Welcome to: THE INTERCULTURALIST: A PERIODICAL OF SIETAR USA

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

  • 14 Feb 2021 11:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    May he rest in peace as he lives on in our memories.

    The DEI/Intercultural field lost a giant when Andy Reynolds passed away on February 7, 2021. This message is to let our readers know that SIETAR USA would like to commemorate Andy with a special issue of the newsletter. We invite you to send a written reminiscence of what Andy meant to you that we will publish in the special issue. You also have the option of sending a short message of condolence from your phone or however you like to do videos. Please keep the videos to 1 minute. The written messages should also be brief, no more than 2 paragraphs. A favorite picture of Andy—with you if possible—is welcome too.

    Send your written or video message to info@sietarusa.org or to brett@culturalmentor.com. We would like to receive your messages no later than February 20, 2021.

    There are no better words to describe his parting and who he was than those of his beloved wife, Donna Stringer. “My love and life partner of 39 years died this morning after a 14-month valiant battle against blood cancer. He was smart, funny, a master cook and photographer, but mostly he was dedicated to social change for everyone. He taught me so much—about absolute dedication and unconditional love, I will miss his physical presence but will continue consulting him as I carry on our lifes’ work.”


  • 14 Feb 2021 11:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    2021 Conference Banner-OmahaThe Conference Committee is keeping our fingers crossed that an in-person conference can be safely held in October 2021. The predictions are good that some gathering will be possible by then. However, it’s too early to know if that is optimistic or real. We will all be wearing masks and—to a reasonable extent—social distancing. We will make other adjustments as necessary, such as instead of our typical, fabulous buffet lunches, you may be getting a tasty plated lunch or gourmet boxed lunch. The most important element for this conference in Omaha is that we will all be there together! Connecting with real colleagues and friends, instead of a screen, sounds like something to look forward to as we make our way through this year.

    We have already gotten a few questions regarding the possibility of a hybrid conference that is part virtual and part in person. We currently have no plans for a hybrid conference since they have a variety of problems that are complicated and difficult to solve. We are investigating the issues and will report more next month. Know that we have your best interests in mind and would like to make it possible for everyone everywhere to attend, but the reality is that it is not likely possible.

    Call for Proposals (CFP) for the 2021 Conference

    Watch your emails for the opening of the Call for Proposals for the 2021 conference. Once again, YOU make the conference what it is, YOU create the space in which we are learn and grow together. Start planning now for what you’d like to present this year. The theme of the conference is Mind, Culture, and Society. SIETAR USA leadership has carefully watched the events of the past year and what is currently happening. Each part of the theme relates to the issues of racism, white power and privilege, equity, social justice, and their effect on practitioners of color and on all members of SIETAR USA.

    How do these three arenas—Mind, Culture, and Society manifest in your work, training, or research? What new ideas, frameworks, or applications have you developed or encountered that have enhanced your work? Read through the descriptions of the conference theme and track themes to help inspire your presentation planning. As always, SIETAR USA welcome presentation in a range of formats so there is sure to be one that inspires you. We even have NED Talks for those who wish to share an engaging story or insights. If you are more of a right-brained person, there is even a category for artistic expression. How do you use art, theater, dance, or music in your trainings? What does the art of a culture tell us about that culture? Come present at this year’s conference and lead the discourse addressing these important questions.

    Tracks

    Mind: Leveraging Neuroscience and Beyond. Scientists studying the brain have applied their findings to many areas of human interaction. Most significantly, neuroscientists are increasing our understanding of the mind in such areas as prejudice and bias, as well as intercultural competence and understanding. What can we learn from them that applies to our work?

    Culture: Foundational Innovation: How have the events of 2020—the wide-spread focus on anti-racism initiatives, the increased awareness of the pervasive impact of white supremacy—influenced your approach to learning and teaching about intercultural competence? How have you changed and adapted your focus on culture in response to the call for social justice in this pandemic?

    Society: What have we learned about the issues facing today’s societies in the United States and around the world? What is the role or duty of the intercultural or DEI professional? Prominent among the issues facing us as professionals is the impact of Black Lives Matter. In addition are health pandemics and challenges to democracies, new and ongoing civil unrest, immigrant and migrant issues, and concerns regarding racial and gender identity. How do these issues shape the work we do on the ground and how are they shaped by our work? And finally, how do the intercultural and DEI perspectives intersect and inform each other?

