The Significance of Cinco de Mayo—

Well, here it is the 5th of May and I find myself thinking of the significance of Cinco de Mayo in the United States of America and its relationship to colonialism and oppression of the people of the Americas. Many people believe Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico liberating itself from Spanish rule. Actually that is not correct. Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico liberating itself from French incursion and historically relates to the Americas driving back European imperialism.
There is a lesson here for today. We must be mindful that foreign interests still attempt to influence and perhaps negatively impact our nation’s sovereignty. Today we have cyber wars as well as wars on the ground. We must be mindful of both.
Below is a brief excerpt from Wikipedia’s description of the significance of Cinco de Mayo to our culture. It certainly gives us food for thought.
“The Battle of Puebla was significant, both nationally and internationally, for several reasons. First, although considerably outnumbered, the Mexicans defeated a much-better-equipped French army. ‘This battle was significant in that the 4,000 Mexican soldiers were greatly outnumbered by the well-equipped French army of 8,000 that had not been defeated for almost 50 years.’ Second, since the Battle of Puebla, some have argued that no country in the Americas has subsequently been invaded by any other European military force. Historian Justo Sierra has written in his Political Evolution of the Mexican People that, had Mexico not defeated the French in Puebla on May 5, 1862, France would have gone to the aid of the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War and the United States’ destiny would have been different.” Fondly submitted for the Diversity Committee. Have a fine and free summer!

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Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy and Martyrdom

