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Posts Tagged ‘diversity

“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization”*…

 

The phrase confuses me. I was born in California. My mom was born in New York. “Go back where you came from.” Um, okay. I mean, I was headed home anyways. My house is just a few blocks away.

I grew up in a mostly non-Asian city, so I used to hear the phrase sometimes. Kids like to pick on the one who looks a little different. But these days, when I hear an adult say it to another adult, it catches me off guard. It doesn’t make sense.

You traverse an American’s family tree, and eventually you find an immigrant. And most of the time, you don’t have to go back that far.

So … what if everyone went back where they came from?

Find at at Nathan Yau‘s “If We All Left to ‘Go Back Where We Came From’.”

* Gandhi (who also observed, “No culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive.”)

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As we stir the melting pot, we might recall that today is the Feast Day of  Lucifer– more properly, of St. Lucifer of Caligari.  At least, it’s his feast day in Sardinia, where he’s venerated.  Lucifer, who was a 4th century bishop fierce in his opposition to Arianism, is considered by some elsewhere to have been a stalwart (if minor) defender of the orthodoxy; but by more to have been an obnoxious fanatic.

“Lucifer” was in use at the time as a translation of the the Hebrew word, transliterated Hêlêl or Heylel (pron. as HAY-lale), which means “shining one, light-bearer.”  It had been rendered in Greek as ἑωσφόρος (heōsphoros), a name, literally “bringer of dawn,” for the morning star.  The name “Lucifer” was introduced in St. Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate, roughly contemporaneously with St. Lucifer.  But the positive spin of Lucifer of Caligari’s name was, even in it’s day, in tension with the received idea of “Lucifer”; the conflation of “Lucifer” with an altogether evil “Satan” had begun centuries earlier.

Indeed, Satan had undergone a pretty profound transition: “Satan” is from a Hebrew word, “Saithan,” meaning adversary or enemy; in original Jewish usage (see the book of Job); but Satan is the adversary, not of God, but of mankind; i.e., the angel charged by God with the task of proving mankind an unworthy creation.  Thus Satan was originally not in opposition to God, but doing His will.

Later– during the Second Temple Period, when Jews were living in the Achaemenid Empire, and Judaism was heavily influenced by Zoroastrianism— the concept of an evil power ruling an underground domain of punishment for the wicked became fixed in doctrine (mirroring Angra Mainyu, the Zoroastrian god of evil, darkness, and ignorance).  Over time, elements of the Graeco-Roman god Pluto/Vulcan/Hephaestus, the Underworld, & various aspects of Nordic/Teutonic mythology also made their way into the Jewish, then Christian, understandings of Satan and his realm.

St. Lucifer of Calgari

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Satan doing God’s work: The Examination of Job (c. 1821) by William Blake

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Written by LW

May 20, 2018 at 1:01 am

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength”*…

 

Since 1990, more than 90 percent of U.S. metro areas saw a decline in racial stratification, signaling a trend toward a more integrated America. Yet, while areas like Houston and Atlanta have undergone rapid demographic changes, cities like Detroit and Chicago still have large areas dominated by a single racial group.Some 50 years ago, policies like the Fair Housing Act and Voting Rights Act were enacted to increase integration, promote equity, combat discrimination and dismantle the lingering legacy of Jim Crow laws. But a Post analysis shows that some cities remain deeply segregated — even as the country itself becomes more diverse.

To explore these national changes, The Post analyzed census data from 1990, 2000, 2010 and the latest estimates from the 2016 five-year American Community Survey. Using this data, we generated detailed maps of the United States using six race categories: black, white, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American and multirace/other for the available years…

The United States is on track to be a majority-minority nation by 2044. But census data show most of our neighbors are the same race.  Take stock of where there has been progress and where there has been none using the interactive (and zoomable to zip code level) map at “America is more diverse than ever — but still segregated.”

* Maya Angelou

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As we turn up the heat on the melting pot, we might recall that it was on this date in 1924 that 29 year old J. Edgar Hoover became the fifth Director of the Bureau of Investigation, which became the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935; he remained the FBI’s first director until his death in 1972 at the age of 77.

