When There Is Diversity Without Inclusion Ira J. Bedzow, Ph.D.
mistrust replace the rule of law. They also reinforce the idea that fear and mistrust may be warranted–at least for those who feel outside the law’s protection.
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If there is one thing that Americans can agree on today, it is that people are angry. The cause of the anger is different for everyone, but the common thread that holds the ire together–even when the ire itself tears society apart–is the senseless death. The deaths are senseless in both meanings of the term. They are without purpose, and they are leaving us all incapable of recognizing the pain that Americans feel. In the past three months, over 100,000 people have died from COVID-19. The majority of these people come from either vulnerable populations, people who are deemed “past their prime,” minorities, or people of lower socio-economic means. Each of these groups can be identified as being outside the standard deviation of society’s bell curve for the “average” American. These are not simply individual tragedies to be mourned. This is a national loss, which has shown how reactive thinking and prioritizing short-term efficiencies over long-term sustainability disallows public preparation for uncertainties. It also shows that the greatest burden of this strategy is placed on those least equipped to handle it. The past three months have also shown us senseless deaths that are not related to the pandemic. Steven Taylor was shot and killed in a Walmart. Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while jogging. George Floyd was literally kneeled on to death. These are just three names among many. In every city that has seen protests and violence throughout this past week, other names are included and serve as cries for recognition. When names become symbols, they lose denotation to the persons who carried them. They begin to serve a collective need to replace the needs of the individual lives that were lost. Whichever name is used to recall a senseless death, these incidents show the danger that results when fear and
One may argue that these are all isolated incidents and do not represent a systemic weakness or a quality control issue. However, in private industries that utilize risk analysis and risk management, such as engineering, healthcare, and security, these types of errors are viewed as cumulative act effects, or systemic failures that are not simply caused by human error. When errors occur, leaders and managers engage in a “Swiss cheese model” of analysis that investigates whether the accident can be traced to organizational influences, supervision, or preconditions. The analysis allows for a better understanding of how the act occurred and a more efficient systems-based strategy to prevent it in the future. Think of the initiative that Starbucks established after an employee in one store called 911, claiming that two black men were trespassing. Not only did the manager leave the company; the company’s 175,000 employees had to participate in day long training so that a similar incident would not occur again. Yet, it does not seem that anyone truly feels protected by the rulers who make the law. Shelter-in-place orders are causing protesters to ignore social distancing and to gather in anger in state capitols. The economic and mental health toll of sheltering in place has not been mitigated in a way that allays the concerns of those who see these orders as a threat to their livelihoods and quality of life. Because of the deep-seeded distrust people have in the authority of their leaders, health guidelines and public health related policies are being construed as attempts at political maneuvering to control the populace. Even financial relief legislation has become viewed as a way to bolster the wealthy’s economic and political power at the expense of small business owners, akin to the creation of the “New Russians” who made their fortunes during Russia’s frenzied transition to a market economy in the 1990s. The government’s hold on the economy and on society has become the modern, metaphorical Bastille prison in Paris, the symbol of the French dictatorial monarchy. It seems only a matter of time, if it has not happened already, that the status quo will be attacked by an angry and aggressive mob that seeks revolution and overthrow of the old regime to be replaced by the disenfranchised–a moniker now claimed by every group on the political spectrum. In the U.S. version, however, the mob declares, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” rather than