Second in a series on what Harvard scholars are doing to identify and understand inequality, in seeking solutions to one of America’s most vexing problems.“We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both,” Associate Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said decades ago during another period of pronounced inequality in America.Echoing the concern of the Harvard Law School (HLS) graduate, over the past 30 years myriad forces have battered the United States’ legendary reputation as the world’s “land of opportunity.”The 2008 global economic meltdown that eventually bailed out Wall Street financiers but left ordinary citizens to fend for themselves trained a spotlight on the unfairness of fiscal inequality. The issue gained traction during the Occupy Wall Street protest movement in 2011 and during the successful U.S. Senate campaign of former HLS Professor Elizabeth Warren in 2012.What was once viewed as a fringe political issue is now at the heart of the angry, populist rhetoric of the 2016 presidential campaign. Personified by outsider candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, economic inequality has resonated with broad swaths of nervous voters on both the left and right.“Smart poor kids are less likely to graduate from college now than dumb rich kids. That’s not because of the schools, that’s because of all the advantages that are available to rich kids.”— Robert PutnamLawrence Katz, the Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), says the most damaging aspects of the gap between the top 1 percent of Americans and everyone else involve the increasing economic and political power that the very rich wield over society, along with a growing educational divide, and escalating social segregation in which the elites live in literal and figurative gated communities.If the rate of economic mobility — the ability of people to improve their economic station — was higher, he says, our growing income disparity might not be such a problem.“But what we have been seeing is rising inequality with stagnant mobility, which means that the consequences of where you start out, whether it’s in a poor neighborhood, whether it’s from a single-parent household, are more consequential today than in the past. Your ZIP code and the exact characteristics of your parents seem to matter more,” said Katz. “And that’s quite disturbing.”The growing gap between the rich and the rest isn’t a matter of who can afford a yacht or a Manhattan penthouse, analysts say. Rather, it’s the crippling nature of these disparities as they touch nearly every aspect of daily lives, from career prospects and educational opportunities to health risks and neighborhood safety.The widening income gap also has fueled a class-based social disconnect that has produced inequitable educational results. “Now, your family income matters more than your own abilities in terms of whether you complete college,” said Robert Putnam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). “Smart poor kids are less likely to graduate from college now than dumb rich kids. That’s not because of the schools, that’s because of all the advantages that are available to rich kids.”Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerEconomic inequality also feeds the political kind, driving everything from the actions of our political representatives to the quality and quantity of civic engagement, such as voting and community-based public service.“It’s long been known that the better educated, those with higher incomes, participate more” in politics on “everything from voting to contacting politicians to donating,” said Theda Skocpol, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at FAS. “What is quite new in recent times is … very systematically, that government really responds much more to the privileged than to even middle-income people who vote.”Money eases accessThe U.S. Supreme Court’s unlacing of campaign-finance laws that limited how much donors could give candidates or affiliate organizations, coupled with allowing donors to shield their identities from public scrutiny, have spawned a financial arms race that requires viable presidential candidates, for example, to solicit donors constantly in a quest to raise $1 billion or more to win.Given that rulebook, it’s hardly surprising that the political supporters with the greatest access to candidates are usually the very wealthy. Backers with both influence and access often help to shape the political agenda. The result is a kind of velvet rope that can keep those without economic clout on the sidelines, out of the conversation.“In the current election cycle, 158 families have given half the money to candidates.”— Lawrence Lessig“Something like the carried-interest provision in the tax code, when you explain it to ordinary citizens, they don’t like the idea that income earned by investing other people’s money should be taxed at a lower rate than regular wage and salary income. It’s not popular in some broad, polling sense. But many politicians probably don’t realize it at all because … politicians spend a lot of their time asking people to give money to them [who] don’t think it’s a good idea to change that,” said Skocpol. “There’s a real danger that, as wealth and income are more and more concentrated toward the top, it does become a vicious circle.”“Money has corrupted our political process,” said Lawrence Lessig, the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at HLS. In Congress, he said, “They focus too much on the tiny slice, 1 percent, who are funding elections. In the current election cycle [as of October], 158 families have given half the money to candidates. That’s a banana republic democracy; that’s not an American democracy.”Lessig was so unhappy with how political campaigns are funded that he briefly ran for president on the issue. Reviewing his efforts during a Harvard forum on the topic in November, he described his candidacy as a referendum on the campaign-finance system, but also on the need to reform Congress, which he called a “broken and corrupted institution” undercut by big donors and gerrymandered election districts.How we got hereChristopher “Sandy” Jencks, the Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy at HKS, believes that the past 30 years of rising American inequality can be attributed to three key factors:The decline in jobs and employment rates for less-skilled workers, which has increased the number of households with children but no male breadwinner.The demand for college graduates outpacing the pool of job candidates, adding to the gap between the middle class and upper-middle class.The share of income gains flowing to the top 1 percent of earners doubling as a result of deregulation, globalization, and speculation in the financial services industry.The U.S. government does “considerably less” than comparable democracies to even out disposable family incomes, Jencks says. And current state and local tax policies “actually increase income inequality.”“All the costs and risks of capitalism seem to have been shifted largely to those who work rather than those who invest,” he said.Compounding the economic imbalance is the unlikely prospect that those at the bottom can ever improve their lot.“We have some of the lowest rates of upward mobility of any developed country in the world,” said Nathaniel Hendren, an associate professor of economics at FAS who has studied intergenerational mobility and how inequality transmits across generations.Source: CBPP.orgHendren, along with Harvard economists Katz and Raj Chetty, now at Stanford University, looked at the lasting effects of moving children to better neighborhoods as part of Moving to Opportunity, a short-lived federal housing program from the ’90s. Their analysis, published in May, found that the longer children are exposed to better environments, the better they do economically in the future. Whichever city or state children grow up in also radically affects whether they’ll move out of poverty, he said.For children in parts of the Midwest, the Northeast, and the West, upward mobility rates are high. But in the South and portions of the Rust Belt, rates are very low. For example, a child born in Iowa into a household making less than $25,000 a year has an 18 percent chance to move into the upper 20 percent of income strata over a lifetime. But a child born in Atlanta or Charlotte, N.C., has only a 4 percent chance of moving up, their study found.Graphic by Judy Blomquist/Harvard StaffWhat unites areas of low mobility, Hendren says, are broken family structures, reduced levels of civic and community engagement, lower-quality K-12 education, greater racial and economic segregation, and broader income inequality.In addition, 90 percent of American workers have seen their wages stall while their costs of living continue to rise.“When you look at the data, it’s sobering. Median household income when last reported in 2013 was at a level first attained in 1989, adjusting for inflation. That’s a long time to go without any gains,” said Jan Rivkin, the Bruce V. Rauner Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School (HBS).Wage inequality is on the rise for both genders. Within that range, the gap between men and women remains a hot-button issue despite gains by women in the past three decades. Broadly, the ratio of median earnings for women increased from 0.56 to 0.78 between 1970 and 2010.Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Graphic by Judy Blomquist/Harvard StaffBut according to Claudia Goldin, the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at FAS, the gender earnings gap is not a constant, varying widely by occupation and age. While women in their late 20s earn about 92 percent of what their male counterparts earn, women in their early 50s earn just 71 cents on the dollar that the average man makes. For some career paths, like pharmacists, veterinarians, and optometrists, corporatization has closed the gap between men and women.Even so, wiping away the gender pay gap isn’t a cure-all for the larger issues of inequality.