Friday, May 31, 2019

books for your graduate

I have two high school seniors graduating this June. Here are four books I thought they should take with them when they leave for college:

GMorning, GNight!: little pep talks for me and you 

Lin-Manuel Miranda, author and creator of Hamilton, also writes the loveliest, most genuine, and life-affirming tweets. These nuggets are collected here in G'morning, G'night! with adorable illustrations by Jonny Sun, author of Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too.

“When the world is bringing you down, G'morning, G'night! will remind you that you are awesome.” Booklist 

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life ... And Maybe The World

Make Your Bed is based on Admiral William H. McRaven's commencement speech for the graduating class from the University of Austin at Texas. (check it out HERE)

"If you want to change the world … start off by making your bed."

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

This classic book is based on a lecture that the late professor Pausch gave at Carnegie Mellon University. The title of the lecture was "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." The inside cover of the book reads "The lecture he gave wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment."

"The key question to keep asking is, are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have."

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck: a counterintuitive approach to living a good life

Author Mark Manson says:  You are going to die someday. Everyone you know is going to die too. And in your short life you only have a certain amount of f*cks to give.

Finding something important and meaningful in your life is the most productive use of your time and energy. This is true because every life has problems associated with it and finding meaning in your life will help you sustain the effort needed to overcome the particular problems you face. Thus, we can say that the key to living a good life is not giving a f*ck about more things, but rather, giving a f*ck only about the things that align with your personal values.

"Don't hope for a life without problems. Hope for a life with good problems."

Congratulations to all graduating seniors! 

What books and tips are you sending your graduates off with?

Sunday, March 17, 2019

in Black and White

picture via @troutmouthidaho

On Thursday I attended a lecture by Professor Jill Gill titled  “Idaho in Black and White: Race, Civil Rights, and the Gem State’s Image”.

Jill Gill is a history professor and the Director of the Marilyn Shuler Human Rights Initiative at Boise State University. I was first introduced to Professor Gill at a City Club event, and I made a mental note that if she ever did a public lecture again I'd be sure to attend.

Notes from Idaho in Black and White...

Idaho might be best known for its racist ties to the Aryan Nations. California emigrant Richard Butler arrived in Idaho in 1974. He was drawn to Idaho by the cheap land, open gun laws, mountainous isolation and the whiteness of the population. He founded the Aryan Nations in 1977 and turned his compound into a racists’ retreat and operations center. As a result, Idaho was tied to Aryan activism. The work of local human rights heroes, who helped bankrupt Butler’s racist organization in 2000, is often overlooked.

But Idaho's racist past began long before 1974 and Richard Butler. White southerners populated the state, with an early wave of Confederates who fled the south. Former Confederates dominated Idaho politics in the 1860s and 1870s. Idaho’s elected officials solidified an Idaho-Southern states alliance on race during battles over federal anti-lynching bills. From 1922 until his death in 1940, Senator William Borah, R-ID, led the states’ rights fight against anti-lynching. He won the support of Dixiecrats (the Southern pro-segregation wing of the Democratic Party).

Then again in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy called for a civil rights bill, the Coordinating Committee for Fundamental American Freedom (a Mississippi organization dedicated to segregation) ran advertisements in Idaho newspapers and sent out mass mailings against the Civil Rights Act. 75% of Idahoans opposed the Civil Right Act.

Again, in 1968, Idaho opposed the Fair Housing Act.

The 1970's were a time of white-flight to Idaho: enter Richard Butler and the Aryan Nations.

By the 1980s, the blatant racism in Idaho had become bad for business, tourism and universities. Despite this, Idaho - in 1990 - was among the last five states to create a Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The main force to finally create the holiday was not the admiration for Dr. King among legislators, but desperation to dispel Idaho’s damaged image. However, Idaho's reputation for racism appealed to conservative Californians seeking to relocate. This white-flight highway from California helped make Idaho one of the most conservative states in the nation.

Even today, Idaho lawmakers continue to champion states’ rights over human rights and women's rights - most recently with respect to Medicaid expansion, mandatory minimum reforms, pretrial detentions, expedited evictions, and protections for gay and transgender residents. The idea of "states’ rights" has become a coded excuse for racism while disenfranchising minorities, claiming “reverse discrimination,” citing religious freedom, and denying systemic inequities.

Idaho has a rough history.

During the Q&A portion of the lecture there was a book suggestion: A More Beautiful and Terrible History by Jeanne Theoharis.

