March 30, 2015

Two interesting statements

“Justice is merely incidental to law and order.”

Thank you J. Edgar Hoover. I find that statement ugly and horrifying… And I’ll fight you and your kind forever.


“The audacity to fight for justice. The perseverance to win.” 

From NCLR, the National Center for Lesbian Rights. I find that beautiful and wonderful and inspiring. I joined that fight a long time ago. And we’re winning.

January 8, 2015

Racism…then and yes, still…

One of my favorite magazines is the Nonprofit Quarterly. I love the print publication and the daily online feed.

You probably think this magazine is all about the nonprofit sector. You know… things like fund development and governance and planning and budgeting and ethics and marketing and… You’re right. But not only those things…

NPQ also writes about what’s happening in society and what the nonprofit sector could SHOULD be doing about what’s happening. Things like public policy and advocacy and political action.

  • NPQ writes about Ferguson, Missouri (that race thing if you don’t follow the news in the U.S.) – and the other Ferguson-type stuff like Trayvon Martin and NYC and and . NPQ writes about racism.
  • Because if the nonprofit sector – and every single NGO – doesn’t have some concern about racism and poverty and government and public policy … Then why does this sector exist? If every single nonprofit is not interested in what’s happening in society … not just the nonprofit’s tiny part of society … then how can this sector matter all that much?

So read this article. EVERYONE read this article, “Teenager’s Murder Conviction Vacated – 70 Years Too Late,” written by Shafaq Hasan, from USA Today. Learn about the youngest American ever executed, 14-year old George Stinney, Jr.

  • Share this article with everyone you know. Your friends and family and and and ….
  • And remember that a publication serving the nonprofit sector – serving the professionals and volunteers working in the sector – writes about racism and other societal issues….. with the hope that nonprofits are doing something about it. With the hope that the NGO sector will stand up and speak out.

Do you subscribe to NPQ? Think about joining up in 2015.

And speaking of racism… Read “We Want Real Justice, Not Dead Cops,” by Carl Gibson and Binta Baxter. Posted on 12-24-14 by Reader Supporter News.

November 27, 2014

Dear Mr. Blow and Mr. Kristof

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. But still I went into my office to do a bit of clean up before heading out to the wonderful Feist/Cornell family with moms and dads and the delightful and special kids, Merlin and Forrest.

I checked the New York Times online. Read Charles Blow’s column about Ferguson. And I was so angry and sad. So I’ve spent about 1 hour writing the email below to Mr. Blow…and to Mr. Kristof.

And now, I’m sharing with you, my reader who read Simone Uncensored – social commentary.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Dear Mr. Blow… And Mr. Kristof, too.

“We the people” must add together Mr. Blow‘s column “Fury After Ferguson” and Mr. Kristof‘s 4-part column“When Whites Just Don’t Get It.” (Read all four parts!) Maybe then “we the WHITE people” will get it.

But I doubt it. Too many people don’t understand unearned privilege (Dr. Peggy McIntosh and her writings). As I always say: “I’m a white, heterosexual, well-educated, affluent woman. I win except for gender. Because it’s a disadvantage to be a woman in every country in the world, including the U.S. But because I was born white and heterosexual, and I’m well-educated (thanks mom and dad) and affluent (partly due to all that unearned privilege previously mentioned!), I win. I win except for gender.

And, I find my winning to be appalling and angering and I sure as hell do feel guilty. (By the way, I love to watch people flinch when I say my of unearned privilege. I can work it in to just about any presentation. I write about it. I use it in my consulting. And I listen but certainly respond when white people tell me they don’t have privilege and men tell me they don’t have privilege. But some people do get it. They recognize my privilege and their own. They’re pleased that I’m speaking out.)

I fantasize about a world where everyone understands the nature of their own personal (unearned) privilege. My fantasy includes everyone recognizing that we shouldn’t talk so much about “disadvantage” but rather talk about unearned privilege. We can make more progress that way, with that acknowledgement and that conversation.