“If you reduce gender inequality to zero, you’ve closed inequality … by a very small percent,” said Goldin. “I’m not saying there aren’t things that we can’t fix, but I am telling you, without a doubt, they’re going to move the lever by very little.”Underinvestment in “the commons”Rivkin says that the pressures of globalization and technological change and the weakening of labor unions have had a major impact. But he disagrees that political favoritism toward business interests and away from ordinary citizens is the primary reason for burgeoning inequality. Rather, he says that sustained underinvestment by government and business in “the commons” — the institutions and services that offer wide community benefits, like schools and roads — has been especially detrimental.Last spring, HBS conducted an alumni survey for its annual U.S. Competitiveness Project research series, probing respondents for their views on the current and future state of American businesses, the prospects of dominating the global marketplace, and the likelihood that the resulting prosperity would be shared more evenly among citizens.“What is quite new in recent times is … very systematically, that government really responds much more to the privileged than to even middle-income people who vote.”— Theda SkocpolThe survey findings, released in September, showed that most HBS alumni were skeptical that living standards would rise more equitably soon, given existing policies and practices. A majority said that inequality and related issues like rising poverty, limited economic mobility, and middle-class stagnation were not only social ills, but problems that affected their businesses.“My sense is that a larger and larger number of business leaders are waking up to the idea that issues of inequality, and particularly lack of shared prosperity, have to be addressed for the sake of business,” said Rivkin, the project’s co-chair.The surging power of the very wealthy in America now rivals levels last seen in the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, analysts say. One difference, however, is that the grotesque chasm between that era’s robber barons and tenement dwellers led to major social and policy reforms that are still with us, including labor rights, women’s suffrage, and federal regulatory agencies to oversee trade, banking, food, and drugs.Hendren said there’s no less chance today of rising or falling along the income spectrum than there was 25 years ago. “The chances of moving up or down the ladder are the same,” he said, “but the way we think about inequality is that the rungs on the ladder have gotten wider. The difference between being at the top versus the bottom of the income distribution is wider, so the consequences of being born to a poor family in dollar terms are wider.”What price inaction?Unless America’s policymakers begin to chip away at the underlying elements of systemic inequality, the costs to the nation will be profound, analysts say.“I think we will pay many prices. We will continue to have divisive politics. We won’t make the investments we need to provide the majority of kids with a better life, and that would be really not fulfilling,” said Katz.Partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C., has diminished the effectiveness of government — perhaps the most essential and powerful tool for addressing inequality and citizens’ needs. By adopting a political narrative that government should not and cannot effectively solve problems, legislative inaction results in policy inaction.Lawrence Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer“It’s definitely been a strategy” to justify starving government of resources, which in turn weakens it and makes it less attractive as a tool to accomplish big things, said Skocpol. “In an everybody-for-themselves situation, it is the better-educated and the wealthy who can protect themselves.”Surveying the landscape, Katz sees reasons to be both hopeful and worried.“The optimism is that there are regions of the U.S., metropolitan areas that have tremendous upward mobility. So we do have models that work. We do have programs like Medicare and the Earned Income Tax Credit that work pretty well. I think that if national policy more approximated the upper third of state and local policies, the U.S. would have a lot of hope,” said Katz. “My pessimistic take would be that if you look at two-thirds of America, things are not improving in the way we would like.”Putnam is heartened that inequality has been widely recognized as a major problem and is no longer treated as a fringe political issue.What can be done?Jencks says there are many steps the federal government could take — if the political will existed to do so — to slow down or reverse inequality, like increasing the minimum wage, revising the tax code to tax corporate profits and investments more, reducing the debt burden on college students, and improving K-12 education so more students are better prepared for college and for personal advancement.“Strong regulation and strong support for collective control over the things that society values is much more prevalent in societies that have lower levels of inequality,” he said.Though labor rights have been eroding for decades, Benjamin Sachs, the Kestnbaum Professor of Labor and Industry at HLS, still thinks that unions could provide an unusual way to help equalize political power nationally. Unions used to wield both economic and political clout, but legislative and court decisions reduced their effectiveness as economic actors, cutting their political influence as well. At the same time, campaign finance reform to limit the influence of wealth on politics has failed.To restore some balance, Sachs suggests “unbundling” unions’ political and economic activities, allowing them to serve as political organizing vehicles for low- and middle-income Americans, even those whom a union may not represent for collective bargaining purposes.“The risk that economic inequalities will produce political ones … has led to several generations of campaign finance regulation designed to get money out of politics. But these efforts have not succeeded,” Sachs wrote in a 2013 Yale Law Review article. “Rather than struggling to find new ways to restrict political spending by the wealthy … the unbundled union, in which political organization is liberated from collective bargaining, constitutes one promising component of such a broader attempt to improve representational equality.”Still, given the historic labor and wage trend lines, Goldin said the economic forces that perpetuate unequal wages — and inequality more broadly — won’t simply disappear even with a spate of new laws.[gz_sidebar align=”right”]Possible solutions to economic and political inequality:Increase economic mobilityTax corporate profits, investments moreRaise the minimum wageCut the debts of college graduatesImprove K-12 educationReduce the influence of money in politicsEven out disposable family incomesTax carried interest at a higher rateMake business taxes a compliance issueMentor low-income childrenJump-start vocational education[/gz_sidebar]“I think it is naïve of most individuals to think that for everything there is something that government can legislate and regulate and impose that makes life better for everybody,” she said. “That’s just not the case.”Even so, with Congress stalled over fresh policies, analysts say that much of the innovation concerning inequality has moved to state and local levels, where partisanship is less calcified and the needs of constituents are more evident.In Oregon and California, for example, residents will be automatically registered to vote upon turning 18, a move that Skocpol says should bolster civic participation and provide protection from onerous new voter-identification laws.While it’s clear that investing in children and their education pays lifelong dividends for them, those gains take 20 years to be realized, said Katz. That’s why it’s critical that their parents get help and live in less vulnerable situations.“There is certainly evidence that if we reduce the degree of economic and racial and ethnic segregation of our communities, we can move in that direction,” said Katz, who is working on an experiment to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit in New York City to help younger workers without children who are struggling to break into the labor market.Changes to the minimum wage, the tax system, and the treatment of carried interest “are all debates in which our society should engage,” said Rivkin, who cautioned that those would be hard-fought political battles that wouldn’t yield results for at least a decade.Of course industry needs to run its businesses productively and profitably, but it can do so without harming “the commons,” Rivkin said. “Business has been very effective at pursuing its narrow self-interest in looking for special tax breaks. I think that kind of behavior just needs to stop.” Drawing on an idea from HBS Finance Professor Mihir Desai, Rivkin suggests that businesses treat their tax responsibilities as a compliance function rather than as a profit center. That money could then go back into investment in “the commons,” where “lots of common ground” exists among business, labor, policymakers, educators, and others. “The businesses should be working with the local community college to train the workers whom they would love to hire; the university should be getting together with policymakers to figure out how to get innovations out of the research lab into startups faster; business should work with educators to reinvent the school system,” said Rivkin.Putnam suggests more widespread mentoring of low-income children who lack the social safety net that upper- and middle-class children enjoy, a topic he explored in his book “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.”He recently convened five working groups to develop a series of white papers that will offer overviews of the key challenges in family structure and parenting; early childhood development; K-12 education; vocational, technical, and community colleges; and community institutions. The papers will be shared with mayors and leaders in churches, nonprofits, and community organizations across the nation, where much of the reform effort is taking place.“There’s an increasing sense that this is a big deal, that we’re moving toward an America that none of us has ever lived in, a world of two Americas, a completely economically divided country,” said Putnam. “That’s not an America I want my grandchildren to grow up in. And I think there are lots of people in America who, if they stop and think about it, would say, ‘No, that’s not really us.’”Illustration by Kathleen M.G. Howlett.Next Tuesday: Inequality in education The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.
