writer, lawyer, human
Human Inspiration Works, LLC
2019 Vol 4 No. 9
Inspired by the words and actions of Robert F. Kennedy
back on the circuit traveling across America to train humans and deliver keynotes on human inclusivity. It’s all quite wonderful and takes me to places that I probably wouldn’t ever visit, like Idaho Falls ID or Longmeadow MA, or Steamboat Springs CO. I’m very lucky, since I also get to do something that I’m extremely passionate about. (Plus, this sure beats being an attack dog lawyer, which was my former stress-filled career!)
This calling I find myself pursuing now has several tiers to it. At the very top are speakers—think Tony Robbins—who can fill 15,000 seat arenas. On the bottom tier are those who occasionally speak as a side gig while maintaining a needed day job to pay the bills.
Me, I’m working the middle of both those worlds; certainly (and with much gratitude), I can make a living doing what I do. On the other hand, it’s doubtful that I’ll ever speak to audiences of more than a couple thousand. Most of the time, I’m just fine with the middle tier because it allows me access to spaces that wouldn’t ever think to invite in a Tony Robbins. (However, I do have my moments wishing I could have a much larger impact…)
Being in the middle also gives me the chance to reach people who otherwise might never personally meet a transgender human, allowing for the opportunity to create positive first impressions. And for me, that’s so in tune with my idealism and burning desire to make the world more positive for all humans.
As I said, I’m so very lucky!
On a completely separate note, if you’re local to the Twin Cities, October will bring several public opportunities to hear me speak or to meet me, including on the evening of October 6, where I’ll be presenting at Grace Lutheran Church in Andover, MN. Further, on October 17, I’m hosting an Open House in downtown Minneapolis where I’ll speak about my work and my nonprofit, Human Ripple Works, Inc. Finally, on October 27, I’ll be speaking in the late morning at Transfiguration Lutheran Church in Bloomington.
I hope that you can make one of these live events; go to the Upcoming Engagements page of
for more information. If you want to attend the Open House on Oct. 17, click
to register for a free ticket. Certainly, I’d love to see you!
Please know that your support in the form of emails, social media postings and coming up to me at events is what helps me go forward. There’s simply no way I could do this work without your support. Thank you so very much!
Be well. I care about you.
Compassion at the Community Pool
I frequently receive emails from
readers, who report on good things they’ve witnessed in the world. Recently, Margaret from Edina, MN emailed with a story that I feel compelled to share with you—as you’ll see below, it again shows that humans of all ages have good empathetic hearts and when called upon, we will be compassionate as heck. Here is Margaret’s email, which I am sharing with her permission:
I wanted to share something with you that my family experienced this summer that is our favorite memory by far.
We were at the Edina Aquatic center, and my two sons Johnny 8 and Max 6 were there, and we were all playing and doing things you do at the pool. My boys are working hard at learning new things like going off the high dive, flips etc.(and) swimming in the deep end.
I noticed that two men (2 handsome young men 16-21ish) were under the high dive, which is unusual and against the rules typically. Then I looked up and saw that their friend who happened to have Down Syndrome was on the high dive, just trembling, but clearly excited to try. It likely took 10 minutes for him to get up the courage to move to the end of the board. During that time, I noticed a LONG line of kids forming at the diving board but never was there a "hurry up" uttered. I looked at the lifeguard... he also was clearly watching, but not bothered by how long it was taking or that the 2 friends were underneath the board for when the boy did jump, they would be right there to get him and keep him safe.
It was likely 5 more minutes of the boy visibly working up the courage to jump, and the only thing you heard was.... "you got it, buddy, I am right here." I grabbed my two boys and told them to watch (what) was happening, and the whole time I just prayed that nobody would say something ugly or do something ugly. Nothing happened... instead, I noticed and pointed out to my family that the ENTIRE pool was now watching, keeping quiet, and respectful, but faces full of hope, and then it happened. Some amazing 8 or 9-year-old boys yelled out "YOU CAN DO IT,” (and) that is all it took, the whole pool started cheering.
The boy on the diving board looked up in delight, and I hope he felt safe and brave and celebrated. In just a few more seconds, he took a leap off the high dive and everyone clapped and continued to cheer. My boys ran up to him and gave him a high five. The joy and pride on his face was amazing and so well deserved. My husband (and I) just looked at each other and said, wow, things had changed from when we were kids, and that was amazing.
