September 8, 2013

I’m so angry about what is happening in the U.S.

How about you? How do you feel?

Read this great article by Robert Reich: Syria and the Reality at Home in America. Starving children. Unemployed people who aren’t even looking for jobs anymore because there are no jobs. But let’s spend money on Syria. As Reich says, “a decent society would put people to work….lift the minimum wage….make sure people have enough to eat and places to live and…” And by the way, our deficit – that panic problem – doesn’t exist much. Read this article!

In the United States, it’s easier to get an assault weapon than it is to vote. Read Barbara Streisand’s article. That would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic, so terrifying, so appalling. Just imagine: “Since the beginning of 2011, 19 states have passed 25 laws and two executive actions restricting voting.” By the way, we owe a special thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court for allowing this to happen.

And if you think that the financial crash – caused by the ego and greed of Wall Street and its various playmates – is past, with no worry for the future… Well, wow. That’s a fantasy world. Aided and abetted by that very same street and a weak U.S. Congress and a weak U.S. Administration. Just check out this article from Matt Taibii.

And if you really want to be amazed and terrorized and stunned – and fall out of your chair laughing at the irony… Read this marvelous “Dear Stupid, Stupid, NSA” by David Meyer of Business Week. Ah, the irony.

Wow. When will we learn? When will we stop misbehaving? When will we enforce consequences? When will we launch preventative measures? When will we focus on what is most important? When will we just…

Hell, I don’t know.

Filed under: Social Commentary

June 26, 2013

Vile happenings in my country, the good ol’ US of A

I’m sitting here in my hotel room in Paris. I’m presenting at the French fundraising conference. Always interesting to be outside the U.S., talking with new people, appreciating different cultures, honoring the beauty and reality that people experience life differently.

Yes, people experience life differently – based on culture and race/ethnicity,  gender,  sexual orientation,  physical ability, faith, socioeconomic status, etc. All that produces discrimination. Every country has some form of discrimination. And we certainly have lots of discrimination in the U.S. So government has a significant role in ensuring that this discrimination is prohibited and compensated for.

But in the U.S., mostly the guys win. And the whites mostly win. And so do the heterosexuals.

I want to yell and scream and cry at the infamy – yes infamy of the U.S. Supreme Court and Texas and New York and and and … Shame on you. Shame on you.

In just one U.S. week – several actions will live on in infamy for many of us:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a vital portion of the Voting Rights Act. Essentially because it is old- fashioned. “Gosh,” said 4 white guys and a black guy, “U.S. voting districts don’t try to make it hard for people of color to vote. Gosh. Not any more.” Well that’s untrue. 
  • New York State did not adopt a bill of rights for women. Wisely proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Includes a woman’s right to choose in NY state – even if the  U.S. Supreme Court (mostly men) strikes down Roe versus Wade.
  • And Texas. Well, there is always Texas. Another law against women. But a female legislator filibustered for 11 hours. And citizens demonstrated. And maybe (or maybe not) the law didn’t get passed through the roll-call vote before the legislative session ended. So maybe the rights of women won. But what a shame that the bill was proposed and required a filibuster in the first place!

And that’s not the end for this infamous week and these infamous men (and some women in the state legislatures): The U.S. Supreme Court compromised affirmative action. “Because there’s just not enough discrimination against people of color and women to warrant any special consideration anymore.” It’s not as if affirmative action (and that silly little part of the Voting Rights Act) made any difference at all in these past decades. Wow.

Apparently, since we elect women to the U.S. Congress and state legislatures (a paltry few compared to dozens of other countries) – and because we elected a black president – well, that means that racism and sexism aren’t very powerful in the U.S. anymore. And birth control and the right to choose for women… Well, that just isn’t that important.

There’s one more opportunity for the U.S. Supreme Court to make this one hell of a big week: marriage equality. The Supremes still have that one to decide.

I am so angry. I am so disappointed. I am so tired of fighting for basic human rights for people of color and women and homosexuals. But fight I will. And so will so many many many others.