April is a month to celebrate the life of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and remember his martyrdom. The following article from The Washington Post, (January 15, 2018—Peniel E. Joseph) speaks of the meaning and impact of his assassination.
“How Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination changed America 50 years ago and still affects us today—
The assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis on April 4, 1968, continues to reverberate throughout the nation in large and small ways almost 50 years later. In many ways our nation is still trying to recover from King’s death and the opportunities for racial equality, economic justice and peace—what King referred to as a “beloved community”—that seemed to recede in its aftermath.
Fifty years after King’s assassination, struggles for racial equality appear as acute now as they did then, except the juxtapositions between signs of racial progress and the reality of continued racial injustice are even more stark. The “post-racial” symbolism in the election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first black president existed uneasily alongside the harsh reality of mass incarceration of black and brown men and women, boys and girls. Just as 1968 ushered in the last of the long hot summers that began in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963, the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray triggered urban rebellions in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore that recalled the fits of racial unrest that gripped the nation 50 years ago.
King proved to be more than just the civil rights movement’s most important national political mobilizer. Over the course of a dozen tumultuous years, King helped to reimagine America’s collective moral and political imagination, successfully arguing in “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in April 1963 that racial justice comprised one of the fundamental principles of American democracy. He amplified this argument four months later at the March on Washington in a speech whose more radical impulses were quickly overshadowed by an extemporaneous detailing of the “dream” he envisioned for the American nation-state.
By 1968 King’s dreams grew more boldly combative, spurred by a growing realization that America required more than political reforms that confronted democracy’s jagged edges. Armed with a Nobel Peace Prize and an international reputation as a human rights activist, King forcefully—if belatedly, according to some critics—denounced the Vietnam War on April 4, 1967, one year to the day of his assassination.
In the year before his death, King joined with Black Power activist Stokely Carmichael in denouncing the Vietnam War, broke with his friend President Lyndon B. Johnson and began an anti-poverty crusade that linked race, class and gender struggles in creative ways. Near the end of his life the preacher listened more intently to fellow activists than ever, forging alliances with welfare rights activists, farmworkers, Native Americans and poor whites in an effort to fundamentally transform American democracy.
King’s Poor People’s Campaign detoured in Memphis in the spring of 1968 in support of 1,000 black sanitation workers on strike for a living wage. King’s final speeches found him railing against political injustice and economic evils that he traced back to the doorsteps of American empire. He characterized “militarism, racism and materialism” as the greatest threats to humanity, criticized the United States as the “greatest purveyor of violence” in the world, and pleaded with the nation to find its way back to “those great wells of democracy.” America’s most sacredly enduring values, King argued, were found in the sacred texts of the Founding Fathers and best exemplified by society’s underdogs—black sharecroppers, Latino farmworkers, welfare mothers, and schoolchildren who filled jails in opposition to Jim Crow.
One hundred and twenty-five American cities exploded in violence after King’s death. In Washington, Johnson ordered 4,000 Army and National Guard troops to cordon off the White House. Nationally, 70,000 military service members and National Guardsmen were deployed in 29 states. Black Power activists, most notably Carmichael, openly called for political revolution following King’s assassination, citing his death as the end of nonviolent civil disobedience as a strategy for social change.
King’s death sparked even more grief than violence. More than 100 million Americans watched his televised funeral broadcast on the three major networks, and Johnson, who did not attend the funeral, ordered flags on federal buildings flown at half-staff. Every major presidential candidate attended the funeral, including Republican Richard M. Nixon and Democrats Robert F. Kennedy, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, and Eugene McCarthy. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s appearance in Atlanta rekindled memories of the John F. Kennedy assassination almost five years earlier.
Our current age of President Trump, alt-right nationalists and white supremacists marching on college campuses lighting tiki torches in homage to the Ku Klux Klan echoes aspects of 1968, especially the vertiginous racial politics. King proved less successful in institutionalizing his increasingly radical vision of American democracy. His unrelenting critique of white supremacy, war, racism and poverty in 1968 found him reaching a kind of political détente with Black Power radicals. His willingness to use words of fire in support of racial justice echoed aspects of Malcolm X’s fiery denunciation of social injustice even if his methods remained nonviolent.
King’s death did not end the civil rights movement or signal the defeat of efforts to reimagine American democracy on behalf of the poor, disenfranchised, imprisoned and suffering. In fact, these movements proliferated during the first half of the next decade, in many ways institutionalizing themselves into the fabric of liberal democratic capitalism through legislative protections for children’s health insurance, the environment, the mentally and physically challenged, and many other disadvantaged groups.
The assassination did in many ways symbolize the decline of a national recognition of American culpability—and potential remediation—in maintaining systems of power and structures of oppression that King devoted his life to challenging. It is no accident that the rhetoric of “law and order” that Nixon rode into the White House in 1968—one that carried Trump to similar heights in 2016—flourished nationally after the King assassination.
King’s legacy for American democracy in 2018 is Janus-faced. His assassination inspired the passage of fair-housing legislation that, despite having limited enforcement powers, is regarded as the final policy tribute to King’s dream of multiracial democracy. Racial segregation, in housing and public schools, has worsened since King’s death, aided and abetted by local, state zoning laws to the way in which school and voting districts are drawn to tax policy and gentrification—that have distorted the very ideal of racial integration. The year 1968 also marked the early beginnings of the federal government’s entrée into national crime policy, one that diverted billions of dollars away from anti-poverty, social welfare, and educational programs to systems of punishment aimed at containing, surveilling and locking up some of the most impoverished black and brown communities in the nation.
King’s ultimate act of defiance, his ability to speak truth to power at the cost of his reputation and ultimately his life, offers another side of his legacy, one that social justice activists the world over have embraced. The Black Lives Matter Movement’s efforts to articulate an “intersectional” analysis of the way in which race, class, gender and sexuality are used to batter some of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens echoes the radical ethos of 1968. “The Whole World is Watching!” activists chanted in Chicago while facing down police brutality outside the Democratic National Convention that year. That slogan illustrated the yawning chasm between the rhetoric of American democracy and its brutal reality.
King’s lasting gift to the nation—what makes 1968 such an important and resonant year for our time—was his unflinching recognition of America’s shortcomings and his persistent belief that the nation could transform itself through collective sacrifice, political struggle and spiritual renewal. In an era before mass incarceration weaponized the criminal justice system, King fully understood the depth and breadth of structural racism and that economic inequality required personal sacrifice and steadfast moral courage. Stalking the world stage like a man on fire, King—who had dined with presidents, European and African royalty, and international dignitaries—perished fighting alongside garbage workers and welfare mothers.
One of the least-quoted lines from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech remains one of its most prescient. “With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.” That sentiment, alongside the grueling work of grass-roots organizing and political mobilization, remains the bedrock secular faith of contemporary movements for social justice that have traveled a long, winding road since 1968 that many hope will ultimately, just as King famously remarked, bend toward justice.

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What Is Diversity?