    General: This category has been present since the inception of SIETAR. It is reserved for sessions that address intercultural and DEI education, training and/or research that don’t fit neatly into the components of the conference theme.

    Be a contributor:

    There are many ways you can contribute to the conference. You can volunteer for a committee, you can present a session, you can exhibit or advertise at the conference. Or you can become a conference Sponsor. Your input, expertise, and donations are all important to making the conference a success. What is your favorite way to contribute? Contact us at conferencechairs@sietarusa.org.

  • 14 Feb 2021 11:24 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Robert Kerry BridgeThe Robert Kerry Bridge

    You can’t go to Omaha without hearing about Bob. What is so special about a bridge, you ask? Well for starters, it is one of the most beautiful spans of a river in the world. It leads to miles of walking trails. The information stations along the bridge offer a perspective on the environment, the first peoples who lived here, and the construction of the bridge. Perhaps you’d like to go Bob walking, or even Bobbing (yes, it’s a thing) while in Omaha. Bob is close to the conference hotel, so you can take the MLK walkway to the river and you will have a chance to check it out for yourself. You may even meet Omar. Learn more about Bob here https://www.visitomaha.com/bob/ (Photo from Visit Omaha)

    Old Market Square  https://oldmarket.com/

    Just a short walk from the Hilton Hotel in Omaha is the Old Market District – a 17-acre area of historic buildings amid cobblestone streets that is home to a diverse mix of stores funky and modern, restaurants featuring Midwest cuisine and ethnic specialties, bars with a lot of character(s), and interesting art galleries. There is something there for everyone. THE OLD MARKET is Omaha's most historic, most entertaining neighborhood. You can even go for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage! (Photos from Wikipedia, Pinterest, NYTimes)

    El Museo Latino www.elmuseolatino.org.

    The El Museo Latino opened its doors in the historic Livestock Exchange Building on Cinco de Mayo 1993. It was the first Latino art and history museum and cultural center in the Midwest. In 1997, the museum moved to its present brick and red tile roof building. The original construction of 1887 was a school and was reconstructed in the 1930s. Today, El Museo Latino is one of the only twelve Latino museums in the United States. What would you see there? In addition to special exhibits, the collection includes traditional, indigenous, and contemporary works ranging from Pre-Columbian time to the present. The collection includes textiles, sculpture, photographs, ceramics, and works on paper. (Photos from www.elmusueolatino.org)

  • 14 Feb 2021 11:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Thiagi

    A one-day workshop with Thiagi is like a walk in the warm spring sunshine. He sheds light on interactive training and generously shares his skills and insights with us. If you attended the workshop last September, join us for new ideas and activities. If this will be your first virtual workshop with Thiagi, you will be surprised at how much fun it is and how much you will learn.

    Date: SATURDAY, APRIL 17, 2021

    Time: Start at 10 a.m. CT and end at 4 p.m. CT. Several short breaks plus a longer break for lunch or whatever is appropriate in your time zone.

    Keep them Engaged: Live Online Learning Activities (LOLAs)

    During the past 10 years, Thiagi has field-tested and improved more than 20 types of Live Online Learning Activities (LOLAs) that have been incorporated IN virtual online training sessions. He has published a book on this technique, providing detailed instructions for conducting 11 of these LOLAs. He is currently working on the second book.

    This 1-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 for your own multicultural training sessions. You will learn activities for technical, management, sales, and interpersonal content. You 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.

    Cost: Much as we know the high value that Thiagi’s training brings to our members, SIETAR USA has determined to keep the cost the same as it was last year: $27 for students; $57 for members in good standing; $77 for member sponsors; and $97 for non-members.

  • 14 Feb 2021 11:04 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Craig StortiUnderstanding Europeans by Stuart Miller, John Muir Publications, 1987.

    Not Like Us: How Europeans have loved, hated, and transformed American culture since World War II by Richard Pells, Basic Books, 1997.

    Reviewed by Craig Storti

    One of our goals here at BookMarks is to remind people of great books from the past and also to introduce those books to a new generation of the interculturally minded. In that spirit this month we review two books, one that is 34 years old and one that is 27. We realize, of course, that even intercultural books can be dated, even though they do not typically deal with topical subjects, and readers may rightly wonder if books written so long ago can be still be relevant today. You will have to answer that question for yourself, but for what it’s worth, this reader believes these two books are as insightful now as they were when I first read them all those years ago.

