Microsoft wants to help put disabled people on equal footing

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(Photo credit: Microsoft)

(From CNET) — My first brush with accessibility tech was with closed captioning.
Like most people, I took it for granted and mostly ignored it as a setting on my TV. But one day, when I was fed up pausing my movie for the billionth time because an ambulance was blaring down our street, I decided to turn it on. Over time, it changed the way I watch TV — to the point where I miss it when it’s not there.

This is the ideal for people like Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft’s head of accessibility. She doesn’t just want the world to accommodate people with disabilities, she wants technology just to get better, and as a result benefit disabled people. (read more)

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The sentiment of this essay is earnest in its intent. Members of the disabled community are benefiting greatly from an accessibility technology. However, it also is somewhat problematic. The point of contention relates to messaging of the last sentence above. It tends to minimize the real time need for nondisabled folks to focus on persons who are disabled. Albeit aspirational in tone, the statement suggests accessibility game controller technology should be a mere byproduct of overall design enhancement for everyone rather than a specific human rights issue for persons with disabilities. A minor point? Not when it comes to anti-oppression work. The Beyond Diversity Resource Center believes specific emphasis must be directed at mechanisms and conditions that contribute to both the achievements and disappointments that cause and affect disparities in our society.

(Click here to learn more)

5 Black Women Were Told to Golf Faster. Then the Club Called the Police.

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(photo credit: Myneca Ojo, via Facebook) 

(New York Times) – What started out as a relaxing day at a Pennsylvania golf course turned into an ugly confrontation between the white men who run the club and five black women who were playing there.

It had echoes of other recent incidents, at a Starbucks in Philadelphia and a Waffle House in Alabama, in which black customers found themselves in racially charged disputes. Once again, the police were summoned. Once again, a video spread widely on social media and drew national attention.

On Saturday in a largely white suburban community in Dover Township, York County, the women began playing at Grandview Golf Club before being told that they were moving too slowly…

(Read more)

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A disturbing yet nonetheless relevant aspect to this story is that police were called. It was a seemingly disproportionate reaction to a nonviolent disagreement over an organizational policy, not a criminal act. Fueled by bias and other factors, systemic oppression perpetuates conditions through which patterns of race and gender discrimination, as well as other forms of identity discrimination persist. Diversity climate studies are an essential step in understanding the inherent strengths an organization has on diversity issues and how those strengths can be leveraged to make further improvements.

Learn more…

Op-Ed: The Institutional Sexism in Cycling Needs to End

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(From Outside) — Former pro road rider Iris Slappendel founded the first labor union for women cyclists with one goal: getting team managers, sponsors, and riders to treat male and female cyclists with equal respect, ’cause that sure isn’t happening now.

(Read more)

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Institutional discrimination based on gender continues to persist. This, despite governmental policies and laws firmly in place meant to eradicate it. Much of it is rooted in bias that is largely culture driven, although some of it occurs as a result of unconscious attitudes and behaviors. In either case, change continues to be needed.

Click here to learn more about gender inequities, how to recognize them and what to do when you encounter them.

 

Men Are Responsible for Mass Shootings

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AR15(From harpersbazaar.com) — Shootings, whether they’re in Parkland, Orlando, Las Vegas or Sutherland Springs, all tend have one thing in common. It’s not that they’re done by mentally ill people (there is no true connection between people with a mental health diagnosis and mass shootings, according to experts), or that they’re…

Click here to read more.

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Discrimination against persons with a disability is an age old problem. The latest cascade of scapegoating them involve the mass shootings happening across our country. In fact, persons with a mental disability are no more likely to be violent than nondisabled people. Yet society engages regularly in knee-jerk blaming of violent actions as a mental health issue – particularly when the perpetrator is a white male. This false narrative fuels oppressive ways of thinking about mental health and those with disabilities.

Click here to learn more about systemic oppression, how to recognize it, how it affects us, and how to interrupt it.

How East and West Think in Profoundly Different Ways

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(From the BBC) – Psychologists are uncovering the surprising influence of geography on our reasoning, behavior, and sense of self.