Today we feel that many caring and aware individuals
wish to practice diversity inclusion and acceptance. But
what is this? The following statement from Queensboro
Community College, gives a fine description of the
complexity of this issue.
“The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It
means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our
individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race,
ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age,
physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It
is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing
environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond
simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of
diversity contained within each individual.
Diversity is a reality created by individuals and groups from a broad
spectrum of demographic and philosophical differences. It is extremely
important to support and protect diversity because by valuing
individuals and groups free from prejudice, and by fostering a climate
where equity and mutual respect are intrinsic.
‘Diversity’ means more than just acknowledging and/or tolerating
difference. Diversity is a set of conscious practices that involve:
• Understanding and appreciating interdependence of humanity,
cultures, and the natural environment.
• Practicing mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are
different from our own.
• Understanding that diversity includes not only ways of being but
also ways of knowing.
• Recognizing that personal, cultural and institutionalized
discrimination creates and sustains privileges for some while
creating and sustaining disadvantages for others.
• Building alliances across differences so that we can work
together to eradicate all forms of discrimination.
Diversity includes, therefore, knowing how to relate to those
qualities and conditions that are different from our own and
outside the groups to which we belong, yet are present in other
individuals and groups. These include but are not limited to age,
ethnicity, class, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual
orientation, as well as religious status, gender expression,
educational background, geographical location, income, marital
status, parental status, and work experiences. Finally, we
acknowledge that categories of difference are not always fixed but
also can be fluid, we respect individual rights to self-identification,
and we recognize that no one culture is intrinsically superior to

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Empathy and Understanding the Keys to Supporting One Another—

A good friend and I were dining together talking about the plight of immigrants, both documented and not. She said to me you know we have involuntary immigrants here in the United States. Their suffering must be considered first; they didn’t ask to come here and their suffering in slavery was unimaginable. I thought of this and said you are correct those forced to come and then experience a loss of person hood must have their issues more fully addressed but do our immigrants really come by choice or under coercion? If there is overwhelming crime and poverty at home do you come by choice or dire necessity? If you are forced to live in the shadows in the underground economy are you free? We continued to enjoy our meal and each other’s company. I said what of those who fled Europe’s ethnic wars and genocidal pogroms?
In every age in every place humankind’s inhumanity to others can be found in blatant and subtle ways. If we can, it is so important to recognize injustice without invoking competition and pre-judgement. We each have our stories of triumph and suffering to greater or lesser degree. Perhaps this is that which binds us, not separates us and allows us to go forward in the secure knowledge of our common humanity.

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Who Suffers the Cold?

It was four degrees Fahrenheit tonight and getting colder. I thought of those who choose or are forced by circumstances to live “on the street.” They are called the homeless and some seek the streets because of fear of shelters and other group environments. They include the severely mentally ill, those too poor to pay for housing and others with no social safety net. Often they do not have warm clothing to brave the frigid temperature. They may be found in hospital emergency rooms suffering from frost bite. Some sleep in cars and can only bathe in a restaurant restroom, if at all. Some die unable to protect themselves having not found warmth and shelter. As a nation we are told we have great prosperity at our doorstep; but for others, there appears to be no sharing of the promises of wealth and success of our country .
Let us look at the demographics of homelessness in Cleveland and find a way to include them in the promise that America will be great again.
We see that minorities are over represented among the homeless, and this reflects the great social and economic vulnerability of minority groups. Before we all can sleep in true warmth, peace and comfort, let us remember those who cannot. We must dedicate ourselves to finding true solutions for social inequality in 2018.

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Home for the Holidays, Fantasy or Reality?

