Quiet Power

It may appear to be innocuos

It may appear to be innocuous


About two months ago, I had a conversation with someone about whether The Don beats Melania. It’s undoubted that he abuses her psychologically and financially. Sexual exploitation, manipulation, isolation, he probably uses all of those tools and a few more.

My conversation partner expressed very similar insights as Matt Bai. They also offered that Melania has much more power than we suspect because she is the one holding the golden nuts in the tightly clenched palm of her hand. And she has in all likelihood told Mr. Wonderfully Almighty that he’d better not make her angry or she’ll tell the world what he really is.

My conversation partner speculated that Melania, unlike her predecessors, holds a lot of financial power over the Golden Haired Marvel as well as some other tools that can be used at the moment she decides (not someone else) that enough is enough. [Consider how many photo ops have caught her brushing his anxious, PR-sucking grasp in an effort to give the appearance of domestic bliss.]

To those who have endured domestic abuse and violence, take a lesson from FLOTUS. Figure out where you hold the power and then hold it as a guillotine over your abuser’s head. This advice also applies to those who are enduring abuse at work, school, or even some type of eleemosynary organization.

Say “NO” in as many ways as it can be communicated but with tact, grace, intelligence, and confidence – those things your abuser lacks.

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Inclusiveness

Researching the Rules

Researching the Rules

The deeper we go into Administration #45 and the more situations similar to the Philadelphia incident are revealed, the more I recall my first, in-your-face experience with racism. It was at my first Chamber of Commerce mixer.

I went home and allowed myself to be physically ill. Then I called my neighbor, a White real estate agent from Arkansas. We were friends; he was accepting of people. I demanded that he tell me precisely what I was facing by being seen as a Black woman who was a block buster in an (essentially) all White community.

While I don’t talk about that experience nor the cavalcade of other situations that reinforce and validate (not part of my imagination nor sensitive feelings) that experience, racism exists and endures in many forms.

Examples of the “madness” are documented in many ways. Fortunately, our civil rights cases regarding freedom of speech and association, the separate but equal decisions exist to show what types of illogical exclusion is part of our history. It wasn’t that long ago that women broke the barriers and became accepted cadets at The Citadel and

It is not unconscious bias. It is lack of education, and therefore awareness, and the inability to see things from the other side of the picture. It is about not being able to see people of another race or ethnicity as human beings, individuals who have humanity and deserve respect.

Even in the Deep South, Southern hospitality was predicated on being respectful of others, no matter what their race or station. Unfortunately, it also meant certain members of the population were simply not allowed to partake of the American Pie in the same types of bites as others. To do so was considered a sin against society, violating community standards.

Fortunately, not all Whites held that belief nor practiced it. There were many who strove to cause positive change and more inclusion through their being part of various organizations and associations where their words could be heard and persuade others to see a different, better course from having inclusiveness. It sometimes takes being on the inside to be able to cause a shift in attitudes and positive changes.

Having these experiences has reinforced my belief and conviction that all people are created equal. Each of us deserves the right to reach the greatest possible potential. Therefore, in this matter, I am on the right path. I proclaim my status as an expert in the area of diversity, especially with regard to Title VII diversity. I will continue to develop knowledge and awareness of the issues as well as the case law and statutes that support the right to access. Thus saying, it is also important to be vigilant about the threats to those forms of access and rights to existence. Those rights are embodied in our Constitution and are considered civil rights.

Each specialist, each expert is one based on their particular slice of the picture. There are those who are lawyers and judges. There are also those who are arbitrators and mediators. Let us not overlook the administrative law judges of the EEOC and other governing bodies. And there are the advocates and consultants who focus in discrete issues where they have carved out their own specialties.

Contrary to the belief of some, this expertise is not predicated on mere opinion. In some instances it is developed via first-hand experiences, either witnessing the issue visited on others or having it inflicted on their own selves because of the deficiencies of the abusers.

As to a sampling of the content that has shaped these words, please consider these resources:

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Keep Your Friends Close

Which identity

Which identity


A perennial quote from Sun Tzu, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

There are several explanations regarding the meaning of the statement. One relates to being able to anticipate the actions of one’s foes. Another relates to understanding the motivations of those who are one’s antagonists or rivals. Thus, it explains why some businesses thrive in a highly competitive marketplace while others exit for one reason or another. Sometimes it isn’t a question of anticipating the actions of the competition as much as not having the foresight to envision the next enhancement or not being the one clever enough to create a strong consumer desire for your product or service.