    Let me add here at the outset that their titles notwithstanding (especially Miller’s book), the real content of each book is comparing Europeans with Americans. American readers, therefore, will come away with a deep understanding of Europeans and an even greater understanding of themselves. I don’t think there is anything I have ever said about American culture to any audience I have ever addressed (or in any book I have ever written) that I did not learn in these two books.

    Understanding Europeans book coverWhen I picked up Understanding Europeans and had only read the Preface, entitled “Painted in Blood,” I was transfixed, and I couldn’t help wondering if the rest of the book could possibly live up to this beginning. I need not have worried; the book is one stunning insight after another. Here are just two examples:

    In America it is especially hard nowadays to have personal pride. The doors of opportunity in our country are, supposedly, open to all. Therefore, one is always inclined to question oneself and ask why one isn’t rich and famous, or richer and more famous.

    [In] general, the European exists in an inner world where things won’t get better and life is not very good to begin with. Psychologically, this view shelters him from some of the shocks and disappointments of existence. Practically, such an attitude leads to the caution necessary for confronting what experience has shown to be a dangerous and intractable universe.

    Not Like Us book coverThe Pells book contains many similar general insights, reaching many of the same conclusions as Miller, but it covers a much broader canvas; here are a few chapter headings to give you and idea: Transatlantic Misunderstandings—American Views of Europe; Transatlantic Misunderstandings—European Views of America; Mass Culture: The American Transmission; The Americanization of Europe’s Economic and Social Life. Don't be put off by some of these titles; there’s a goldmine of cultural insight in this book. Here are two examples:

    Unlimited space was not just a physical attribute of the American continent, it was...a key to the American psyche…. In small countries like Britain, Switzerland, or Italy, spatial restrictions led to...a sense of limited possibilities. In America…the horizons were infinite and so too were the opportunities. There were few obstacles to economic or social ascent. In Laski’s view, “the element of spaciousness in American life” resulted in a dynamism that was the opposite of European rigidity.

    Many visitors were impressed with how readily Americans moved from one place to another, how prevalent their assumption that they could improve their luck by changing their address or embarking on a new career. To Europeans who normally went to school, married, and spent their adult years living in the same house and working at the same job, all within a few miles from where they were born, America appeared to be a nation of nomads....Once past adolescence, children invariably left home, relocating in another part of the country. To stay put was a sign of failure.

    To be sure you have to wade through more prose, some of which is not cross-cultural, to find the gems in Pells, but they are there. If you only had time for one of these books, then it should definitely be Miller. But if you like what you find in Miller, then you really should try Pells. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re called upon to explain Americans to Europeans or vice versa, these books will make you sound brilliant. If you already sound brilliant, then this will just be icing on the cake.

    While we’re in the neighborhood (bookwise) and for those who want just one more take on American culture, I’d like to add a third book: Out of Our Past: The Forces That Shaped America by Carl Degler (Harper) originally from 1959. This one does not compare Americans to Europeans; it just explains Americans—with great insight.

  • 13 Feb 2021 8:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Neal Goodman Ph.D.

    Dr. Neal Goodman, CEO of Florida-based Global Dynamics Inc, is an internationally recognized authority on Cross-Cultural Competence, Global Mindset, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. A leader in DEI since 1963, his wealth of experience makes for a great reason to publish his lifelong journey as an interculturalist. Organizations and publications from around the globe seek his advice on creating globally inclusive organizations. He received SIETAR’s 1995 Outstanding Senior Interculturalist Lifetime Achievement Award and serves as Professor Emeritus at Saint Peter's University. He is most proud of his two daughters and grandchildren and still publishes articles, among them Best Practices in Unconscious Bias Training.

    I have spent most of my life teaching, training, and facilitating in front of thousands of groups, but you may be surprised to learn that my voyage has been completely unplanned. For those of you beginning your journey, you may discern some tips or danger zones you may want to avoid from the story below. For those of you in the midst of your careers, or who are veterans of our field, you may find this an opportunity for stop and reflect on where you are and why you are committed to learning.