As you say in your column, Mr. Blow… And I’m paraphrasing and adding my own spin to your thoughts: What the hell do the advantaged/privileged expect to happen but violent revolution when we privileged continue to ignore (or only modestly recognize) what’s happening?

  • How do we expect parents to explain to their children to “find a police person” when you’re lost or hurt or need help. But be careful, my son, because you’re a black male. Walk slowly towards the cop. Keep your hands visible at all times. Make sure you don’t have anything that might be construed as a gun — maybe a bottle of water in your hand or a bulky snack in your pocket. And by the way, don’t ever wear a hoodie. And don’t be too tall or too big or too black or or…
  • How do we expect our LGBTQ neighbors to live? Deny your sexual orientation. Hide it as best you can. Be careful about the pronouns you use. Because…Well…You know. You’re just too different. And different is dangerous. And gods and goddesses might not approve of you. And…
  • And if you’re a woman…Let’s see…The U.S. is something like 82nd in the world when it comes to the number of women in the federal legislature. Women are still paid less than men for the same work. Any profession dominated by women has lower wages. And, yippee…Facebook will now pay to freeze your eggs? Wow.
  • And class… Money… The rich. What middle class? And the poor. And tax rates that are less for Warren Buffett that his secretary! (And Mr. Buffett is appalled but the U.S. Congress isn’t.)

John Rawls (in his book A Theory of Justice) tells a story that Warren Buffet paraphrased and I paraphrased again and others do, too, I’m sure: “Imagine that it’s 24 hours before you’re born. And a genie appears to you and asks, “What rules do you want in the world when you’re born… rules to apply to you and your children and your grandchildren. But you don’t know if you’ll be born white or black, rich or poor, male or female, heterosexual or homosexual… What rules do you want in the world?” I want a world where it doesn’t matter. The rules (and the behaviors) are the same for everyone.

We create our world together. And we in the U.S. have created together a classist, rich/poor, homophobic, racist, sexist society. And the privileged must fight for those our society has marginalized. Marginalized on purpose. Marginalized because we don’t understand and recognize privilege. Marginalized because we’re too afraid and too ignorant and too “busy” to stand up and speak out. I always remind people, Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t march with blacks only. There were some whites there, too. The privileged must work with the marginalized. Not in a patronizing manner! In in equity, sharing recognition.

So we have Ferguson. And we’ll continue to have variations of Fergusons … whether for racism or sexism or homophobia. Because even when we pass laws — we the people still behave in racist, sexist, homophobic, classist ways.
Of course, Mr. Blow, you and Mr. Kristof say that there’s no excuse for violence. Of course, I agree. No excuse for violence. But there sure are lots of reasons for it. And if “we” won’t listen to “them” and create an “us” that fights together without violence…. Then what do we expect to happen? Nonviolent change is what is needed. Peaceful revolution is the right thing to do. But that sure isn’t getting us very far.
I wasn’t in the grand jury room in Ferguson. I wasn’t there with the Trayvon Martin decision. But I’m really angry at both. I’m angry at the communities and the U.S., my country. I’m angry because too many of our systems – like the courts and the police – refuse to fully acknowledge the racist, sexist, homophobic systems they work in. Because all of our systems are like that unless the people within talk and talk, monitor and watch and fight for equity.
The Ferguson grand jury could have chosen to conduct a public trial. They didn’t. I’m not surprised. U.S. society and U.S. systems and U.S. institutions and the application of U.S. laws and regulations favor the privileged. Favoring unearned privilege. White. Male. Affluent (and especially the rich). Class. Heterosexuals.
Welcome to the USA.  Thank you Mr. Blow and Mr. Kristof for speaking out publicly, for trying to get people to listen and actually hear. And maybe to act.
Simone Joyaux
– – – – – – – – – – – – –
That’s it. Now it’s time to head out to be with dear friends for Thanksgiving. And these friends understand privilege – theirs and mine.
November 21, 2014

Sometimes I’m so very angry

Sometimes I just want to watch junk TV and read romance novels and avoid all the societal issues that make me so frustrated and angry and deeply deeply sad.

