A suggestion on how to proceed with confederate monuments

I live in a county that had a confederate monument. It was taken down last year.

Republicans voted to take it down over the objections of fellow Republicans. Where were the democrats?  Well - we only have 1 on the county commission and he's only there because it's mandated by law that we have at least 1 district that is safe for a black representative to have a seat. But when the commission is 6 to 1 - that one - has zero politcal power. FYI - my county is 45% democratic. We have no political power. None.

Yes, this structural disparity that prevents people from accessing seats of power is intentional. I live in a county with a really seriously racist past.  WE have lynchings and massacres and hid the vice president of the confederacy when the union was looking to arrest him at the end of the war. He got away and practices law in England.

And yet- despite all that. And despite the openly racist confederate loving folks on the county commission, republicans leading the commission were able to force a vote to take it down. Yay.

The opposition to taking down the monuments is 2 fold. 1. racists don't like their symbols of power being taken away from them. And the fact that they no longer wield enough power in their own party to keep these things up is upsetting to them too.   

The 2nd part is the lies they tell to rationalize it to gain non-racist support for these publicly funded symbols of terrorism. The main lie is taking them down is erasing history.  In reality - keeping them up - silences history. The history of the victims of the racial terrorism perpetrated by the people who put the things up.

The people who put this thing up - are still in the community. They are the "founding families" of the community and have historically wielded a lot of political power. The people who were victimized by these folks - are still in the community too. But they have never wielded power in our community. So much so - that their stories are only just starting to be told in our museums.

Why are the stories of part of our community silenced?  Because they were victims of crimes perpetrated by the "founding families."They had their land stolen. Their families members were killed by the "founding families."  There are people in our community - alive today who were forced to do farm work without pay under threat of death - by members of the "founding families" and the police that they controlled.  This isn't ancient history. Those people - the victims of crimes and the perpetrators of crimes - are still in the community.

These statues are monuments erected by criminals who were celebrating their power to commit crimes with no repercussions. When they talk about the historical significance of these statues, they are intentionally excluding certain people's stories from "history."  Why? Because to allow those stories requires admitting that really horrendous crimes were committed by members of our community - against other members of our community. When they talk about community - they exclude the victims of their crimes - otherwise they would have to admit to the crimes that were committed.

So what should we do - to make sure we remember history?  We need to make sure the full history - including the history of the crimes that were committed are told.   And all this came up because I was talking with a friend the other day about another county that took down their confederate statue and she said it was sad. It's not sad. It's something to celebrate because we are finally acknowledging the crimes that were committed. We cannot and should not allow families that committed crimes to continue to dictate what our history is.  We cannot have reconsiliation as a community - if we don't acknowledge the truth about our history.

This does not require us to demonize anyone. But it does require us to acknowledge the people who were victimized as victims.

I want to quote a historian about what to do about this, Dave Rondon.
He wrote: "The people angry at this say "it's history and it needs to stay up so we remember and won't repeat it." To those people I say that the Germans did the same to monuments representing Nazi Generals and Hitler himself after WW2 and then made it illegal to fly that Nazi flag or do the salute because they are ashamed of the bad history there. However, they did leave up the gas chambers and concentration camps as museums so they would never forget the victims. Why can't we do like them? Just replace the statues with a memorial for all the slaves that suffered at the hands of confederates? "

My desire is that we get rid of the monuments celebrating the criminals and replace them with a memorial of the victims. That way we never forget and never repeat history.  We don't forget either.

Anyone who has been to Pearl Harbor knows, we didn't put up a monument celebrating the skills and dedication of the Japanese soilders that attacked. Pearl Harbor is a memorial to the victims. The World Trade Center doesn't have a monument celebrating Osama Bin Laden, but they do have a memorial.

It's possible to have a memorial and stay on the right side of history, but not if we only remember the oppressors and lie about how wonderful they were - when the reality is - they committed crimes against people in our community.

Choosing Your Own Job Title

Full disclosure - I love being allowed to choose my own job title.  And I do think it helps people feel more empowered. But like everything, there are limits that should be acknowledged.

I have been in places where I was allowed to chose my own title. I like to make sure my acronym spells something cool.  So – one time I titled myself Manager of Acquisition Group Information (MAGI).  One of my colleagues titled herself Director of Information Valuation Assessment (DIVA).