Many of us fondly remember the pictures by Norman Rockwell that seem to define an ideal of family life in America. Think of that Thanksgiving scene with the turkey being carved. Young and old together in health and harmony. This is an idealized image to which many of us aspired. How many inter-generational families care for their elders and who are they? Let us look at some demographics:
• Approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last 12 months.
• About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months.
• The majority of caregivers (82%) care for one other adult, while 15% care for 2 adults and 3% for 3 or more adults.
• Approximately 39.8 million caregivers provide care to adults (aged 18+) with a disability or illness or 16.6% of Americans.
• About 15.7 million adult family caregivers care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.
• The value of services provided by informal caregivers has steadily increased over the last decade, with an estimated economic value of $470 billion in 2013, up from $450 billion in 2009 and $375 billion in 2007.
• 65% of care recipients are female, with an average age of 69.4. The younger the care recipient, the more likely the recipient is to be male. 45% of recipients aged 18-45 are male, while 33% of recipients aged 50 or higher are male.
• Males may be sharing in care giving tasks more than in the past, but females still shoulder the major burden of care.
• On average, caregivers spend:
 13 days each month on tasks such as shopping, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, and giving medications;
 6 days per month on feeding, dressing, grooming, walking, bathing, and assistance toileting;
 13 hours per month researching care services or information or disease, coordinating physician visits or managing financial matters.
• Of family caregivers who provide complex chronic care:
 46% perform medical and nursing tasks;
 More than 96% provide help with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as personal hygiene, dressing and undressing, getting in and out of bed, or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) such as taking prescribed medications, shopping for groceries, transportation, or using technology, or both.
• Distribution of caregiver age:
 Average age, 49.2 years old
 48% of caregivers are 18-49 years old
 34% of caregivers are 65+ years old
• Distribution of care recipient age:
 14% of care recipients are 18-49 years old
 47% of care recipients are 75+ years old
• Individual adult caregivers in the US identify their race/ethnicity as the following:
 White: 62%
 African American: 13%
 Hispanic (non-White, non-African American): 17%
 Asian American: 6%
• Hispanic (non-White, non-African American) caregivers have the highest reported prevalence of care-giving at 21%. Caregiver prevalence among other racial/ethnic groups are as follows:
 African American: 20.3%
 Asian American: 19.7%
 White: 16.9%
• White caregivers are on average older (52.5 years old) than their counterparts among other races/ethnicities. The average age of caregivers among other racial/ethnic groups are as follows:
 Asian American: 46.6 years old
 African American: 44.2 years old
 Hispanic (non-White, non-African American): 42.7 years old
• Hispanic (non-White, non-African American) and African American caregivers experience higher burdens from care giving and spend more time care giving on average than their White or Asian-American peers. The percentage of high burden caregivers care giving time by racial/ethnic groups are as follows:
 African American: 57%, 30 hours per week
 Hispanic (non-White, non-African American): 45%, 30 hours per week
 White: 33%, 20 hours per week.
 Asian American: 30%, 16 hours per
• More than half of African American caregivers find themselves “sandwiched” between caring for an older person and a younger person under age 18, or caring for more than one older person. African American caregivers are also more likely to reside with the care recipient and spend an average of 20.6 hours per week providing care. In addition, 66 percent of African American caregivers are employed full or part-time.
• The needs of care recipients vary by race/ethnicity. African-American caregivers (41%) are more likely to provide help with more than three ADLs than white caregivers (28%) or Asian Americans (23%). Hispanic (non-White, non-African American): 17%.
By examining the above statistics we see that home care of the elderly is disproportionately found in African American and Hispanic American communities. The reasons are complex and we can write on this further. In the meantime, Happy Holidays to all and I hope you have the special days you wish for.
Fondly submitted,
For the Diversity Committee
Feel free to comment on this article at our Diversity Blog,
AAUW Diversity Policy: In principle and practice, AAUW values and seeks a diverse membership. There shall be no barriers to full participation in this organization on the basis of sex, gender, identity, race, creed, age, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or class. Membership is not by invitation

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Now That We Have Equity in Admission to Nursing Homes We Wonder at Their Quality.

