You are receiving Ellie Krug's Monthly Newsletter, The Ripple 
This Mixed Bag Called Life

Dear Friends:

As we head toward a sort of post-Covid normalcy, I’m reminded that life remains a mixed bag.

On the positive side, my work has greatly picked up—perhaps reflecting that organizations now feel a sense of urgency around systemic change, particularly given last month’s verdict in the Chauvin trial. Indeed, I’m set to give several live (!!) presentations beginning in June, and I expect more to come as we get to Qs 3 and 4. Hooray!

Even better, two weeks ago I took my first road trip in 14 months to see my Aunt Margaret, someone who continues to teach me about compassion and kindness. I wrote about her in this month’s online Minnesota Women’s Press edition, and I would be honored if you took a few minutes to read about this remarkable woman. Click here.

On the not-so-good side of the ledger, there’s a new challenge to my work (and to that of thousands of other diversity and inclusion practitioners): renewed efforts to ban training around unconscious bias and America’s historical problems re: skin color. The attack this time comes by labelling our work as “critical race theory”—with the underlying claim that D&I concepts are actually Marxism in disguise. (See here.) This is preposterous (that’s the only word that fits) but it hasn’t kept Iowa, Oklahoma, Tennessee and other states from prohibiting core D&I principles from being taught in state education and government systems. I fear this will inevitably spill over to chill private businesses from engaging in D&I work.

This movement to ban D&I concepts is frightening! If we can’t talk about how humans are wired for bias (what I call “grouping and labelling”), there’s no way we can get past the divisions in our country. Please, whenever you hear the phrase, “critical race theory,” know that it’s a made-up attack in an effort to preserve the (inequitable) status quo. For more on this, here’s a recent great The Atlantic article by Adam Serwer re: suppressing the 1619 Project.

I wish you good spring things. Remember, I care about you. 

Re-visiting an Uber Customer’s Compassion and One Woman’s Determination
In the January 2020 edition of The Ripple,  I wrote about how an Atlanta area Uber driver, Latonya Young, then 42-years-old and a single mother of three, had picked up a passenger, Kevin Esch, following an Atlanta United soccer game. As they talked on the half hour ride to Kevin’s house, Kevin learned about Latonya’s status as a single mom struggling to pay her utility bill; she also shared that she had recently dropped out of college because she couldn’t afford to continue. After exchanging contact information, Kevin tipped Latonya $150 to help with her utility bill.

Kevin then did something else fairly incredible: unbeknownst to Latonya, he paid off her outstanding college tuition bill, which meant she could resume her studies. When Latonya eventually learned about Kevin’s good deed, she vowed to pay him back. Kevin’s response, “Pay me back by graduating.” That’s where the January 2020 Ripple piece ended.

We now have the rest of the story.

As reported by The Washington Post (click here),  Latonya received her associate’s degree in criminal justice. After that, she went on to graduate from Georgia State on May 6 with a criminal justice degree. In doing so,  Latonya raised her GPA from 2.9 to 3.5.  

Latonya called it a “double graduation” since she had recently obtained a new apartment for her family and left public housing after 12 years.

On top of this, Latonya found the time to write a book, From Broken to Blessed, which will be released in early June. The book tells her life story and how one Uber ride changed her life.

As Latonya related, “I don’t know what situation I would be in if I hadn’t met Kevin. I hope his kindness inspires other people to help someone.” In return, Kevin said, “She is such an inspiration to me, but also to so many people who are in the same position as her.”

While this is of course a story about great compassion and the need to believe in others and oneself, it’s also about needing to pay attention and put some skin in the game—both Kevin and Latonya did that.  Latonya was also  helped by the Jeanette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund, which offers financial aid to women older than 35 who pursue college. Perhaps that’s an organization to  remember with your charitable giving.? It’s certainly now on my list! (And an Ellie 2.0 Radio interview request…)
Inclusivity Tip of the Month
Righting Some Wrongs re: Native Americans/Indigenous People
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For several years, I referred to “tribes” and “tribalism,” in my trademark talk, Gray Area Thinking®.  That ended in 2019 after I was repeatedly approached by Native Americans/Indigenous people who asked that I discontinue using the phrases out of respect for their communities.

As I detail in this April piece in Minnesota Women’s Press, it wasn’t until a Native woman cried about my use of the words that I finally understood the extent of my blind spot on this subject. Consequently, I’ve developed new phrases: “Group-Identified People” and “Group-Identified Behavior,” as substitutes. (If you think those phrases are clunky, try using “Ingroup” and “Outgroup.”)

(If you want to read more about why “tribe” and “tribes” are offensive to the Native/Indigenous communities, click here; the phrases can also be offensive to Black people with African heritage roots--see here.)