Friend or Enemy

This brings us to the question of how to accurately identify the friend who may actually be the wolf in sheep’s clothing. So many who have survived either domestic workplace abuse thought they had an ally who could be trusted with the private grousing or the sharing of hopes and desires. How many can attest to sharing the details of a proposal with a manager only to later discover those very details have become part and parcel of a project under another’s direction?

Is it an enemy who tells you outright that you’ve been blacklisted and will not be working in any industry anymore? Or is that actually an ally who’s providing notice that adjustments in your plans need to be made? Better to know than to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to make the car run when it has no gas tank or wheels.

With a certainty, there will be disparaging remarks that are only made out of earshot. They will relate to one’s character, work product, sanity and stability, and other matters that are cause for people to spurn and disassociate. Yes, they can come from an outright enemy. That venue is to be expected. In fact, it’s the grist of many soap operas. But how do we define the one who is our most trusted who drops a word or phrase that casts doubt and discourages?

And then there’s the one who spreads false rumors or attributes negative comments about a person or group that were never made. If no one brings up the subject with the one given credit for having made those statements, it becomes nearly impossible to put out the flames of destruction. Better to address the matter when there’s some inkling of trouble. In circles of good social responsibility, making the bad news public from the owner of the blot rather than have it blown out of proportion and raise the question of whether a cover-up was attempted is a prudent move.

Friends and enemies. Yes, it’s a good idea to think of many situations, both social and business, as a potential for re-enacting an episode of Big Brother. When we think of the management style of leading by example, we don’t have too far to look for a role model. While it may seem like paranoia, being prepared for and able to anticipate the pitfalls is both rational and reasonable.

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Influences and Influencers

Using a Guidepost

Using a Guidepost

They’re so subtle that we don’t realize our thoughts and actions are being shaped by their impact. Yet various words that imply certain concepts trigger one type of response compared with another. That in turn makes the difference between one type of action compared with a different choice.

Sometimes it’s words that imply a certain type of reward. Sometimes it’s words that suggest a painful penalty or dreaded condition that causes avoidance or complete abandonment of a project or association. It can sometimes lead to isolation, blacklisting, and even one of our current blights – homelessness – existing on the streets in a camping style existence. Perhaps minimal government assistance is available; perhaps it’s been depleted. No matter which, government assistance is one of the reasons our taxes keep rising, thereby pushing our middle class closer to the low income strata or plunging into below poverty level.

It’s the below low income and poverty strata that will force people into either becoming extremely clever because they come up with viable alternatives that were overlooked. These alternatives can also be the negative side of the coin when gangs, illegal trafficking, and theft are the resort. Coercion into joining the darker side is what leads to growth of the practice. Rewards bestowed upon those who follow the rules of the “gang” are what act as the glue and the magnet for members.

Still, there are those who are not at low or poverty level income. They can be found in many economic segments. The liquor of their motivation is the feeling of power when they see the effects of their desired practices pay off and either eliminate the target or increase their level of power and influence.

The myths born of stereotypes perpetuate the dynamics of what is now referred to as “unconscious bias.” Playing into the stereotype myths is the reluctance to delve into learning about the subject and interacting with those who are associated with it in order to become more aware of the circumstances as well as become empowered through learning the truth of the matter.

It seems ethical practices are becoming a rarity. However, the emergence of various movements to disclose some of the historic backdoor practices seems to be forcing us into taking full cognizance of our so-called unconscious practices. In reality, they’re not unconscious; they’re part of a long-standing cultural practice of using unscrupulous tactics at the cost of humanity (a gross over generalization, but very close to the heart of the message).

The way to escaping the negative influences and unethical practices, the gang mentality, is to pull the covers off the perpetrators in order to show who and what they are. Before taking drastic measures, it is prudent to attempt discussing the matter with them as a means of changing behavior or creating an awareness of the rewards of doing things in a positive way. Perhaps those private conversations are why we have so many movements these days; because the conversations were not effective and the thought processes of the perpetrator were too firmly ingrained.

Unfortunately, we as a society tend toward the easy path of group mentality. We follow the practices of those who are staying with the herd in order to gain the benefits of being part of the group’s practices. Rather than becoming more inventive with regard to devising viable, reasonable alternative, we look forward to gaining a better foothold by doing as the others do. If only there were the luxury of time to consider the consequences – social and individual – of those practices. If only there were some type of exposure to the consequences that the practices have on the stakeholders. Perhaps that is when the influence and influencers will no longer wield as much power.