    There has been one constant in this unplanned life and that is that I have learned the most from people who are not like me. That learning comes as a direct result of my curiosity about others. During the mid-60’s, my mother wanted me to build up my resume for college so she recommended that I apply for a youth leadership retreat. Unknown to her, this was a Civil Rights camp and the experience was life-changing. I knew I wanted to do something to end bigotry and injustice. I delivered my first workshop on Racism and Prejudice while not yet a Junior in high school. My peers at the retreat represented every race, religion, gender, and ethnicity (which was how we thought of diversity at the time). I learned much from the other participants as I listened to their stories of prejudice and discrimination.

    In my Junior year, I was put into an English class with the most feared teacher in the school. She measured competence by one’s handwriting and mine is still is the worst I have seen. We could have not been more different, but when she found out about my activities in the Civil Rights movement, she would tell me to skip the books she was assigning to the class and gave me several novels by James Baldwin (always handed to me after class in a plain manila envelope). And so even while still in high school, I led numerous youth meetings where we discussed how to eliminate bias in our lives, schools, and communities.

    At the retreat, I also met two Jesuits who were part of a panel on religious diversity. They taught at a Jesuit College in my hometown and asked me if I would consider attending a Catholic college to help the Catholic students learn about Judaism. Little did they (or I) know that I was about to become a devout agnostic, but I did decide to attend the Jesuit Saint Peter’s College. As part of a minority group, I quickly learned much more about Catholicism than I helped Catholic students learn about Judaism.

    The Jesuits were inspiring and ironically coaxed me into spending my Junior year at Hebrew University of Jerusalem- which is not a Jesuit college. This was the summer of 1967 and a month before my arrival, a major war was fought between Israel and its neighbors. I was leaving the urban unrest (protests and riots) of New Jersey for the war zone of Jerusalem. As it turned out, my closest friend in Israel was a Baptist from Minnesota, who had been in his last year in the Naval Academy when he saw a vision of Christ on the beach in Jacksonville, FL, and decided that he had to leave the Navy and become a Baptist Minister. We could not have been more different- a tall deeply religious Minnesotan who knew that the Vietnam war was justified, me a city kid from New Jersey who was non-religious and was involved in many anti-war protests – yet we learned the most from each other. During this year, I also spent considerable time with communists on a kibbutz, Palestinian Arabs, and students from Africa who were studying at the school.

    Coming home from an international experience can be very daunting. I could not relate to my fellow NJ students and I was looking for something international and I found myself working for the US Mission to the United Nations. Again, here is a working class, college student learning from two U.S. Senators who were at the Mission during my stay.  We could not have been any different but their sage advice to avoid a political career shaped my career goals.

    I learned from my experiences that I could not solve the race issue in the United States, could not bring an end to conflict in the Middle East, and could not bring world peace to humanity. So what does an idealist do for a career? I became a College Professor. Ironically again, I was offered a position at Saint Peters’ College barely one year after graduating. At the time, it was a temporary position but ended up lasting for 35 years.

    During much of my career, I suffered from “Imposter Syndrome”. Even though I had a doctoral degree from NYU and was publishing articles, I expected someone to come out and expose me: a working-class kid from Jersey City with little to offer. What I lacked in confidence, I made up for in certainty about my love for learning and helping people reach their full potential.

    As a faculty member, I would have my students read The Autobiography of Malcolm X and The Wall Street Journal. Almost 50 years later, I would be facilitating Unconscious Bias programs at Dow Jones. At Saint Peter’s College, I created an International Student Exchange Program that allowed our students to study abroad, and it brought international students to our campus. I also began to facilitate seminars on Internationalizing the Curriculum at many colleges and professional meetings. Fortunately, this led me to meet Rick Detweiler and Nan Sussman who both encouraged me to consider applying for a sabbatical at the East-West Center, a think tank in Hawaii. At the SIETAR International Summer Institute in Washington, I met with the top scholar at the Center and he told me that the Center was not interested in those who were “teachers” only researchers. Later at the Institute, I publically challenged his research and rather than disagree with me, he approached me later to invite me to spend a year at the Center. Hawaii’s multiculturalism was a perfect fit for my curiosity. At the Center, I was on a team that focused on how to teach others about our respective cultures. I was the only American on a team of people from 12 diverse cultures from Asia. I worked with luminaries such as Richard Brislin, Dan Landis, Paul Peterson, and others. Again, I was learning from others who were very different from me.