Refugees fleeing war and conflict find shelter but little solace in camps erected to house them, according to Richard Mollica, who heads the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma (HPRT). Mollica, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has worked with refugees for decades. The camps themselves can be dangerous places, rife with sexual violence, he noted. And, though shelter and safety are the main priorities for new arrivals, Mollica knows from experience that a holistic approach that includes mental health care is critical for their long-term prospects. The problem is getting worse. As the United Nations marks World Refugee Day on Monday, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is reporting unprecedented numbers of refugees, with 42,500 added daily. Data from UNHCR show 59.5 million displacements around the world, with 19.5 million people fitting the definition of refugee by traveling abroad in search of safety and better lives. Though European countries have become a prominent destination for those fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, UNHCR figures show that the nations hosting the largest refugee populations are outside of Europe: Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia, and Jordan. Mollica, who is consulting with governments in Greece and Italy on the crisis in Europe, took a break from his travels to speak with the Gazette about the challenges facing today’s refugees.GAZETTE: Europe, and the Syrian civil war that is driving refugees there, has been in the headlines, but is that the largest refugee crisis in the world today?MOLLICA: I think the largest crisis has to do with the Syrian refugees. You have millions of Syrians who are living displaced. [They’re] in Jordan; they make up a significant percentage now of Lebanon’s population. They’re in Turkey and they’re fleeing by the hundreds of thousands into Greece and Italy, trying to get into Europe. This is where most of the crisis is: the war in Syria. Then you have also Iraqi refugees fleeing the crisis in Iraq and they’re coming into these countries and trying to flee into Europe. You also have many Afghan refugees as well. And then you have the enormous number of people coming in from Eritrea, Somalia, and other parts of Africa, trying to get into Europe as well by taking boats to Greece and Italy.‘You have whole generations of children now growing up who really are people without a country.’GAZETTE: What are the common challenges that refugees face?MOLLICA: It depends on whether you’re talking about chronic refugee camp situations like the Palestinians or the camps in Kenya, where people have been living in these camps for over 20 years. They face different problems than people who are in the acute refugee phase, like the Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war, or the Iraqi refugees fleeing ISIS and the conflict in the Middle East.In the chronic state, you have a problem with people who feel hopeless. They’re living displaced. They have no secure environment. They have no constitutional rights to being part of a country. They’re being protected by the international community. You have whole generations of children now growing up who really are people without a country. The problem of the chronic refugees is really one about dependency, hopelessness, despair. The younger people are affected by no jobs, no school, poor education.And then you have the people coming into the camps from the Syrian civil war who have faced tremendous brutality and suffering. They’re seeking some kind of protection from a terrible, brutal civil war that’s been impacting them, protection from future violence. Many of them lost everything. Their homes, family members murdered, children were murdered, rape. They’re coming in a very acute and terrible state, having suffered.GAZETTE: Are the physical problems a higher priority to address or are the mental problems perhaps more significant because they’re even longer-lasting?MOLLICA: The general concept is to provide refugees who are going through the acute crises with safety and protection, food, water, and shelter, and some acute emergency care. And I think the United Nations and the international sponsors have done a very good job relocating and protecting millions of people in Lebanon and in Jordan. But the problem is that these refugees are so traumatized that one would guess that about 60 percent have major depression and about a third also have post-traumatic stress disorder.Because you carry this psychological burden, that doesn’t mean that you can’t function, you can’t go to school, you can’t work. It’s just that you’re in a state of serious emotional distress and suffering. The model — safety, protection, food, meeting humanitarian needs — provides a basic structure of safety and support, but these environments are not healing environments, they’re not recovery environments. That’s the problem you have today. You have millions of people who have a tremendous physical injury, tremendous losses of family, sexual violence, and gender-based violence, etc., and they come into refugee camp settings, where there’s no healing agenda, no recovery agenda.That’s HPRT’s biggest critique of the current situation. One camp, called the Zaatari camp [in Jordan], which is massive and huge and just a sand desert — in no way at all can one call that a healing recovery environment for people. People are being warehoused, [though] the governments, the United Nations High Commissioner, and the international community are doing the best they can.GAZETTE: Would it better for refugees to be in a position where they could work, support themselves, maybe go back to school?MOLLICA: Absolutely. I’ll be talking about this at the World Bank next week. Health is siloed from mental health, and mental health is siloed from community development, economic and social-cultural development. We’re talking about people who live in very siloed worlds, where the humanitarian aid gets the top priority, disease gets next priority, mental health is a sideshow, and the basic recovery of the people — including rebuilding their spiritual environment, their cultural environment — is not even on the table. You don’t have an integrated, holistic approach to the refugee crisis and refugee community, and that’s the problem.I’ll give you an example. With unaccompanied minors, between 11 and 17, about 10 percent are girls. They have to leave their families, they’ve been through civil war, they have to go on a long journey by themselves. They come into Greece by the tens of thousands. They’re given safety and protection. But most of the kids have been trafficked; they’re in the hands of traffickers. There’s no adequate healthcare for these kids. There’s absolutely no mental health care for these kids, almost none, and no sense of developing a program. They are — especially the girls — sitting ducks for traffickers. [The camps] have no integrated, holistic approach to how you deal with the well-being of an 11-year-old girl who ran away or was sent away by her family to Greece and has been through such horror. It isn’t enough to put her in protective shelter.Of course, one of the biggest, saddest stories is that gender-based violence in all refugee camps is epidemic. You don’t have the same priority put on reducing gender-based violence as you have on reducing infectious diseases. There’s no parity between infectious diseases, in the health sector, and gender-based violence, which is a health issue, a mental health issue, and a human rights violation. There’s no real attempt to stifle and suppress the epidemic of sexual violence that’s happening to young boys and girls and to women in these camps. This is a conceptual problem, because health is in a silo — health is about infectious disease — but the biggest health issue is violence: pre-coming into the camp, coming to the camp, and ongoing in the camp. The violence is not seen as a health issue of the same priority of the infectious disease; there’s a conceptual problem.GAZETTE: It sounds like the rationale is: OK, let’s get everybody a place where we can feed them and give them shelter and we’ll keep them there until the conflict is over and then they can go home and pick up their lives like they were before.MOLLICA: It’s what I call the rubber-band model. The refugees are the stretched rubber band. You put the rubber band in the camp, it’s less stretched. You send them home and it’s not stretched anymore and they go back to normal. Of course all the epidemiological research shows this is not true. And the rubber-band phenomenon is not based on credible scientific evidence. … Yet that’s the philosophy.
