State of the Union: Will the Real Leaders Please Stand Up?

Will the real leaders please stand up?

I don’t care if you are conservative, liberal, apolitical, non-partisan, pacifist, activist, Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, or any number of descriptors that may apply to your ideological or religious leanings…as humans we all should be “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.”  Only if you consider yourself a part of one of the hate movements that desire to cleanse the world of all groups that are not like them, can you sit still and not do your part to bring back some modicum of civility.

I get frustrated when my colleagues in the D&I field worry about saying or doing something that would suggest that we are Anti-Trump.  After all, those of us who promote diversity of thought have to be open to trying to understand points of view that are diametrically opposed to our own.  Okay, so I get that, but if your worldview is one that is the antithesis of inclusion, acceptance, equity, and empathy, then I oppose it regardless of who you are.

There are boundaries, and there is a point where we have to rise up and say, “This is wrong, and I am not going to take it anymore.” I am anti-Trump-like behavior. There—I said it. I am anti-Trump because he has shown himself to be a mean-spirited, ignorant, ego maniac bully who denigrates whole groups of people, whom he obviously knows very little about. If he did, he would not use such sweeping generalizations.  In this work, we call those stereotypes, and we teach people who are trying to enhance their understanding of others not to use them.

I want to be clear that I am not anti-Republican.   I am against hatred, name calling, bullying, lying, racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, etc. I am for kindness, civility, love for all that is living, acceptance, empathy, compassion, understanding, and of course inclusion.  I don’t think these latter qualities are associated with a particular political party or religion. They are the tenets of human decency.

Will the real leaders please stand up?

You might respond—we are protesting. There was just another Women’s March last weekend. We see corporate CEO’s, sports figures and entertainers taking a bold stand against hate and harassment through a variety of means.  But, It is not enough.  I believe we have to do more.

Think about it.  If most high-profile people had said or done the things that Trump has said and done since he started campaigning for the presidency, they would have been fired, lost their marketing endorsements or maybe even been incarcerated.  Why is it that he can be accused of sexual harassment by numerous women and still keep his job?  Why is he not being forced to resign?  Why can he call whole nations by a vile name and not even offer an apology? How can he insult world leaders with no consequences?   How can he lie and take credit for the low unemployment rate for African Americans and not be forced to retract and admit that while this is good news, he had nothing to do with it?  Which specific economic policy did he enact in the past year that resulted in this change?  We know that it takes more than a year for these types of results.  These are just a few examples of the many words and deeds by the man we call the leader of the free world.  If he has done something positive, it is overshadowed by the tremendous amount of damage that he has done. Is this the leadership role model we want for the next generation?

The harm that Trump is doing will be felt for generations to come. What will be the breaking point?  What is it going to take for a ground swell of protests to let him know that this is not the kind of world leader we want or need…that we are not going to take it anymore?  Where are the clergy?  Where are the leaders of social justice organizations?  Where are the corporate leaders? The former presidents?  Maybe they are secretly meeting someplace, and there is a game plan that I am just not aware of.   Billionaire Tom Steyer started a movement to impeach Donald Trump.  He is spending millions of dollars of his own money to raise awareness on how dangerous for society many of his ideologies are about climate change, immigration, isolationism, etc. Let’s join him.

All of the things that many of us in the D&I movement hold dear and have fought for over the years are unraveling.  Racism, Sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia are getting worse. More people feel that they have license to perpetuate acts of hatred and violence.

This is no time to be silent. This is no time to be neutral. Get active.  Join forces with those who want change and don’t be afraid to stand up and speak out.  There are risks associated with taking a stand but that is what leaders do.

What can you do?

  • Get involved in voter registration
  • Join forces with groups that are about social justice and inclusion
  • Actively engage with your elected officials
  • Use social media to advocate for inclusion
  • Speak out about what you stand for (My medium is writing. What’s yours?)

Below are a few specific suggestions from last week’s Americans of Conscience Action Checklist:

  • Stand with Americans of Haitian, Salvadoran, and African descent.
    • Call: Your two senators and one House representative (look up).
    • Script: Hi. I am from [ZIP] calling to ask [name] to make a public statement opposing the president’s comments regarding Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations. Some of [name’s] constituents are from or descended from these places and would appreciate knowing s/he welcomes them.
  • Advocate for a company-wide holiday on election day. See details there.
  • Support the grassroots efforts of young advocates
    • United We Dream has been doing an incredible job of raising awareness, demonstrating, and speaking up for undocumented people in the US. Check out their work and consider donating to support them on this long, difficult road.

(To subscribe to the weekly Americans of Conscience Actions Checklist, see more here.)

Will the real leaders please stand up?

The ultimate measure of a person is not where you stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where you stand at times of challenge and controversy. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

About Mary-Frances Winters

Mary-Frances Winters, president and founder of The Winters Group, Inc. is a master strategist with over 30 years experience in strategic planning, change management, diversity, organization development, training and facilitation, systems thinking and qualitative and quantitative research methods. She has extensive experience in working with senior leadership teams to drive organizational change. Described by clients as highly creative, collaborative, visionary and results oriented, she is a sought after keynote speaker and workshop leader.

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