I was proud of my own kids who know to celebrate and make space for others, but the entire pool which was likely 150 people also did the same thing. Edina does not always get the best press, but that day Edina crushed it!
Margaret, thank you for sharing this wonderful account of what happened at your city pool. Readers, please know that acts of compassion (and support/allyship/love) like this happen millions of times every day in this world of ours—we just don’t hear about them. We want to be good to each other and most of the time that’s exactly what happens!
In 2019, These Words: “Fella…Overstepped
What many peg the beginning of the modern civil rights movement (which continues to this day) to the brutal murder of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till, who was wrongfully accused of “disrespecting” a white-color woman while visiting his grandmother in Tallahatchie County MS in 1955. Following his murder, Emmett’s body was dumped into the Tallahatchie River. Heroically, Emmett’s mother refused a closed casket for her son’s funeral in their hometown of Chicago; photographs of Emmett’s beaten body galvanized the world into understanding the brutality of Jim Crow and thus began the death knell of most government-sponsored white supremacy in the South.
reported by National Public Radio
, in 2008, a memorial placard was erected at the spot of the Tallahatchie River where Emmett’s body was recovered. In the time since then, the placard has been repeatedly vandalized with gunshot holes. Most recently, three University of Mississippi fraternity brothers were pictured near the placard holding rifles (including an AR-15), apparently after they had added to the bullet holes in the placard. Since then, the placard has been removed with the goal of restoring it; the fraternity brothers were suspended from the Kappa Alpha Order, “an organization that glorifies the Confederate South.” Ole Miss, where the men were students, declined to take discipline action for the incident. (Note: I visited Ole Miss Law School last year and found it to be extremely welcoming and open to people who were “Other”; I do not want this story to be a blanket indictment against the University.)
I’m writing about this in part to affirm the admirable efforts of the Emmitt Till Memorial Commission to preserve Emmett’s memory and how his murder proved to be a historical flashpoint. I also want to note something related to the two men who were accused of Emmett’s murder; they stood trial before an all-white-colored-human jury and were acquitted only to later relate to
how they, in fact, had viciously murdered Emmett.
John Whitten, the son of one of the lawyers who represented the murderers, became a Tallahatchie County prosecutor. Now retired, Whitten spoke to NPR relative to the Emmett Till memorial and expressed dismay over how Emmett’s death continues to spark controversy. Whitten believes there’s no reason to commemorate Emmett’s horrific murder; he told NPR,
"I think all these folks are stirring crap up…Every day, somebody's dragging up the race card. Somebody saying we have racial disparity here. If nobody would stir that damn pile of stuff up, it wouldn't stink."
But that’s not where Whitten stopped. Note the incredibly tone-deaf words he related to NPR in referring to Emmett, again who was visiting his grandmother at the time he was killed: “
Fella who came down here and got in trouble — overstepped his bounds to a degree some folks thought," says Whitten. "And they cured him of his problems."
They cured him of his problems.
A fourteen-year-old-teen who was beaten to death for allegedly “flirting” with a white-color woman. Said by a white-color man in 2019.
Frankly, this is why we need to “stir up the crap” that Whitten derided. How in the world can we change attitudes toward “Other” (particularly toward those with skin colors other than white) if we don’t make people uncomfortable?
To the many idealists and their allies reading this: if you ever need a reminder of why you’re engaged working to change the world, please remember this story and John Whitten’s ignorant words. There is much work to do. Let’s get to it, please.
Inclusivity Tip of the Month
I trained at a Minneapolis law firm earlier this month where an audience member asked, “What about the introverts?”, in relation to folks who may just not feel comfortable reaching out to become familiar those who are “Other.” The resistance isn’t borne out of prejudice, but rather, stems from a strong inner need to maintain personal space and thought.
That question got me thinking about how we often don’t recognize that people who are introverted face obstacles others don’t recognize, and rather than being exclusionary, they’re simply trying to survive the Human Condition in a world that overwhelmingly favors extroverts.
Statistics suggest that anywhere from 16 to 50 percent of the population identifies as introvert, and some commentators use 30 percent is an average. Generally, introverts are detail-oriented and spend more time doing than talking about what it is they’re doing. They are more patient with the mundane, nitty gritty details of a job.
From an inclusivity standpoint, many introverts feel drained or exhausted when placed in situations where they need to interact socially with strangers or acquaintances. It’s not that introverts don’t like to engage; rather, they eschew small talk in favor of deep conversations—something that’s not likely to occur at a workplace luncheon or happy hour. This doesn’t mean the answer is to segregate or not invite persons who identify as introvert to events or gatherings; rather, it’s important to understand that if these folks are the first to leave the event, they shouldn’t be judged for doing so.
