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Diversity in Action Now

Presented by the Voices United Diversity Committee

Recommended by Jacquie Ford

Educator explains American racism,
why whites are scared of black people

Jane Elliott 
is an American diversity educator. As a schoolteacher, she became known for her "Blue eyes/Brown eyes" exercise, which she first conducted with her third-grade class on April 5, 1968, the day after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Publication in the local newspaper of compositions the children had written about the experience led to much broader media interest.

The classroom exercise was filmed in 1970, becoming the documentary The Eye of the Storm. Invitations to speak and to conduct her exercise eventually led Elliott to give up school teaching and to become a full-time public speaker against discrimination. She has directed the exercise and lectured on its effects in many places throughout the world.  She also has conducted the exercise with college students, as seen in the 2001 documentary The Angry Eye.

Click on the image below to see the video.

From the Diversity Library

Life with the legacy of apartheid:
Born a Crime: Stories from a
South African Childhood

By Trevor Noah

(Note from JANE SCHOLZ:  I listened to the audio
book which is read by Trevor Noah.  It really brings
an immediacy to this powerful story. I've included a
link to a page with the audio sample below. I highly
recommend the audio if you have access.)

Excerpted from "Born a Crime, Trevor Noah's Raw
Account of Life Under Apartheid," Books of the Times

By Michiko Kakutani
New York Times

By turns alarming, sad and funny, his book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah’s family, at life in South Africa under apartheid and the country’s lurching entry into a postapartheid era in the 1990s. Some stories will be familiar to fans who have followed the author’s stand-up act. But his accounts here are less the polished anecdotes of a comedian underscoring the absurdities of life under apartheid, than raw, deeply personal reminiscences about being “half-white, half-black” in a country where his birth “violated any number of laws, statutes and regulations.”

The son of a Xhosa mother and a Swiss-German father, Mr. Noah recalls that “the only time I could be with my father was indoors”: “If we left the house, he’d have to walk across the street from us.” It was dangerous, as a light-skinned child, to be seen with his mother as well: “She would hold my hand or carry me, but if the police showed up she would have to drop me and pretend I wasn’t hers.”

He spent much of his time at home: “I didn’t have any friends. I didn’t know any kids besides my cousins. I wasn’t a lonely kid — I was good at being alone. I’d read books, play with the toy that I had, make up imaginary worlds. I lived inside my head. To this day you can leave me alone for hours and I’m perfectly happy entertaining myself. I have to remember to be with people.”
Read more.                                 
                                                    Listen to a sample.                                                 


Click below to read a sample

This book is available on Amazon.  If you set your Amazon web site to Amazon Smiles,
Voices United can benefit from every purchase you make.

Voices members sweat out voting rights in Austin
Four Voices United members traveled to the State Capitol in Austin for the Poor People's Campaign march in support of voting rights and other progressive issues on July 31.

Members Jane Scholz, Sara Shibley, Margo Ways and Dee Dee Karabetsos drove to Austin late on Friday, July 30, stayed overnight and showed up at the Capitol for a short march around the Texas Capitol building and a rally.

About 3,000 Texans showed up for the march that was organized by the Poor People's Campaign in conjunction with Powered by People, Beto O'Rourke's Texas voting rights non-profit, and dozens of other state and national progressive organizations.

Factoids and quotes to share

"Rather than call people 'slaves,' it is better to use the term 'enslaved people'. They are people first." Submitted by VU member Elaine Kushmaul.

"The only thing that should be divided by color is laundry." Submitted by VU member Jackie Ford.

"I want you to be concerned about your neighbor. Do you know your neighbor? I say your neighbor may live in another neighborhood, city, state, or country; get to know them." -- Mother Theresa.

"We must find a balance between savings lives and saving livelihoods." Thomas Friedman, New York Times.

"Learn how to listen actively to other people’s stories and ask questions." President Barack Obama.

"Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced." James Baldwin.

"Challenge your own assumptions." President Barack Obama.

Boley, OK, founded in 1904 on land owned by a black woman, Abigail Burnett McCormick, was one of the largest and most thriving black towns after the Great Migration, when thousands of black people moved north. 

"The cotton empire was built on slave labor, and by 1860 the 182,000 enslaved African Americans in Texas made up nearly a third of the state’s population." University of North Texas Libraries.

"When we believe in someone’s potential and really give them the time and patience, incredible things can happen with just the right tools and people to help them." Christina Hunger, speech and language pathologist, author who taught her dog Stella to talk.

"August Landmesser crossed his arms rather than give the Nazi salute when a crown gathered in Germany in 1936. Colin Kaepernick knelt during the American national anthem in 2016 to call attention to racial inequality and police brutality. Do you see any similarities?"  Submitted by Diversity Committee.

George Floyd Memorial

VU takes 9 minutes, 29 seconds to remember

On Sunday evening, April 25, 2021, Voices members and friends remembered George Floyd and other victims of police brutality with 9 minutes and 29 seconds of silence and light.

Here are some members' memories of the event:

It was the longest 9 minutes and 29 second of my life and it broke my heart, but it wasn’t about me. Tonight was about showing up for our Black sisters and brothers, about standing in unity for accountability in our justice system, and about shining our light, both figuratively and literally, for hope. I will never forget it. 

                                           --- Vicki Shoemaker


When I close my eyes and stand for "9 minute and 29 seconds" I see my husband, my sons, and my Dad's faces...all I can do is pray. 

                                            --- Renee Smith


The problem is not white, black, brown, native, etc. people. It is racism and hate. I hate hate. We need changes. 

                                            --- Jackie Ford