“My whole life I’ve come to realize that if you’re going to spend your life shaking the trees, occasionally a coconut is going to hit you on the head.” ~ Howard Ross
Breaking Through Emotional Impact with Howard Ross
Advocacy takes on different roles in order to empower the voice and impact the lives of people. In today’s episode, I had the opportunity to speak with Howard Ross about the past, present, and future of advocacy. Education will always be what inspires change and action will be the driving force. We see it throughout history.
“My whole life I’ve come to realize that if you’re going to spend your life shaking the trees, occasionally a coconut is going to hit you on the head.”
Fighting for the rights of others means fighting for a better society. Howard went to his first Civil Rights at the age of 15 and with over 55 years of advocating for others, you can see that it made a huge impact in his life. He shared with us significant impacts that his family has made when it came to advocacy. Being Jewish during the Holocaust, 43 members of Howard’s family were murdered. His own grandfather was living in a village where 100 Jews were killed by Nazis.
The emotional impact of what we see, hear, and live through can be the spark to initiate change. It can become a heavy shadow on the families, communities, and generations that are connected to it in some way. We see a huge shift as younger generations are taking the reigns and demanding results in a similar way that we saw Baby Boomers do when they were younger. On one hand, it can make you proud that they have the motivation to do so but on the other, it can be saddening that we are still fighting the same fight.
Howard dropped nuggets about we can do better when it comes to understanding and or being part of the current wave of advocates. I stumbled into advocacy because of my personal experiences with homelessness, abuse, molestation, and divorce. Prejudice against a certain group of people usually comes from a disconnect between their story and your own.
~ Remember those that came before you and the life the lived
~ Use the emotional impact as fuel but be strategic
~ Understand that change does not always happen immediately
~ Do the research on what you hear
~ Protests matter and have their place in initiating change
~ Anger and rage are valid emotions when you feel unheard or mistreated
~ NEVER label the majority by the actions of the few
This episode will be my most memorable because the current climate of the world is a tough one to navigate. I appreciate the advocates that stand up in the face of fear, miseducation, prejudice, and miscommunication to fight for something bigger than them. I think back to when I first watched Freedom Writers. It was significant for me because it was a seed of understanding that we each can do something that matters. We each have the power to make an impact.
To the advocates who consistently fight for change…we see you! Thank you!
Meet Howard Ross:
Howard Ross is a lifelong social justice advocate and is considered one of the world’s seminal thought leaders on identifying and addressing unconscious bias. He is the author of ReInventing Diversity: Transforming Organizational Community to Strengthen People, Purpose and Performance, (published by Rowman and Littlefield in conjunction with SHRM in 2011), and the Washington Post bestseller, Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives, (published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2014). His latest book, Our Search for Belonging: How Our Need to Connect is Tearing Us Apart, released by Berrett-Koehler in May of 2018, won the 2019 Nautilus Book Award Gold Medal for Social Change and Social Justice.
Howard has specialized in the synthesis of neuro-cognitive and social science research and direct application re Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Accessibility work. His client work has focused on the areas of corporate culture change, leadership development, and managing diversity. Ross has successfully implemented large-scale organizational culture change efforts in the area of managing diversity and cultural integration in academic institutions, professional services corporations, Fortune 500 companies, and retail, health care, media, and governmental institutions in 47 of the United States and over 40 countries worldwide. In addition, Howard has delivered programs at Harvard University Medical School, Stanford University Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, the Wharton School of Business, Duke University and Washington University Medical School, and over 20 other colleges and Universities. Howard served as the 2007-2008 Johnnetta B. Cole Professor of Diversity at Bennett College for Women, the first time a white man had ever served in such a position at an HBCU.
Howard’s writings have been published by the Harvard Business Review, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Fast Company Magazine, Diversity Women Magazine, Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, and dozens of other publications. He appears monthly on National Public Radio. Howard has served on numerous not-for-profits boards, including the Diversity Advisory Board of the Human Rights Campaign, the board of directors of the Dignity and Respect Campaign, and the board of the directors for the National Women’s Mentoring Network. Howard has been the recipient of many awards, including the 2009 Operation Understanding Award for Community Service; the 2012 Winds of Change Award from the Forum on Workplace Diversity and Inclusion; the 2013 Diversity Peer Award from Diversity Women Magazine; the 2014 Catalyst Award from Uptown Professional Magazine; the 2014 Catalyst for Change Award from Wake Forest University; the 2015 Trendsetter in HR by SHRM Magazine; and the 2016 Leadership in Diversity Award by the World Human Resources Development Conference in Mumbai, India. He was also named an Honorary Medicine Man by the Eastern Cherokee Reservation in N.C., and given Medicine Holder designation by the Pawnee Nation.
Howard is also a former Rock ‘n Roll Musician and has taught meditation and mindfulness for more than 20 years, including his role as co-founder and Lead Facilitator for the Inner Journey Seminars.
Howard founded Cook Ross Inc., one of the nation’s leading Diversity and Inclusion consultancies. He sold the company in July 2018 and founded Udarta Consulting, LLC.
Howard keynotes and speaks regularly at Conferences for SHRM, SHRM Diversity, the Forum for Workplace Inclusion, National Association of Corporate Directors, ATD, the World Diversity Forum, and dozens of others.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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