writer, lawyer, human
Human Inspiration Works, LLC
Vol 5 No. 6 June 2020
Inspired by the words and actions of Robert F. Kennedy
America's Great Awakening
Three months after the virus-related lockdowns started--resulting in disproportionate hospitalizations and deaths of people from marginalized communities—and three weeks after the killing of George Floyd, it’s clear that America is undergoing a seismic shift in how it sees people long considered “Other.”
One commentator, Van Jones, has described that shift as America’s “Great Awakening,” and in
he details the myriad of ways that change is being implemented across the country. Frankly, it is breathtaking.
Have we, as a country, finally gotten to the point where we’re collectively willing to address why white-color skin has historically been favored above any other skin color?
Is America ready to undertake the hard work of dismantling systems—law enforcement, health care, education—in which inequities have been baked in for so many?
And finally, are we willing to start seeing each other as
individual humans worthy of dignity
instead of as representatives of a group or class?
This is a profound moment in our country. We will either go forward in incredible ways, or I fear, we will regress to a point of breaking. Certainly, stagnation isn’t an option anymore.
Last week, during a second “We’re All in this Together” online gathering, a man and woman (partners or spouses—it wasn’t clear) shared how they are now telling intolerant relatives that it’s no longer acceptable to be intolerant. Where they formerly would let things slide/ignore a relative’s marginalizing opinions, they’re now pushing back and demanding the relative think more equitably. How brave, but also, how very necessary!
This is the kind of hard work we must undertake as part of an awakening. It’s work that will ensure that America goes forward.
Finally, after I had my draft of this commentary complete, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its ruling that LGBTQ people can’t be fired from their jobs due to their sexual or gender identities. Holy cow! That will no doubt add to the Great Awakening; it will also certainly produce some backlash and doubling down by conservative quarters.
So, I urge you to hang in there with all the bumpiness coming at us Americans. Rely on others for support when needed. Heck, rely on me if you want! I care about you, and together, we can make America a true shining jewel for everyone amongst us!
p.s.: I’ll be devoting any free time in July to working on my book,
, so (absent another seismic event) look for the next
in early August. Be well until then!
Resolve, Compassion and Grace
As a reflection of how deep America’s passions are running, even Whitefish, Montana, population 8,000 and 97% white-color, has had a Black Lives Matter protest. The event reflected both our very best and very worst.
Among the small group of protesters was a 27-year-old biracial woman, Samantha Francine, who held a sign that read, “Say Their Names,” referencing African Americans who had lost their lives in police encounters.
reported by CNN,
a white-color man, Jay Snowden, 51, approached the crowd and began yelling obscenities at the protesters, which included yelling at a priest. Soon, he towered over Samantha screaming within inches of her face. In response, Samantha stared back, not faltering one iota. After way too many seconds, Snowden moved on to yell at another protester.
Samantha later recounted that at the moment of that confrontation she thought of what her father, who died when she was eleven years old, had taught: “No matter who the threat is, no matter what the threat is, you look them in the eye so that they know you’re human…In that moment, I felt those words…and I saw fear in (Snowden’s) eyes and I knew that he wasn’t going to hurt me.”
Eventually, police removed Snowden from the scene and later charged him with disorderly conduct.
Public support for Samantha poured in after the incident. As Samantha related, “I have gone through so much, experienced so much the last twenty-seven years and in that moment everything I’ve gone through made sense.”
But the story doesn’t end there. Samantha, who said she had no malice in her heart toward Snowden, delivered a gift basket to Snowden’s wife to show that she understood the wife doesn’t embody her husband.
This story underscores how some white-color Americans are fearful of much-needed change. It also shows that the pathway forward is not through anger or vengeance, but rather, through compassion and grace. Samantha could teach everyone those values!
Truly, the most notable thing this Pride Month is what the Supreme Court just did by protecting all LGBTQ humans; if you want to read the Court’s opinion, click
. In my view, it’s the most significant civil rights decision since Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and the ruling has once again given me hope!
Separately, although June is Pride Month in many places across the world, the virus lockdown has resulted in the cancellation of many Pride-related events. (In the Twin Cities, there will not be a Pride parade or weekend celebration at Loring Park.)
Still, in honor of Pride Month, I’d like to highlight someone I recently met, along with an online LGBTQ business related conference, and a Twin Cities lawyer-activist.
Earlier this month, I participated in an online reading/discussion, “This is Who I Am: Storytelling Beyond the Binary,” hosted by Magers & Quinn booksellers and
Minnesota Women’s Press.