Sometimes I just want to rant and rave and march and scream and …

Why? Because the American Dream doesn’t really exist. And we keep lying to ourselves. Because the U.S. is behind (and often far behind) the rest of the world in any kind of life dream. And we keep denying that fact.

The reality in the U.S.? Racism still thrives. (And having a black President doesn’t change our racist history and contemporary racist behavior.) Sexism still thrives. (We’re something like 82nd in the world in the number of women in our federal legislature.) Reproductive justice (Pretty much a joke). Basic human rights like universal healthcare and universal childcare and damn good accessible education — not really. Certainly nowhere as good as most other western nations.

The U.S. being so wonderful and so exceptional…doesn’t much exist. But we keep pretending.

Have you read Nicholas Kristof’s op ed series “When Whites Just Don’t Get It”? Everyone should read this series. Every single teacher in no matter which subject could make students read this series and talk about it.

Read “Inequality, Unbelievably, Gets Worse” (Steven Rattner, New York Times, November 16, 2014) Now read Joseph Stiglitz’s “How Inequality Is Killing the American Dream…And What We Can Do About It.” Stiglitz isn’t just ranting. He’s an economist!

I think that the U.S. is broken…very very broken. And there are far too many people who don’t recognize the breaks. There are too many people who think this broken-ness is all about individual responsibility: “Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps, buddy!”

Apparently the conservative industry (and yes, I believe it’s an industry) doesn’t care about achieving anything. The conservative industry wants to break this country even more. I’m tired of a dysfunction government. Shouldn’t that be illegal? Read Charles M. Blow’s “Partisanship Breaks the Government.” 

When will voters realize that “just kicking the current bums out and electing different ones” isn’t actually a meaningful strategy? When will people realize that there is a range of awfulness within the bum continuum. I want the less awful bums when I vote.

When will Americans acknowledge the truth about the failings in this country? When will Americans look to other countries and note some of their greatness — and demand…YES DEMAND…that the U.S. change?

I’m very sad today. Maybe I’ll go read a romance novel.

Oh… I can’t. I have client work to do. Maybe these wonderful philanthropic organizations will make me feel better. They usually do.

Filed under: Social Commentary

September 30, 2014

White privilege… born to win

The police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri makes me think of privilege more and more.

How disappointing that so many of us white people “just don’t get it.”

On August 28, 2014, Charles M. Blow wrote in his NYT op-ed: “When one has the luxury of not being forced to compensate for societal oppression based on basic identify, one is in fact privileged in that society.”

Unearned privileges are things like: Race/ethnicity. Gender. Sexual orientation. Class. Physical disability. And so forth.

Privilege doesn’t mean one is evil or bad. And, of course, those with unearned privilege are often allies of those without the privilege. White people marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Heterosexuals fight for marriage equality. Men are feminists who fight for women’s rights.

But Nicholas Kristof writes about “When Whites Just Don’t Get It.” Apparently, “many white Americans say they are fed up with the coverage of the shooting…in Ferguson.” Kristof notes that “A plurality of whites in a recent Pew survey said that the issue of race it getting more attention than it deserves.”

I’m flabbergasted. Do white Americans actually think that just because we elected Barack Obama, we live in a post-racial society. I’m not only flabbergasted – I’m really angry. The U.S. is still a racist society. Just read the research.

Kristof pushes back against what he calls “smug white delusion.” Kristof gives details like: The net worth of the average black household is 5.7% of the average white household. American whites own almost 18 times more than blacks – and that’s worse than Apartheid South Africa back in 1970. And all that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The facts are appalling. White privilege is very very very real. Yes, even being poor and white is better than being black in the U.S. of A.