While transgender people have increasingly received public recognition, there has been little concerted effort to support and improve their health, according to a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researcher and other authors of a special Series published in The Lancet. Compiled with input of members of the transgender community, the Series provides an assessment of the health of transgender people worldwide and offers a framework for improvement.The Series was published on June 17, 2016.The authors estimate that there are around 25 million transgender people worldwide. They say that laws and policies that deny transgender people recognition can damage their mental and physical health and make accessing care more challenging.The Series reports that transgender people suffer high rates of depression—up to 60 percent—and are at greater risk of engaging in risky behavior. Transgender people are at almost 50 times greater risk of HIV than the general population, and are at risk for violence, according to the authors. There were 2,115 documented killings of transgender people worldwide between 2008 and 2016.“There are huge gaps in our understanding of transgender health stemming from a fundamental challenge of defining this diverse group and a failure to recognize gender diversity. Nevertheless, we know enough to act,” co-author Sari Reisner, a research fellow in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard Chan who also is affiliated with Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, said in the journal’s press release. Read Full Story
Sierra Magazine, the national magazine of the Sierra Club, today released its tenth annual “Cool Schools” ranking of America’s greenest colleges and universities. Harvard was ranked 19th among the more than 200 schools that participated in Sierra’s extensive survey about sustainability practices on their campus. Using an updated, customized scoring system, Sierra’s researchers ranked each university based on its demonstrated commitment to upholding high environmental standards.“This year is the tenth anniversary of the Cool Schools ranking and we are thrilled to name Harvard University one of the greenest campus in the country,” said Jason Mark, Sierra’s editor in chief. “Harvard is a great example of how schools can make sustainability a key part of their mission.” This year, questions having to do with energy and transportation carry more weight than ever before—a reflection of the fact that global climate change is the most pressing environmental threat today. Sierra recognized Harvard for achieving over 100 LEED certified buildings, running shuttle buses on biodiesel since 2004, and the 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emission since 2006, the equivalent of sidelining 12,000 cars each year.“I’m so inspired to see the incredible progress that colleges and universities are making when it comes to environmental sustainability,” says Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club.For more information on Harvard’s sustainability initiatives visit green.harvard.edu, view the University-wide Sustainability Plan or annual Sustainability Report.
When Colson Whitehead ’91 first came to Harvard, he wanted to write novels about vampires and werewolves. Twenty-five years later, with several books behind him and MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships under his belt, his latest work, “The Underground Railroad,” has become a sensation, winning raves from Oprah Winfrey and many others as well as a National Book Award nomination. The novel tells the story of Cora, a slave in a Georgia plantation who becomes a runaway thanks to an actual subterranean train that helps slaves escape to freedom. The Gazette interviewed Whitehead about his desire to become a writer, his time at Harvard, and the legacy of slavery. GAZETTE: What did you learn at Harvard that helped you as a fiction writer?WHITEHEAD: When I got to college I wanted to write a hard novel, a Stephen King-type, with werewolves and vampires. During my first year, I took Robert Brustein’s post-modern drama class and Robert Kiely’s symbolism class, and so I was exposed to a different kind of fiction from what I had been working on. You don’t forget your first exposure to “The Waste Land” or to “Ulysses,” so all of that started me on figuring out different kinds of fiction that I wanted to write.GAZETTE: What were the origins of your interest in fiction?WHITEHEAD: I wanted to write fantasy fiction from a very young age. As a kid, I was interested in science fiction and horror and Marvel comics, making up crazy stories. Trying to come up with new adventures for Spider-Man was my junior high activity.GAZETTE: Did you take any creative writing class at Harvard?WHITEHEAD: I applied to a creative writing workshop twice and I was turned down both times, which was depressing but also good training for the rejection you get as a writer. So I probably learned more in that way than I would have in the workshop. [Laughs.]GAZETTE: And now you’re an acclaimed writer. What do you think of those instructors who rejected you? Did they make a mistake?WHITEHEAD: I’m sure my stories were pretty terrible. I think they were exercising good judgment. [Laughs.]GAZETTE: What made you stick with it?WHITEHEAD: I started writing as a journalist when I got out of school for The Village Voice, and there was nothing that really gave me as much pleasure as writing. I wrote my first novel and it was rejected, but I stuck with it. I didn’t have a choice but to keep going because basically there is nothing else I can do that would make me sort of feel whole.GAZETTE: What was Harvard’s main contribution to your writing career?WHITEHEAD: When you’re a writer you’re independent; you have to get your inspiration and influences from a lot of different places. At Harvard, I did a lot of grazing. I took courses in the Department of African and African American Studies, and also some theater classes — I read plays. I felt I was able to make my own secret curriculum as a writer in training. Harvard allowed me to do that with the insane variety of bright people who pass through there.GAZETTE: You’ve said one of the books that inspired you to write “The Underground Railroad” was Harriet Jacobs’ “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.” When did you read Jacobs’ book?WHITEHEAD: In my junior year at Harvard, in my “Introduction to African-American Literature” class, we read some of the big slave narratives. In “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” Harriet Jacobs talks about what it took to get her to flee the plantation. She hid for seven years in an attic waiting for passage out of North Carolina, and that became the inspiration for the North Carolina chapter in my book.GAZETTE: You have said you first had the idea for the book many years ago. Why did it take you so long to write it?WHITEHEAD: I would come to the idea every couple of years and didn’t feel ready, either emotionally or in terms of being able to grapple with the huge and harrowing subject of slavery. The protagonist evolved over time. I think that becoming a parent and having kids and becoming more mature in general allowed me to have a different perspective than I would have had when I was 30.GAZETTE: Is it particularly challenging for African-American writers to write about slavery?WHITEHEAD: I think the challenges are the same as you write about anything. If you write about gardening, World War II, or slavery, how can you bring a fresh perspective to the subject? So the challenge was to start something, figuring out what I can bring to this particular story that no one else can.GAZETTE: Your book comes at a time of growing racial conflict in the nation. How do you think it speaks to this contemporary tension?WHITEHEAD: I can’t say how