Filed under: Social Commentary

May 1, 2013

Rallying for the rights of women

In April, I spent several days at the Planned Parenthood Federation conference in Washington, D.C. What a marvelous experience.

President Obama joined us and spoke. The only sitting president to have done so. His remarks remind us all of basic human rights for women.

At the conference, I met women and men who provide excellent healthcare around the United States…from breast exams to birth control, testing for sexually transmitted infections, quality science-based education for youth, and abortions.

Over and over, research proves that Americans want comprehensive sex education. Over and over, research proves that Americans want to plan their families and know the full range of options. Over and over, research proves that when women control their own sexuality – including choosing when to have children – families are stronger economically.

And Planned Parenthood is always here…celebrating 100 years in 2016! Planned Parenthood cares no matter what.

Did you know that it was clergy of many faiths who joined up with Planned Parenthood back in 1916 to help women? Yes, the clergy. And at the PPFA conference, various clergy speakers said such beautiful things:

  • Religious freedom does not mean stopping others from choosing. Government cannot privilege one religion over another. (And here’s my comment: The conservative, fundamentalist religions promote laws – government intervention – from birth control to marriage equality. I thought we had a separation of church and state in the U.S.)
  • The New Testament talks about the beauty of sexuality and spirituality. We must exercise our own sexuality wisely. And, because life is previous, let’s not create it carelessly.
  • For people of faith, it’s time to reclaim churches, mosques, and synagogues. It’s time to take back god from the fundamentalists.

And here’s one of my favorite statements from a religious leader speaking at PPFA: Our society – each of us – must commit to the moral agency of women.

So why are we fighting this battle again?! And the battle seems more aggressive and vicious. State by state, pockets of elected officials and radical citizens are adopting laws that reduce women’s rights. State by state, fundamentalist officials and citizens seek to control my life and yours.

A colleague said to me this week, “This is the last breath of a dying culture.” Fighting against birth control and abortion (and fair pay and so much more) is an attack against the basic civil rights of women. Fighting against marriage equality is an attack against the basic civil rights of our gay and lesbian community members.

The last breath of a dying culture. A culture that still believes in patriarchy. A culture that believes in passé traditions like male dominance, white supremacy, heterosexual primacy. An old fashioned culture with old fashioned beliefs that just don’t work anymore. And these are beliefs that the majority of Americans do not accept.

That’s right, the majority of Americans support birth control and access to abortion, equal pay for women, no more patriarchy, marriage equality. Our younger community members have no problem with interracial marriage and life partners.

But that old culture…it’s gasping. The vicious attacks – the viciousness of the attacks – is a last gasp. Know that, you who fight so viciously. Know that you are in the last throes of an old culture. You are losing. The rest of us will win.

Martin Luther King Jr. was right. That the arc of justice – while moving painfully slowly sometimes – does move towards justice.

Basic human rights for women will triumph. Basic human rights for people of color will triumph. Basic human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered friends and neighbors will triumph.

Always, there will be people and movements that will fight for social justice.  Planned Parenthood is one of them. We provide extaordinary healthcare. And we fight for social justice. Forever.

Filed under: Social Commentary

March 16, 2013

The power of vulnerability – for life and fundraising and…

This is an amazing video. For your personal and professional life and for my personal and professional life. I collected so many important tidbits… About the purpose of research. About the the concept of connection … which is, of course, relationship building … which is an essential part of fundraising and board development and nonprofit management and life.

Ms. Brené Brown describes herself as a research storyteller. She studies vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. Her work has been featured on PBS, NPR, and CNN.

Her research and her stories can help us understand how and why people do or don’t connect. Her research and stories can help us as human beings – which helps us as professionals, which helps us as fundraisers… By the way, you’ll find a number of YouTube videos from Ms. Brown.

Filed under: Resources / Research

January 18, 2013

I get so angry that I rant and rave…

Sexism: I’m the founder of the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island…leveling the playing field for women and girls. Despite progress, it’s still a disadvantage to be a woman in every country in the world, including the United States. In fact, the most gender equitable country in the world is Iceland.