I share this with you for two reasons: first, I readily acknowledge that I don’t have the wisdom market cornered in this work. I regularly make mistakes and need to recalibrate—and frankly, that’s mostly (but not always) okay in my book. I’m human, after all.

Secondly, when it comes to Native Americans/Indigenous people, some of us have blind spots. The entire history of America is one of colonialism where white-color people killed, displaced, and sought to erase Native peoples. I think some white-color people—including me until I was confronted as described above—take our existence here for granted without regard to understanding the pain our ancestors inflicted or without appreciating the disparities that continue to plague Native communities.

Given this, I recently came across something that Ramsey County, MN government folks have started using when they begin large convenings. My thanks for Maria (Tony) Mata and Maria Sarabia for bringing the following Land Acknowledgement to my attention, which is reflective of Minnesota’s Native nations and bands:

Every community owes its existence and vitality to generations from around the world who contributed their hopes, dreams, and energy to making the history that led to this moment. Some were brought here against their will, some were drawn to leave their distant homes in hope of a better life, and some have lived on this land since time immemorial. Truth and acknowledgment are crucial to building mutual respect and connection across all barriers of heritage and difference.
We are standing on the ancestral lands of the Dakota People. We want to acknowledge the Ojibwe, the Ho Chunk and the other nations of people who also called this place home. We pay respects to their elders past and present. Please take a moment to consider the treaties made by the tribal nations that entitle non-Native people to live and work on traditional Native lands. Consider the many legacies of violence, displacement, migration, and settlement that bring us together here today. And please join us in uncovering such truths at any and all public events.

I know that I must do better to understand what it means to be of Native or of Indigenous heritage in America. Using this or a similar acknowledgement is a step in that direction.
Sixty Second Roundups
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When last summer’s derecho storm damaged thousands of homes and took 65% of the tree cover in Cedar Rapids, barbeque restaurant owner Willie Ray Fairley stepped up to provide free meals to thousands of people; as related here, Fortune has named Willie Ray to its “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” list. Also, here’s a story about an anonymous Good Samaritan who jumped off an Ocean City MD bridge to save an infant who had fallen out of a car after a pile-up on the bridge. The hero has asked not to be identified…

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Two weeks ago, I interviewed very classy John Blake from re: his ideas around “radical integration”—about how to get past the ways in with we “Other” people. In the end, it means sitting across from each other and talking. Click here to hear the interview (at around the 12 minute mark…). Read also this great NYT piece by Nickolas Kristof, “If Only There Were a Viral Video of Our Jim Crow Education System”—very enlightening about one of the most critical disparities in our country.  Lastly, check out this great explanation of what constitutes "racism" by on older white-color guy.
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Here’s yet another story of a black homeowner having to pretend to be white to get a good home appraisal. And here’s a horrible story of a black CT student being the subject of a racist Snapchat post—how people feel so emboldened to publicly display hate. This must stop! Oh, and I need to mention how Tennessee has now joined Arkansas in banning puberty blockers/hormone treatments for transgender youth; transgender people continue to be discriminated against across America with impunity. Far too many people are just shrugging their shoulders…
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Watch joy in action as a dad reacts to his daughter’s acceptance to optometry school. Here’s a pic of a new grad standing with her Latino parents in the farm field where they toiled to give their daughter a shot at the American dream. See this soldier welcomed home by his pup. Catch this NPR story/video of The Linda Lindas teen girl band with their song decrying misogyny and racism. (I dare you not to fist bump when the group begins rocking!) Finally, my friend Casey has this wonderful video of her making electronic music—just take a moment to experience the delight! (Click here for Casey’s website—her stage name is “Maru”; consider commissioning her to create a special piece for you…)
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My thanks to my friend Curtis for this Twitter photo of the first-ever all-gay USN helicopter crew. And did you see that German priests are blessing gay couples in defiance of the Pope’s edict? Also, I somehow became the inspiration for the lead character in a newly-released private detective/murder mystery titled The Sower. Author Rob Jung befriended me and asked for help in understanding what it means to be trans; here’s my May 22 radio interview of Rob about the book (the interview should be posted May 24; go to about the 12 min mark). Most importantly, Rob treated being transgender as normal…tell the people in AR and TN that, please…Finally, if you want to help me to do more work for organizations that lack budgets for training, please consider donating to Human Ripple Works, Inc., a nonprofit that others and I set up to train nonprofits/other organizations on human inclusivity. Thank you for that!! If you’d like to support this work, please click here on the HRW website.
The Ripple is a work in progress, so please, I welcome your suggestions and comments! Please share this newsletter with others, too!

Please consider reading my book, Getting to Ellen: A Memoir about Love, Honesty and Gender Change; if possible, order it through your local bookstore. And, if your book club reads my book, I'm happy to come for the discussion via Zoom!

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

Ellen (Ellie) Krug