people would respond to it. I think the various forms of institutional racism that create the violent rhetoric of a Trump campaign, and which create a system of rampant police brutality, were seeded hundreds of years ago, and so part of what the book does is portray the indomitability of a certain strand of racism. Hundreds of years have passed since the end of slavery but certain strands of racism still remain in force.GAZETTE: The scenes of cruelty and brutality against slaves in your book are very powerful. What went through your mind while writing those scenes?WHITEHEAD: It was painful. It’s hard for someone like me born in the 1960s to imagine the daily brutality of the plantation.GAZETTE: How important is it for a writer to create distance between himself and the material he’s creating?WHITEHEAD: We have to. The material is something you’re actively creating. What you put in, what you take out, what you exacerbate, what you underscore, those are decisions you make to create some distance. You’re simultaneously engaged with the characters and disengaged from them in order to get the work done.GAZETTE: Do you think the nation as a whole has confronted the legacy of slavery?WHITEHEAD: I’d say no. People don’t want to think about things that make them feel uncomfortable.GAZETTE: You deliver a horrific portrayal of slavery, but the book ends on a hopeful note. What hopes do you have for the country to heal the scars of slavery?WHITEHEAD: I really don’t have any hopes. We’re pretty slow to learn. I think things improve by degrees. I have it better than my grandparents. My parents worked to make things better for me and hopefully my children will have it better than I do. And surely we can’t say that nothing has improved, but there is also obviously more work to be done.This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Broadway theatergoers know that tickets to the musical “Hamilton” can cost more than a month’s rent, except for winners of the show’s $10 online lottery. But the hit’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, played to a different kind of packed house on Thursday night at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), speaking about Latino identity and activism.Miranda, who is also the force behind “In the Heights,” kicked off the second “America Adelante” conference, hosted by the Center for Public Leadership. The conference drew together Latino students from across the University, as well as more than 40 Latino leaders in business, arts, and government. Through a series of panel discussions and networking events, the conference tried to foster connection and collaboration between the students and guests.“I feel really underqualified to be here,” Miranda joked as he took the stage with Amanda Matos, M.P.P. ’19, an HKS student and co-founder of the WomanHOOD Project, a Bronx-based mentorship program for girls of color.Since both Matos and Miranda are proud Nuyoricans — New Yorkers of Puerto Rican descent — Matos fired off a few home-based warm-up questions: Yankees or Mets? The A train or the 1? Once they’d covered the basics (Yankees and the A train), Miranda settled in for a more serious discussion on code-switching, activism, and staying true to one’s roots.“I’m in a roomful of would-be Nina Rosarios right now,” Miranda said, referring to a character from “In the Heights” who leaves her neighborhood to attend Stanford University, becoming the first person from her block to attend college. Miranda shared some of his experiences of attending Hunter College and Wesleyan University, and gradually coming to see his dual cultural identity as “a superpower.”,Miranda began work on “In the Heights” as an undergraduate at Wesleyan, mixing the salsa and merengue beats of his heritage with the musical theater and freestyling hip-hop he also loves. The result, he said, was a realization that “you have to bring all of yourself into a room, not just the parts that fit in.” He cited the problematic stereotypes of knife-wielding Puerto Ricans from “West Side Story” and Paul Simon’s 1998 musical “The Capeman” as a wake-up call, adding, “I realized: No one’s making your dream musical. You have to make your dream musical.”Matos asked Miranda how Latinos can create solidarity and stay connected to their heritage while building bridges with non-Latino allies and supporters. “Give us some best practices,” she urged.Miranda’s response was simple. “I think continuing to support ourselves and our humanness is so important,” he said. “That’s what ‘Hamilton’ does: It represents the other strand of the American story that we export. It celebrates the one founder who wasn’t from here — who grew up in the Caribbean. We’re a nation of immigrants, and we ought to be proud of that story.”“Latinos in the U.S. — both immigrant and native-born — are a group that has been growing in size and influence and will continue to grow,” said Erika Carlsen, the assistant director of fellowship programs and Latino initiatives at the Center for Public Leadership, who organized “America Adelante.” “How do future public leaders understand this community, and the challenges and incredible potential benefits related to it?” She cited the great economic power of Latinos, and the need to build networks among young and seasoned Latino leaders to address key policy issues.Matos agreed. “As Latinx students and students who care deeply about communities of color, it’s important that we have an infrastructure to build power, solidarity, and strategy on the most pressing issues impacting our communities,” she said. “I hope students will see that they are all leaders now, and that we already have the power and skills to continue creating good in the world.”Carlsen and Miranda paid tribute to Lisa Garcia Quiroz ’83, M.B.A. ’90, a longtime executive at Time Warner who was also a champion of diversity both at her alma mater and in her workplace. Garcia Quiroz, who was instrumental in organizing the first “America Adelante” conference in 2016, worked tirelessly to mentor and encourage young Latino leaders until her death in March from pancreatic cancer. HKS has established a graduate fellowship in her honor.“There’s no shortage of ways to do good,” Miranda told his audience, citing the examples of Garcia Quiroz and activists such as the high school students from Parkland, Fla., who have spearheaded the #NeverAgain movement. “I can get as overwhelmed as the next person,” he admitted. “What I try to tell myself is: Don’t think of it as this tidal wave. Think of it as: There’s no shortage of lanes you can go into and do good.” Miranda’s own efforts have included several recent collaborations with other musicians and composers in support of hurricane relief for Puerto Rico and for the movement against gun violence.“That came out of being inspired by these kids,” Miranda said of “Found Tonight,” his duet with “Dear Evan Hansen” star Ben Platt in support of March for Our Lives on March 24. “We sort of made the Marvel/DC crossover. I asked myself: What’s the thing I can make for them that will put wind in their sails?”If “Hamilton” is the origin story of American democracy — “It’s how Spider-Man got bit by the bug,” Miranda said with a laugh — his activism on current issues, including voter registration, hurricane relief, and speaking out against gun violence, are part of a chapter in that book.“What we’re seeing is a huge accumulation of everyday voices,” Miranda said, praising the wave of activism and political engagement from many corners of American society. “The success of ‘Hamilton’ has given me a huge megaphone, and it helps me to think of it as a literal megaphone. I try to use it sparingly, so that what I say will be helpful.”He closed by urging his audience to support each other and make their voices heard. “Our stories,” he said, “are more necessary than ever.”
