The same can’t be said for the public. If a citizen calls to report a suspicious person, police are suddenly forced into a situation that could stem from the ignorance or racism of an anonymous caller. Ignorance, which comes from all races, does not lend itself to effective community policing. Unfortunately, the age of the knowledgeable local foot officer is over.

    Does the color of the driver tip the observation toward a perceived need to make a stop? At what point does the police officer make a decision to shoot his gun? Each decision point can be examined, and, where discriminatory decisions are made, we can look for ways to break the chain of causality. Right now, many African-American parents (for example) are taking on the burden of trying to break the chain of causality by giving and practicing "The Talk" (telling their children to be extra careful around police) to their children, exercising extreme caution when dealing with police, because the police are fragile or possess impaired decision-making abilities, or are fatally equipped with lethal force and the "right" to use it. Police, like gun owners and users generally, need to take on much more responsibility and accountability for their decisionmaking. There needs to be more hesitation and de-escalation, and more use of alternative dispute resolution. Police generally possess an incorrect belief that their decisions must be made extremely quickly, or their lives will be in danger. In reality, the job of police officer is less dangerous than being a farmer, a lumberman, or a construction worker. Daniel Kahneman writes about the approach of thinking more slowly in "Thinking Fast and Slow."

    We need more avenues to resolve perceived disputes that don’t really involve criminal laws. For example, we could use neighborhood boards or mediators. For a view of what life is really like for a police officer, read Peter Moskos’ book Cop in the Hood. The author was working on a PhD at Harvard in sociology and wanted to study a police department. He wrote to many, but only Baltimore accepted him, on the condition that he go to the police academy and serve a year on the beat as a uniformed patrol officer. He did.

    An ideal today is “democratic policing,” a concept developed by scholars like Gary T. Marx at MIT. Broadly, this refers to a police force that is publicly accountable, subject to the rule of law, respectful of human dignity and that intrudes into citizens' lives only under certain limited circumstances.

    Police should be banned from shooting at fleeing nonviolent suspects, firing warning shots into the air and shooting at cars.

    A formal inquiry should be conducted on every firearms discharge by police. Officers who fire their weapon should be interviewed afterward by a panel of firearms trainers and other senior officials with the power to impose punishment for breaking rules, and determine why the shooting happened and how training should change in response.

    Prosecutors should be very separate from police.

    Annual refresher firearms training should be converted from target practice to role play simulations with actors in a mock apartment building, in a series of shoot-don’t shoot scenarios, with mock guns drawn. Training should start by sending officers into scenarios where they have to solve problems without recourse to lethal force. In such simulations, police learn through such training to defuse situations that previously would have led to gunfire. Police officers need better training in “threat perception failure” (T.P.F.). These failures occur when the officer(s) perceives a suspect as being armed due to the misidentification of a nonthreatening object (e.g., a cell phone) or movement (e.g., tugging at the waistband).

    A German police academy offers intensive study in psychology, government and history with an emphasis on the inhumanities and injustices of the Nazi regime. Copies of complaints made against police officers are studied by recruits so they can avoid repeating past mistakes. The need for human understanding is underscored and recruits are alerted to the dangers of prejudice and stereotyping. There is an excellent curriculum developed by the US Holocaust Museum and the Military Academy at West Point for cadets and young officers using Nazi crimes to teach ethics.

    Police department officials should treat a lack of police shootings as a reason to promote an officer rather than a sign he or she was insufficiently tough.

    Police violence should be treated as a public health problem. The police are one part of a criminal justice ecosystem with many parts, including problems with defense, prosecution, juries, judges, and mass incarceration. Schools contribute to the problem by kicking misbehaving students out, instead of keeping them in school. Once the youth are on the street, they are more likely to break laws.

    Data on traffic stops, stops, frisks, searches, and arrests by race should be collected and analyzed. If disproportions are found compared to prevalent in the population, find out why. Creating a collective empirical picture of bias at work can raise awareness. The San Jose Police Department faced concerns that officers conducted pedestrian stops in a way that disproportionality affected young men of color. The San Jose PD had their data analyzed with the focus on officer interaction, a process that raised awareness within the department of the existence of bias. The report concluded that officers have a significant impact on the “culture” of equitable treatment. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department evaluated their use-of-force data and identified a specific interaction that was resulting in excessive force: foot pursuits, especially with young men of color. They made a simple policy tweak that proved to be enormously effective: if you are the pursuing officer, you are not the same officer that puts the handcuffs on the suspect. This training policy adjustment disrupted the strong emotions that are often felt by both the officer and individual being arrested, who might have feelings of fear or anger that can lead to unnecessary resistance and subsequent violence. In creating this approach, Las Vegas reduced its use of force incidents following a foot pursuit by 23%. This kind of policy evaluation and change not only reduced use of force but also proved to be a safer approach to apprehending the suspect.