Additionally, introverts often complain that others view their tendency to be quiet/alone as a false indicator that something is wrong or that they’re not happy. This can lend to discrimination against introverts and favoring persons who are extroverted—since some view extroverts as “doers” and good ambassadors for an organization. Be aware of the inherent risk of marginalizing introverts within your organization.
My specific tips: (1) make sure to give people space to speak—look for a partially raised hand or facial expression that the “quiet person” in the room might make, indicating they’d like to be heard, and before any meeting ends, go around and give everyone a chance to have their say; (2) recognize that being introverted isn’t a “choice” and that society generally favors extroverts, and thus, allow introverts to “come out” as themselves; and (3) remember that the goal is for everyone to bring their whole selves to work or to your organization. Help team members to understand the introversion, just like extroversion, is one of several human personality types—and there’s nothing wrong with being introverted.
Odds & Ends
This month’s (very lengthy) Odds & Ends has many videos, something that readers very much like…
yellow Labrador retriever
interact with an automatic ball tossing machine. Whoever created that machine deserves some a national award; brilliant!
Second Darn Wonderful:
In America, if you work hard, love your children, and persist in an honorable way (whatever that may mean), good things will happen.
This video of a Dad
being surprised with a wonderful gift from his adult children epitomizes a key facet of the American Dream. Have a tissue handy—I’ve watched a half dozen times and cried every time.
One More Wonderful:
With how our country (as official gov’t policy) has retrenched, it’s easy to think that we’re alone in the world. This
video of New Zealand firefighters
doing the “Haka” in memory of our 9/11 fallen (particularly fallen NYFD humans) reminds that, no, America isn’t forgotten. Please remember this when it comes our turn to be there for people of “Other” countries.
A Plug for
Blinded by the Light
I recently saw
Blinded by the Light
, about a Pakistani-ethnic teen boy in England fighting for his authenticity as a writer. The movie is a phenomenal sleeper that I cannot recommend enough for how it deals with racism, intergenerational differences, and the need to live life authentically.
3D Pedestrian Crossing:
I just realized
. Tell me that encountering one of these for the first time wouldn’t cause you to slam on the brakes…
Good Stuff about Cops:
Among other things, I attempt to minimize how we “Other” public servants—particularly those in law enforcement and the military. So, check out this story of cops using their imagination to
search for an African American teen
who did a kind deed for an older white-color woman. Yes, law enforcement has challenges around skin color but the vast, vast majority of sworn personnel have good hearts and do right by everyone.
A Female Newscaster Calls Out a Viewer Who Complained that She Didn’t Dress Like a “Normal Woman”:
Mothers, along with fathers who seek to empower—please have your daughters view
along with you.
My New Friend Sam Singer:
I have had the privilege of meeting one cool dude, Sam Singer, who works with businesses to improve their sales and revenue, but most importantly, he’s got wonderful emotional intelligence for anyone seeking to start or expand a business. Here’s his official pitch: “Sam Singer, at Singer Performance Group, teaches others how to reach their sales and revenue goals--consistently. Be confident in next month/quarter/year’s revenue! Learn the 5-step Process that eliminates doubt, provides certainty, and builds a foundation for exponential growth.” You can reach Sam at
/ (651) 204-3724,
. Please know that I don’t ordinarily plug businesses, so you can rely on this as the real deal and I’m doing so because Sam has a rare degree of emotional intelligence that I think could benefit any business person, particularly those from marginalized communities.
Inclusion in Alexandria, MN:
Several years ago, I presented in Alexandria, MN—a small town in the western part of the state that for the most part, isn’t overtly diverse. However, for those who are “Other” in Alexandria, the local diversity group has
rocked it with an initiative
that’s replicable anywhere. Please, check out this
. (I probably should have included this as a main story but there’s only so much space in this newsletter…)
Using Imagination at the University of Tennessee:
By now, many are familiar with
of how the University of Tennessee became a phenomenal ally to an elementary student who was bullied for creating a homemade UT shirt. I include this here because it demonstrates the value of using imagination to combat marginalization and to promote inclusivity. Wow!
