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What Do We Share?

Filmmaker Asger Leth has created a lovely three-minute moment for TV 2 in Denmark that’s captured the hearts of a busy, boxed-in world. If you’re looking for a reason to feel hopeful about the work of diversity and inclusion, this will put you right.

The short video is called All That We Share, and an English language version was recently posted on YouTube. The premise is simple: When you ask people to define themselves differently, they are able to see each other as more than just stereotypes. But the execution is what gets you in the feels.

The video starts out as Danes quietly file onto a soundstage and stand in outlined areas that define them in traditional ways – high-earners versus just-getting-by; country- versus city-dwellers; lifelong Danes versus newcomers. Then come the poignant twists. Who here was the class clown? Who are step-parents? Who is lonely? Madly in love?

The idea of common ground is always an alluring one, and finding it is no guarantee that anyone will get along any better. But it’s a lovely reminder that “the other” doesn’t stay the other very long if you take the time to ask the right questions.

Until now, Leth was best known for the action caper, Man On a Ledge, but he’s clearly been busy with advertising, and smaller projects. (His documentary on Haiti, The Ghosts of Cite Soleil sounds fascinating.) Here’s his vimeo site.

Ask some interesting questions today and let me know how it goes.

On Point

Private prisons profit from President Trump’s tough talk on crimeLast Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions scrapped an important Obama-era executive order that sought to phase out the government’s use of private prisons, a move that was a boon to the prison industry and a blow to anyone who wants real justice reform. “This policy reversal is indefensible given the track record of private prisons,” says the The New York Times editorial board, going on to cite corruption, violence, abuse and an inability to prepare inmates for productive post-prison lives. Shares in private prison companies are up 100% since election day.New York Times pledges multi-million effort to support racial justice innovation
Google’s philanthropic arm is pledging $11.5 million to support the work of U.S. organizations dedicated to racial justice and criminal justice reform. The money will be disbursed as grants to 10 different non-profits who are approaching reform in scientific, data-driven and innovative ways. This is an addition to the $5 million disbursed to racial justice innovators since 2015; past recipients include Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors and the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative.

As immigration officials become more aggressive, churches struggle to determine their roles
Sanctuary is a truly sacred concept for houses of worship, and churches were already struggling to accommodate the poor, the homeless, and the desperate. But as ICE officials are conducting increasingly frightening searches and interrogations, church leaders are in unchartered territory. “They were not here because they were doing a routine community sweep. They were clearly targeting,” said Rev. Keary Kincannon from Alexandria, VA, of a recent raid. “They were waiting until the Hispanic men came out of the church. And they rounded them all up. They didn’t question the blacks. They didn’t question the whites. They were clearly going after folks that were Latino.”
The Intercept

Uber executive resigns after past allegations of sexual misconduct surface in a previous job
Uber’s rocky ride is not improving. Amit Singhal, the company’s senior vice president of engineering, was asked to resign yesterday morning by CEO Travis Kalanick. Uber execs had been alerted to sexual harassment allegations that had been levied against Singhal during his time at Google, allegations that an internal investigation had found “credible.” Singhal resigned from Google in February 2016, and had not made Uber aware of the circumstances. Uber discovered the allegation while reading Kara Swisher’s reporting for Recode.

The transgender sister of singer at Trump’s inauguration wins a federal bathroom ruling
Juliet Evancho, sister of singer Jackie, has won a federal ruling in Pennsylvania that says that her high school must allow her to use the bathroom that matches her gender identity. Two other plaintiffs were also named in the suit. For many years, the three students used their chosen restrooms without incident until a parent raised the issue in 2016. “Such policies are not only wrong, they are illegal,” a Lambda Legal staff attorney said. “The rescission of a guidance by the Trump administration cannot change that.” Click through to read the opinion.

Bodycam footage shows police officer pushing an 86 year old immigration protestor to the ground
It’s a nasty bit of video, for sure, and shows a tense stand-off between Tucson police and a few dozen people protesting the federal detention of migrants for the National Day Without Immigrants. After Rolande Baker falls over, the officer pepper sprays people attempting to assist her, including her 65-year-old friend. Baker said, “I saw the police being way more aggressive than I’ve ever seen them be.” The four foot, five-inch tall retired schoolteacher got up on her own, bless her heart. The Tucson Police Department released the video and say they are investigating.
Washington Post

The Woke Leader

Moonlight was robbed of their moment and that matters
Writer Brittney Cooper has some news for the world: The graciousness of the LaLa Land crew is not the story here. “[It] is the graciousness with which [Barry] Jenkins and the entire Moonlight team handled the botching of their well-deserved moment that is worthy of our applause,” she says. This is an apt metaphor for thinking about race in the country, and she calls out Jimmy Kimmel for his kneejerk joke that, hey, the LaLa’ers should just go ahead and keep the award anyway. “Much like Jimmy Kimmel, however, Americans are socially conditioned to feel the most empathy for what white folks are losing rather than for what black folks are rightfully, finally winning.”

Samantha Power writes a tribute to her frenemy, and a window into diplomacy and diversity
Last week, Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations died suddenly in New York.  Samantha Power, held the same position from the U.S. for the past four years. She describes herself as Churkin’s most visible foe. “He faithfully defended President Vladimir V. Putin’s deadly actions in Ukraine and Syria,” she begins. And then this: “At the same time, Vitaly was a masterful storyteller with an epic sense of humor, a good friend and one of the best hopes the United States and Russia had of working together. I am heartbroken by his death.” It is one of the best explanations of the cognitive dissonance of oddbedfellowship I’ve read, and an excellent reminder that work itself is a great, creative act and always better shared.
New York Times

ICYMI: A new MOOC on diversity and inclusion
Professor Junko Takagi of ESSEC Business School is offering a new online course on diversity and inclusion. From her intro video, it sounds like she’s taking an interesting approach: Tackling the disruptive nature of diversity head on. She cites BREXIT and Donald Trump as “striking examples of how diversity driven tensions have pushed so many outside of their comfort zones, and to take refuge in defensive tactics.” While the business case for diversity, that it fosters excitement, learning, innovation, and growth, is clear, it’s hard to achieve if we can’t work past the discomfort. For that, the Stanford PhD says we need a cognitive approach to help build more inclusive practices. Her question: Can we change the way we think about differences and “develop new reflexes?” Most of the material is free; $49 to get full access and a certificate.


If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.
—Thomas Pynchon