Perhaps a few samples of various practices would be helpful. Then pick and choose which are the more ethical practices and which are not. Some profiles are listed under “career coaching” or “career advice” on one site. How interesting to find some vendors who offer fortune telling services as a means of delivering advice. But their reviews are stellar.

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Terrorism: Domestic and Foreign

Gunman in need of a target.

Gunman in need of a target.

According to the history, this post was started on 2017/08/23. I remember this endeavor. Collecting the links to make the point of how conditions are devolving became overwhelming and I simply abandoned the effort. The hopeful thought was someone else would become cognizant of the issues, motivated by the circumstances, and act upon them before my feeble efforts at screaming “Stop it” were read, let alone heard. That wasn’t the case. Here we are nearly a year later. Here we are with so much more death and devastation.

Youth who are barely over the age of 16 years have become organized. They are speaking out. They have the organization and funding to plan and execute protests not only in Washington, D.C. but across the nation. Their voices are being heard. They are demanding that Congress stop using PAC dollars to maintain the status quo. They are saying ‘our lives matter’ – just as Black lives, and Brown lives, and Yellow lives, and the rest of the spectrum. All lives matter.

Even as I prepared to write a post regarding ethics, my attention was drawn the the number of times I’ve written about assaults in just this space. It was painful to relive those posts. It was even more painful to realize we use these instances as cocktail and coffee hour conversation. We suck our cheeks, cluck our tongues, feel good about the fact that we had a superficial exchange about the latest news, and then return to our normal activities, content with the belief that we’ve done our part for being socially aware and involved.

We have reached a point when it’s time to peaceably take action. It’s time to urge immediate action to preserve our Constitutional values and rights. It’s time to urge Congress to unite in protecting its citizens and population from the looming war that threatens us domestically, in every city nationwide as well as the foreign threat against the nation and the peace and safety we deserve to enjoy.

We should not awake before hearing the news report and wonder whether we are about to suffer a nuclear attack from some foreign country. Nor should we awake wondering when someone in our neighborhood (or even those who have crossed state borders to our neighborhood) who has the intent and armaments to attack and destroy our lives and desecrate our homes has done so. We should not be forced to live in fear for our lives and safety at every turn. Like a person living in a domestic violence setting, this is unhealthy. Anything could prove to be the tipping point that leads to the explosion – and our destruction.

In many ways, we’ve been told how inconsequential we are compared with the gratification of the president’s ego. His grandeur, not the welfare of this nation, is paramount for the attention devoted to sitting in the Oval Office. The power that seat represents is what drives the hourly tweets and inappropriate communication that emanates from the place. Those who serve the man, reflect his principles because he has set the standard and now leads by example.

Since August 11, I’ve been consumed with journalism about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia and posting coverage of not only those events but also related incidents. Enough. Depressing and disturbing as they are, the curated content is posted here.

August 12
Protesters in Charlottesville, VA turned violent as counter protesters reacted. The demonstration, in the early hours of California time, erupted into breaking newsworthy publicity. Three hours later, a car rammed through a crowd of counter protesters. One has been killed.

There was silence from the White House, yet the mayor of Charlottesville decried the situation and the cause of it.

It was FLOTUS who finally spoke out against the violence via a tweet.

It’s now an hour later. There’s been an announcement that of those in the counter protester injuries, one has died. The President (who during his campaign encouraged acts of violence and disorder while promising impunity for such acts) has remained silent.

Another breaking news announcement hit the airwaves a few minutes ago. The President was supposed to finally speak about the Charlottesville situation.

In reality, he had no intention to speak nor do anything about the situation except to do a PR one-minute acknowledgement of it. His first priority was recognition of the VA, which was essentially more his proclamation than addressing the violence and disarray in Virginia.

These protests against removal of the Robert E. Lee statue have been ongoing (at least since May of this year). Today’s activities took the protests to a higher pitch.

In a response to that incident, the observation was made that:
Leader inaction has consequences. You know, they were only following the campaign rhetoric and examples of the President. What’s wrong with that?

Things kept spiraling:
An account of the activities in Charlottesville that takes in many of the perspectives involved. It sounds like the domestic beginning of WWIII.