Obviously – the title has to be related to the job and you don’t want employees choosing an acronym that spells something naughty.

The other consideration is – is this a forward-facing position or internal? Meaning – who needs to interact with the title. We were able to title ourselves MAGI and DIVA because our only customers were internal.  If we were interacting with the public – we would have needed more traditional titles so that our customers knew what to expect from us.  

Personally – I think companies who try to be “cool.” By naming their titles something odd like “customer ninja” – can come off as pretentious.  On the other hand – Best Buy has their geek squad members and those are awesome.   As for those titles  - I would much rather interact with a guru than a ninja – though if the guru is not empowered and knowledgeable as an individual – then the title is pretentious. It HAS to match the skills and work of the person holding the title.

The motivation to humanize the employees is a good one. But what really humanizes people - is to treat them with dignity and to truly empower them as individuals. No title can cover for a bad work environment. So - focus less on the titles and more on making sure the work is dignified and the employees treated with dignity. 

Non-Performing Assumptions and Best Practices

Last year I went to India to give a talk about humanistic business management and creating happier workplace cultures through humanistic philosophy.  As a result, I made a lot of new friends in the Delhi area and am connected to some really accomplished people on LinkedIn.

Me at the Taj Mahal. Yes. I was really there!
One of them posted an update by Debashis Chatterjee, who is the Director of the Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode. He had given a talk to a group of bankers about how NPAs (Non-Performing Assets) should be better thought of as Non-Performing Assumptions. https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6377845541199540224/

Non-Performing Assumptions

First off - I really like the idea of non-performing assumptions.  So much of what we do all day has to do with solving problems. And a big way we make mistakes is we make assumptions. We don't. test our assumptions to see if they are validated or not.  When we make a bad assumption - we don't fix our problems.

The idea of a non-performing assumption is an assumption that doesn't help us fix our problem. It is a signal that we need to go back and do some critical thinking about why we are trying to solve our problems the way we are.  It's a great way to help us remember to critically examine our underlying assumptions.

Best Practices

Another thing he said related to this has to do with assumptions about whether honesty is the best policy.  He suggested that instead of it being a best policy - honesty is actually a best practice.

Let that sink in and consider how the idea of honesty as a best practice makes you reconsider how you think about honesty.

Honesty is the best policy is a slogan you laminate and stick on the wall. It's a rule dictated to us to follow. It is not a lived value.

In contrast, honesty is a best practice - helps us all see the relationship between our actions and our outcomes.  Honesty helps us get good results.  It's a best practice, not a best policy

Putting it together.

We all have assumptions. By challenging our assumptions, we can gain insight into how to improve ourselves and our work.  Even on something as simple as the assumption that honesty is the best policy.  Turns out - Mr. Chatterjee is right, it's a non-performing assumption. It means well. But it doesn't yield the results we want.  Tweaking it into honesty is a best practice - may help us realize that goal.

Do you have a wage gap problem?

As a Humanist - inequality bugs me. As a woman, a gender wage gap is an affront to me as an individual. It would be way better if everyone in a job got paid the same.

We don't. And even companies trying to close their wage gap - have a wage gap. So what is happening? How can you tell if your company has a wage gap problem?  How goes gender discrimation play into wage gaps?  How can organizations address any wage gaps/gender discrimination.

First – do a salary audit and equalize the pay for people in positions. Equalize up to the highest earner.  Second – when hiring – don’t negotiate the salary. Just – this is the salary for this position. Period. This will help eliminate bias by eliminating the negotiation for salary and eliminate the stress of negotiation for everyone. Third – every 2 years – repeat the salary audit and equalize pay up. Fourth – audit your promotions to ensure that any bias you have isn’t impacting the promotion process. Fifth – consider instituting some random selection or blind selection processes in the hiring and promotion process to eliminate some of the biases. For instance – if you have a group of resumes that all have the qualifications – randomly select people to interview. If you have an internal promotion – consider everyone and not just who you think would do a good job. And yes – there is evidence that randomly selection yields better results. It turns out in the absence of good reasons to make a decision – we use bad reasons and rationalize them as being good – but bad reasons for making a decision yield bad results. So – if you have no good reasons to make a decision – randomize the selection and you should get better results.   
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