It became the soundtrack for a generation of young women. A mix of anger, angst, heartache, and hope, the 1995 alternative rock album “Jagged Little Pill” was both a defining moment in pop music and a runaway success. It launched its creator, Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette, to stardom. This month, a musical adaptation inspired by the album and some of Morissette’s other work is premiering at the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.).Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director Diane Paulus will helm the production about a multigenerational family. Writer and producer Diablo Cody, who won an Academy Award for best original screenplay for the 2007 film “Juno,” wrote the show’s book and also a song for the score. In the personal backstory below, Cody reflects on her deep early connections to the formative album, and on how she crafted a narrative from its iconic songs.I was 16 years old the first time I heard the voice of Alanis Morissette. Well, technically that isn’t true — I grew up watching “You Can’t Do That on Television,” the Canadian kiddie show in which a young Alanis starred. But when I say “the voice of Alanis Morissette,” I’m not referring to the literal vibrations created by her laryngeal folds. I’m talking about the powerful and primal flow of essential Alanis-ness that is her legendary album “Jagged Little Pill.”This was not just a collection of songs, you understand. This was a seismic event that shifted the plates of pop culture and redefined irony for a generation. Morissette, a rock star, was more than a voice. She was a Voice.It was 1995, and I was hanging out in my bedroom in Lemont, Ill., a small town with nine churches and zero bookstores. I was listening to Q101, “Chicago’s Rock Alternative,” like I did every day after school. Though the grunge trend had expired like a tub of old yogurt, rock radio was still dominated by growling, lank-haired dudes with low-slung guitars and big muff distortion pedals. Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder had changed the game by championing feminist causes, but the rock scene in general still felt like the same old macho stance it had been forever. The “girl bands” that did get airplay at the time were all punk bravado and defiance — very necessary, but not always relatable to me as a vulnerable and confused Catholic girl who had so many feelings and was often afraid to express them. There was an Alanis-shaped hole in my heart; I just didn’t know it yet.So there I was, in my bedroom, flipping through Sassy magazine and painting my nails with Wite-Out as I listened to the radio. As the song ended — let’s say it was “Cumbersome” by Seven Mary Three — the DJ broke in, sounding way more enthusiastic than usual. “I am so psyched to play this next song,” the DJ said. Again, this type of editorializing was rare on Q101, a big corporate radio station. “It’s from a new singer named Alanis Morissette, and it’s going to blow your mind. Here’s ‘You Oughta Know.’ ”,Curiosity piqued, I twisted the volume knob on my Sony boombox. A trembling voice filled the room — not just a voice, but a Voice: Alanis’ brave, forceful, naked Voice revealing itself for the first time. It was an immediate shock to the system. After a parade of grunge singers cocooning themselves in flannel and mumbling purposely vague lyrics, here, at last, was someone ready to expose her soul.And “You Oughta Know” was just the beginning — the beginning of the beginning. As we would soon discover, there was so much more to this artist than just spite and rage. On “Jagged Little Pill” she revealed herself to be tender, spiritual, shameless, kindhearted, eternally questioning, and utterly assured all at once. Shockingly, Alanis was only 19 years old when she wrote these songs with producer Glen Ballard — just a skip ahead of me, agewise, but miles beyond in terms of artistic maturity.Flash-forward 23 years later: Many other seminal ’90s albums feel preserved in amber: beloved, certainly, but with their vitality confined to the era. But “Jagged Little Pill” somehow is more relevant than ever. It’s an album that tells us to wake up, “swallow it down,” and confront our fears. Most popular music encourages the pursuit of pleasure; “Jagged Little Pill” actually recommends discomfort. These songs suggest that we subject ourselves to that which hurts (and ultimately heals), that we debride our deepest wounds, even though the process itself can be excruciating. This type of therapeutic instruction continues to be a theme in Alanis’ music to this day, and yet somehow her songs never feel gloomy or pedantic. Actually, they feel euphoric. How?! It’s a miracle that Alanis performs over and over. No wonder Kevin Smith cast her as God in “Dogma.”“Jagged Little Pill” was the soundtrack to my 17th summer and has become even more meaningful to me as I head into my 41st. Back in 1995, I never could have imagined I’d someday be tasked with creating a narrative around Alanis’ incredible catalog of songs. Like the music itself, the job has been challenging bliss. Working on this show, I am often struck by how inherently theatrical the music is, even before it’s been rearranged for the theater. The romance, laughter, tears, sex, and loss are already there, embroidered into the lyrics and melodies. I am incredibly proud of my role as translator and midwife in this production. If I’m lucky, I’ll make one of my heroes proud in the process.Diablo Cody is the writer of the book for the musical “Jagged Little Pill.” Her work includes “Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper,” “Juno” (Academy Award, BAFTA Award), “United States of Tara,” “Jennifer’s Body,” “Young Adult,” and “Tully.”This piece was written by Diablo Cody for the American Repertory Theater’s Guide and reprinted with permission.“Jagged Little Pill” opens in previews at the A.R.T. on May 5.
