Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Congrats to AAAED Executive Director, Shirley Wilcher for Receiving Doctorate of Humane Letters at Mount Holyoke

AAAED Executive Director, Shirley Wilcher, with Mount Holyoke Commencement Keynote Leader Pelosi.

This is what Shirley Wilcher said to the newly minted alumane

 Address to the Graduates of Mount Holyoke College, Class of 2018

To the trustees, President Stephens, Leader Pelosi, faculty, fellow honorees and dear graduates: thank you for inviting me back to this wonderful campus.  I am humbly and deeply honored to be among such outstanding and accomplished individuals.  I can’t believe I am here.
In the fall of 1969, I began my college career at Mount Holyoke, choosing to come here instead of other outstanding women’s colleges because the students and administrators were genuinely welcoming and the campus was beautiful.  Being a student here also enabled me to pursue my love of language and philosophy as well as to participate in the Chamber Singers, where we spent the summer of 1972 on a European tour!  What an opportunity!
The late 1960s was a time of explosive turmoil after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was a time of student unrest and takeovers.  At that time African American students across the nation called for black studies and a house where we could support each other.  In the spring of 1970 there was even more unrest against the Vietnam War and colleges and universities nationwide observed a moratorium to reflect on the implications of this war. 
At Mount Holyoke my class boasted one of the largest numbers of African American students.  We came from Roxbury/Dorchester, Southside Chicago, Washington, DC; Brooklyn, Memphis and Los Angeles.  We were bright and capable and intellectually curious and we were good.  And as I told Senator Nancy Kassebaum years later, many of us are now physicians and lawyers.  In the audience today are three of my “sisters”: Deborah Northcross ’73; Mindy Lewis ’75 (MHC Trustee); and Judge Rhynette Northcross ’71 (MHC Trustee).  That is what giving a group of young people, many of whom were unfamiliar with the bucolic landscape and more privileged community in South Hadley an invitation.  I knew nothing about demitasse and milk and cookies was not part of my evening routine.  I am after all, the daughter of jazz musicians and was raised until the age of 12 by a grandmother whose life choices were limited by being black, female and having only a second-grade education.  She had to leave school to take care of her 13 brothers and sisters. But she was brilliant in her own unique way and she supported my love of school – an opportunity she was denied.
It was during my first semester senior year in Paris that I made the decision to pursue a career in civil rights.  France has many political parties.  We learned literature and philosophy from a French perspective and we were shaken from our complacency about life in the USA.  We learned that the American world view was not universally held. We also learned that there was much work to be done at home to make our nation what it could be. 
So, while my parents were jazz musicians, I chose to be an activist and follow the footsteps of my Uncle who changed his name to Marcus Garvey Wilcher. Civil rights was my passion, my mission and my career.  After attending graduate school and law school, I went to Washington, DC to work for the National Women’s Law Center, which was on the cutting edge of Title IX litigation.  In my career in Washington, I have worked in the executive branch, the legislative branch and the fifth estate: the advocacy organizations.
One of the highlights of my career was receiving the key to the city of Birmingham, Alabama, at the Civil Rights Museum when I worked for the Department of Labor.  My grandmother migrated to Akron, Ohio from Alabama, and I often think if she was watching when her little girl was receiving the key to the city.  I hope she is here now. 
You need more than youthful enthusiasm to succeed in this world.  You need to understand power, not only political power, i.e., the power of coalitions and the power of the vote, but also the power of relationships, both in the workplace and beyond.  Most importantly, you need to understand the power within yourself. 
You need to have a vision and the strength to achieve that vision through hard work.  You must also have an unshakable faith in yourself.
You need to know that you share with the Creator an ability to create your reality.  Where there are obstacles, just say no, as Nancy Reagan once said.  Be undeterred.  Fight against personal oppression as well as systemic, societal oppression.  To a great extent, remember that you control your life and you control your future.  Believe that.
We have entered an era where standards of decency have been upended and the rights we fought so hard to establish are being dismantled. We are at a crossroads; we will be either destroyed by the fear of change and of “the other” or we will rise stronger together as a society and a civilization because of our diversity.
I believe that you were born at this time to challenge us to take the latter path.   You are shaking the culture of sexism and racism, the tolerance of sexual assault and homophobia, and the hate and bias that is infecting our college campuses and our workplaces.  You are standing for a future that rejects tribalism and oppression, religious intolerance and the freedom to simply be your beautiful selves.   When I look out at you I am assured that one day we will be a human race. 
In addressing a group of students in the Youth March to Integrate the Schools, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
As June approaches, with its graduation ceremonies and speeches, a thought suggests itself. You will hear much about careers, security, and prosperity. I will leave the discussion of such matters to your deans, your principals, and your valedictorians. But I do have a graduation thought to pass along to you. Whatever career you may choose for yourself—doctor, lawyer, teacher—let me propose an avocation to be pursued along with it. Become a dedicated fighter for civil rights. Make it a central part of your life.
It will make you a better doctor, a better lawyer, a better teacher. It will enrich your spirit as nothing else possibly can....  Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater Nation of your country, and a finer world to live in[1]

I believe in you. I salute you. I wish you all the best. 
I thank you.