On the panel with me was Ali Sands, author of
I Know Who You Are, But What Am I?
about her decades-long relationship with a partner who transitioned from female to male. As Ali describes herself, she “creates safe spaces for open conversations about gender and identity, bringing a raw honesty to educate, unify and create positive change.”
I had never met Ali before this event, and I was incredibly impressed by her insights and ability to story-tell—she is exceedingly talented! I highly recommend checking out Ali’s website,
, where you can also find a link to her TEDx talk, “Love Appears in Whatever Form it Chooses.”
Also, next week (June 23-26
) Mossier, a Twin Cities nonprofit with a mission of enabling employment equity for LGBTQ communities across the U.S. and in Africa, will host online/virtually its “
Proud to Work MN Conference
.” The conference and online learning community will feature 20 live breakouts on LGBTQ workplace equity and several keynotes, including one by me. Click
to see the
Proud to Work conference page
for a full event schedule and on how to register. A Proud to Work 2020 Conference ticket comes with two free months of Mossier Membership ($100 value), which grants you access to Mossier’s digital content library, 30 videos from the conference, including all breakouts and keynotes, and SHRM credits.
Because I’ll be presenting multiple times at Proud to Work, Mossier has created a special code, ELLIEKRUG10, that will give
readers (and anyone else who knows me) a 10 percent discount off the ticket price. Nice! I hope to see you!
Happy Pride everyone!
Inclusivity Tip of the Month
Understanding Structural or Systemic Racism
Because Merriam-Webster is still endeavoring to
provide a good definition of structural or systemic racism (see that story
), I’m going to do my best to come up with my own working definition, to wit: “Structural or systemic racism is a society’s collection of laws, policies, practices, and expectations that either explicitly or implicitly favor white-color skin and where other skin colors are avoided or suppressed, sometimes violently. Examples would include Jim Crow laws, police targeting of nonwhite persons, redlining in real estate and credit, school discipline practices that disproportionately affect children of color, voter suppression, and regimented employment barriers that fail to take into account meaningful and relevant life experiences and learning. Additionally, it includes messaging via various means that you are lesser if not white in color.”
While some structural/systemic racism is readily apparent (such as Jim Crow laws), often it’s not easily discernible on a day-to-day basis. However, one good methodology for figuring out if s/s racism exists is to look at data, including statistics. Often, much of what you need to know about s/s racism can be found at the official demographer’s office of the state in which you live or from the U.S. Census Bureau.
I did exactly that for Minnesota (and the Twin Cities), where I currently reside. The results were astonishing, including this:
- While 16% of all U.S. children live in poverty (officially defined as families earning less than $26,220/yr.), 32% of all black children live in poverty.
- In 2016, the white poverty rate in the Twin Cities was 8.2%; for African Americans, it was 34%. (A recent Planet Money article updated that to 5.9% vs. 25.4%.)
- 63.4% of white-color MN third graders meet or exceed reading standards; only 38.5% of children of color do.
- In MN, 88.4% of white-color students graduate from high school but only 67.4% of black students do (and the graduation rate for Native American students is 51%). (MN has the worst graduation rate gap of the fifty states.)
- Whereas the median household income for white-color Twin Cities families was $76,632 in 2016, the income for black families was $32,819. (Planet Money cited the current difference as $84,459 vs. $38,178.)
You can download my summary, “Disparities in MN,” by clicking
The above disparities aren’t new; we Minnesotans have been discussing them for more than a decade. Until now, there was no centralized effort to level the playing field and eliminate the disparities. Presently, MN Governor Tim Walz is talking about bold steps to do exactly that; let’s hope that as a state, we have the will for it. Otherwise, as Governor Walz so bluntly stated, “I think we only get one more chance to fix this.”
Do the homework for your state. Create your own “Disparities” document (steal from mine what you want) and start sharing. This is all part of becoming “woke” relative to how the game has long been rigged in favor of white-color humans.
Odds & Ends
Given the historical times we’re living in, this month’s O&E is heavy on stories about marginalization, but we will start off with something light—a pooch’s sheepherding, how New Zealanders deal with online pornography head-on, and an amazing singer.
Just relax for
and take in the serenity of landscape and animals; our canine friend’s herding instinct is quite wonderful!
Second Darn Wonderful:
Okay, the Kiwis approach the issue of protecting children from online pornography in a very imaginative way that absolutely works! Click
(if you’re brave enough…)
One More Wonderful:
, wrongly convicted for a crime he didn’t commit, and who served 37 years in prison, singing “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” on “America’s Got Talent.” If this isn’t proof of the human spirit, I don’t know what is. BTW, it was the
that got Archie freed.
Great Advice from a Dad:
With Father’s Day this Sunday, here’s a wonderful website,
, which provides all kinds of helpful handy-human tips. Thank you
reader Alieda Zollman for this!