And the lovely BSU student sitting next to me suggested I also read: Mothers Of Massive Resistance by Elizabeth Gillespie McRae

I had to order both books from our local bookstore, neither were in stock. I'll keep you posted on my reviews.

As always, it is important to consider the history of things that came before you... your part in perpetuating hierarchies... and how you can help shape local, regional, and national politics and civil rights.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

white rage

I just finished reading White Rage: The Unspoken Truth Of Our Racial Divide by  Carol Anderson.

I had been at a lecture where Professor Spencer Crew discussed the key events and actors involved in the civil rights movement and the pivotal role each played in establishing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. During the Q&A part of the discussion, an audience member asked what book we should read to be better advocates for civil rights and Professor Crew suggested White Rage.

From GoodReads:
From the Civil War to our combustible present, acclaimed historian Carol Anderson reframes our continuing conversation about race, chronicling the powerful forces opposed to black progress in America.
As Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in August 2014, and media commentators across the ideological spectrum referred to the angry response of African Americans as “black rage,” historian Carol Anderson wrote a remarkable op-ed in the Washington Post showing that this was, instead, “white rage at work. With so much attention on the flames,” she writes, “everyone had ignored the kindling.”
Since 1865 and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, every time African Americans have made advances towards full participation in our democracy, white reaction has fueled a deliberate and relentless rollback of their gains. The end of the Civil War and Reconstruction was greeted with the Black Codes and Jim Crow; the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was met with the shutting down of public schools throughout the South while taxpayer dollars financed segregated white private schools; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 triggered a coded but powerful response, the so-called Southern Strategy and the War on Drugs that disenfranchised millions of African Americans while propelling presidents Nixon and Reagan into the White House.
Carefully linking these and other historical flashpoints when social progress for African Americans was countered by deliberate and cleverly crafted opposition, Anderson pulls back the veil that has long covered actions made in the name of protecting democracy, fiscal responsibility, or protection against fraud, rendering visible the long lineage of white rage. Compelling and dramatic in the unimpeachable history it relates, White Rage will add an important new dimension to the national conversation about race in America.

How had I never learned in American History about Andrew Johnson's Reconstruction? Reconstruction was a tragic decade in the wake of the Civil War. This is where Anderson picks up her narrative. “America was at the crossroads,” she writes, “between its slaveholding past and the possibility of a truly inclusive, vibrant democracy.” 

Carol Anderson highlights President Andrew Johnson’s aggressive opposition to the enfranchisement of black Americans. She also details the horrors of paramilitary terrorism waged by the Klan and its affiliates. 

And with the Hayes-Tilden Compromise of 1877, where Southern Democrats agreed to support Rutherford B. Hayes’s claim to the presidency in exchange for an end to Reconstruction,  the South plunged back into white supremacy.

 Anderson’s book is particularly acute in recalling the Supreme Court’s shameful role in repeatedly denying constitutional relief, and in securing and ratifying the legal apartheid we know as Jim Crow.

Embarrassingly, I had never thoughtfully put together the resistance to school integration after Brown v. Board of Education, and the “Southern strategy,” Nixon’s playbook for using white anger over the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ... enshrining race-baiting as a political maneuver, and the Reagan administration’s machinations in the so-called War on Drugs, and the vitriolic hatred directed at Barack Obama.

The Afterword to the new edition called After The Election: Imagining is worth reading twice.

Don't miss this video of Carol Anderson speaking on White Rage...


Friday, January 25, 2019

Add The Words

Thirty-Eight Witnesses by A.M. Rosenthal is a little book, consisting of only 69 pages. It is really an essay on the dangers of apathy and inaction. It is so valuable.

In 1964, a young woman in Queens was attacked, raped, and stabbed to death seventeen times over the course of half an hour outside her apartment. 

Thirty-eight of her neighbors witnessed the attack. No one did anything to stop it. No one called the police. No one came to her aid. No one seemed to care. 

This attack and murder of Catherine “Kitty” Genovese became one of modern history’s most unsettling and confounding conundrums for generations of psychologists, sociologists, and community members. 

How can thirty-eight ordinary citizens — people with good jobs and good families and good homes —  how could they slide so far down on the scale from empathy to apathy and allow for such brutality and injustice to happen right in front of them? How could they not band together and help?

This story, the Genovese case, has become a cliché for apathy and cowardice toward the suffering of others, and an intellectual and religious mystery: what does it mean to me? To you? To us as a society?

The bigger question, the mystery for me: how could it have happened that thirty-eight people  - thirty-eight -  heard the screams and did nothing. Two or three, all right, but everybody, all thirty-eight? All thirty-eight of them refused to answer a cry for help from a person they could not see?