While China along with both North and South Korea looked on and worried:
In yet other news, China is urging Trump (for the second time since April) to use more restraint in his language and actions toward North Korea. Apparently there have been more than three warnings from China about the bullying stance coming from the new President up to this week.

Meanwhile, back in the States and as the events continued to escalate, I wondered, Is Virginia an open carry state? Apparently Charlottesville is an open carry city. Some of the alt-right protesters are carrying rifles. But we should take note that several days after this “rally,” it was reported that not all of the members of the crowd were Charlottesville residents. Protesters and rally attendees came from as far away as Portland, Oregon and other states in order to raise their voices and create the tumult. Their actions had absolutely nothing to do with rights and interests that pertain to their own homes and property.

August 13:
In sharp contrast to Charlottesville, VA, there were repercussions in Dresden, Germany when an American Tourist Punched For Giving Nazi Salute In Germany on the same day. Where’s the American enforcement of hate crime laws? In fact, it was time to look up the United States definition of “hate crime” as defined by the FBI.

* * *

Enough. I can’t endure this anymore. We cannot afford to endure this anymore. Time for us to join the youth as mentors and co-organizers. These acts of violence are not coming from immigrants; they’re homegrown in a toxic garden that’s being constantly fertilized. Time for all of us to lift our voices in protest to our current circumstances and take affirmative action.

How Many Times?

How many times have I talked about this issue? Here are some representative posts:

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Oppression and Hope

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

    “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost

Although the Civil Rights Movement began in the 1950s, the reasons for its importance to people of color still exist for many. The excuses run the gamut for not hiring: lack of skills, poor literacy, meager education, lackadaisical work habits. Those, and others, still prevent individuals from rising above poverty level income or minimum wage jobs – if job opportunities exist for them.

A cultural awareness that discrimination still exists and is quite healthy abounds in some places. The specter of cradle to grave bondage looms. There are two paths, to the school or to the jail. The myths of having a particular skin color is tantamount to indicating a person has violent propensities is taken as gospel for some. Explosions of emotional outrage from lack of communication skills and pent-up rage at locked doors and low expectations only serve to perpetuate the myths. And the myths continue to exist because the go unexamined.

Racial profiling is urged these days. The rationale is predicated on illegal immigration from the south and foreign terrorism from the Middle East. Our educational standards have dropped. Our global standing in quality education is now taking a back seat to China and Scandinavia. Yet, those areas also have their issues with ethnic inequities and poverty.

We need to consider the causes of the deficits domestically compared with those abroad. Perhaps one of the foundations is the fact that the underpinnings go deep into the psychology of the late 18th Century when there was no bright horizon for some save being released from this existence into a spiritual existence on another plane.

The new math of the 1950s endures. You have to be three times better in order to be considered half as good. Reduce that result by one-half if you’re a woman and another one-third if you’re a woman of color – any color.

Watching the documentary Raising Bertie (aired August 29 on PBS) should cause discomfort and motivate its audience to rise up, to advocate for positive change. It should drive the desire for more equality, not digging more ditches one generation after another. While there is dignity in being skilled in any particular endeavor, it should not be the chain that binds an entire race to be limited to only one or two choices and then no more. “Raising Bertie” represents how one segment of our population is viewed. It shows us the crossroads that challenge us and threaten to drag us into the dark days of our past or finally realize the wealth that population could be contributing to the wholeness of our country. We need to help make that happen. Those in this country deserve to have viable options.

Quality education that opens the doors not only for the individual but for the community (no matter how broad) should be available for all. Delivering quality education begins with insistence on excellence. It’s perpetuated with engendering curiosity that gets fed with the broadening of awareness. Quality education is evidenced by use of critical thinking skills that aid in problem solving instead of resorting to insults, bullying, harassment, and violence (warfare).

Quality education is not evidenced by very nice, flattering letter grades. It is evidenced by the ability to use the knowledge that was conveyed. That knowledge should be delivered through the textbooks, of course, and through exercises that provide practice in the discipline. Thus, execution of the proficiency is accomplished with dispatch in the real world, no matter what the setting.

Instructors provide guidance and interpretation of the subject and the content in the textbook. The books should challenge the student’s comprehension not pad their reading list. Therefore, tests of the student’s knowledge (evaluation of how well they have learned the subject), should not be a measure of how much and how well they learned compared with their fellow classmates. Instead, tests should reflect how much of the discipline was learned based on a measurable scale, not a bell curve. The grades are not to boost the student’s self esteem (and bury them in a false sense of accomplishment). The grades are not intended to embellish the instructor’s standing and continued tenure in their position. If they have not taught the subject, it is the instructor who needs the remedial work.