In this age of extreme polarization, it sometimes can seem as if civil discourse is dead. However, it survives and thrives in the American courtroom, where lawyers and judges daily engage in adversarial yet respectful dialogue to sort out disagreements about the law. In his new book “Persuasion: Getting to the Other Side,” Joseph William Singer, Bussey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, describes the methods lawyers use to persuade and engage in civil discourse that all Americans, including politicians, could learn from. The Gazette sat down with Singer to talk about how persuasion works and its importance, as well as how to open a conversation with someone on the other side.Q&AJoseph William SingerGAZETTE: What is the first step in persuasion?SINGER: I would say the first step is to listen. In a time of great partisanship, where people seem divided by issues, and sometimes by identity and religion, and a number of other things, it’s very easy to forget that we have common values and that we have a lot more in common than people realize. When people have strong feelings or opinions about different issues, they’re focusing on a particular situation, and they imagine that other people aren’t worried at all about the same things they’re worried about. Even when people have very strong intuitions about a particular issue, the fact that other people have conflicting strong intuitions is often an indication that if we were to change the facts a little, people would realize that they agree with the other side more than they realize. The second thing would to be to be humble and to realize you have things to learn from other people and figure out what is motivating them and assume that they’re acting in good faith. Then, you would have to see if there’s some way for you to understand some of the other people’s concerns and that they may be right about something. It could also be that you’re still right, but the task is to find a way to talk with each other that looks for common values because they seem not to be there in the heat of an argument, but they usually are there.There are preconditions to persuasion, and those include believing that there are such things as facts. If you just don’t believe there are facts, it’s impossible to have a real conversation because there’s no basis for discussion.GAZETTE: In your book, you write that persuasion is possible only when the two parties are willing to engage in dialogue. But what is one to do if the other party is not willing to engage?SINGER: You can’t persuade someone who won’t listen to you. In Plato’s “Republic,” that very question is asked, “Can you persuade us if we refuse to listen to you?” And the answer is “Certainly not.” I’m not a psychologist, and I don’t have special tricks to get people to be willing to have a conversation with others. At the same time, I think that there are things one can say that may make it more likely that people will be willing to listen. One thing I would say is to be respectful. If you just start by insulting someone, or calling them names, or with anger, then conversation is not possible because anger shuts people down. It also helps to assume that they’re acting in good faith, that they really believe what they’re saying.I don’t think it’s necessarily a closed case that conversation cannot happen. If you can start by saying, “I hear you saying this,” or “Let me see if I can repeat what you said,” that helps a lot. I have seen some writing that says that the very fact of feeling that you were heard is a way to open up the possibility of conversation, which is the prerequisite to persuasion by discussion or argument. “ I think that there are things one can say that may make it more likely that people will be willing to listen. One thing I would say is to be respectful.” GAZETTE: At this moment in which society is so divided over many issues, how hopeful are you that civil discourse can prevail?SINGER: I tend to be an optimist, partly because when I was a child, there was a quote in the newspaper that I read and have never forgotten, “Pessimists often turn out to be right, but optimists have more fun along the trip.” And also, I’m Jewish, and part of my understanding of Judaism is to have radical hope.The main message of my book is that we do have common values. And that if we focus on those common values, it’s possible for people to see that they agree more than they realize they do. Part of my reason for hope is that if you look at the places in our society where civil discourse still exists, you will find that it exists in the courts. In the courtroom, judges and lawyers are not yelling at each other. They are engaging in and embracing a culture of civil discourse. In law schools and among judges, there is disagreement about what the law is and what it should be, but in general that disagreement takes place through reasoned argument, through storytelling, through framing issues, through recognizing what’s right about the other side’s argument, through making factual distinctions, and specification of common values as they apply to concrete cases.Now, I know in this time there is worry about the politicization of the Supreme Court. That is a real worry. If the Supreme Court does things that are too far different from general norms, then the rule of law will have less respect, and people will be less willing to obey the law, and we will have more problems of civil unrest. Civil discourse is possible. In my daily life as a lawyer, I see examples of civil discourse occurring all the time. It also happens in religious settings. If you just look at Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in the United States, all of them believe that human beings are created in the image of God, have inherent dignity, and that God loves us equally. They all believe that human beings matter and that human life matters. When you think about the fundamental religious values that people have, that also suggests that there is a basis for fundamental agreement about the importance of human dignity and the equal worth of each person.This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity. A supremely jolly affair If at first you don’t succeed… Six high-court justices gather to mark Law School’s bicentennial, and the stories abound Elena Kagan offers new law students advice — and a shot of confidence Related GAZETTE: How can persuasion work when talking about issues that are so polarized, such as climate change or wearing masks?SINGER: There’s no magic bullet. In my book, I use arguments everybody makes all the time from fairness, dignity, and equality to social welfare to democracy and the rule of law. It’s not as if somehow there’s a set of arguments that liberals make and another set of arguments that conservatives make. Those are arguments everybody uses at some point. If people are willing to have a conversation, you can help people become aware of the fact that they themselves embrace all of those arguments, and that there can be discussion about a contested issue based on the fact that if we agree on all those arguments, we can find a way to put them together. GAZETTE: What are the techniques or methods lawyers use to persuade and engage in civil discourse that we all could learn from?SINGER: Lawyers focus on concrete facts, situations, and disputes. Rather than talking in the abstract and saying, “I’m in favor of religious liberty, and therefore I should win,” we actually talk about the facts of the case. We try to look at the issues from the point of view of both parties. Focusing on concrete cases, and connecting facts and situations to real values and commitments that we have about morality and justice also helps find common ground. Thinking concretely may help you realize that you, yourself, might change your mind if the facts were a little bit different. A very simple example is: Do you think it’s wrong to kill another person? The general answer is yes. But what about if it’s in self-defense? If you’re a Quaker, you may say, “It still is wrong to kill.” Most people would say, “Oh, that’s different.”Another technique is to look at the limits of the principle or the value that you’re talking about. When I’m talking about values, I’m talking about things such as dignity, security, privacy, the ability to exercise religious freedom through association and worship and prayer, and the ability to determine where you’re going to live and who your friends are, etc. There are many values, and they sometimes conflict. That’s where lawyers come in and where the law comes in. Often, when those values conflict, we have to figure out how to draw a line between them.The other thing is recognizing that there are standard arguments and counter-arguments. For example, if I’m playing violin in my house, my neighbors may hear it and may not like my playing. I’m not a professional violinist. Do they have a right as property owners to get me to stop playing violin? The answer is probably no because I have a right to use my own home. But do I have the right to play at three o’clock in the morning when they’re trying to get their baby to sleep? The answer is no. Freedom versus security is one of the core conflicts that we see in many areas of moral and legal disputes. A lot of disputes about politics are very similar to the disputes that lawyers have about particular cases.GAZETTE: In your