Thinking about this column, I was reminded of a rhetorical device that an esteemed academic has frequently used: items at the top of his inbox. For me, there has been a plethora of items at the top of my inbox, specifically around the upcoming celebration of Juneteenth. Everyone likes a party. However, even with this week’s surprisingly swift passage of the Juneteenth National Independence Day federal holiday, I see a mix of bitter with the sweet in the numerous invitations and announcements from cultural, civic, social justice, and educational institutions.

Here’s the history: Belatedly, on June 19, 1865, enslaved people…


A few months ago, I discovered that National Teacher Appreciation Day and National Teacher Appreciation Week take place in early May. How wonderful, I thought, that the conversation about schools and teaching could, however briefly, shift away from the pandemic-influenced topics of the past 15 months. It would be a sign of progress, of healing, I hoped, if educators, students, and politicians could take a break from debates over in-person versus distance learning, the need to redesign HVAC and airflow systems in classrooms, and whether vaccinations would make classrooms safer.

How striking, I mused, that there is a formal mechanism…


In my first #TeamUp column, I wrote about often being the only person of my race or gender in professional situations. That experience isn’t unique to me.

My co-author, Bonita Stewart, and I found in our 2019 survey of four races and four generations of American female “desk workers” that 47% of Black women said they were frequently or always “onlys.” By contrast, 73% of white women said they were rarely “onlys.”

We wondered whether we would see significant progress a year later, after George Floyd’s horrific, on-camera murder, the subsequent racial and social justice protests, and the scores of…


ccording to family historians on my mother’s side, my great-grandfather Louis Thompson was born into slavery in 1844. He was described as a mulatto, meaning that he was a product of the rape culture of the time. It was a common practice for slave owners to rape the women they owned. One result was the creation of additional wealth in the form of their own offspring. Yes, it is a horrific concept. And, no, there is no way to count how many times this particular crime of rape should be added to the crime against humanity named slavery.

After the…


COMMENTARY

‘Master Negotiator’: James Baker and the end of the Cold War

Shayna Brennan/AP

President George H. W. Bush with Secretary of State James A. Baker III (on left) on the White House lawn on May 17, 1991.

It has been only 32 years — not that long ago, really — since President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker III were sworn in. Their short four years in office, 1989–92, were rich in tumultuous events and policy decisions that continue to resonate today.

Historian and public policy analyst Diana Villiers Negroponte describes the two longtime friends and tennis-buddy Texans as “imbued with the modesty of gentlemen who…


AP/file — Sailors from the Chinese navy watch as the U.S.S. Blue Ridge arrives in Shanghai on May 6, 2016.
AP/file — Sailors from the Chinese navy watch as the U.S.S. Blue Ridge arrives in Shanghai on May 6, 2016.
AP/file — Chinese sailors watch as the U.S.S. Blue Ridge arrives in Shanghai on May 6, 2016.

Elliot Ackerman and Adm. James Stavridis have powerful crystal balls, the result of their extensive lived experiences in the U.S. military, academia, politics, and publishing. Who better to construct a cautionary tale of cyberwar, miscalculation, and terror? Published earlier this month, their “2034: A Novel of the Next World War” is billed as “a chillingly authentic geopolitical thriller” — and it is. The White House, Pentagon, and myriad foreign-policy think tanks should take note.

By way of background, Admiral Stavridis is a retired four-star admiral who served as the supreme allied commander of NATO. Mr. Ackerman is a former White…


The Hinge of History: Political, Racial and Economic

Thasunda Brown Duckett, the next CEO of TIAA

Philosophers, historians, and politicians have been asking a profound question of late. Are we living at a hinge of history, a moment of tremendous change that will influence the future of democracy in the United States as well as the fate of our species?

Myriad technological advances, a massive pandemic, climate change, and racialized politics in the U.S. and elsewhere are all evidence of this hinge. Speaking to the United Nations Human Rights Council last week, Secretary-General António Guterres described the intersection of these forces. Reuters reported his warning that “white supremacy…


I am being whipsawed by too many conflicting currents driving culture, politics, business, and history in America. What’s enduring? What’s barely a blip? Do I cheer or hide under the covers?

That’s what I asked myself one week after President Joe Biden’s inauguration. It was also three weeks after rioters threatened the lives of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and then-Vice President Mike Pence. Although the riot failed to derail the transition of presidential power, five people were killed, including a Capitol policeman. …


Nemo Allen/Courtesy of The Museum of the City of New York

Callie O’Connor, collections assistant in the Museum of the City of New York’s Costume and Textiles Collection, stands among gowns worn by Marian Anderson, who broke a color barrier when she sang the national anthem at President Dwight Eisenhower’s second inauguration.

“Be a credit to the race.”

“Don’t disgrace the race.”

Those were the admonitions I heard as a child in the 1950s. In essence, my elders were saying that as an African American girl, I shouldn’t contribute to the omnipresent, demeaning images of Black people in the media…


We have been seeing the stories for weeks now. Former government officials and influencers of all political persuasions have been giving President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris lots of advice. Suggestions include whom to hire, which policies to pursue, and even how to decorate a Cabinet secretary’s office.

George Shultz celebrated his 100th birthday last month. The former treasury secretary in the Nixon administration told a virtual audience at the U.S. Institute of Peace that he had shared an idea in a note to incoming Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Dr. …

Jacqueline Adams

Jacqueline Adams is an Emmy Award winning journalist. She is the co-author of “A Blessing: Women of Color Teaming Up to Lead, Empower and Thrive.”

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