Until recently, scientists had largely ignored the global diversity of thinking. In 2010, an influential article in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences reported that the vast majority of psychological subjects had been “western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic”, or ‘Weird’ for short. Nearly 70% were American, and most were undergraduate students hoping to gain pocket money or course credits by giving up their time to take part in these experiments.

The tacit assumption had been that this select group of people could represent universal truths about human nature – that all people are basically the same. If that were true, the Western bias would have been unimportant. Yet the small number of available studies which had examined people from other cultures would suggest that this is far from the case.”

Click here to read more

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When it comes to cultural identity and difference, bias plays a huge role – not just in how you perceive others, but also how you view yourself and those like you. This cultural bias is especially problematic when one limits oneself to interacting only with people who think and look like you. It creates a false sense of understanding rooted in a very limited experience. There are all sorts of barriers that contribute to these conditions. The above article highlights the very real issue that arises as a result of geographic barriers. Towering mountains, expansive oceans and vast distances all contribute to groups of people being separated. In such cases, “truth” becomes a real matter of perspective that is largely driven by experiences within that group. Such matters of truth are also apparent closer to home, even within the same city or community.

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RNC sides with Trump ban of transgender people in military

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(From the Chicago Tribune) — The Republican National Committee is siding with President Donald Trump on his order to bar transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military.

Click here to read more.

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Intolerance and oppression walk hand in hand. Transgender soldiers have served in the military with distinction for generations. The United States Armed Forces is an institution whose systems, though flawed, have steadily pushed the boundaries of acceptance (albeit slowly), and often paved the way for women, gay males and females, African Americans and other persons of color to serve and rise through the ranks. In turn, its policies have trickled into nonmilitary employment sectors. Interrupting attempts to walk back the freedom and equitable treatment of oppressed groups of people through training and education is Job One of the Beyond Diversity Resource Center.

To learn more click here.

Beyoncé’s father takes on ‘colorism’: He dated her mother because he thought she was white

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(Mathew Knowles and Tina Knowles-Lawson at a fashion show in Beverly Hills, Calif., in Feb. 2007. [Matt Sayles/AP])

(From the Washington Post) — Racism is a common topic in the mainstream media. But an insidious cousin, colorism, gets less attention. Novelist Alice Walker defined colorism an 1982 essay as “prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their color.” In other words, it’s the concept of prejudice within a race against someone because of their skin tone. It’s a particularly important and controversial topic in the…

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The concept of colorism dates back as far as chattel slavery in the United States, with its earliest origins emerging as a grotesque outcome of white slave owner rape. As the article suggests, same-race prejudice evolved side by side with racism. It was a learned phenomenon, passed down through the generations and fueled by persistent external forces such as the Black Codes, Jim Crow statutes, and stereotypic misrepresentations of African Americans in media. It was also marked by a condition defined by the Beyond Diversity Resource Center and others as internalized racial oppression. Understanding its often self-defeating mechanisms, both conscious and unconscious, require education, empathy and deep reflection. Yet much like racism is in the white community, colorism among African Americans is a painful and often taboo topic. Addressing and interrupting colorism requires methods of critical exploration on the subject that must be tempered with brave compassion.

Learn more here

Disabled athletes make full-court press at SDSU

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(From the San Diego Union-Tribune) — Akheel Whitehead is proud to have earned 12th place in the long jump at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. But to train for the games, the 22-year-old San Diego State University alumnus had to look off campus for coaching and support. Now, he’s hoping to change the game for other disabled athletes who…

To read more click here

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This article reports on efforts to promote the equitable inclusion of everyone in college athletics, including those who may be disabled. And rightly so. Equity is about more than skin color. Its fabric extends to nearly all dimensions related to human identity. It is especially relevant at a systems level, particularly when there exists a dominant identity (i.e., male, white, straight, etc.) that inevitably expresses its “norms” in injurious ways. Whether this happens consciously or unconsciously to a non-dominant group, the outcome is similar: oppression. Identities involving physical and mental ability are no exception. In fact, ableism is one of the most invisible forms of oppression that exist. This makes it a center point for examination. Because of a general lack of awareness (or worse, denial) of even the most common issues associated with persons who have different abilities, it’s critical to acknowledge that ableism is real. Painting persons with a disability in just one dimension is common among even the most well-meaning nondisabled person. It reinforces discrimination and speaks to a dreadful bias that limits the incredible potential of tens of millions of people – approximately one in five, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