And then there’s the great opportunity of education. Yes, indeed. But as Kristof notes, black kids grow up in broken schools. So this society fails them.

Kristof ends with a starting point for conversation and change: “…[T]hose of us in white American [must] wipe away any self-satisfaction about racial progress. Yes, the progress is real, but so are the challenges…. [T]he first step is to acknowledge that the central race challenge in America today is not the suffering of whites.”



Filed under: Social Commentary

July 5, 2014

U.S. independence day … how’s that going?

Today is July 5, 2014.

Yesterday was July 4th, U.S. independence day. The annual big day when the U.S. celebrates its specialness, its greatness – even more than the U.S. does seemingly every day every year always.

But some people asked us to reflect, not just celebrate. Some writers challenged us all, and challenge us regularly . . . To truly examine. To question. To acknowledge – and fight – racism, sexism, poverty, corporate power, the 99% and the 1%.

If one is really and truly American… Then maybe U.S. independence day should be a bit more about self-examination and evaluation… Just a bit more of that than celebration.

Sixty-Five Million Left Out of July 4th Celebration by Bill Quigley

“The greatest time bomb ever laid beneath history was laid 238 years ago today.” Our Most Important Struggle Remains: “To Be Self Evident.”

“How do we restore the sense that it’s still terrific to be Amerian?” Celebrate the Revolution – And Keep It Going by Bill Moyers and Bernard Weisberger

It’s getting worse, not better.

Filed under: Social Commentary

June 2, 2014

Misogyny and the United States

How weird. Within 60 seconds of posting this morning’s blog – “Racism and the United States” – I read Charles Blow’s “Yes, All Men,” in the New York Times.

“Yes, All Men” motivated me to write this companion piece to my blog “Racism and the United States.” “Misogyny and the United States” is a good partner for “Racism and the United States.” And we can add in “Homophobia and the United States,” too. I blog about these various items fairly regularly. And I speak up when I present and I write.

So here goes…. Again and forever until we have equity for all!

“Sexism” … A bit of an easier word than “misogyny.” But are they different? Not in action. Socialized and institutionalized behaviors. Even women can be misogynistic.

Check out Wikipedia:
Sociologist Allan G. Johnson says, “misogyny is a cultural attitude of hatred for females because they are female…misogyny…is a central part of sexist prejudice and ideology and, as such, is an important basis for the oppression of females in male-dominated societies… Misogyny functions as an ideology or belief system that has accompanied patriarchal, or male-dominated societies for thousands of years and continues to place women in subordinate positions with limited access to power and decision making.”

Yes, that still happens. Yes, the U.S. is that kind of society. Did you know that the U.S. has a larger gender gap than 22 other countries? Did you know that the U.S. ranks 84th in the world in the number of women in elective office at the federal level? (We used to rank 82nd.)

The gender gap. Sexism. Misogyny. In the U.S. In many countries. In various religions. Part of various political philosophies.

“I believe it’s very important for everyone to be a feminist.” That’s what Mr. Blow’s son said to him… And that’s how Blow begins his op-ed piece today.

Blow continues with: “Yes, we should all be feminists, but too often we believe that the plight of the oppressed is solely the business of the oppressed, and that the society in which that oppression is born and grows and the role of the oppressors and beneficiaries are all somehow subordinate.”

But that’s just plain wrong, as Blow notes. “Fighting female objectification and discrimination and violence against women isn’t simply the job of women; it must also be the pursuit of men.  Only when men learn to recognize misogyny will we be able to rid the world of it.” (Actually, fighting any oppression is the responsibility of everyone, not just the oppressed, not just the marginalized. White people marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. Straight people march with the LGBTQ community. Men march with women.)

Sexism. Misogyny. It’s real – just like human made climate change is real. Facts prove it. YES, FACTS!

So are you a feminist? I’m so tired of hearing women and men say “Well, I just don’t identify with that word but…” Again, from Wikipedia: “Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates for or supports the rights and equality of women.”

