writer, lawyer, human
Human Inspiration Works, LLC
2019 Vol 4 No. 10 October 2019
Inspired by the words and actions of Robert F. Kennedy
I recently was reminded about the need to pay attention, and separately, about how I continue to be “Other,” both old lessons that I continue to relearn over and over.
The paying attention reminder came at a CVS; there had been a 60ish man with a cane behind me when I checked in for the Rx. I then went and sat down (taking the second of two chairs) with my face in my phone while the prescription was filled. Ten minutes later, I heard the man with the cane complain to the pharmacist about the store not being ADA compliant. It was only then that I looked up and saw the man with the cane standing very uncomfortably. I immediately got up and offered my seat—he at first refused, but I insisted and apologized for being so inattentive. Darn!
The “Othering” occurred after I finished a Sunday evening training at a church in a Twin Cities outer ring burb. It was close to 9 p.m. and just by luck, across the street from the church was one of my many vices—McDonald’s. I went inside and placed my order with an African American teen woman. (Hang with me on why I just provided the inference on her skin color.) After taking my order (mind you I was in a dress and blazer with my hair down), the teen walked over to a coworker, another teen woman. I watched the first teen whisper to the second, and then saw the second glance back my way. Obviously, the whisper had been about the oddity (my word) standing at the counter.
The glance made me feel like crap. It was ironic that one human (because of her skin color and perhaps, gender) who no doubt is subject to “Othering” saw fit to “Other” me. The further irony was that I had just finished training 60 humans on the power of/need for human inclusivity.
It just hurt. Of course, I’ll survive.
I continue to believe that living with deep gratitude is the best way to make the last chapters of my life meaningful. Yes, for sure, it’s been a bumpy ride (for me and for others who’ve been directly tied to me), but I’m steadfast in believing that my journey is for a reason. As far as I can tell, the reason is to inspire others to do their best to survive the Human Condition with vulnerability and compassion for others and for one’s self. That stuff allows for positive change in the world.
I care about you. Have a great rest of October and enjoy yourself on Halloween! Boo!
Remembering Senior Isolation
As we head toward the holidays (but please, what follows applies all year long), it’s important to remember that many folks experience isolation and loneliness, particularly those who are considered “senior” in age.
relates, more than 40 percent of persons over 65 years in age regularly experience loneliness. In general, loneliness can result in increased adverse health conditions like clinical dementia and is linked to death sooner than one’s general life expectancy.
As reported in
, research in the UK revealed that more than a fifth of seniors go a week without having a conversation with a single person. (!) Even worse, a large percentage of those surveyed agreed that loneliness kept them from even leaving their home. For more than 50 percent of respondents, just having a short chat with someone would greatly improve their day overall.
Complicating this is that many younger people worry that outreach efforts to assist seniors might be misinterpreted. Still, two-thirds of younger people surveyed said they’d be willing to do something to ease the loneliness of seniors.
Working on this piece led me to learn about the
Senior Companions Program
, a federally funded program to pair above-55 folks with seniors who need assistance or simply companionship. (Here's an
on the program.)
I know that many churches and social service organizations (like
Lutheran Social Services
here in the Twin Cities) have programs to help those who experience loneliness. However, if folks aren’t even coming out of their homes due a sense of isolation, there’s a challenge with connecting programs to those humans.
I think the key here is “ARC” from Gray Area Thinking®--being Aware of a human who’s vulnerable, taking Risks to reach out and then acting with Compassion. Remember, merely stopping for another human (e.g. giving of your time) can be one of the most impactful acts of compassion that one can engage in.
of how a sanitation worker makes sure to give a senior just a few moments a week, which seem to make all the difference--Gray Area Thinking
® in action!
Finally, there’s a bit of selfishness in me highlighting this issue since I live alone and at times experience isolation/loneliness. That in part is what’s gotten me back to therapy. (Don’t worry; I’m good and my therapist is quite wonderful!) If my work ever slows down, you can be sure that I will consider the Senior Companions Program or something like it—both to help someone else and to help me!
The Hug Felt Round the World
By now, many have seen the
video of Brandt Jean hugging Amber Guyger
in a Dallas courtroom following her conviction for the tragic murder of his brother, Botham Jean. (Guyger, then a Dallas police officer, mistakenly entered Botham’s unit in the apartment building they shared.) Still, I think it important to highlight this incredible act of forgiveness because of how it ripples—if Brandt could forgive for the death of his brother, how can we not forgive for much smaller or milder transgressions?
As I teach with my Workplace Allyship 101 training, the power of apology and forgiveness can make or break a group of humans. If either is withheld, inclusivity suffers, sometimes to extreme degrees. On the other hand, if both values are cultivated and practiced, team members will feel that it’s worthwhile to invest in the organization.
There’s also the
REACH forgiveness model
which stems from Everett Worthington’s incredibly personal and difficult work following the murder of his mother. (Recall the hurt; Empathize with the transgressor; forgiveness is an Altruistic gift; Commit to forgiving; and Hold onto forgiveness.) This model arises from what many would think would be the most unforgivable of situations.