book, you also mention two other techniques lawyers use: storytelling and framing the issue. How could they help improve civil discourse in political debate?SINGER: One of the many ways people persuade each other and engage in moral reasoning is to tell stories. Telling a story is a way to get across who’s the victim and who’s the villain. And you can talk about exactly the same set of facts with a different moral valence. Back when the O.J. Simpson trial happened, one version of the story was that he was rich, famous, and handsome, and the question in this version was, “Are you going to let him get away with murder?” And that leads me to the next technique, which is framing the issue. When you frame the issue as, “Are you going to let someone get away with murder?,” that question has a built-in answer. Of course, you don’t let someone get away with murder. But the defense attorney had a different way of framing the issue. When he said some of the evidence was planted by the police, doesn’t that raise reasonable doubt about all of the evidence? Well, that question also has a built-in answer, which is yes.Partly what is going on in conversation is alternative stories about what happened, different ways to frame the issue, and then using arguments in the context of storytelling that engages our moral intuitions. When you have different versions of the story, that is very helpful for people to see why the issue is complicated and hard rather than simple. If you tell stories others can grasp, then there’s a basis for mutual understanding, if not mutual agreement.GAZETTE: Why is persuasion important for civil discourse and the rule of law?SINGER: The rule of law, at least the way it operates if done well in the United States, uses civil discourse. Lawyers and judges are trained to engage in civil discourse. Both lawyers and judges are trained to listen to the arguments on both sides to try to see what’s right about each side’s argument. And when the judge makes a decision, they have to write an opinion to justify what the rule of law is. When judges write opinions, they have three main audiences. One is lower-court judges, to tell them, “Here’s what you should do in cases like this in the future.” The second audience is the general public, but the third and most important audience is the losing side. The judge should be writing an opinion that tells the losing side, “I heard you. I listened to you. Here’s what you said,” and that puts their argument in its most charitable light, and explains why they are losing by reference to values both sides have in common.All of these practices of civil discourse, such as listening with an open mind to the other party’s argument, finding common ground, and being respectful, help preserve the rule of law. There’s a lot of diversity of views in the United States. In my opinion, that’s a blessing. But at the same time, there are fundamental common values that people hold: liberty, equality, democracy, rule by the people, and fundamental constitutional rights. We are a free and democratic society; we are not a fascist society, or we hope not to be. Judges have to use those common values to give reasons for their decisions. They can’t say, “Here’s the rule of law because it’s what it says in Genesis, Chapter 12.” That’s not what judges can say. They have to base their opinions on values that we hold in common that justify and support our political and legal system. In hard cases, judges have to minimize unfairness. There’s often no way to avoid unfairness, and it’s helpful to recognize the unfairness of what you’re doing as you’re trying to approach justice as much as possible. That’s a way to show respect for the losing side and to honor their humanity and dignity. “Part of my reason for hope is that if you look at the places in our society where civil discourse still exists, you will find that it exists in the courts.”
Dell EMC has been a leader in mainframe storage for more than 26 years, starting with the introduction of the first Symmetrix disk array, and our legacy of innovation and enterprise storage market leadership[i] continues today with Dell EMC VMAX All Flash primary storage and Disk Library for mainframe (DLm) virtual tape, which has dramatically eliminated the need for physical tape. Today at SHARE 2017, Dell EMC is announcing DLM release 4.5 for cloud-based physical tape replacement. We aim to put to rest any further arguments about whether physical tape should still be considered a go-forward long-term retention strategy.At Dell EMC, we recognize that the mainframe data center of today must become even more efficient by utilizing resources already in common use, like public and private clouds. Until today however, there has been no broadly supported way to move mainframe virtual tape data to the cloud.The Long-term Retention Problem Made Tape StickTape actually predates disk; however, the faster pace of innovation in disk and the “virtualization” of tape forced rapid decline in the use of physical tape. Yet, physical tape prevails for static data retention, otherwise known as long-term retention or archiving, to store data over a period of five to 10 years or more.Until Dell EMC invented the concept of 100% disk to replace tape, “virtual tape” actually relied on physical tape. Led by Dell EMC, innovation with disk combined with de-duplication made what was physical, virtual, except for long-term retention. That use case still favored physical tape because of its “vault it and forget it” convenience, despite being much more difficult to use than a DLm virtual tape library.Fast forward to today, where public, private and hybrid cloud storage are becoming the go-to options of choice for long-term retention. Cloud storage has proven itself to be very low in cost, operationally efficient, secure, and able to sustain required data transfer rates for archiving. In non-mainframe datacenters, many companies today, rather than dealing with the complexity and overhead of physical tape, are moving archives and data that they know must be retained four a very long period of time, to the cloud. However, until today, very few mainframe virtual tape systems offered any cloud solution for the long-term retention problem.By placing our field proven, secure technology for connecting to any type of cloud, Dell EMC DLm enables mainframe data centers to take advantage of new or existing cloud infrastructures to eliminate the need for physical tape.See for yourself in this short video how DLm 4.5 works with the leading public and private cloud storage providers to allow storage administrators to move their data with DLm’s built-in policy engine while continuing to place tape data requiring faster access on Dell EMC Data Domain, Dell EMC VNX or VMAX.Additionally, we’ve added support for Data Domain DD6300, DD6800, DD9300 and DD9800 as well as support for Data Domain High Availability (HA). We’ve also added Dell EMC’s GDDR technology to DLm with a feature called GDDR Tape, which simplifies and automates DLm system failover, whether a DR test or actual data center failover.If you’re at SHARE this week, please visit our booth #301 to talk with our experts about VMAX primary storage or DLm virtual tape. If you’re unable able to attend, learn more about all of our mainframe solutions on the web and consider joining the Dell EMC Mainframe Community. We look forward to talking with you soon![i] IDC Worldwide Quarterly Enterprise Storage Systems Tracker – Q3 2016 Historical Release – Dec. 15, 2016
Feeling bad about much of the news these days? Lucky for you it’s now the season of giving, and take it from this celebrity dentist, giving will help you feel better.“The greatest part about being successful is being able to give back and help. He who gives receives the greatest gift,” Dr. Bill Dorfman told HooplaHa earlier this year. “There’s nothing that makes me feel better than knowing I changed somebody’s life in a positive way.”Dorfman does that not only through his cosmetic dentistry practice which focuses on improving the appearance of people’s teeth, but also through his passion project LEAP Foundation.LEAP is a one-week leadership program for high school and college students from around the world. Its mentor workshop gives students the opportunity to meet accomplished mentors in a variety of fields and industries.A former participant in LEAP’s inaugural program at age 16, Charlie Gallagher went on to become the nonprofit’s executive director two years ago.“There are so many things from LEAP that I learned that I would have never had the opportunity to learn from a curriculum,” Gallagher told HooplaHa. Today, he’s using that knowledge to oversee everything from marketing to finances and communications for the LEAP organization, and leveraging Dell Inspiron desktops to do it.“When it was time to invest in technology for LEAP, there was only one choice,” said Dorfman, who uses a Dell XPS laptop for his dental practice which gained fame when he was featured on the television show “Extreme Makeover.” You may have also seen Dorfman on the daytime talk show “The Doctors.”You can hear more from him and Gallagher about how Dell technology helps them run these two very different businesses in this video:https://youtu.be/xel_V5co6XAAnd, you can learn more about how Dell Technology Advisors partner with small businesses at http://www.dell.com/smallbusinesspartner