Learn more at Beyond Diversity

 

New Study: Music Industry’s Greatest Gender Disparity is Behind the Scenes

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(From Rolling Stone)–A new study by the University of California – Annenberg School of Journalism finds that over the last six years, women have been vastly underrepresented in popular music. Between 2012 and 2017, 1,239 artists worked on 600 songs. Only about one-fifth of this group were female, the study finds. And the culprit, the findings suggest, may be in the recording studio.

To read more, click here.

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This is nothing new for those who work in the music industry. Gender disparities behind the scenes have been operating for decades, if not entire generations. Age old business foils, such as nepotism, cronyism and the good ol’ boy network is just part of the problem. When it comes to workplace discrimination for woman, sexism is a rampant. Confronting stereotypes and biases, as well as sexual assaults and emotional violence is paramount. But there’s no easy fix to these patterns of oppression.

Learn more at the Beyond Diversity Resource Center.

It’s up to the Pentagon to set things right for transgender service members

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(From the Washington Post) — As of Jan. 1, the United States military finally began accepting transgender recruits. That’s despite President Trump’s tweets over the summer demanding a ban on all military service by transgender Americans. Barred multiple times by federal judges from implementing the president’s order, the…

To read more click here:

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A salient issue in this opinion piece not central to the author’s point, yet is glaring in its magnitude, is the reality of bias and how it plays out. Bias exists in all of us. It can operate at both a conscious and unconscious level. Some biases are harmless (i.e., favorite color or vacation location, dislike of winter or chocolate ice cream, etc.). It is when bias operates without our awareness that it is particularly problematic — especially when it comes to perceiving people who are different than one’s self. Its deleterious effects can range from distasteful prejudicial thoughts to discriminatory action or inaction against an individual or group of people. Both are toxic. With respect to the issue of military service and other professional vocations, personal bias in the workplace is unproductive and limits human resource capacity. It’s the same in the education sector. Unhealthy forms of bias thrives on negative stereotype narratives, which are reinforced through self-fulfilling prophecy. Bias (especially the unconscious kind) can trick us into believing our opinion is fact, no matter the evidence to the contrary. This distorted mental storytelling diminishes our ability to see others different from us as they truly are: fully formed human beings. And it begs the question, how do we work on something that can operate outside of our conscious awareness? Here are three concrete ways: 1.) Talk about it; 2.) Move with compassion; 3.)  Practice empathy.

Learn more at the Beyond Diversity Resource Center

The Heartbeat of Racism Is Denial

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(Photo: Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

(From the New York Times) — When our reality is too ugly, we deny reality. It is too painful to look at. Reality is too hard to accept.

Mental health experts routinely say that denial is among the most common defense mechanisms. Denial is how the person defends his superior sense of self, her racially unequal society.

Denial is how America defends itself as superior to “shithole countries” in Africa and elsewhere, as President Trump

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This essay highlights one of Beyond Diversity‘s tenants for the anti-oppression work it engages in. That is, the ability to admit to being racist, sexist, ableist or which ever -ism applies. Reflexive denials inescapably fuel the very thing that is being denied, which in turn enables systematic oppression to woefully persist.

 

Black NFL Coaches Appear Much More Likely To Be Fired With A Winning Record

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(From Forbes) — In the history of the NFL, there have only been 17 black head coaches who have coached at least one entire season (minimum 16 games) with a team. But four of these — or 23.5% — were fired from winning teams.

