Social Commentary

January 15, 2018

Would MLK, Jr. be ashamed?

I wasn’t paying attention. Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day in the U.S.

So here are things I’m thinking about and seeing……..[And yes, this is long. Mostly just quotations. I collect quotes to inspire me, to help me remember and to fight and speak out.]


TheAgitator.Net with great statements and marvelous New Yorker cover.

Some favorite MLK quotes – because I collect social justice quotations. And I believe these are all still true today.

  • Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
  • Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropists to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice that make philanthropy necessary.”
  • “First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., April 16 1963   “uneasy with injustice, but unwilling yet to pay a significant price to eradicate it.” 

Some of my other favorite social justice quotations. I think MLK would have liked these. And I believe that these are all still true today.

  • Giving isn’t a posture reserved for the rich or powerful. It is the responsibility and privilege of every man, woman, and child to participate in the task of building more just and humane societies.” (Alfre Woodard, Robin Hood Was Right)
  • Creating social change is exciting. It’s proof that we are alive and thinking. What could be better than to work for a future where fairness is the bottom line?” (Alfre Woodward, Robin Hood Was Right)
  • “Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s sons, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.” (Ella Baker, 1964)
  • We’d best restate what civil rights mean: the recognition that racial discrimination played a central role in the development of this nation [U. S.] and its institutions; the understanding that past discrimination resonates in the present; the acknowledgement that millions of Americans, a disproportionate share of them black or Latino, endure persistent poverty and in isolation from mainstream opportunity, and in conditions too brutal and pervasive for them to easily overcome solely on their own; the clearsighted conclusion that we’ve got far to go before there’s equal opportunity in America. And we’d better recognize what civil rights is not: an unregulated ‘free’ market or shaming fingers pointed at racial minorities and the poor.” (Susan Eaton, The Nation magazine, 01-10-17, 2005)
  • “As a black person, I am no stranger to race prejudice. But the truth is that in the political world I have been far oftener discriminated against because I am a woman than because I am black.” (S. Representative Shirley Chisholm)

Would MLK, Jr. be as ashamed of us as I am? I think he’d be deeply deeply sad. And I think he’d be hopeful and still fighting. “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice. But there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” (Father Dan Berrigan)

I’m still fighting. But the moral injury (a definition of PTSD) I’m feeling (and so are so many others) … is huge. I feel so sad and so angry so much and so often. I cannot allow this to happen to me:“Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputations…can never bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly avow their sympathies with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.” (Susan B. Anthony)

I must remember what Jessie de la Cruz said. Jessie was a retired farmworker talking of the days before the founding of the United Farm Workers. “La esperanza muere últimata – Hope dies last.”


Filed under: Social Commentary

November 14, 2017

What are we white people doing?

Marvelous piece about white people power. The article is called “America is Burning.” It’s directed to white people working in philanthropy. And the article asks us, “what is your next move?”

And check out this wonderful interview by Bill Moyer, “Peeling the Whitewash from our Myths.” Moyer is interviewing Susan K. Smith, researcher in American history, religion, and culture.

What are we white people doing? Why don’t we understand? So many years. So many deaths. So many laws and demonstrations. Yes, of course, some change. But not enough. I hope athletes – both black and white – will take the knee on every field and court possible. I hope that protests abound, whites marching in partnership with all people of color.

I watch people twitch when I talk about my unearned privilege of being white, heterosexual, well-educated and affluent.  And my disadvantage is being female. I have people hug me because I talk candidly. And others criticize me because I shouldn’t talk about this stuff.

I think everyone should talk about “this stuff.” I think philanthropic organizations should talk about “this stuff” lots and lots.

November 9, 2017

Reflections from the past – and still happening somehow today

Slavery did NOT end in 1865…

And please don’t tell me that “it’s so very very very much better now.”

So very very very much better? OVER?  NO! Not over! How about the still-alive-today Ku Klux Klan?

Yes, better in some ways. No more lynchings.         But still lots of killing. STILL!   And more imprisonment and …

Visit the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Such sadness and pain and so much truth to hear and learn and embrace. Truth.                Have you read the Emancipation Proclamation? 

Are you familiar with Jim Crow laws and the 1896 Supreme Court decision Plessy versus Ferguson?

How long did it take to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson? Until 1954. Brown versus Board of Education. And here’s the timeline.

Did you and I think that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 fixed everything? How about the Voting Rights Act of 1965? One of the most beautiful stories for President Obama’s first inauguration: “Wish you were here.” Thank you Bob Herbert.

Do you know about the Southern Strategy – building a new majority based on antipathy towards the Civil Rights movement and the work of Lyndon Baines Johnson?

What have we done? What are we still doing?

Just read the news. Listen to the stories. Look in someone’s eye. Think in your mind and heart.

And watch this YouTube video. What will you do differently? Will you speak out? Will you and I learn more and speak more loudly? If not you and me, who? If not now, when?


October 17, 2017

Reflections on what’s happening…

This is a lovely and sad piece. The Summer of Love’s Sad End. (The Summer of Love’s Dispiriting Fall.) By Ted Widmer. New York Times op-ed.

Does Kindness Matter? By Zoe Ferguson… From the Transformation newsletter.

The Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, II…….. Inspiring. Angering. I’ve heard Barber live. Watch this video.

The American system of education, still not equal. Brown v. Board of Education outlawed segregation…demanded equal opportunity for all. And 63 years later…still no equal opportunity. Nikole-Hannah-Jones. Alina Tugend. Mosi Secret. Mark Binelli.

