It’s Time To Get Uppity Again

August, 2005
In this issue:
1. Reader News
2. August Editorial: “It’s Time To Get Uppity Again!”
3. Next Month’s Editorial Title
4. Quote of the Month: Tom Brokaw

New Feature at
One of the least appreciated features of my website is the Links Page. I am constantly asked about other people and organizations with whom I am affiliated or familiar. The Links Page is there for the perusing. Because it is so infrequently visited, one link will be featured on’s homepage from time to time. Presently, it is the Best Practices Institute, where I’ve been invited to serve on its board.


[This month’s editorial follows the theme of the last two months, the third in the series]

Fifty years ago this month, President Lyndon Johnson signed The Voting Rights Act into law here in the U.S., which served as add-on legislation from the year prior when The Civil Rights Act was passed. The civil rights movement of the late 1950s and 1960s was a significant milestone in the evolution of this relatively young country. It could be seen as a “right of passage” as we became a bit more mature as a young society.

Prior to this time, it was commonplace for some whites to refer to African Americans as “uppity negroes.” The dictionary defines “uppity” as “putting on or marked by airs of superiority,” “arrogant” or “presumptuous.”

Until fifty years ago, it was considered uppity for any African American to presume any rights other than what our racially prejudiced society allowed him or her to enjoy through local convention. If they presumed any more they “didn’t know their place” and were frowned on at best and murdered at worst.

We Americans have a history of “uppity-ness.” Our country was founded on it. Our nation’s founders dared to get uppity and rebelled against the King and Mother England. Our women got uppity when they worked for generations to get the right to vote in 1920, rectifying a situation which is hard to imagine today.

As I wrote in last month’s editorial, millions of souls think they are being forced to conform to a way of living and working that requires them to surrender their rights to fully express themselves, their values and their visions for a better world.

Feeling like they are being treated as machines instead of human beings with hearts and souls, large numbers of our working populations are feeling like slaves to the system, restrained not by ropes or shackles but by convention and fear.

It is time for all these people to “get uppity” like our founders did, like our women did and like our African Americans did fifty years ago. It is time to speak out and demand that work environments be radically changed, that people be treated radically different, that attitudes about the environment be radically transformed. This will require anyone who feels suppressed to risk being judged as arrogant, presumptuous, and putting on “airs of superiority.”

Let us remember that our systems were created to serve us, and not the other way around. Let us take our inspiration from the courageous leaders of the past and dare to dream for the freedom to express ourselves authentically, the integrity to take a stand for our full humanity, and the courage to challenge the system whenever it gets confusing as to who is serving whom.
NEXT MONTH’S EDITORIAL: “Confessions of a Bullshit Artist”

“It will do us little good if we wire the world if we short-circuit our souls.” – Tom Brokaw
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John delivers keynotes talks to corporations, associations and conferences. A list of his topics can be viewed at Keynotes That Make You Think! For samples of endorsements for his talks check: What people have said about John as a speaker.

John is also a San Francisco writer and business futurist. His latest book is Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing.

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John Renesch

John is a seasoned businessman-turned-futurist who has published 14 books and hundreds of articles on social and organizational transformation.

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