    My background in Social Psychology and my interactions with others led me to recognize that there are multiple perceptions of the same reality. To be successful, I needed to learn how to see the same situation from multiple perspectives simultaneously. I came back from the Center re-energized and created an Intercultural Studies program at St. Peters, which led me to reach out to faculty from other disciplines. The program was multidisciplinary and my courses were co-sponsored by the Sociology and Business departments- something akin to blue states working with red states. Crossing over to learn about others is critical to me and to those in my programs.

    When I returned from the Center, I found little academic interest in the field of intercultural relations or diversity from academic disciplines. Through a mutual acquaintance I was invited to attend a small meeting of corporate heads of learning and development. My perceptions of corporations were radically altered as a result of this meeting. Once again, meeting others with an open mind led to learning. The goal of these learning leaders was to create more successful international assignments for expatriates. I understood that their corporations’ self-interest was at the center of their goals, but this provided me with the opportunity for me to implicitly promote the agenda of mutual respect and understanding to a much wider audience. I knew that I needed to facilitate their ability to build bridges of understanding to be successful in the increasingly culturally diverse and geographically dispersed workplace and marketplace.

    Join us next month for part two of Neal’s journey: founding Global Dynamics and developing state-of-the-art consultancy and training services.


  • 13 Feb 2021 8:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Many of us are excellent archivists of our own intercultural materials. Whether we are trainers, consultants, college professors, or administrators, we want to pull a relevant Bennett passage, Trompenaars’ thesis, or Thiagi exercise at a moment’s notice. Some of us consult heavy tomes from our bookcase while others bring up their extensive list of bookmarked tweets, PDF files, or websites.

    As interculturalists move through their career, these collections gain historical value as the past fifty years show the significant growth and changes, and evolving methods of our discipline. Many decades of accumulated papers, articles, notes, letters, photos, audio recordings, and video tapes certainly become our own personal treasure troves. But at SIETAR USA we asked the question: what happens to these treasures when skilled interculturalists retire?

    Neal Goodman, president and founder of Global Dynamics Inc., and a cherished member of the organization, is one such accomplished individual with a treasure trove of materials under his roof in Florida. Having taught and trained thousands across educational institutions and global organizations, he has turned one room into a library of sorts filled with cabinets full of books and original materials. “I’d love to have that somewhere that it can be used and referenced,” Neal says. “And - if nothing else – digitized, so that you do not need all that space.”

    What do we stand to lose if we do not appropriately curate collections like his? Neal: “This is a field that allows humanity to build bridges of understanding, so not just a peaceful world to live in but one in which we can all benefit from the very best of humanity. Our intercultural work and materials are the tools for that.”

    “The old saying goes, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I can’t tell you how many times we have encountered a client or company making the same intercultural mistakes that were being made 25 or 30 years ago. And so, you need to have that history of what works, what doesn’t work and why it worked or did not work.”

    To preserve our collective memory, work, and advancements, it is clear to see the need for a repository with appropriate curation. Even our outgoing president Sandy Fowler is in possession of a valuable collection donated to her by retired colleagues. As such, the pursuit of a solution to this challenge has begun with the objective of finding organizations, institutions, or other places where the longevity of intercultural collections can be assured.

    This article serves as a starting point for a larger discussion on how SIETAR USA as an organization can store, cherish, and make use of donated collections that otherwise may be lost or forgotten. Do you have ideas, suggestions, or solutions? Please contact the editorial team at editor@sietarusa.org to be part of the discussion.

    Dr. Neal Goodman’s own journey as an interculturalist and DEI specialist can be found here as he shares his lessons learned with the SIETAR USA community.

  • 13 Feb 2021 8:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From Executive Diversity Services

    Was Barack Obama really America’s first Black president? There have been questions swirling for decades that former President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s mother was half-Black. Across the pond, people were celebrating that Meghan Markle’s son would be the first baby of color in the monarchy. Yet many believe Queen Charlotte became the first queen with African ancestry in 1761 when she married King George III.

    Charlotte’s racial background was often downplayed, however, and diminished because of the negative associations with having Black ancestry at that time. Evidence of Eisenhower’s African ancestry is still unclear, at least in mainstream or predominantly white-owned media. Sources such as africaresource.com or baltimoreblackwoman.com are not so ambiguous.