And then… there’s us, today. 

Is it a greater mystery, a greater offense, that - by light of day - each of us withhold help to those suffering, when it would cost us virtually nothing and put us in no peril, even though we see their faces?

It’s 2019 in Idaho, and gay and transgender people across most of our state can be fired from their jobs, evicted from their apartments, and refused goods and services for no other reason than their sexual orientation or gender identity.

It is time for Idaho to Add The Words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act. By not including these four words, we are withholding help and expressing apathy to injustice happening right before our eyes.

I call for the citizens of Idaho to band together. It is within our power to create change for the thousands of Idahoans not accurately represented in the Idaho Human Rights Act. We are individuals, but our individuality is expressed within overlapping social constructs that include: race, class, national origin, religion, age, disability, gender identity, and sexual orientation. These social constructs are woven together and have historical, economic, and political power.

In the middle of a cold night in 1964, thirty-eight people refused the risk of getting involved by answering a cry for help from a person they could not see. 

In the light of day in 2019, we will answer the cry for help and demand that the Idaho Legislature pass bill, SB 1015, to Add The Words. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

I made this

The best questions from This Is Marketing by Seth Godin...
"Who's it for?" 
"What change do I seek to make?" 
"The question to just about every question about work is really the question, "Who can you help?" 

Marketing isn't advertising. Marketing is the act of making change happen. Effective marketing now relies on empathy and service.

The idea of "I made this" is a very different statement than, "What do you want?"

"Here, I made this" is an offering. It's easier to make products and services for the customers you seek to serve. Adopt a posture of service; set out to be of service.

This book can help you: spread your ideas, make the impact you seek, and improve your culture.

Monday, November 26, 2018

“When they go low, we go high.”

I’d been lucky to have parents, teachers, and mentors who’d fed me with a consistent, simple message: 
You matter.
As an adult, I wanted to pass those words to a new generation.

I picked up three copies of BECOMING by Michelle Obama so my mom, sister, and I could read it together.

My favorite part of the book was Becoming More.
Warning: It's hard to finish this book without shedding tears.

This is a fantastic book ... it's more than politics... it's about being a woman, being a better person, marriage, motherhood, and using your voice.

"For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it more as a forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to continuously reach toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end. I became a mother, but I still have a lot to learn from and give to my children. I became a wife, but I continue to adapt to and be humbled by what it means to truly love and make a life with another person. I have become, by certain measures, a person of power, and yet there are still moments when I feel insecure or unheard.  
It’s all a process, steps along a path. Becoming requires patience and rigor. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing up to be done."

I highly recommend this book as a holiday gift for everyone you know. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

a joy story

I was at a workshop on conflict resolution and the facilitator showed us this adorable video:

After watching, we discussed the difference between defending positions and recognizing needs. It has stayed with me ... and I think it can help mobilize people to see things differently.

For more tools in dealing with conflict resolution, check out this article from the University of Texas at Austin. I especially liked “What is the underlying reason or the ‘why’ behind what I want?” Refer to Focus on Interests (Needs), Not Positions (Wants) for more information. And Open Ended Questions...

Examples of open-ended questions:
  • What’s your basic concern about …?
  • What do you think about …?
  • How could we fix …?
  • What would happen if …?
  • How else could you do …?
  • What could you tell me about …?
  • Then what?
  • Could you help me understand …?
  • What do you think you will lose if you …?
  • What have you tried before?
  • What do you want to do next?
  • How can I be of help?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Blessed are the damn-givers

On this post-midterm Wednesday, I am reading HOPE And Other Superpowers: A Life-Affirming, Love-Defending, Butt-Kicking, World-Saving Manifesto by John Pavlovitz.

Do you know anyone who could use some HOPE today?
If you do, please get this book for them.

"I wrote this book to help compassionate, kind, generous people keep going." - John Pavlovitz

Parts from the Introduction that had me hooked:

We need to rediscover the optimism of our youth, to remember when the desire to change the world felt reasonable and not shamefully naive, when doing something heroic seemed possible and didn't merit ridicule or a rolling of the eyes. In times when people seem increasingly immune to others' pain, we need to unapologetically wield hearts still willing to bleed, and then affix them to our sleeves and step into the daylight looking for gaps in the world that we alone can fill.