To read more click here

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This article illustrates the destructive force of unconscious bias, which is the bane of an open society. It stifles progress and opportunities for those in the minority. What’s worse, it is a precursor to bigotry. Unconscious bias by definition is invisible, and can be a hard pill to swallow for many who consider themselves free of racist tendencies. Yet it is there. And it is ever present – embedded in all forms of oppression and prejudice. How do you combat it? At Beyond Diversity, we believe doing your own work is essential. It begins by admitting unconscious bias lurks within you. Then open a book on the subject. When you’re ready, take a course or enroll in a workshop. In the end, you’ll be glad you did. And be better for it.  

New York City Subways A Hurdle For Disabled Riders

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(From National Public Radio) — A round of renovations on New York City subway stations should make the system more wheelchair accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Critics say officials seem to be ignoring the law.

Click here for the full report.

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This story illustrates the endless struggles people who are disabled must face. They live in a world that is essentially oblivious to the lack of access nondisabled people take for granted. This, despite laws and policies in place. Two of the culprits: a lack of genuine empathy and absence of awareness – both enable oppression of the disabled to fester throughout our culture. Learn more at Beyond Diversity.

 

10 things we learned about gender issues in the U.S. in 2017

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(From the Pew Research Center) — Allegations about sexual misconduct by prominent men in politics, entertainment, media and other industries have reverberated across the United States in recent months, drawing attention to issues of gender equality in the workplace and in broader American society. As 2017 comes to a close, here are 10 key findings about gender issues that are in the news today, drawn from Pew Research Center surveys conducted over the course of the year.

Click here to read more.

Racism and Intolerance Alive and Well Among Our Youth

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                      (Credit: Noe Hernandez/Battle Creek Enquirer)

(From the Battle Creek Enquirer) — Audra Granger says her 15-year-old son was harassed, cyber bullied and assaulted twice by his Harper Creek High School classmates for taking a stand against hatred toward black people. It got bad enough that, within about a week, she transferred him…

To read more click here

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This story illustrates just how much racism continues to permeate our society. Even as the United States continues to coalesce into a blended society, in too many regions and communities, the scourge of oppression remains unacceptably high. Youth are especially susceptible – both as oppressors and the oppressed. That’s because of a sore lack of perspective; they just don’t know this nation’s complete, unvarnished history. Learn more about racial oppression and what you can do about it at Beyond Diversity.

When Bias Corrupts Critical Thinking

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(Video from Vice News) —

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Many of the people in this clip from a broader HBO report are no doubt good, well meaning Americans. However, where they fall short is by not actually testing the statements they’re making and looking only through their own personal lens’ of life. Politics aside, and with respect to their comments on African Americans, if they paused to actually check their assumptions, they no doubt would have to reevaluate their perceptions about the state of race relations. Learn more about unconscious bias at Beyond Diversity.

Women Cite a History of Sexism in State Capitol

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“When our population is much more than 10 percent, why do we have only 10 percent of the senators as women?” — Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, Mich.

(From Deadline Detroit) — With females accounting for more than half the population, oppressive acts of sexism remains a persistent issue among state legislatures. At its center is the stereotyping of gender roles and according to many, it’s not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue.

(To read more, click here.)

 

 

Native American demonstrators push back against oppressive questioning by reporters

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(Credit: Global News) – Indigenous demonstrators who led a protest and erected a teepee on Parliament Hill on Wednesday held a press conference this morning, in which they accused media of being disrespectful.

Sensational headline aside, this video clip illustrates how misunderstanding cultural ways of being and unconscious oppressive language can interrupt conversations. Learn more at Beyond Diversity.

 

America’s Deep Rift on Gender Issues

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(From: The Atlantic) – The headline on the big new gender survey from the Pew Research Center begins, “On Gender Differences, No Consensus”— and that could have been the report’s entire conclusion, too. The survey, released today, reveals deep divides in Americans’ perspectives on gender norms, including by political affiliation.

To read more, click here.

Feminist Writers Retire Because of Abuse

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Feminist writers, particularly those who criticize sexism in the video game world, have suffered nasty public abuse. Threats, fake sex ads in their names, and Twitter harassment are just some of the devices that have forced some into silence.

To read the Washington Post article, click here.