Deputy U.S. Marshal Rescues 16 Kids Who Were Being Trafficked:
. Because most people in law enforcement simply want to help and protect humans.
Tattoo Artists Against Racism:
of tattoo artists in Murray, KY helping change racist tattoos into benign art. For free.
SMU Law School Revokes Incoming Student’s Admission Due to Racist Social Media Postings:
May I remind you this is a law school in Texas? See
An Emotional Explanation of White Supremacy/Structural Racism:
reader Mary alerted me to
by Kimberly Jones, a human rights activist and author of
I’m Not Dying with You Tonight
. Kimberly’s explanation is emotional, logical, and poignant. Be aware of many swear words; you may also wonder about her raising her voice greatly—you would do that too if after 400 years of marginalization, you’re only being heard now.
Jane Eliot on Racism:
Back in 1968, Jane Eliot separated her Iowa elementary school class by eye colors to teach about racism. Here’s a
of her showing college-aged students how racism feels.
Great Explanation for African Americans’ Pain Over George Floyd’s Death:
Bakari Sellers really nails it
A Call to Strip Clean Georgia’s Stone Mountain Confederate “Heroes”:
Emory Law School professor George Shepherd provides this
. Extrapolate this to every Confederate monument. Remember, the State of Georgia endorsed this monument.
Not Good for Transgender Hungarians:
Last month I wrote about how Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary was threatening to end all legal recognition/protections of transgender persons. Well, he’s now done it.
Here’s the story
Not Good for Trans Americans:
Last Friday, the Trump Administration
ended healthcare protections
for transgender persons (which may include ending access to health insurance—try dealing with that at age 63); additionally, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is
threatening to withhold funding for CT schools
because they have audacity to allow transgender students to compete in athletics. But for SCOTUS’s ruling this week, I’d feel hopeless over this.
For some reason,
author JK Rowling doesn’t believe transgender woman should have equality. She also believes that many transgender women de-transition--wrong! This is part of a larger movement brought on by TERFs—Transgender Exclusionary Radical Feminists. You can read the story
My 30-year-old daughter Kate, a writer like me, is a freelancer for
where she reviews books. Check out her website,
It’s All Booked
Kate’s book recommendation for this month is
When They Call You a Terrorist
Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
. Kate’s take: “
You may know these women as the creators behind the now famous #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and movement, but you most likely don't know their personal stories. Patrisse shares stories of her childhood, from being raised by a single mother to her first run-in with law enforcement. It's a story that demands to be told even if difficult to read at times.”
“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. My June 15
show featured Jessica Meyers, who is running for the South Dakota Senate; she was in the audience when I spoke in Sioux Falls in February and credits me with helping her decide to try her first stint at elected office. She’s quite an idealist, something that long preceded hearing me speak. Click
to access that show and other podcasts.
Writings by Me:
Lavender Magazine piece
, “Acts of Kindness,” details how several folks have been so good to me and my company during the pandemic.
Stuff that I’m Reading:
Generally, I’m a huge fan of Target stores because of how it has supported transgender people, but here is an important
NYT Opinion piece
by Doreen Oliver about how Target failed to stand with her children, who are African American. it’s textbook for how not to handle an incident that has a very simple explanation.
Okay, So You Have Time on Your Hands?
How about ordering my book,
Getting to Ellen
? It’s available on Amazon, Kindle, Nook and Apple iBooks:
if you’d like an inscribed copy, email me.
Status Report on my Second Book,
The good news: as folks adjust to the new normal, my work is again in demand, meaning that I’ve been doing more virtual trainings/talks. The bad news: I’ve not had time to work on the second installment of my memoir-trilogy,
Being Ellen: A Newly Minted Woman Engages with the World.
Hence why I need to take next month off from this wonderful newsletter—it’ll give me 20 extra hours to work on the book.
On LinkedIn, you can find me at Ellen (Ellie) Krug; my Twitter handle is @elliekrug; and on Instagram, you can follow me @elliejkrug. Make sure to include the “j” for Instagram; 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:
As reported above, I’ll be speaking multiple times at the Mossier online conference. In July, I’ll present all day to Blue Cross Blue Shield MN on multiple topics and to Allianz, the life insurance folks. If you’re inclined, see my Upcoming Online Engagements, click
Want to Support My Work toward Fostering Greater Compassion and Human Inclusivity?
Some of you have recently given to Human Ripple Works, Inc., a nonprofit that I and others have set up to train nonprofits and other organizations on human inclusivity. Thank you for that!! If you’d like to support this work, please
on the HRW website. 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