And this heroic existence we're called to is about doing the small and simple things that most people lose sight of, the things that may not make the news or trend on social media, but that generate beautiful ripples nonetheless. It's about chipping away at the image of the life we think we're supposed to have and uncovering the life that we deserve to live, the kind the planet is made better by. It's about understanding that we have far more power at our disposal than we're aware of. There is a transcendent way of living that can begin to alter the planet in real time - right now - and it's fully accessible to each of us regardless of what we do, where we live, or how much influence we think we have. That's the amazing truth at work here: the world has always been transformed by fully ordinary people whose willingness to show up, to brave damage, and to risk failure yielded extraordinary results.

In 1871, while preaching a sermon opposing slavery in America, Unitarian minister Theodore Parker said, "The arc of the universe bends toward justice." His words were echoed almost a century later by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as solace for those looking around at the unbridled bigotry of the day and feeling like the decent people were losing. Embedded in this phrase is the promise that over time, in ways that we can't always perceive from where we're standing at a given moment, humanity does evolve toward goodness.

From the first chapter, the author draws on his love of comic books and superheroes. The ordinary superpowers that he promotes are compassion, sacrifice, courage, humor, humility, honesty, kindness, creativity, persistence, wonder, and gratitude. 

Every hero is pulled into significance differently. Batman rises from the ashes of his parents' murder to defend a crime-riddled Gotham. Wonder Woman feels compelled to come to the aid of outnumbered Allied soldiers facing the Third Reich, after being cared for by one of them. Black Panther fully claims his birthright as king after realizing his nation's former missteps. Spider-Man is transformed after recognizing the great responsibility accompanying his great power. Black Widow is moved to make amends  for her deadly assassin's past. They all become undeniably heroic, yet in ways and circumstances  that look nothing alike and with completely unique motivations. In the same way, you and I will each receive a one of a kind, time-sensitive invitation to step into a better version of ourselves: a personal tragedy, a national crisis, a cause that moves us, or a desire to use a gift for the good of others. 

Be sure to check out John's blog Stuff That Needs To Be Said. Especially his post today entitled To Exhausted and Young Voters

Keep doing the work that matters!
Don't you dare stop now :)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

They can never undo what they have done, and what they have done will never be forgotten.

On Saturday, October 27th a gunman, who expressed a hatred of Jews, entered a Pittsburgh synagogue killing 11 people and wounding six.

The shooter was angry because he thought Jewish communities were funding a caravan of terrorists trying to infiltrate the United States.

From this article in the Atlantic... Trump's Caravan Hysteria Led To This
The apparent spark for the worst anti-Semitic massacre in American history was a racist hoax inflamed by a U.S. president seeking to help his party win a midterm election. There is no political gesture, no public statement, and no alteration in rhetoric or behavior that will change this fact. The shooter might have found a different reason to act on a different day. But he chose to act on Saturday, and he apparently chose to act in response to a political fiction that the president himself chose to spread, and that his followers chose to amplify. 
As for those who aided the president in his propaganda campaign, who enabled him to prey on racist fears to fabricate a national emergency, those who said to themselves, “This is the play”? Every single one of them bears some responsibility for what followed. Their condemnations of anti-Semitism are meaningless. Their thoughts and prayers are worthless. Their condolences are irrelevant. They can never undo what they have done, and what they have done will never be forgotten.  

From the Open Culture post that accompanies this video...

In the short New York Times opinion video above, Stanley summarizes his “formula for fascism”—a “surprisingly simple” pattern now repeating in Europe, South America, India, Myanmar, Turkey, the Philippines, and “right here in the United States.”

And as a reminder that we've been here before:
In 1939, some 20,000 Americans attended a Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden, New York. In the video clip, Fritz Kuhn, leader of the German-American Bund (the US wing of the Nazi party), attacks the media and minorities... Link to Video

From the Politico article, When Nazis Filled Madison Square Garden:
Those who have studied the Bund’s rise and fall are alarmed at the historical parallels. “When a large group of young men march through the streets of Charlottesville chanting, ‘Jews will not replace us,’ it’s only steps removed from chanting ‘death to the Jews’ in New York or anywhere else in the 1930s,” says David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee. “When those young men chant ‘blood and soil,’ it conveys the same meaning as those decades before who chanted ‘blut and boden,’ referring to the Nazi glorification of and link between race and land.” 
“I don’t see much of a difference, quite frankly, between the Bund and these groups, in their public presence,” says Arnie Bernstein, the author of Swastika Nation, a history of the German American Bund. “The Bund had its storefronts in New York, Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles—today’s groups are also hanging out in the public space, but in this case, they’re on the internet and anyone can access their ‘storefronts,’ or websites, and their philosophy, if you can call it that, is essentially the same.”

And today Madeleine Albright tweeted:

Which gave me the idea...

Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, Boise