New York City Legalizes Sex Change On Birth Certificate Without Surgery

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Curtis M. Wong of The Huffington Post reports: “Members of NYC’s transgender community and advocates are praising the city council’s vote to pass legislation, making it easier for residents to correct the sex designation on their birth certificates without surgery.” To read more, click here.

“Sexual Preference” Or “Sexual Orientation?”

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Jesse Bering in the website, The State of the Universe, states: “There are some phrases that should just be done away with, but over time they are used and heard so routinely that we develop a sort of soft spot for them and can’t bear the thought of chopping off their heads. The term ‘sexual preference’—at least when it’s used interchangeably with ‘sexual orientation’—is one of these seemingly harmless phrases whose cultural execution…is long overdue.” He goes on to point out “the obvious fact that sexual orientation is not a choice….” To read more, click here.

Why It’s So Hard For Whites To Understand Ferguson

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Robert P. Jones in The Atlantic states: “One reason for the racial divide over Michael Brown’s death is that white Americans tend to talk mostly to other white people.” He goes on to say: “The shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri…has snapped the issue of race into national focus…causing many Americans to question just how far racial equality and race relations have come, even in an era of a black president and a black attorney general.” To read more, click here.

The Red Carpet Look

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On the website, RadioTimes, Sarah Millican, a comedian, said, “A funny thing happens when female celebrities hit the red carpet: The world tends to forget that they are actual human beings, with feelings and everything.”

She continues: “I thought I had been invited to such an illustrious event because I am good at my job. Putting clothes on is such a small part of my day. They may as well have been criticising me for brushing my teeth differently to them.” To read more, click here.

 

 

 

Chinese Americans In The Deep South

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From the Abagon blog, we learn that Chinese labourers were imported into the American South after the Civil War to replace emancipated black slaves. However, the plan failed as the Chinese left the plantations and moved north. Some of those who stayed in the South became grocers to black sharecroppers, and plantation commissaries gave way to Chinese grocery stores. To read more, click here.

Universal Protections For All

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In her last opening statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council, outgoing High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, stressed  the need for all countries to ensure universal protection of individuals and groups from abuse. To read more, click here.

Disabled Characters In Fiction

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Susan Nussbaum in the Huffington Post states:  “On the whole, I do my best to avoid books and movies with disabled characters in them. Of Mice and Men, Forrest Gump, and A Christmas Carol all make me cringe….All sorts of interesting stories can be written about a disabled character, without the disability ever being mentioned. You know, just like real people.” She adds: “The vast majority of writers who have used disabled characters in their work are not people with disabilities themselves.” As a writer who is herself disabled she believes “there’s an authenticity to characters that are written by someone who embodies the experience of oppression….” To read more, click here.

Anti-Semitism in Greece: How Real?

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w.goldendawngreece-052214In a recent article in The Jewish Daily Forward, Gavin Rabinowitz discusses the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) report that Greece is the most anti-semitic nation in Europe. Reporting on a global anti-Semitism survey Gavin states, “With 69 percent of Greeks espousing anti-Semitic views, according to the survey, Greece was on par with Saudi Arabia, more anti-Semitic than Iran (56 percent) and nearly twice as anti-Semitic as Europe’s second-most anti-Semitic country, France (37 percent). To read more, click here.

Mobility And The Black-White Gap

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Victoria Stilwell of the Bloomberg News reports that Black Americans remain less likely to climb the income ladder and more likely to drop than whites, according to research published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago last month. Thomas Piketty, whose best-selling book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has spurred debate over income inequality, said in an interview that “the whole structure of inequality of income and wealth in the U.S. is very much related to race.” To read more, click here.

Unemployment and Black Resilience

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Rebecca J. Rosen, writing in The Atlantic, points to a compelling theory advanced by Valerie Wilson at the Economic Policy Institute: Black unemployment is high, not only because black joblessness is high, but because black Americans stick to their job search longer. Because the unemployment rate reflects only unemployed people who are actively looking for jobs, the black unemployment rate is inflated. To read more, click here.

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