Check out the commentary on this article, “11 Qualities of a Perfect Woman.”  Check out the film “Miss Representation,” which explores how the media’s misrepresentations of women produce underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence. Read Gail Collins’ 01-10-13 column in the New York Times, “The Woes of Roe.” Ask yourself – and your legislators – “What Happened to the Violence Against Women Act?”

All this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. We have to keep fighting to level the playing field for women and girls. It’s called social justice and basic human rights!

Gun control: I am so tired of guns in the U.S. I’m so tired of the ranting and raving about “protecting myself” so I’m gonna have a gun. And if everyone had had a gun in the Aurora cinema, everyone could have stopped that guy. Really? With all your training from the NRA, you could distinguish the good guys and the bad guy? Or would there be some innocents shot, too?

I subscribe to Reader Supported News, a great compiler of news articles in the U.S. and elsewhere. Check out Juan Cole’s article “Gun Murders vs. Terrorism by the Numbers.” Read Bill Moyers’ commentary about guns. Read Robert Reich’s article “Debt Ceiling and Guns, “Using Presidential Authority.” Go for it even more, Mr. President! How about Tom Engelhardt’s article “The Pentagon as a Global NRA.” By the way, apparently the NRA was not always so ridiculous about gun control. Check out Jill Lepore’s article in The New Yorker, “Battleground America.”

Always remember, the U.S. spends something like 7 times more money on defense than multiple other countries combined. Golly gosh… I am so pleased that we can kill so many more people so many times – and destroy entire countries and societies. Thank heavens we can! Yippee!

By the way, reading Cole’s article reminds me: how about ending this stupid war on terror. Wars are supposed to have an end. Enough with the war. Terrorism won’t end. It’s with us forever. Consider it a police action. And enough with the absurd theatre of airport security and screening. What a bunch of crap. Let’s not forget “The Colossal Blunder That is the Iraq War.”

And let’s end another war, the war against drugs. Oh please. All the research says that the war on drugs didn’t work, isn’t working, doesn’t work, and won’t work. How ironic is it that the U.S. provides the guns (gun control anyone?) for the cartels to fight the war for drugs? And U.S. prisons are full of marijuana smokers or small sellers. And most of them are not white. Racism anyone? By the way, why is President Obama so bothered by decriminalizing marijuana? Read Naomi Wolf’s article in the U.K.’s Guardian.

One final thought…all the secrecy about security. Check out this RSN article by Daniel Ellsberg, “Secrecy and National Security Whistleblowing.” Another by the way: Daniel Ellsberg is one of my heroes.

Okay, it’s Friday night. Close to 8 p.m. in my office and home. I’m stopping now. I’m thinking of dinner and some frivolous movie. Family time. Personal time. And since I’ve ranted and raved in this blog, maybe I won’t do that with Tom this evening.

Please can we fight for change? This is the war need to fight – here at home…the fight for social justice…the war against the war against women…racism…the fight to protect without guns…and so much more.


Filed under: Social Commentary

July 14, 2012

Hard-hitting communications

And talking about the hard stuff

Visit “Racism: Ignore it and it won’t go away…. The Un-Fair Campaign was developed to look at racism and to encourage a community dialogue about the causes and solutions.” Can you talk about this with your colleagues at work? How about with the board? If we don’t talk, we have no chance.

Visit “The Well Written Woman.” Some powerful headlines. Some great insights. Check this out.

Filed under: Social Commentary

June 17, 2012

Watch this film about Civil Rights

In elementary school, high school, again and again?

I’m late to the viewing: The PBS series on the African-American Civil Rights Movement, Eyes on the Prize. Archival footage, interviews. So much is there. The Montgomery bus boycott and James Meredith and the University of Mississippi. The Freedom Riders, the March to Selma, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Black Panther Party. SNCC and James Forman and James Lewis and Muhammad Ali.

Sometimes we forget our history. Sometimes we never really learned it. I remember SNCC in the Vietnam War. My war. I wasn’t sufficiently familiar with its role in the Civil Rights Movement.