    A French police recruit goes through six months of training that structures his or her allegiance so the officer is first a citizen, second a civil servant, and finally a police officer. Before a French candidate can become an officer he or she must go before a jury consisting of several police supervisors, a judge and a university professor. In Sweden, police trainees undergo a 10-month program devoted to a broad spectrum of subjects. Law and social studies make up a substantial part of the curriculum. Their civics text opens with Lincoln's famous quotation that democracy is government of, by and for the people, and then goes on to emphasize such concepts as civil liberties and minority rights. In Finland police can't carry guns the first 3 years on the job. Current US Army doctrine, is heavy on cultural competence, avoiding unarmed and civilian casualties, holding your fire until you know what you're shooting at, taking orders from the chain of command, fire discipline, identifying friend or foe, etc.

    Mandate Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission in every state.

    The militarization of police in the US is a major problem. They sometimes act like an occupying army. There should be rules that prohibit officers from using force against people simply for talking back or as punishment for running away. Pistol whipping should be prohibited, as is firing warning shots.

    Reinstate the US Dept of Justice’s Community Policing program. This is an approach that encourages officers to build relationships with the people in the neighborhood, including getting them out of their cars on onto the sidewalks. This is potentially a two-way street, because it may reduce the biases that residents hold against the police as well as those police hold against residents.

    Reinstate DOJ’s review of police departments.

    Require universal use of dash cameras in police vehicles.

    Incentivize proper behavior by police, as explored in books like Nudge, and by behavioral economists.

    May 30, 2020


    By Marc Brenman



  • 12 Jul 2020 9:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The SIETAR USA monthly webinars focus on the ongoing professional development of SUSA members. With this development lens we seek out speakers and topics representing the thought leadership within our intercultural/DEI field. Here’s the upcoming lineup to illustrate this commitment:


    Critical Lessons on Developing Global Leaders with Joyce Osland

    After a short summer break, Joyce Osland starts us off in September looking at global leadership development and her research at San Jose State University as founder and Executive Director of the Global Leadership Advancement Center, a part of the SJSU business school. Joyce’s long research career in global leadership development (emphasis on “global”) has brought her focus to the practical--what are the “crucible” experiences that produce transformational development in global leaders, what types of activities best produce these experiences and how can this all be measured and transferred into organizations. (Click here to register for this event.)

    October 9-11: 2020 SIETAR USA Virtual Conference

    Theme: “Moving Ahead: Learning from the Global Crisis”

    A crisis can galvanize creativity and commitment. It is up to us as intercultural and inclusion practitioners to explore and apply our knowledge and skills that can make a difference in places of work, service, and learning, in social and interpersonal spaces, on a global scale and in our local communities. Facing the hard truths that our work is far from being done; what emergent strategies will help us move forward? How can our understanding of intercultural and diversity dynamics help shape the new reality of the world of work, education, the public sector, and every sphere of the societies in which we live?

    The crisis has put a spotlight on the inequities, racism, and ethnocentrism already prevalent here in the United States and around the world. How have the nations and cultures of the world responded to the pandemic, reflecting their cultural norms, and has culture made a difference in the outcomes? What response from DEI and Intercultural practitioners can influence the future? How has the pandemic altered our own reality, perspectives, and focus?

    Watch for registration details to take advantage of this huge development opportunity.

    November features Bettina Byrd-Giles

    The developmental webinar for November features Bettina Byrd-Giles, Interculturalist, Health Equity Expert and Community Change Agent. She will share with us her real-world application of interculturalism and DEI concepts and principles in changing the culture of a local community in the Birmingham, AL area. As CEO of the local health care center Bettina partnered with local artists and businesspeople to re-brand and rejuvenate the community using intercultural techniques and storytelling especially highlighting the local jazz heritage. Her projects often combine her health care expertise and cultural competence development such as a program for data collectors in the University of Alabama hospital system to improve their interviewing skill through increased cultural competence. This program incorporated the IDI. Bettina’s international interests starting with her BA in international relations from the University of Virginia include active participation in Birmingham’s Sister Cities program. In addition, she founded Diversity University, a cross-cultural program involving six colleges and universities.

    December features Fanchon Silberstein

    For December we will immerse ourselves in art and how to use art as a tool for cultural understanding and dialogue with Fanchon Silberstein, author of Art inSight: Understanding Art and Why It Matters. (See book review and interview in the February newsletter.) This webinar provides us the advantage of going with Fanchon deeper into pieces of art featured in her book and enhancing our cultural competence through learning to dialogue with the artist and the piece of art itself. The insights in the book are the culmination of living outside of the US as a foreign service spouse, serving as a member of the faculty of SIIC and decades as a docent at the Smithsonian’s Hirschhorn Gallery. Fanchon might even share her writing process and the process for finding a publisher—hint: it requires tons of tenacity.

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