Charlottesville is not the continuation of an old fight. It is something new.” Just think about this: “The simple fact of the matter is that the world has never built a multi-ethnic democracy in which no particular ethnic group is in the majority and where political equality, social equality and economies that empower all have been achieved.” So the fight is different now. Can we make the change? The article ends with…”May we dig deep, to find the soil of love, and make America great at last.”

Surely we can still fight for change. Rise up and make more progress. Each of us. And we can help change the world.


Filed under: Social Commentary

September 18, 2017

Eve of destruction…Ken Burns’ PBS show

Wow. A second blog in one day. So sorry but…

I’ve told you before that Viet Nam is my war.

Was it Burns’ war, too? Started last night on PBS in the U.S.

See the pre – review of all 18 hours….“Ken Burns’ ‘Vietnam War’ will break your heart and win your mind,” by James Poniewozik.

“The saddest thing about this elegiac documentary may be the credit it extends its audience. “The Vietnam War” still holds out hope that we might learn from history, after presenting 18 hours of evidence to the contrary.

Do you remember The Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire? July 1965. I get so angry and sad. And we didn’t learn. Still happening today.

Do you know Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers? Thanks for the photocopying and leaking of classified info. You’re a hero. (By the way, I think Edward Snowden is a hero, too.)

Just think about this, from the Poniewozik review: “Mr. Burns is willing to risk obviousness because his project is not to find surprising twists on American history. It’s to create a historical canon in the most proadly acceptable terms…. Mr. Burns’ films assume that it’s still possible for americans to have an agreed-on baseline … on government, war, race and culture … from which to go forward.”

I wish that were true…that agreed-on baseline. Because I haven’t seen it … certainly not about Nam and not about race or gender or even good government or culture or….


Filed under: Social Commentary

August 15, 2017

We do bad stuff. Justice does not triumph yet. (Sometimes I have hope.)

Critically important article in the Washington Post… CHARLOTTESVILLE IS NOT THE CONTINUATION OF AN OLD FIGHT. IT IS SOMETHING NEW. Can we do this something new? Will you join the fight?

Seth Godin’s insightful commentary about bad science and good science: SLOPPY SCIENCE…”For hundreds of years, though, science has gotten it wrong about gender, race and ethnicity. Eugenics and its brethren sound simple, but often lead to tragic outcomes.”

Saturday morning, August 13, we visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture. We heard about Charlottesville on the way to the Museum. At the museum, we saw the the best summary of our national shame – and the West’s shame, too. Racism so detailed, so intentional so planned…and so spontaneous.

For me…Days of sadness and embarrassment and huge anger for my country… my fellow citizens… my world… those I know and don’t know…All of us.

Filed under: Social Commentary

July 24, 2017


I’ve told you before about Mike EdwardsTransformation newsletter.

I suppose you can call this social commentary. But I prefer to think of this as leadership…. building community…. respecting differences…. recognizing the intersectionality of so very many issues….

So here’s a great article from Transformation Newsletter…where love meets social justice…

Surely this is leadership. Just as are these quotations from my own quote collection….

  • “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormenter, never the tormented.” (Eli Weisel)
  • “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” (Desmond Tutu)
  • “Sometimes to be Silent is to Lie.” (Miguel Unamuno, Spanish philosopher, about the Spanish Civil War. Zinn quotes this about the Vietnam war)
  • “Creating social change is exciting. It’s proof that we are alive and thinking. What could be better than to work for a future where fairness is the bottom line?” (Alfre Woodward, Robin Hood Was Right)
June 19, 2017

The Indivisible Movement

SOLIDARITY… What is it?

A labor union in Poland. Independent of government and the Polish Communist Party. Membership grew to several million in the early 1980s.

Unity or agreement of feeling or action. Mutual support.

And how about this new solidarity movement?

Visit the Indivisible Movement. Maybe some of us want to join?

Check out The Guide (which caused Google Docs to crash!!) Click here for the summary.

Filed under: Social Commentary

May 12, 2017

SOCIAL COMMENTARY. Watch out. Avoid.

Friend and colleague Sheena Greer sent me a review of Ivanka Trump’s new book, Women Who Work. London journalist/writer/critic Laurie Penny wrote the review. Our Lady of Complicity

This is more than a scathing book review of Ivanka and Trumpism and and … This is actually a very important analysis of what she is promoting for society.

Ms. Penny has analyzed the language and the metaphors and the statements and … and everything.

It’s terrifying. The book is a terrifying description of how women should behave. A hugely very scary narrative about how our society should operate.

I’m more than angry. I’m so deeply sad that anyone could believe this. Agree with this. I’m so very very scared for women and girls. And for men and boys.

And my sadness and fear are pretty safe and secure…. because I’m a white, heterosexual, well-educated, affluent person. Yes, by being a woman, I’m at risk. But since I was born white and heteorsexual… and my mom and dad could afford to pay for my college education… I’m safer than so many others. My unearned privilege — my born with privilege — self, is more safe and more winning and and and … And I think that sucks. And it’s (relatively) safe for me to speak out. (Despite periodic criticism that I shouldn’t talk that way.)

I’m so sad and scared for our society. For girls and women and boys and men. And….

Filed under: Social Commentary

April 3, 2017

This is lovely…

This made me happy. This makes me happy. I’ll keep this and watch it again and again.

Simone Joyaux, ACFRE, Adv Dip, is an internationally recognized expert in fund development, board and organizational development, strategic planning, and management.

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