Wednesday, September 9, 2015

About the Black Lives Matter campaign

There has been criticism of the Black Lives Matter campaign that its focus on black lives only implies white lives don't matter. This is an obvious and probably intentional misreading of the Black Lives Matter message, but there is a context where the criticism may make sense.

In terms of police brutality, of course black lives matter and of course there is an experience of being black (or a person of color) in the U.S. that is unique and that many "white" people cannot understand because they have not experienced it and, if they are thoughtful people, find it hard to believe even happens because they cannot imagine people could be so nasty to each other, or that surely such violence does not happen without provocation.

But as we've seen over and over, there is racism in law enforcement (and elsewhere) and a campaign to highlight that is good, but not sufficient. We cannot change the attitudes of racist cops overnight. But we can demand for everyone's sake that cops who do as they please and violate civil rights be reined in. As a society we can say we will not tolerate out-of-control law enforcement for anyone. This does not end racism, of course, but it does help protect people of color who bear the brunt of such behavior as well as "white" people who are also subject to such abuse albeit less often and not as deliberately.

In 1974, my husband, who is white, was travelling with some friends in the U.S. in a green car with Michigan license plates. They were in southern California and a green car with Michigan plates had been involved in a robbery in the area. The police pulled them over and forced everyone to the ground at gunpoint screaming obscenities the entire time. At one point, my husband who is Swedish was going to reach for his passport to prove his identity but, thankfully, did not. When it was clear they had the wrong car, the police simply drove away. No apology.

I understand the potential danger to the police, and the odds of two green cars with Michigan plates in that part of California at the same time is low, but coincidences do happen. And to approach it with such a macho attitude only increases fear and tension. To leave with no apology is inexcusable. There is no doubt in my mind if my husband had reached for his passport, a natural thing to do if you are in a foreign country and/or unfamiliar with possible police attitudes, he would be dead today.

While not deliberate victimization by racist cops, it was nonetheless a shocking and frightening experience for my husband and his friends and did nothing to increase their overall trust in U.S. law enforcement.

So keep up the "Black Lives Matter" campaign to build awareness of racism in law enforcement and elsewhere, but for pragmatic results that indirectly curb the behavior of racist cops and that benefit everyone, we should demand loudly and unequivocally that aggressive, out-of-control cops be removed from their jobs.

© 2015 Kvick Thoughts. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


For years my college catalog carried a black and white photo of two people "traying" down a hill in the winter snow. (Do students still do this – slide down hills on serving trays?) In the picture, snow is flying and you can almost hear the students’ glee as they skid wildly down the slope.

Every time I saw that picture I felt envy and anger. How could those people be so happy and be having such a good time? My college years were not especially happy. And when did those students find time to get outside?  I went traying only once in college.  
It’s not that college was so awful; more like bittersweet. There were some good moments, but also a lot of anguish and self-realization. But mostly my college years were a lot of hard work and worry. Campus life was intense, and I did not adapt well to work hard, play hard living. Perhaps it was a lack of self-confidence and uncertainty that I could handle the academic and social challenges that came my way.

When I walked past the campus common and saw people playing Frisbee, or stared out the library window at a chaotic game of softball in the field below, I felt like an outsider. Why couldn’t I abandon the books and cut loose for a while? Why did I find it so hard to balance work and play, and how did these people do it so effortlessly? A PE teacher once told us the best thing to do when we felt like a nap was to take a walk. I knew she was right, but I couldn’t bring myself to waste an hour wandering around the campus arboretum.

By my senior year, pre-exam stress and tremendous self-doubt were taking their toll. I had no choice but to take the PE teacher’s advice. I started walking and swimming as regularly as I could, and in a fit of anxiety, decided to go for broke on my seniors' exam, i.e. show evidence of thought rather than regurgitate what I knew. I was scared, but the strategy worked. I got honors on the exam. By spring, when I knew I would graduate, I began to relax a little and even took courses that were out of character for me.  One of them became one of my favorite courses.

So despite my self-doubts, college did its job. I learned to respect emotional well-being, honor the balance between body and mind, and enjoy learning for learning’s sake.

As I look back, my biggest regret is that I’m such a slow learner. Several years after graduation while I was digging through some boxes, I ran across the college catalog and stared at that picture for the umpteenth time still puzzling over how those people knew what it took me so long to realize. Suddenly I noticed something. One of the jackets looked familiar…and I think I once had mittens like those.

The lead person on the tray was me.

© 2014 Kvick Thoughts. All rights reserved. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nätverksbyggande med förhinder

Som introvert är jag inte bra på småprat. Jag skulle göra nästan vad som helst än att vara med på ett av alla dessa mingel- eller nätverksbyggarmöten. Men eftersom ”kontakter” är så viktiga för företagare fortsätter jag att delta. Men det kunde genom några få enkla åtgärder från arrangörerna bli mycket lättare för oss lite blyga:

Man kan hata eller älska dem, men de fyller sitt syfte. De är både en påminnelse om syftet med mötet och en enkel samtalsöppning för den som från början känner få av deltagarna. Dessutom gör de det lättare att komma ihåg namn. De fungerar. Använd dem.

Hjälp nykomlingar känna sig välkomna
Utse vid luncher eller middagar en ”bordsvärd”, som kan identifiera och välkomna nykomlingar till gruppen. Ge varje ny medlem en ”kompis” för att hjälpa till att introducera dem de 4-5 första gångerna. Eller fråga nykomlingar vid anmälan till en aktivitet om de vill någon äldre medlem som ”kompis”. Arrangörerna borde också planera någon form av strukturerad aktivitet där alla deltagare presenterar sig för varandra. Det kräver eftertanke och planering att få människor att känna sig välkomna. Lämna det inte till slumpen.

Stå eller sitta?
Visst är det besvärligt att skaka hand och samtidigt hålla en tallrik med små mat och en drink. Men syftet med nätverksmöten är att få nya bekanta, inte att smörja skrovet. Och det är lättare att mingla stående än sittande. En tumregel kan vara att inte ha stolar till alla. Det får deltagarna att byta platser och flytta runt under aktiviteten – det vill säja mingla. Vill du sitta ned och äta med dina vänner - gå till en restaurang.

Det personliga är lättare att minnas
Kom ihåg att det är ett maraton, inte ett sprinterlopp. Målet är inte ha få så många visitkort som möjligt, utan att få så bra kontakt med 2-3 personer att ni kommer ihåg varandra nästa gång ni träffas. Det är vetenskapligt bevisat att vuxna lär sig genom att associering, inte genom inlärning. Nästa gång du träffar någon i affärslivet, utbyt affärselementa, men också lite personlig information som hjälper er att minnas varandra. Förresten, när någon ställer frågar om dig, glöm inte att fråga tillbaka. Det handlar om god ton.

Nytta eller nöje
En avslappnad stämning är bra för framgångsrikt kontaktskapande. Men jag var nyligen på ett arrangemang där höga bakgrundsmusiken gjorde det nästan omöjligt att samtala. Det är populärt i Sverige att blanda arbete och nöje. Men resultatet är blandat. Kontaktskapande möten skall vara strukturerade, meningsfulla och ganska korta. Ett party är – tja, ett party. Låt kontaktskapande vara kontaktskapande och fester vara fester (med respektive eller vänner). Blanda inte ihop dem.

Framgångsrikt nätverksbyggande uppstår inte av sig självt. Det kräver planering av alla arrangemangets delar. Och paradoxalt nog känns aktiviteten mer spontan och avslappnande ju bättre planerad den är.

Publicerades av VLT (Västmanlands Läns Tidning), 15 augusti 2008. För att läsa artikeln på engelska, klicka här.