At times, we humans make horrific mistakes. Shall we relegate someone to a remaining life of nothingness as a result? Or, shall we instead try our best to understand that fear, isolation, and trauma fuel so very much of what’s unacceptable? If we can see that, can we not eventually (not quickly for sure) get to equal footing? Hatred and resentment will otherwise eat at one’s soul.
Inclusivity Tip of the Month
The Hair of African American Women/Girls
I know that talking about or considering the hair of African American women might not be on the radars of most people, but the reality is that with great frequency, this is an issue. Very often, I hear from black-color women (recall that I use the phrases “white-color” and “black-color” to reinforce that there aren’t separate “races,” just various colors of humans) that white-color people just feel the need to criticize or even touch their hair. And, as the article below relates, that’s not okay.
I sat at a restaurant last month with several people, including a younger black-color woman. An older white-color woman, whom I know is extremely well-intentioned and very egalitarian, put her arm around the woman of color and played with her hair. Now, the younger woman didn’t appear to mind this, but I had to think that this wasn’t isolated and that it added up. (I don’t know for sure however; because we had just met, I didn’t ask the African American woman if she was bothered by the hair touching.)
I have a virtual mentee in a rural western state who is the only African American among many white-color humans in a governmental employer setting—she too has endured many comments about her hair, which has been a source of hurt and “Othering.” Moreover, in case you think I’m over-exaggerating, here’s a
about why criticizing the hair of African American women isn’t cool. In fact, as you’ll see from the article, both New York state and California have banned discrimination because of someone’s natural hair style.
With great respect to my white-color readers, we need to understand that for centuries (uhm, dating to 1619), we have felt the privilege to touch, examine, comment upon, judge, and otherwise control (and punish) people of color other than those who are of white color. That includes interacting with the hair of African American women, or in
, the hair of an eight-year-old black-color girl who was refused school pictures because of her hair coloring and style.
In summary, please don’t negatively talk about or touch the hair of a black-color woman or girl. Just like most would never do that with or to a white-color female.
I know. This is me, pushing and making some of you uncomfortable with my directness. Sometimed you need to do that to create positive change.
Odds & Ends
This month’s Odds & Ends is shorter—I’ve been too busy to surf my newsfeeds. Still, we’ve got some good stuff that’s sure to grab you!
of a dad surprising his daughter with the dog she had been caring for at the local pet shelter.
Second Darn Wonderful:
It’s almost human how a hound (or at least I think that’s the breed) interacts with a kitten in
For Adoptive and All Other Parents:
please. With tissue in hand. (Note: I’m an adoptive parent.)
Calling for Interview Candidates:
I’m working with a Twin Cities marketing firm that has an ongoing contract with a state agency to message around the perils of opioid addiction. I am looking for several candidates who are both LGBTQ and in recovery from opioid addiction to interview them about their recovery; if you know of anyone who you think would be interested in this, please forward them this newsletter and ask that they contact me at
Are You Aware of Efforts to Create a National Memorial and Museum to Honor Pulse Victims?
story about competing designs
for a memorial and museum to honor the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting victims (49 deaths, 53 persons wounded) and to educate about efforts to foster equality in Florida and elsewhere.
Not Good for LGBTQ Humans:
list of 15 countries
where it is illegal to be LGBTQ, along with various penalties. Moreover,
is attempting to put in place legislation which would give the death sentence to anyone "promoting" being LGBTQ. Note: as
relates, some fringe U.S. religious organizations have aided Uganda in this effort. I'm certainly not anti-religion but it's important to understand how some are weaponizing religion against my community.
Another Female Newscaster Refuses to be Marginalized:
Last month I shared about a female newscaster who refused a man’s call to dress “normally”; here’s a
about another woman newscaster who sued a man for harassment when he unexpectedly kissed her while she was reporting at a street location. This behavior isn’t okay.
A New MSP Pro Bono Employment Rights Clinic for Transgender Persons:
for a new legal clinic (free consulting with a lawyer) for transgender persons encountering employment-related legal issues. My thanks to the several organizations involved in offering this!
Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid Seeks an HR Director/DEI Officer:
I can personally vouch for the great work of Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and this seems to be a great opportunity. Click
An American Airlines Pilot Retires and Gives His Wings to a 2-Year-Old Boy with Down Syndrome:
this touching story
Go Fund Me Helps a Small-Town Newspaper:
After the Carroll, Iowa Times Herald successfully defended a libel lawsuit by a former police officer who was accused of inappropriate sexual relations with younger (minor) women, it found itself in $140K debt above what its libel insurer covered. To keep the family newspaper in the family, publisher/editor Douglas Burns turned to GoFundMe to raise the needed money. (In four days, nearly $85,000 had been raised.) See the
; I share about this because local newspapers are bulwarks against corruption and erosion of democratic values.
