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Pentagon Celebrates Diversity at LGBT Pride Month Observance

pentagon pride month

The many different backgrounds of those who serve in the military make room for diversity, which makes the country strong, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth said at the celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month in the Pentagon Center Courtyard.

“Our differences have made us a more effective fighting force,” the senator said. “Diversity leads to more problem solving and more success,” she added during yesterday’s event.

Duckworth was joined by retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith and by Stuart Milk, renowned global LGBT human rights activist and nephew of slain civil rights leader Harvey Milk.

“Bigotry has no place downrange. … It weakens our forces and imperils our nation,” said Duckworth, an Army wounded warrior from the Iraq War.

“Who you are and who you love has no bearing on your ability to defend the country,” she said, noting that it was 50 years ago when the “Stonewall” event evoked change that spilled over to make the U.S. armed forces stronger.

A coalition of CEOs wants to get boards to commit to diversity

CEO diversity advocacy.jpg

  • A coalition of chief executives is trying to get more corporate boards to create diversity plans at U.S. companies, a senior official with the group said Wednesday.
  • “We’re asking CEOs and their boards to commit to annually doing a diversity and inclusion strategic plan,” Tim Ryan, chair of the steering committee for the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion told “Squawk Box” Wednesday.
  • The group has 650 CEOs in over 85 industries supporting its efforts. (click for video)

Drag queen: Performance is a lesson in diversity

drag queen

Matthew Maisano says the show with Balena Canto will go on, despite any opposition to the drag queen reading children’s books at libraries, because the message is too important.

The 29-year-old Delaware County resident will transform into his queen persona to read at Drag Queen Story Hour Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Haverford Township Free Library, then again at 4 p.m. Friday, June 28, at the Middletown library.

“I love this like a vocation – to be able to teach children about diversity, self-acceptance, self-love,” he explained.

Maisano, a trained opera singer who also studied education, began performing as Balena Canto two years ago when his friend asked him to participate in a gender-bend opera program in Philadelphia.

He created Balena as a way to combine several loves.

“Whales are my favorite animals,” he said, adding that he and his mom have gone about 20 times. “I’m obsessed with whale watching. Specifically humpback whales, they sing.”

And, in Italian, “balena” means whale and “canto” means “singing or song.” So, Maisano, an Italian American, said the name was a play on that and on “bel canto,” which is an Italian style of operatic singing, meaning “beautiful singing” in that language. (read more)

De Blasio announces new diversity plans for NYC schools

DeBlasio diversity

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a major new push to tackle segregation and improve opportunity for disadvantaged students in city public schools on Monday, though some say he hasn’t gone far enough.

The Department of Education will adopt 62 of 67 proposals recommended by a diversity advisory group, including the implementation of a “culturally responsive” curriculum and targeting schools with poor students for special attention.

The city will add diversity and integration information into school quality reports and require all schools to monitor how they discipline students and develop plans to reduce disparities in how kids are penalized, officials said.

DOE will also establish pilot programs for “diversity targets” for school admissions based on the makeup of each school community. The city will create a “General Assembly” with reps from every high school to develop a student agenda and vote on issues. And the city will look at how Title I – the largest federal aid program for schools – impacts integration.  (read more)

Sephora’s shutdown for diversity training is a temporary fix to bigger issue

sephora diversity

This past week, Sephora closed down each of its 400+ stores for a day of diversity training. Could the training have been a useless shutdown?

The shut down impacted 16,000 employees who participated in an hour-long training on diversity. The call to train staff members came after Grammy-nominated singer SZA was racially profiled at a Calabasas, California branch of the chain store. The singer tweeted about the incident, stating she was attempting to buy makeup from Rihanna’s product line Fenty when she was followed by personnel. Following the incident, Rihanna reached out and sent a gift card for future makeup purchases. (read more)

Only Woman To Direct A Broadway Musical This Year Blasts Broadway’s Lack Of Diversity

broadway diversity

At the Tony Awards, “Hadestown” director Rachel Chavkin called out the lack of women and people of color leading the theater world’s biggest productions.

At Sunday night’s Tony Awards, director Rachel Chavkin, the only woman to direct a musical on Broadway this season, blasted the industry during her acceptance speech for not giving more opportunities to women and people of color to helm the theater world’s biggest productions.

“There are so many women who are ready to go. There are so many artists of color who are ready to go. And we need to see that racial diversity and gender diversity reflected in our critical establishment, too,” Chavkin, the director of “Hadestown,” told the audience after winning for Best Direction of a Musical. “This is not a pipeline issue. It is a failure of imagination by a field whose job is to imagine the way the world could be.” (read more)

Hamilton wants to work with F1 on lack of diversity

racing diversity

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton wants to work with Formula One to improve diversity in motor racing.

Hamilton, F1’s first and only black driver, has been an outspoken criticon that topic. Ahead of last year’s opening race, the Australian Grand Prix, he posted an Instagram picture with the message: “There’s barely any diversity in F1. Still nothing’s changed in 11 years I’ve been here. Kids, people, there’s so many jobs in this sport of which anybody, no matter your ethnicity or background, can make it and fit in.”

Five-time world champion Hamilton is well on his way to becoming F1’s most successful driver, as he is closing in on some of the records set by Michael Schumacher, but he says he wants to be remembered for shaping the sport in a different way too. (read more)

Fighting Germans and Jim Crow: Role of black troops on D-Day

dday black troops

While portrayals of D-Day often depict an all-white host of invaders, African Americans fought both segregation and Nazi Germans.

It was the most massive amphibious invasion the world has ever seen, with tens of thousands of Allied troops spread out across the air and sea aiming to get a toehold in Normandy for the final assault on Nazi Germany. And while portrayals of D-Day often depict an all-white host of invaders, in fact it also included many African Americans.

Roughly 2,000 African American troops are believed to have hit the shores of Normandy in various capacities on June 6, 1944. Serving in a U.S. military still-segregated by race, they encountered discrimination both in the service and when they came home.

But on Normandy, they faced the same danger as everyone else.

The only African American combat unit that day was the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, whose job was to set up explosive-rigged balloons to deter German planes. Waverly Woodson Jr. was a corporal and a medic with the battalion. Although Woodson did not live to see this week’s 75th anniversary — he died in 2005 — he told The Associated Press in 1994 about how his landing craft hit a mine on the way to Omaha Beach. (read more)

Native American actor to get Oscar, a first, at honorary awards

native american actor

A Native American actor will receive an Oscar for the first time, organizers said Monday, as the Academy published a list of honorary prizes following years of controversy over the awards’ diversity.

Wes Studi, who is best known for his roles in “Dances with Wolves” and “The Last of the Mohicans” — is one of three industry veterans who will receive honorary prizes at the glitzy Governors Awards ceremony on October 27, along with filmmakers David Lynch and Lina Wertmuller. (read more)

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