    What is clear is that whether it was the 18th century for Queen Charlotte or the 20th for President Eisenhower, African-mixed heritage was something that people who could, might choose to hide. Fast forward to 2020, however, and there are sites like ancestry.com that allow people to claim and add multi-hyphenates to their identities. We have a vice president-elect who is a proud Black and South Asian woman who embraces her racial and ethnic identities and cultural experiences that make her who she is.

    Uncool. Cool. What’s Changed?

    In the past, external discrimination engendered internalized racism and hidden identities. For example:

    In the past, external discrimination engendered internalized racism and hidden identities. For example:

    One Drop Rule: External Discrimination

    Who defines who is Black or not, and how? In 1920 it was the census. According to the “one-drop rule,” which was commonly used in the South, if one had a known “single drop” of Black blood, that person was considered Black. The implications were far-reaching, from ridicule or even torture to second-class citizenship, because of having even one single drop of Black lineage in your DNA.

    Brown Paper Bag Test: Internal Discrimination

    Since the days of slavery, there has long been a so-called rivalry or internalized tension between individuals with a lighter complexion and a darker complexion. The Brown Paper Bag Test is a form of discrimination from within the African American community, by which one’s skin tone is compared to the color of a brown paper bag. The test was a way to decide whether an individual could have certain privileges. If they were lighter than a brown paper bag, they would receive privileges such as admission into certain groups such as clubs, fraternities, and churches. If they were darker, their access would be denied.

    “Passing” for White: Hiding One’s Identity

    For some of Black ancestry, if they could “pass” as white, they would. More than simple advantage, sometimes it was necessary for survival, such as for getting a much-needed job in an industry or location that would otherwise prevent them from being employed. Others might completely disavow their ethnic roots by choice. Some people would even move away from home to start a new life where nobody in their new community would know their “secret.”

    Embracing Your Complete Heritage or Mixed-Identity in 2020

    With the arrivals of Millennials there has been a transformational shift toward embracing one’s individuality and rejecting the idea of having to “pick” a single identity. Tiger Woods notably called himself “Cablinasian,” a word he made up during childhood to try to capture and convey his multiracial heritage, including Thai, African American, Chinese, and European. In 2020, for the first time, the US census form asked respondents who chose white or black for their race to give more information about their origins – for example, German, Lebanese, African American or Somali.

    Certainly, people of color have always embraced their identity. And recently many young Black people have revived the mantra “I’m Black and I’m Proud” reminiscent of the Black Power Movement of the 60’s, in which “The Afro” was seen as a return to Black roots rather than adapting their appearance to fit into predominantly white styles. Hair has long been a hot point for this, as school or work dress codes have been challenged and modified to include more natural styles including dreadlocks or afros. In fact, September 15, 2020 was World Afro Day, designed to end discrimination against Afro hair in schools.

    Gen Y athletes, stars, and online influencers, increasingly of mixed-race backgrounds, are paving the way, embracing their multi-racial, multi-cultural heritage as “cool.”

    Caveat: Is It Only Cool When It’s Convenient?

    Many BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) individuals often feel they must still adapt to dominant culture norms or standards in order to succeed, ignoring and even not acknowledging their own cultural expressions of beauty. Some still perceive that there’s an unwritten accepted level of ethnic showcase that’s “cool,” but only when there’s still an acceptable level of assimilation simultaneously mixed in.

    These Issues Run Deep and Are Complex

    Because these issues are so complex, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when thinking of the impact the country’s history still has on our present, and even more so when wondering how we can shift things for the better, especially in the workplace.

    Public interest lawyer Bryan Stevenson asks the U.S. to “reckon with its racist past and present” for there to be true change. His 2014 memoir is the basis for the recently released movie of the same name, Just Mercy, about the Equal Justice Initiative. Stevenson suggests that the U.S has an unresolved history that has diminished, demoralized, and punished individuals who were not white. And that history must be reconciled and acknowledged for the country to heal and for change to happen.

    What Are Some Moves you Can Make Right Now?

    Acknowledge the reality of our country’s history, even if it’s difficult to face (e.g., slavery, discrimination, and systemic racism)

    Accept how said history has impacted perceptions of people of color and ethnic displays (e.g., someone wearing an evening gown vs. wearing a sari or a gomesi to a company gala)

    Recognize, once more, how said history has impacted BIPOC views of themselves (e.g., desire to “pass” for white, code-switching to fit in) and in turn impacts the way they have to “behave” in the world and workplace.