[1] Address at the Youth March for Integrated Schools on 18 April 1959.  https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/address-youth-march-integrated-schools-18-april-1959

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

After another 'noose' incident in Anne Arundel County, lawmakers finalize hate crime bill

A few days after another noose was found an Anne Arundel County school campus, the Maryland House of Delegates cast a deciding vote on legislation that strengthens Maryland’s hate crime laws.
State Sen. John Astle’s hate crime legislation — Senate Bill 528 — passed with a 133-4 vote Saturday. Since the House of Delegates did not amend the bill, it will go before the governor for signature.
The bill broadens Maryland’s hate crime law to specifically include groups of people. Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Paul F. Harris Jr. asked legislators to take a closer look at the law after Harris interpreted the law to require named, specific individuals as targets of hate crimes. Because of this interpretation, Harris declined to punish a man who hung a noose at Crofton Middle School in May.
Read More Here

Civil Rights Groups to Congress: Betsy DeVos is Approving Plans That Violate ESSA

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is approving plans that fly in the face of the Every Student Succeeds Act's protections for vulnerable children, according to more than a dozen civil rights groups, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
The groups sent a letter Tuesday to Democratic and Republican leaders on the House and Senate education committees asking them to tell DeVos to stop approving "unlawful" plans.
"We call on you to fulfill your role in ESSA's implementation and to correct the Department of Education's flawed approval of state plans that do not comply core equity provisions of the law," the groups wrote to Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., as well as Reps. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., and Bobby Scott, D-Va.
Read More Here

How Six Cities Promote Diversity and Inclusion for Residents

Around the country, cities large and small are finding innovative ways to weave together every strand of their community, so that every resident has a fair shot at opportunity and prosperity.
Every year at the Congressional City Conference, the Diversity Awards Breakfast celebrates cities who have demonstrated dedicated and fresh approaches to inclusive policies. This year, six cities received recognition for the 2018 City Cultural Diversity Awards.
“Cities across America are celebrating and supporting diversity and inclusion in innovative ways,” said National League of Cities (NLC) President Mark Stodola, mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas. “NLC is proud to honor six communities as pioneers that have demonstrated initiative, resourcefulness and inclusive values in their approach to governing.”
Submissions for the awards program were grouped by size and evaluated on how the program increased citizen participation in government and community activities, as well as the overall scope and impact of the program.
The six communities honored for their policies are:
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At Simmons forum, Michelle Obama talks affirmative action, student loans — and 2020

Speaking at Simmons College’s annual women’s leadership conference in Boston on Thursday, Michelle Obama discussed her personal experience with affirmative action and student loan debt — and also addressed speculation about a possible presidential run in 2020.
The former First Lady was the featured speaker at the all-day women’s empowerment event, which drew thousands of attendees to the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center. In a question-and-answer session moderated by Simmons president Helen Drinan, Obama said that she sometimes “felt like an affirmative action kid” as a freshman at Princeton University, contrasting her upbringing on the South Side of Chicago with those of her Ivy League classmates.
“In our society, somehow, when affirmative action means color, it’s deemed to be problematic,” she said. “I have a problem with that, because affirmative action exists everywhere throughout society. It’s called privilege.”

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Diversity and inclusion education can serve as ‘business insurance’

Organizations, large and small, increasingly understand that diversity and inclusion education are good in and of themselves, but they also are good legal protection about perceptions of differences in gender, race, age, sexual orientation and many other cultural considerations.

Recent sexual harassment accusations that started in Hollywood, spread like wildfire through numerous other organizations across the country, even reaching politicians at the highest levels. The U.S. Congress, confronted with its own troubling history of sexual harassment, voted Nov. 29, 2017, on legislation requiring all of its 535 members and their staff to undergo mandatory anti-sexual harassment training.

Critics suggest that Congress’ vote came a little too late given that in June 1999 the U.S. Supreme Court Supreme Court decided that “preventive training can be part of a legal defense against punitive damages in diversity cases such as discrimination and harassment.”

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/community/lsjournal/opinion/article206387259.html#storylink=cpy
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The White House needs to push for more diversity and inclusion

In a time of divisive and abrasive politics in America, and as we face very real and very concerning but equally divisive issues like police brutality and mass shootings, it is crucial for us to seek a platform for unity, as well as for diversity and inclusion. The White House, especially since President Trump’s groundbreaking and controversial campaign, has made calls for “unity” and has attempted to foster it in its approaches. Following events like the Unite the Right Rally and the Parkland Shooting, President Trump has made calls for “unity.” Shortly after the congressional baseball practice shooting in Virginia in June of 2017, Trump said, "We are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good" in the wake of an event that threatened to raise existing political tensions.