Hoover has been credited with building the FBI into a larger crime-fighting agency than it was at its inception and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories.  But especially later in his carer and since his death, Hoover became a controversial figure as evidence of his secretive abuses of power began to surface.  He was found to have exceeded the jurisdiction of the FBI, and to have used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists (especially civil rights activists; see here and here), to amass secret files on political leaders and to collect evidence using illegal methods.

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Written by LW

May 10, 2018 at 1:01 am

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength”*…

 

A new report from global management consulting firm McKinsey examined 1,000 companies in 12 countries, analyzing both financial data and the gender and ethnic makeup of their workforces. Researchers found that firms with diverse executive teams posted bigger profit margins in their respective sectors than companies lacking diversity.

Ethnic diversity was more important than gender diversity, according to the study. Companies that ranked in the top 25 percent in terms of the ethnic mix of their executive boards were 33 percent more likely to be profitable than firms in the bottom 25 percent for diversity.

Women-led companies still had an advantage, however…

See why defeating discrimination to achieve diversity isn’t just an ethical issue, but also an important economic concern: “Companies with Diverse Executive Teams Are More Profitable: McKinsey.”  Read the McKinsey report here.

[See also: this.]

* Maya Angelou

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As we celebrate variety, we might send powerfully-painted birthday greetings to Alice Neel; she was born on this date in 1900.  A painter of people, landscape, and still life– and a pioneer among women artists– she is probably best remembered for her expressionistic portraits.  Indeed, Barry Walker, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, called her “one of the greatest portrait artists of the 20th century.”

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Written by LW

January 28, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Different languages, the same thoughts; servant to thoughts and their masters”*…

 

Every year, the US Census Bureau releases data on the languages spoken in American homes. Usually it groups the languages in 39 major categories. Now it has released much more detailed figures, which show that Americans speak not 39, but more than 320 distinct languages.

The bureau collected the data from 2009 to 2013 as part of the American Community Survey, which asks Americans all kinds of questions to create highly granular estimates on various demographic indicators. The new data estimate that more than 60 million Americans speak a language other than English at home…

Learn more– and see the breakdown– at “All 300-plus languages spoken in American homes, and the number of people who speak them.”

* Dejan Stojanovic, The Sun Watches the Sun

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As we choose our words, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that Sesame Street premiered on public television in the U.S.  In 2008, it was estimated that 77 million Americans had watched the series as children.  By its 40th anniversary in 2009, Sesame Street was broadcast in over 120 countries, and 20 international versions had been produced. And as of 2014, Sesame Street has won 159 Emmy Awards and 8 Grammy Awards—more than any other children’s show.  The show, which was itself based on mountainous research,  has been the subject of, literally, thousands of studies on its effectiveness as a learning vehicle for children; it has been a keystone of English (and native) language learning in the U.S. and around the world.

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Written by LW

November 10, 2015 at 1:01 am

It’s not easy being green…

In the too-frequently-horrifying theater of events playing out around us every day, we’re reminded that, for all the ambient praise of “diversity,” the differences among people are all too often the occasion for fear, then violence– sometimes physical violence; but more often violence of the “cooler,” but still-plenty-insidious political, economic, or psychological variety…

Occasionally, the expressions of that fear are so extreme as to transcend the offensive; they become so ridiculous as to be funny…

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But mostly the fear just transmutes into hate…  hate that– emanating from the “normal,” the “righteous”– too often succeeds in (one of) its goals: infecting its target with the guilt that comes of being made to feel “abnormal” or “wrong.”

So it’s a treat to discover Born This Way, a site that invites the members of one long-time target group, gay adults, to submit photos of themselves along with short essays “that capture them, innocently, showing the beginnings of their innate LGBT selves.”  It’s a collection of entries that are, at once, proud and self-deprecating, funny and moving…

Isaac: Here I am with my two brothers in the dustbowl mining town of Karratha in Western Australia, where the dirt is red and the people are predominantly white. Being one of the few ethnic people in town didn't bug me so much, I just assumed I was white like everyone else. Ah, the innocence of youth. At this point in my life I lived a blissfully unaware gay lifestyle: Having all female friends, really REALLY liking Catwoman, and always trying on my friend's fake, plastic, high heeled shoes when I went to their house. I actually didn't realize I was even close to being gay until my graduating year of high school, so this photo is one of those things I look at now and think to myself -- 'How did I NOT know?!'

