How do we define terms like diversity and race relations today? As a former member of the Fortune 500 company’s Diversity Committee and a reviewer of Princeton University’s Prize in Race Relations for over 10 years, it is becoming clear that these terms mean equal opportunity, independent of race.
Often, race is defined by physical characteristics like skin color. A group with more people of various skin colors is considered diverse. In fact, Moral Innovators know that 95% of humanity evolved from the values introduced by Confucius in China, Ashoka in India, and Socrates among Christians and Muslims around 2,500 years ago. These values have been influenced by cultures, languages, and other factors, but they are race-blind, and together, they have oppressed women for thousands of years. While we talk about Donald Trump and his incitement of violence and hatred today, the consequences of such behavior is not related to race. We have seen white people beating up on blacks, and black people beating up on whites within the confines of Trump events alone. In a strange way, we may have started to realize the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. whose vision was “we are not judged by the color of our skin, but the content of our character.”
President Barrack Obama, as the first African American US President, has made Race Relations worse, not better, after eight years of his Presidency. The Democratic Party is no longer focused on the working class as evidenced by his lack of action on the Estate Tax which has decreased from 77% in 1977 to 40% that Obama did not change in the last eight years – meaning the rich elites do not have to work as hard to legally preserve their wealth from generation to generation. Who is carrying the core message of the working class? Donald Trump and his message to get jobs back to the USA and exclude immigrants. Trump’s key message reminds us of the Immigration Restriction League that was founded by three Harvard graduates in 1894 to build a superior American race. The Wharton School, where Trump graduated, was also home to James Young, the Director of the Wharton School and a member of the Immigration Restriction League.
How do we see through this maze? Focus on two things:
1. Economic opportunities to sustain our quality of life, and
2. Hope to reach/realize these economic opportunities now or through our children.
Neither of these two things mention the word “race.”
It is critical that as few of us give up on our hopes as possible, because giving up on hope annihilates rational thinking, and concepts like suicide bombers under the name of God begin to make sense. Adolf Hitler was first democratically elected by rejecting to pay for 1919 Treaty of Versailles as part of the end of World War I. To sustain Hitler’s popular support, and probably referencing information available in the USA, Hitler gave Germans the hope that a master race can be created by murdering the inferior Jews that resulted in the Holocaust. The word that describes the creation of a superior group of people is called eugenics.
In the 1920s, before the rise of Hitler, eugenics was taught in 276 university courses in the USA and part of the college curriculum studied by over 20,000 college students. Mentally and physically handicapped babies were murdered and mothers sterilized to preserve a healthy population in the USA, and the State of Virginia did not repeal the Sterilization Law until 1974. An estimated 70,000 individuals, mostly African and Native Americans, were sterilized without the patients’ consent or coerced at the risk of losing welfare benefits. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People promoted eugenics in “Better Baby” contests. This means the USA was a clear violator of human rights within our lifetime. The fact that USA has been a human rights violator makes it difficult to impose such universal human rights worldwide today.
With hope, we can apply the Moral Innovation framework to balance continuous improvements with morality that drives economic opportunities for all. Costco is an example of a company that committed to not making more than 15% profit on its products supported by a reasonably paid workforce, and WeatherTech promotes US laser technology for competitive automotive accessories. China has many economic opportunities and is focusing on morality in the form of anti-corruption to deliver hope for equal opportunities. Meanwhile, China is paying the price of progress with the extremely poor environmental quality that have long term consequences after lifting the largest number of humans from poverty in the last 60 years. Until India fully addresses the removal of the caste system, there will be very little equal economic opportunities for progress.
In summary, Moral Innovators know that diversity and race relations give us hope for equal economic opportunities to thrive during our lifetimes.