Read More Here

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

OFCCP Lowers Hiring Benchmark for Veteran Affirmative Action Plans

On March 30, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced that it was lowering the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) hiring benchmark to 6.4 percent from 6.7 percent. The change applies to affirmative action plan (AAP) years starting on or after March 31, 2018.
The VEVRAA benchmark is a figure federal contractors must use to evaluate their hiring of protected veterans. Under VEVRAA regulations, contractors may either use OFCCP’s annual benchmark, which is based on annually updated data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or establish their own benchmark by following the five-factor method outlined in OFCCP’s regulations. Relatively few contractors elect to calculate a customized benchmark; most choosing to accept the national number published by OFCCP.
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Classroom Clash: Professor’s Words in Hate-Speech Course Stir Student Walkout, Campus Controversy

 A campus debate erupted over the limits of acceptable classroom speech when a veteran professor’s use of a racial slur in a class on hate speech prompted some students to walk out and the course to subsequently be canceled by the professor.
During the first meeting of the anthropology course “Cultural Freedoms — Hate Speech, Blasphemy, and Pornography,” taught by professor emeritus Lawrence Rosen, a small number of students walked out of the classroom following Rosen’s use of the N-word in a question about cultural taboos: “What is worse, a white man punching a black man, or a white man calling a black man a n****r?” Among the class of 65, about eight were black students, according to Destiny Salter ’20, one of the students.

Read More Here

Making moves to increase diversity in radiology — “It’s a must”

Radiology is a bit less diverse than other fields of medicine, Stanford pediatric radiologist Heike Daldrup-Link, MD, admits, but she's spearheading an effort to change that.
Daldrup-Link, with support of a diversity committee in Stanford's Department of Radiology, is pursuing a long-term approach to improve diversity and inclusion in radiology and science more broadly. Currently, the department is focusing on recruitment efforts, mentorship and educating colleagues at Stanford and in the broader scientific community. The first step is to increase the number of underrepresented individuals, including people of color, religious minorities, sexual and gender minorities, women and others, in the department by educating colleagues and hiring committees and providing them with resources to support diversity and inclusion, Daldrup-Link said.
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Universities 'more concerned about reputation than racism'

Universities are more concerned about their reputations than confronting the racist abuse of students, the National Union of Students president has said.
Shakira Martin told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme she received calls from students reporting racist incidents on a daily basis.
Former Universities Minister David Lammy said incidents needed to be cracked down on "very aggressively".
Universities UK said there was no place for racism on a university campus.
The issue hit the headlines earlier this month when a student at Nottingham Trent University tweeted footage of alleged racist abuse outside her room at her halls of residence.
There are no overall figures for the number of racist incidents at universities, but a report by the NUS in 2011 found one in six black students had experienced racism at their institution.
Read More Here

Civil rights attorney calls for diversity and inclusion to make America great

Morris Dees has a virtue he wishes he could share with a country he continues to see as divided. During a lecture at The Ohio State University Wednesday night, the famed civil rights attorney and co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center told a story about a memorable moment in his career.
Dees led a wrongful death lawsuit against the United Klans of America for their role in the lynching death of Michael McDonald in 1981. Dees represented Beulah Mae McDonald, mother of the young man murdered by Klan members.
McDonald met one of the men responsible for the death of her son, and he asked for her forgiveness. She granted it. Dees was moved by her compassion – he said he wished he could have packaged that moment.
“That’s the solution. To be willing to forgive people who, in some way, cause you in small ways and big ways to not like them,” Dees said.
Forgiveness and finding common ground were themes of his speech for the 19th Annual  President and Provost’s Diversity Lecture and Cultural Arts Series. His appearance at the Fawcett Center was supported by the university Division of Police, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, and Moritz College of Law.
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Fusion Film Festival 2018 to Celebrate Diversity and Inclusion in Film and TV

The Fusion Film Festival, NYU Tisch School of the Arts' premiere student film festival celebrating women creators in film, TV, and new media will showcase the work of emerging female filmmakers through three days of screenings and panels beginning Thursday, April 5 and running through Saturday, April 7. Against the backdrop of the #MeToo and TIME'S UP movements, this year's theme "Where Change Begins" will celebrate diversity and inclusion efforts and honor the artists and storytellers changing the entertainment industry.

Read more Here.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

This University is Hiring a Manager to Combat Hate on Campus

Last May, Lt. John Collins III was visiting friends at the University of Maryland when he was stabbed and killed by senior Sean Urbanksi after a chance encounter on campus. Now the University of Maryland is looking to make an unusual hire for a job focused on to combating hate.

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The Lack of Black Teachers is an Equity Issue

I spent most of my first year of grad school sitting in the back row of class with my hood up. There were nearly 40 of us in the cohort. Two were black.
My hoodie was an act of silent dissent. Today, I completely understand when my students want to do the same, even with me in front of the room. Academia and public schools are spaces where people of color often feel underrepresented, unwelcome and unheard.
From third grade through high school, I was a student in a series of neighborhood public schools. Afterward, I went to community college and then on to a public liberal arts college where I earned my bachelor's and eventually my master's degree. Each phase in my educational journey shared two characteristics: the further I progressed, the fewer black and brown classmates I had. As I progressed, regardless of the demographics of the student population, the faculty and administrators were uniformly nearly all white.
Read More Here.