    Actively look for opportunities to look through a different perspective. Notice the thoughts you have about someone. Are you “othering” them? Are you making negative assumptions or associations based on what you see?

    Systemic change can only be accomplished by being intentional in efforts to grow inclusion, both organizationally and individually.

    Reprinted with permission from the Executive Diversity Services Blog: https://www.executivediversity.com/2020/12/28/first-black-president-in-us/

  • 13 Feb 2021 7:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by Executive Diversity Services

    These tips are helpful as a general guide. Individual differences are considerable so it is most useful when in doubt to ask the person what would be most helpful to them.

    • Learn about your own culture and values, focusing on how they cause you to behave and communicate, both verbally and non-verbally. Accept that different cultures and values are valid and can be understood or learned.
    • Acknowledge that we have each learned about other cultures and may not be objectively “factual” and may lead to stereotypes, misconceptions, or conflicts.
    • Be responsible for your own learning. Read, listen, and observe without expecting someone else to teach you. At the same time, when you are part of a work team, be willing to share your experience to move the entire team forward toward a goal.


  • 13 Feb 2021 7:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Image source: Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

    In the United States and Canada, February has been celebrated as African American History Month since 1970. However, the origin of this observance began over 100 years ago.

    Born in 1875, historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s parents were former slaves. He was raised with the understanding that educational attainment is crucial “… when striving to secure and make the most out of one’s divine right of freedom.” (ASALH, 2021) In 1912, Dr. Woodson became the second African American man to earn a PhD in history from Harvard. He was acutely aware that African American history was being misrepresented and minimized.

    In 1915, Birth of a Nation was released in February, a film that romanticized white supremacy and promoted the “Lost Cause” ideology. The film was also responsible for the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. That moment of crisis for the African American community in 1915 fueled Dr. Woodson’s vision to start both an organization and a discipline focused on African American history. In September 1915, historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson started the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). The focus of his organization was to correct the historical lies being told, publish textbooks that covered African American history comprehensively and accurately, and recognize the accomplishments of African Americans. (Waxman, 2020)

    The ASALH created important research and publication outlets including Journal of Negro History (1916) and The Negro in Our History (1922). In 1926, Dr. Woodson announced the celebration of “Negro History Week”, to correspond with the February birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. The celebration focused on honor the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans to U.S. history.

    In 1937, Dr. Woodson published the Negro History Bulletin, which was widely circulated to churches and public schools. The celebration of “Negro History Week” inspired many schools and communities nationwide to organize local events, establish history clubs, and host performances and lectures. (History.com Editors, 2021) “By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the Civil Rights movement and a growing awareness of Black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses.” (History.com Editors, 2021) In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month, what is now known as African American History Month, and called upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” (History.com Editors, 2021)

    The expansion from one week to one month as well as the federal recognition of African American History Month are thanks in part to Dr. Woodson’s vision and dedication. Today, African American History Month gathers support throughout the country as people of all ethnic and social backgrounds share and learn more about the African American experience. ASALH views the promotion of African American History Month as one of the most important components of advancing Dr. Woodson’s legacy. (ASALH, 2021)

    Written by: Emily Kawasaki



    Works Cited

    • AA History Month. (n.d.). [Graphic]. Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. https://www.cmlibrary.org/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/AA%20History%20Month.png?itok=RFjFX_Bm
    • African American History Month. (n.d.). The Library of Congress. Retrieved February 2, 2021, from https://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/
    • ASALH - The Founders of Black History Month. (2021, January 25). Our History. Association for the Study of African American Life and History. https://asalh.org/about-us/our-history/
    • History.com Editors. (2009, October 27). Black History Facts. HISTORY. https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-facts
    • History.com Editors. (2021, February 1). Black History Month. HISTORY. https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month#:%7E:text=President%20Gerald%20Ford%20officially%20recognized,of%20endeavor%20throughout%20our%20history.%E2%80%9D
    • Owens, D. M. (2021, February 3). Activists chart course for Black America’s progress after a year of turmoil. USA Today. https://eu.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/2021/02/01/black-history-month-activists-chart-course-black-america-progress/6566812002/
    • US Census Bureau. (2021, January 12). National African American (Black) History Month: February 2021. The United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2021/black-history-month.html
    • Waxman, O. B. (2020, February 20). How Black Lives Matter Is Changing What Students Learn During Black History Month. Time. https://time.com/5771045/black-history-month-evolution/


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