It is critical that we bring an end to our national oppression. It rides on the back of scrawny education. It emaciates our nation. And our nation becomes emaciated because the hunger for knowledge is not being satisfied.

The road away from all forms of slavery and to hope is paved with making our leaders at every level accountable for recognizing and respecting human rights to freedom.

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Initial Talk with Congress

Many are talking about the new President’s address to Congress on February 28. No, it didn’t mark the completion of 100 days. No, it wasn’t a State of the Nation (per se). It was just the newly-elected President talking to Congress.

Perhaps the event was in remembrance of Washington when he went over to Congress to ask his friends about how to do something and they ran him out because, with a great deal of effort and redrafting of the organizing documents, there are three separate and distinct parts of our government. Each acts separately in order to keep checks and balances and so that the government doesn’t become a dictatorship – each part echoing what the other says and sometimes in unison.

Which identity

Which identity

Nevertheless, the President went to Congress to talk with them. It wasn’t in order to get their advice about anything. It was a new, toned down campaign speech that reiterated what’s been said over the last two years. But this speech added a little more to the campaign rhetoric.

Although the tone was drastically different from what we’ve been hearing during the combative and corrosive campaign there was something different. Yes, there was the signature blaming and faulting to indicate and rally more supporters because things are such a mess. But the rambling, train of thought diatribe that is typical of this President wasn’t presented.

Actually, the speech was a bit unsettling. It wasn’t because of the rhetoric. It was because it seemed to be a repeat of another address to Congress from the past. It was as though it was written from a template. The language (except for the blaming) was not the typical content from this President. The tone, ah yes, the tone and the organization (yes, there was organization) of the thoughts and message were a different voice. Someone wrote this speech for the President. That isn’t surprising given the fact that his attention needs to be on many issues and he desperately needs to focus, keenly focus, on the matters of State. So having a speech writer create this message would not be a surprise.

Still, the message followed a distinct pattern. It was as though the template had little boxes that prompted the writer to “insert issue here” and then flow on to flush out some details. Then another box prompted “insert issue here” in a new section.

It was very formulaic, all the way down to pointing out selected examples of day-to-day citizens who were sprinkled into the audience in order to create a positive charisma and build the supporter base. Wasn’t that the tactic Obama used in many (if not all) of his speeches?

On a positive note, the President appears to finally be listening to someone on his staff about the image he’s presenting to the public. He’s getting coaching from someone about staying on point. He’s being urged to use a script more often so that the logic of what he’s saying is more obvious. The meandering trains of thought that go off point just aren’t winning any credibility for him. Unfortunately, he still doesn’t seem to be listening to his advisers too often. He still does things without a script and he’s very fast with that Executive Order ink pen.

The content of the speech is what most are hashing out in these days that followed the template presentation. Many of the matters that are the subject of the Executive Orders were included in the speech. There were (to be expected) claims of vast improvements over the last administration (which buried the country into the worst situation in history, we were told). Government contracts will be closely scrutinized and only approved when the fees are as bare-bone low as things can possibly be cut. (I’m not certain what that means in terms of quality of end product.) Government contracts for defense spending will be increased while government jobs hiring will be frozen. In fact, he seemed to indicate that there are superfluous government jobs and those will be cut. (You know, perhaps that‘s the reason why the Department of Labor Jobs Update alerts (OPA) stopped arriving after January 25.)

Back to the content of the speech and what people are saying about it. Traditional news coverage noted that the President sounded much more “presedential” in this speech. Another media source made mention that he is learning fast [about not rambling].

The staffers were quite pleased with the performance. That’s the other hallmark of this President. Everything seems to be targeted at getting TV ratings and reality show headlines. Although the speech was nearly a 180 change in tone and style, those who have been alienated by the man’s demeanor, attitude, and rantings are not so easily swayed and brought into the fold. Congressional GOP members are still uneasy. DNC members are still unimpressed. And late night talk show comedians are still having a field day. Why not? They’re essentially being spoon fed new nettles and needles every hour of the day. Maybe that’s why Jimmy Kimmel said enough of Donald Trump for tonight and hosted a Trump-free show. To that, I can only say, Amen.

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