As We Deal with Domestic Violence, Read About Stalkerware:
My thanks to regular Ripple Reader Mike Gregory for
about software that makes it possible to stalk anyone. Be aware, protect yourself, and let those at risk know.
Evil Shows Up:
Recall that 2 percent of us are sociopaths.
is an example of that in the form of a white supremacy symbol/signal (the “OK” sign) given in the presence of children of color. Damn.
Trying to Compensate, Women Lawyers Are Lowering Their Voices in the Courtroom:
Thank you John Edwards from Drake University Law School for
—both informative and troubling…
My 29-year-old daughter Kate, a writer like me, is a freelancer for
where she reviews books. She also has an entertainment-book review website that’s fun and smart,
Snarky Yet Satisfying.
She regularly reviews books on her blog; check it out! Her book pick and summary for this month is
I Can't Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street
by Matt Tiabbi. "
This book is a narrative journalistic account of the shooting of Eric Garner by New York City police. It feels weird classifying this as 'true crime' but that's exactly what this book is: an in-depth examination of what made this murder possible. Taibbi remains amazingly non-partisan as he breaks down the culture of law enforcement, and the racial disparities in the close circles we interact with every day and our country as a whole. Stevenson's book made the case for an unjust and broken criminal justice system and
I Can't Breathe
horribly but completely illustrates the need to reform."
“Ellie 2.0 Radio” Podcasts/Shows:
My podcast/show, “Ellie 2.0 Radio,” airs on Twin Cities-based AM950 every Monday from 7 to 8 a.m. CST and can be live-streamed by clicking
. Ellie 2.0 Radio highlights various historical and contemporary idealists and my work as a “practical idealist” trying to change the world for the better. I highly recommend my September 23
show where I interview Richard Johnson from Auto Technical Inc. re: how his dontate-your-auto nonprofit is struggling—you’ll instantly appreciate Richard’s vulnerability. (More tissues needed.) And too, catch the October 14 show with my interview of Benjamin Saulsberry of the Emmett Till Interpretative Center. You can access the show’s 90+ podcasts
Writings by Me:
I’m back into the rotation on
, so here is my September piece,
And, as referenced above, here are my
, “Gratitude and Commitment” and “Bittersweet.”
Writings About Me:
In September, I spent two days speaking/consulting at Bay Path University in western Massachusetts, where I wholeheartedly engaged with the students.
is one of the outcomes—nice writing! Here also is a
piece in the Steamboat Springs Pilot
re: my part in helping the local Methodist church kick off a year-long community inclusivity program. (FYI, this initiative is something that any community can emulate.) Finally, here’s a story from
The Free Press
in Mankato MN re: my Transgender 101 talk at the local Unitarian Universalist church; I’ll be back there in Mankato on November 14 to talk about bridging divides.
Stuff Worth Reading (assuming you think like ellie…):
Here’s a great piece in the October 2019 issue of
about sexual harassment in the military by Sandra Sidi, titled,
“Get a Weapon.”
I also loved this NYT piece by Sabrina Tavernise and Nate Cohn titled,
“The America That Isn’t Polarized,”
which confirms what I’m finding with my work—that most of us truly care about each other greatly.
Pease Follow Me on Twitter—The Goal is 1000 Followers:
This year I have a goal of doubling (to 1000) the number of people following me on Twitter (my follower number was 502 on Jan. 1; currently it’s at 820). Would you please follow on Twitter me @elliekrug—with your help, I just might make my goal? Thanks!
And Now I’m On Instagram:
I’ve finally joined the 21
century and added Instagram to my social media repertoire. Would you please follow me on that as well? (I know, I sure ask a lot from you…) The Instagram handle is @elliejkrug. Make sure to include the “j”; otherwise you’ll start to follow a 23-year-old blonde Victoria Secret model—sadly, that would not be me!
Past and Upcoming Talks/Trainings and General Stuff:
There’s much going on between now and Thanksgiving; in the next several weeks I’ll be to Los Angeles twice (for a law firm and then to speak at the Edgy Conference on Nov. 8) as well as to NYC for a law firm. See my Upcoming Engagements
Want to Support My Work toward Fostering Greater Compassion and Human Inclusivity?
My goal is to do more work in greater MN and other parts of the country where access to compassion/human inclusivity training is limited or nonexistent. If you’d like to support this work, please consider donating to
Human Ripple Works, Inc.
, a nonprofit that others have set up to fund my expenses (but not my fees) to do work in places/for organizations that can’t afford to pay for training. (I work with nonprofits or under-funded agencies for free or at a greatly reduced fee in these locals.) Thanks for considering this!
is a work in progress, so please, I welcome your suggestions and comments! Please share this newsletter with others, too!
Thank you for helping to make the world a better place! I'm at your side, cheering you on, I promise! Please have compassion for yourself and for others.
Encouraging Open Hearts and Thriving Human Spirits
Human Inspiration Works, LLC: We make "inclusion" an action word