More Compassion from Tennessee:
When classmates bullied a high school student because he wore the same clothes everyday due to limited family finances, two other students (one of whom had been a bully) stepped in to donate their own clothes and shoes to the student. Please
note the skin colors of all involved
But No Compassion at Taco Bell:
Sharon Gridley, 44, invited several homeless persons to have a meal at a Louisville, KY Taco Bell, only to be rebuffed by the store’s staff.
Shame on Taco Bell
Food at My Table:
of a Missouri mother of six who makes 100 lunches daily for children in her neighborhood. I’m in awe.
A Twin Cities Stylist Goes to the Streets to Cut Hair for People Who are Homeless:
Talk about compassion and walking the walk—see
Allyship by Basketball Coach Tony Bennett:
reader and dear friend Michelle Cohen sent
this story of how UVA coach Tony Bennett
turned down a substantial raise with the request that the money instead be used to up the salaries of his assistant coaches and staff; moreover, Coach Bennett and his wife donated $500K to local charities. This is allyship at the platinum level.
Good for Transgender Humans:
A picture book about a young transgender girl by Jessica Love,
Julian is a Mermaid
recently was awarded the Klaus Flugge prize, which is given to the most promising and exciting newcomer author/illustrator of children’s books. This was unimaginable ten years ago when I transitioned genders. Three steps forward for my community.
Now Two Steps Backward/Not Good for Transgender Humans:
brief video by an intolerant news organization
in which random strangers are asked if they would date a transgender person; watch how my community is made fun of. (And of course, this just simply reinforces the prejudice that results in our isolation.) Here too
is a story about a transwoman being compelled to show TSA officials her genitals
(I am not kidding iota) when questioned at the security line. Finally, is everyone aware of the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear arguments on whether it’s
okay for employers to fire trans people (
and in a separate case, fire lesbian, gay and bisexual persons) simply because an employer objects to us? Unbelievably, the federal government is arguing that such discrimination is legal, and in its brief involving the terminated transgender woman, the government consciously
chose not to use any pronouns
for risk of having to confer respect by using “she’ and “her” pronouns toward the plaintiff. If I wasn't such an idealist, I'd be sick over this. Oh wait, I am sick but sitll determined to change it...
A Boy’s Best Friend Cuts Him Off Because He’s Gay:
See this sad story
. I would hope that stories like this would become fewer and fewer but they’re not…A child learns intolerance, or even hatred, from parents or parental role models. It’s that simple.
Drag Queen Story Time:
about how the Hartford CT library plans to host a drag queen story hour for children—something that many communities refuse to permit. My thanks to
reader Joe Marino for this!
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
by Yaa Gyasi
Gyasi's debut isn't just an accomplishment in the genre of historical fiction, it's also an accomplishment of wonderful proportions in general.
follows two separate stories of half-sisters, Effia and Esi, who are born into different villages in 18th-century Ghana. One storyline follows Effia and her life as a noble in Cape Coast Castle; the other sibling, Esi, is imprisoned in the castle dungeons, unbeknownst to Effia. This book spans three hundred years and the generations after Effia and Esi and how they shaped the future of their families. It's brilliant in its heartbreak and narrative of what makes a family.”
“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. Shows to catch: August 26, where I talk to Attorney Michael Ciresi about his foundation’s work to end educational achievement disparities for black-color Minnesota students; September 9, where Marshall Tanick speaks of slavery in MN; and September 16 where Dan McNeil of PeaceMaker MN shares a heartwarming and unforgettable story of how he became an idealist. You can
access the show’s 80+ podcasts here.
Writings by Me:
My July mini-sabbatical put my
columns behind; look here in October for my catch-up column.
Stuff Worth Reading (assuming you think like ellie…):
This Land Was Our Land
,” in the August issue of
is a compelling piece of investigative journalism by Vann R. Newkirk, II, regarding how nearly 1 million African American farmers were robbed of their land by a legal and property system controlled by white-color humans. We simply need to recognize all the ways that white supremacy worked…Here also is a
prepared for the article.
Please 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 732). Would you please follow me @elliekrug? Thanks!
Past and Upcoming Talks/Trainings and General Stuff:
This week, I’m helping to kick off a year-long community D&I initiative in Steamboat Springs, CO where I’ll give a half dozen presentations in about 28 hours. On October 9th, I’ll present the keynote at the annual St. Louis County (MN) Health & Human Services Conference in Duluth MN. After that will be trips to Chicago, Wisconsin and Los Angeles to train on Gray Area Thinking®. 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