Laurie: As a kid, I always enjoyed dressing up in more 'boyish' clothes. I loved my Star Wars figures, and hated Barbie dolls. I wore boys Under-roos (Superman was my favorite!) and played sports.

Dustin: This photo was taken somewhere in the wild back country of Wyoming on the annual fall hunting trip with the family. I can't believe I used to go hunting - definitely not something I'd do today. I used to love putting on that great orange gear - the best was the shopping trip prior to the hunt where I could pick out anything as long as it was orange. We shot all sorts of guns - mostly at Coke cans. I only remember once when a deer was actually killed. I just can't believe that when this photo was taken that my family didn't know I was gay. Look at the pose! The hips, the knees, the hand gesture and yes, the gun. How could they be so shocked when I came out?! I always knew I was gay - I never had a problem with it. I just knew one day I'd be a grown-up and fabulous. And I was RIGHT!

As creator Paul V. explains,

…some of the pix here feature gay boys with feminine traits, and some gay girls with masculine traits. And even more gay kids with NONE of those traits. Just like real life, these gay kids come in all shades and layers of masculine and feminine… this project is not about furthering stereotypes. It is, simply: ‘This is me and this is my story’ – in living color and black & white.

More stories at Born This Way.

[Thanks to i09 for the lead to what may be the best book cover ever!  And to reader CE for the pointer to Born This Way.]

As we celebrate the variety that is humanity, we might recall that it was on this date in 1631 that Roger Williams landed near Boston.   Soon after his arrival, Williams alarmed the Puritan oligarchy of Massachusetts by speaking out against the right of civil authorities to punish religious dissension and to confiscate Indian land. In October 1635, he was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony by the General Court.

So, with the assistance of the Narragansett tribe, Williams established a settlement at the junction of two rivers near Narragansett Bay, located in (what is now) Rhode Island. He declared the settlement open to all those seeking freedom of conscience and the removal of the church from civil matters– and many dissatisfied Puritans came. Taking the success of the venture as a sign from God, Williams named the community “Providence.”

Williams stayed close to the Narragansett Indians and continued to protect them from the land greed of European settlers. His respect for the Indians, his fair treatment of them, and his knowledge of their language enabled him to carry on peace negotiations between natives and Europeans, until the eventual outbreak of King Philip’s War in the 1670s. And although Williams preached to the Narragansett, he practiced his principle of religious freedom by refraining from attempts to convert them.

 

Roger Williams statue, Roger Williams Park, Providence, R.I.

source: Library of Congress

The miracle(s) of life…

The Barnados Threadsnake (Leptotyphlops carlae)

In the last issue of The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Sixth Extinction?” sounds an alarm.  Observing that of the many species that have existed on earth, more than ninety-nine per cent have disappeared, and that these extinctions have tended to come in waves– five of which were especially broad– she ponders the possibility that we are at the lip of the sixth great wave of species disappearance.

While there’s every reason to worry that Kolbert is right, one notes that new species are uncovered every year– even in periods of relative decline in diversity.  Indeed, Wired provides a nifty catalogue of “10 Strange Species Discovered Last Year.”

The forces of life and variety fight back!

As we celebrate the creative impulse (in all of it forms and products), we might recall that it was on this date in 1919 that Arthur Eddington confirmed Einstein’s light-bending prediction– a part of The Theory of General Relativity– using photos of a solar eclipse.  Eddington’s paper the following year was the “debut” of Einstein’s theoretical work in most of the English-speaking world (and occasioned an urban legend: when a reporter supposedly suggested that “only three people understand relativity,”  Eddington was supposed to have jokingly replied “Oh, who’s the third?”)

One of Eddington’s photos of the 1919 solar eclipse

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