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What is Happening to America?

July 3, 2020

July 3, 2020     Auburn Hills, Michigan USA 

This weekend is usually a joyful celebration in my country. The 4th of July is a national holiday, full of fireworks, flags and patriotism to commemorate the signing, 244 years ago, of America's Declaration of Independence from Britain. 

But I don't feel like celebrating. Instead, I feel a combination of shame, horror and fear. 

Shame, for my country's history of land theft and violence against the Native Americans who called it home for centuries before Christopher Columbus allegedly "discovered" it. 

Shame, for the way this country was built on the backs of slaves and the violence, terrorism and rampant discrimination against African Americans that continues to this day. The USA's moment of reckoning over racism, which has triggered weeks of Black Lives Matter public protests and confrontation with police, is long overdue, with 15-26 Million Americans taking to the streets. 

Horror, for the aggression and violence by police and white citizens toward unarmed black citizens. It's been going on for centuries  But now, incidents such as a Minneapolis police officer pressing the life out of George Floyd for 8 minutes and 46 seconds are being caught on cell phones for all the world to see. It's horrifying. 

The images of black American men being violently beaten, shot in the back or suffocated are horrifying and heartbreaking to watch. But they are only symptoms of the disease that is eating away at America's soul. All you have to do is to consider three recent incidents, now witnessed by millions throughout the world, to know that there is something very wrong with America. 

First, Amy Cooper, a young white woman in New York's Central Park was asked to put her dog on a leash by a black man (who was bird watching). Instead of following the park rules and complying, she called the police and played the desperate damsel telling them, "I'm being threatened by an African American man."  She knew exactly how to play our culture's racial cards. Click here to watch. 

Second, unarmed Black Lives Matter demonstrators marching through a gated community to protest at the home of the mayor of St. Louis, Missouri were threatened with weapons by a husband and wife guarding their mansion.

The third incident occurred less than 10 minutes from my home in Oakland County Michigan. An irate white woman, irritated over a verbal dispute, jumped out of her car with a loaded revolver and pointed it at an unarmed African American woman and her teenage daughter. You have to watch it to believe it.  The woman and her husband have now been arrested and charged with felonious assault.  It could easily have been murder. Click here to watch. 

But most of all I feel FEAR. First, because the COVID-19 pandemic is out of control in the United States with no solution and no national leadership in sight. Partly, because too many Americans are refusing to wear masks, because their distorted idea of freedom is more important than any responsibility to other human beings. 

Finally, I'm fearful for the future of American democracy.

 Our problems didn't begin with our current president. The kindling has been piling up for decades. Our 45th president simply lit the match and continues to fan the flames of hatred and fear. 

I think of my country these days as that of an alcoholic on a self-destructive path. For those who love her, it is paintful to watch the USA stumbling toward rock bottom, as the world observes, in stunned disbelief. 

But here is what gives me hope. Throughout its turbulent history, the United States has re-invented itself several times.  Each re-invention was ignited by crisis. 

My country is in the grips of a health, economic, racial and leadership crisis. I believe there are better days ahead, because we are a resilient nation that has lost its way, not its heart. I guess that's worth a few fireworks. 

Podcast Sources of Pandemic Insight

May 10, 2020

 

As painful and devastating as this pandemic has been for so many, I also regard it as sacred time. Because I am healthy and able to pay my bills, at a time when millions are not, I started by painting my appreciation for the "health care warriors and front line workers" on my fence, which is a great message board. 

For me, these weeks of unprecedented isolation have also been a time to reflect on what I can and will do differently, once we begin to emerge. I live in the metropolitan Detroit area of Michigan, an area that has been one of the hardest-hit "hot spots" in the United States. At this writing, 4,343 Michiganders have died from COVID-19 with nearly 46,000 confirmed cases. We are still under enforced stay-at-home orders until the end of May.  

I have no idea what changes await us. But I know that I plan to drive less, to cook and eat at home more and to increase my focus and energy on helping to address the many gaping holes in humanity's safety nets that this pandemic has revealed. One of the ways I can do that is by helping to amplify wise voices and building awareness for important issues through the two podcasts that I host.   

POWERING UP is my bi-weekly podcast that is, "A cross-generational, cross-cultural conversation about leadership, power and gender." My most recent episodes delve into:  The Dramatic Spike in Domestic Violence during COVID-19; Why the Pandemic is Disproportionately Impacting Minority, At-Risk Communities; and The Disturbing Freefall in Women College Coaches. 

GAME CHANGERS is the monthly podcast that I host for the restigious International Women's Forum. This most recent episode features two formidable women leaders on the farming and distribution front lines of the global food chain, which is in crisis. I hope you'll listen.

And if you know an aspiring podcaster (maybe yourself?!), join Robin Kinnie, Founder of the Motor City Woman studio, and me on Tuesday, May 12 when we'll be sharing tips on honing your interviewing skills. Facebook Live 7pm EST, Motor City Woman. 

I'm just a small ant on this gorgeous planet and often feel as if my efforts to make a positive difference barely matter.

But then Laura Alemán, my Spanish "niece," sent me Resistiré, her country's gorgeous, adopted "hymn against the pandemic"  -- whose refrain translates as: "I will resist, erect in front of everything . . . and although the winds of life blow strong, I'm like the reed that bends, but always stands" --   and I am inspired to keep trying and to keep believing that our human siblings and our planet are worth the fight.  

 Power On! 

Anne's Signature

Mother Earth to Humanity: I Can't Breathe

March 30, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic is a time machine to our future. Not my words, but those of Anne Marie Slaughter, a thinker I respect. She's right, I hope. 

As I write, the world has never felt smaller; more interdependent. The millions of first responders -- nurses, doctors, grocery store stockers, as well as political and business leaders -- need our urgent support. But those of us who are asked to have their backs by staying home and social distancing also have essential work to do. 

While our calendars have been cleared, now is the time to listen to the Message our living planet is sending us. The Earth is just as alive as we are. The oceans, trees, air and creatures on every continent are all fighting for survival. They have been sending us increasingly urgent signals for decades, which we've ignored.  Melting icebergs, disappearing species, the shrinking ozone layer, a continent on fire. 

Human beings, not a virus, are the most dangerous, unchecked threat to all life.  How symbolic that what finally brought normal human activity to a screeching halt was a crisis that attacks our life-giving breath. Regardless of whether you think of the mysterious and sacred life force that sustains us as God or Mother Earth, the urgent message is the same: I CAN'T BREATHE!  

My prayer is that we listen and learn.

As a Baby Boomer, I came of age at the height of the Civil Rights movement and the Second Wave Women's Movement. I was full of urgency to help lead the fight to a new world that tapped the full potential of all human beings. I fully believed I would live to witness a world where the human family would collaborate in ways that would lift us all to a better place. 

Now, as I enter the seventh decade of my life, watching humanity roaring toward a cliff I never imagined, I am stunned at where theses decades have taken us. Once again I am filled with urgency. But it is no longer the urgency of youth.  The fire in my belly is now fueled by the clear understanding that my days and years are numbered. The world as we knew it has gone silent -- forcing us to suddenly change in ways we imagined impossible just weeks ago.  

We will emerge from this crisis. But we cannot return to the normal that was killing us all.  "Are you part of the solution or part of the problem?" my mother frequently asked all of her seven children.  I have no answers, only more questions about what I am supposed to learn from this scary but sacred time. Planet Earth is alive and fighting for her life. I am listening and hope you are too. 

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