A feminist advocates and supports the rights and equality of women, equity for women. What’s not to like? Cut the simplistic crap and the word games. Are you a feminist? Do you believe in equity – for women and men and people of color and homosexuals and heterosexuals and and… ?

(Guess what I just learned? Charles Fourier, a Utopian Socialist and French philosopher, apparently invented the word “feminism” in 1837. And the terms appeared in France and the Netherlands in 1872.)

By the way, philanthropy and the nonprofit/NGO sector are enmeshed in this same moral dilemma of inequity and power.

Okay. That’s the end of today’s ranting. I’ve got client work to do.



Filed under: Social Commentary

June 2, 2014

Race and the United States

“… [I]t is all About Race, even though it can’t be About Race because nothing ever is About Race.” What a glorious statement from Charles Pierce, Esquire, referencing the U.S. Senate’s vote not to approve Debo Adegbile’s nomination as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.

See this article, “The Senate Democrats Chicken Out in Nominating Debo Adegbile.

How can people think we’re living in a post-racial society … just because we elected a black president?  Racism runs rampant in the U.S. Racism is institutionalized – and we’re socialized.

It’s all About Gender, too …  even thought it can’t be About Gender because nothing ever is About Gender. Hmmm…

In my state, the previous governor, Donald Carcieri appointed 3 (or was it 5?) white men to the judiciary in his first few months in office. Like there are only white men in Rhode Island? Like they’re the most competent? Like who in his administration was aware of or concerned about racism and sexism?

Or how about a board/staff planning retreat that I facilitated. Participants talked about valuing diversity. I asked what they meant. They responded, “things like race and gender.” I responded that the board was composed of all white men – about the same age. The board member participants responded: “But it’s so hard to find competent women and people of color.”

To be NOT about racism, sexism, or homophobia … we actually have to be so aware of those things that we proactively seek to avoid them. There is no such thing as blind justice. We have to see in order to remove injustice.


Filed under: Social Commentary

May 9, 2014

Check your privilege

I just listened to a podcast from CBC (that’s Canadian public radio). The podcast is: Checking Privilege – Movement sprats debate on college campuses (May 8, 2014).

Worth listening to – for everyone. What’s your privilege? Are you comfortable exploring your privilege – in conversation with others?  What’s my privilege? (If you’ve ever heard me speak or read my stuff … you’ve probably heard me say: “I’m a white, well-educated, affluent, heterosexual woman. I win the privilege lottery … except for gender… because it’s a disadvantage to be a woman in every country in the world. But as a white, heterosexual woman – I won the lottery.)

And by the way, what’s the privilege of your donors and your board members? And what are the implications?

My colleague Andrea Hlady, Cohort 17 at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (Masters Program in Philanthropy and Development) – sent me the podcast link yesterday. She knows how the issue of privilege is so dear to my heart and brain.

Thank you Andrea.

And hey out there. Listen to it. Maybe with your staff colleagues. Maybe with your board.

January 19, 2014

Where is the world going?

“Nous allons vers un monde que je n’ai pas voulu, mais c’est le monde vers lequel on va.”

“We are heading for a world that I didn’t want — but that’s the world we’re heading for.”

This comes from the Franco-Canadian television show XIII.

That is certainly how I feel. A world that I don’t want…With the NSA spying on everyone. (And I think Edward Snowden is a hero like Daniel Ellsberg was with the Pentagon Papers.) A world of Tea Party Republicans. A dysfunctional U.S. Congress where the behavior of so many should be illegal and worthy of jail time. A still racist and sexist and homophobic U.S., along with so many other countries. The 1% beating the 99%. Fact deniers. And so much more.

A world that I don’t want. But that’s the world we’re in and heading for even more deeply, I fear.

Thanks to Jean-Claude for telling me this quote. Fab, my cousin and Jean-Claude, her husband, live near us in France.


Filed under: Social Commentary

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