This statement from James Forman, SNCC leader, really hit me hard: “If we can’t sit at the table [of democracy], let’s knock the fucking legs off.” Yes. Sometimes, the gradual approach and patience just don’t work so well.

Watch this documentary series with your children and grandchildren. Help them see and learn and understand. Watch it for yourself. To see and learn and understand – and remember, always. It’s not to late.

Filed under: Social Commentary

September 25, 2011

Do you know what day today is?


I was 9 years old in 1957. I lived in France part of that year. I was going to l’Ecole des Baumettes in Nice, my father’s hometown.

On September 25, in Little Rock, Arkansas, 300 U.S. Army troops stood guard as 9 black children were escorted to Central High School. Why the Army troops? Because just a few days before, unruly white crowds had forced the children to withdraw. But on September 25, those kids went to school. Finally, the white people couldn’t stop them.

(Thanks to the New York Times for reminding us every day what happened.)

Filed under: Social Commentary

June 7, 2009

Are you color-blind?

Is that the best approach?

Guess what? The more color-blind a group or organization or corporation claims to be – the more racial bias minority employees experience. So says research from Plaut, Thomas, and Goren. (“Is Multiculturalism or Color Blindness Better for Minorities,” Psychological Science, 20 (4), 2009).

Check out the article “Color Blindness Is Shortsighted” in summer 2009 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review. Ignoring things — like race / ethnicity, gender, age, etc. — doesn’t make things better or more equitable. Instead, “color blindness cloaks dfference like the emperor’s new clothes: Everyone can see that race and ethnicity influence people, but no one can talk about it.”

Ignoring issues or differences or conflicts just doesn’t help. Recognizing and talking about issues does help. Feeling sufficiently comfortable and respected and welcome to raise issues … talk about the tough stuff … makes a difference. Acknowledging and celebrating differences … not blindness … works.

(Why is this a Pet Peeve, you wonder? Because I’m tired of “blindness,” which I see as code for avoiding and ignoring.”

Filed under: Leadership

April 29, 2009

Talking about tough stuff like race and class

Why is this so difficult?

Why are we so uncomfortable talking about gender issues, issues of race / ethnicity, sexual orientation, and class?

Wait a minute. Who is uncomfortable talking about these issues? I suspect the disenfranchised and marginalized are not that uncomfortable. I think it’s the “dominant” or “privileged” that find these conversations so uncomfortable.

I’m not uncomfortable talking about gender bias. I’m a woman. I’m part of the marginalized group. I’m ready, willing and want to talk with men about their mostly unearned and invisible privilege. I don’t want to be impolite or attack. But we have to talk about this stuff. And men don’t need to feel threatened. We’re socialized into these norms. And we won’t make change unless we talk about them. But men often are uncomfortable in these discussions.

Barack Obama chose to talk about race / ethnicity in public. But too many white people are uncomfortable talking about race / ethnicity. Too many heterosexuals are discomforted if the talk turns to sexual orientation.

How unfair that we make the disenfranchised raise the issues and lead the dialogue. Just another example of privilege and power trumping the marginalized.

Years ago, I was presenting a workshop to a full room at the AFP International Conference. I was talking about unearned and invisible privilege, and social injustice. I asked the audience: “What does privilege look like?” I didn’t have a chance to start my next sentence and say “Privilege looks like me, Simone Joyaux.” (And then I have this whole spiel I recite.)

Because as soon as I asked what privilege looks like, one of the audience members stood. I thought he had a question so I invited him to speak. His response: “You asked what privilege looks like and it looks like me. I’m a white man.”

He said it first. He had the courage to stand up and show what privilege looks like. And then I joined him. I said: “I’m a white, heterosexual, well-educated, affluent woman. I win, except for my gender.”

You know who you are, sir. We spoke at the end of the session. Thank you again and again for standing up in the room – with all the privilege – and owning your own. Thank you.

If we the privileged don’t have the self-awareness and courage to stand up and speak out, shame on us. How dare we expect the marginalized to do this work.

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