The tragedy of the Hollywood Hills nursing home in Hollywood, Florida during Hurricane Irma brought attention to the conditions in nursing homes populated largely by Medicaid-dependent residents. In an article from 2011 we learn that the former steering of minority dependent elders to unlicensed boarding homes has decreased and admission to nursing homes increased. But this reflects a larger issue. Increasingly, Medicaid is under attack and funding cuts are being called for. This will surely impact the quality of care and may have already impacted the quality of care at the Hollywood Hills facility. So as affluent non-minority elders choose less restrictive assisted care facilities, minority residents find themselves dependent on the budgets that Medicaid makes possible. This should be a source of concern as further and further calls for Medicaid cuts will surely endanger an already social, physically and economically vulnerable population.
“The Changing Demographics of Nursing Home Care: Greater Minority Access…Good News, Bad News” (2011)
A major public policy goal in the United States is “rebalancing” the long-term care system–reducing what was formerly, for many people, a near-total reliance on nursing facilities and increasing the use of home and community-based alternatives. While rebalancing has begun to change the long-term care system, its benefits have not been equally shared. Recent research indicates that older people who belong to minority groups are living in nursing homes in larger numbers than ever before, but partly because home and community-based alternatives are not available to them. There is a sense of irony and déjà vu in these findings. Thirty-five years ago, the under representation of racial and ethnic minorities in nursing homes was a topic of concern and litigation challenged the racial steering of African Americans into unlicensed boarding homes. Now, the patterns are reversed. White Americans are moving into assisted living facilities (which are not regulated by the federal government), and minorities are moving into nursing facilities.
The Growing Shift to Home and Community-Based Care
Many older people and people with disabilities who need long-term care services prefer non-institutional settings. Government payers like non-institutional services because they are less costly than nursing homes that are certified for participation in the Medicare or Medicaid programs, or both. The re balancing movement, which brings together both sets of interests, has met with considerable success. Between 1995 and 2008, the percentage of Medicaid long-term care dollars spent on home and community-based services increased from 19% to 42%. Medicaid remains the primary payer for care in nursing facilities.
Minority Access to Long-Term Care Has Increased
Recent research regarding racial and ethnic minorities in nursing homes finds that between 1998 and 2008, the number of elderly Hispanic people living in nursing homes increased by 54.9%, the number of elderly Asians living in nursing homes increased by 54.1%, and the number of elderly African Americans living in nursing homes increased by 10.8%. During the same ten-year period, the number of white Americans living in nursing homes declined by 10.2%.
Using federal nursing home assessment data and census information, the researchers find that the number and percentage of minority group nursing home residents “grew at a considerably faster rate than the overall minority population between 1999 and 2008.” In contrast, the number and percentage of white nursing home residents declined nationwide.
Changing demographics help explain the changing population of nursing homes. But the researchers also describe greater barriers to home and community-based alternatives for older people who are members of minority groups. Their analysis shows that older white Americans “may have more varied choices of care in the communities and may have been better able to afford alternatives to nursing homes, such as assisted living facilities.”
A cause of the disparities may be financial. Even though approximately 131,000 people living in assisted living use Medicaid home and community-based waivers to help pay for their stay, the vast majority of assisted living residents, 869,000, pay privately.
Historic Concern With Race Discrimination In Nursing Homes
Thirty-five years ago, the public policy concern was racial discrimination in nursing homes. Senator Frank Moss and Val Halamandaris, in their 1977 book, Too Old, Too Sick, Too Bad, identified cost, social customs and language, and personal choice as three factors explaining minorities’ under-representation in nursing homes, but concluded that race discrimination was the most important factor. Chapter 7 was entitled “No Vacancy for Minority Groups.”
In 1977, the Department of Health Education and Welfare (the predecessor agency to the Department of Health and Human Services) reported that in 1969, white Medicaid beneficiaries used nursing home services at a rate five times greater than minority beneficiaries. In contrast, in 1969, only 20% more was spent on in-patient hospital care for white Medicare beneficiaries than for racial minority Medicare beneficiaries.
Litigation 30 years ago addressed racial discrimination against minorities in nursing homes. In 1980, elderly African American residents of Shelby County, Tennessee filed a lawsuit challenging a racially dual-track system of long-term care. Hickman v. Fowinkle, C.A. No. 80-2014 (W.D. Tenn. Filed Jan. 11, 1980), alleged that elderly African Americans were denied access to licensed Medicaid-approved nursing homes, which served mainly white Americans, and were instead placed in inferior, unlicensed, and unregulated boarding homes, which did not provide the level of care they needed. Plaintiffs alleged that they were placed in the boarding homes by their relatives after referral by the state Department of Human Services, although they were eligible for and needed nursing home care. They sued the Tennessee Departments of Human Services and Public Health along with twelve individually named nursing homes. A Consent Judgment, filed August 1, 1985, required the Tennessee Medicaid agency to conduct compliance and complaint reviews under Title VI of the
Civil Rights Act and to promulgate waiting list regulations, enforcement regulations, and residential home regulations.
The good news in the new study is that members of racial minorities have better access to nursing home care, which in some cases is the only realistic long-term care option. The bad news is that disparities in access to non-institutional care may be a partial cause. The Affordable Care Act offers state Medicaid programs expanded options for providing non-institutional long-term care. As advocates work with their states to implement these provisions, all parties involved should be attentive to promoting equity in access to these alternatives to institutionalization.” * From a Study of Medicaid Utilization 2011 “The Changing Demographics of Nursing Home Care Greater Minority Access Good News Bad News”

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