Tennessee: The Hopeful and the Hopeless

Ian Mitroff
3 min readMay 24, 2023


I’m publishing this series of articles to share and discuss my ruminations on coping with a troubled and messy world. You can “follow” me to never miss an article.

Two articles couldn’t paint vastly more different pictures of Tennessee[i]. Where the one with regard to Gun Control offers Hope, the other on Race Relations is lacking in it completely.

Given the horrific shooting in the Covenant School in Nashville, a poll by Vanderbilt University found that a vast majority of Tennesseans — including MAGA Republicans — support some form of Gun Control legislation. Even Bill Lee, the Republican Governor, was moved to sign an order strengthening background checks and called for Red Flag Laws. While this doesn’t guarantee that there will be tougher Laws, its’ a Hopeful step in the right direction.

In the other article, the sentiment is as strong as ever for denying Democrats and Blacks the right to participate in governance. In the words of Elie Mystal:

“It’s not merely the optics of racism, not the moral incongruity of punishing Black people for protesting against school shootings. It’s the idea that the Black people of Tennessee, who have already had their voting power largely gerrymandered away, shouldn’t even have the right to elect their own representatives. That’s the animus that motivated the Republicans’ actions [to expel two Black members from the Tennessee House of Representatives]”.

In short, the country received a lesson in Critical Race Theory (CRT) in that it saw how Tennessee treated two of its Representatives for protesting the murder of children.

In brief, Racism is alive and well in Tennessee.

I hope with all my heart and soul that it does something significant to curb the Gun violence that plagues us. I also hope that if it does, it will spill over to doing something to blunt Racism.

Finally, let’s not kid ourselves that the battle is confined to one State and one State alone. Tennessee is merely a microcosm of what’s happening in one Red State after another. Indeed, we delude ourselves if we believe that Racism is not found everywhere.


I take it back about what I said about Tennessee’s Governor for being for tougher Gun restrictions for he’s just signed Bills protecting Gun sellers.

[i] Elie Mystal, “Real-Life CRT,” The Nation, May 15/22, 2023, PP 10 and 11; Margaret Renki, “Gun Control Is No Longer a Partisan Issue in Tennessee,” The New York Times, Friday, May 12, 2023, P A20.

Ian I. Mitroff is credited as being one of the principal founders of the modern field of Crisis Management. He has a BS, MS, and a PhD in Engineering and the Philosophy of Social Systems Science from UC Berkeley. He is Professor Emeritus from the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. Currently, he is a Senior Research Affiliate in the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, UC Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management. He has published 41 books. His most recent are: Techlash: The Future of the Socially Responsible Tech Organization, Springer, New York, 2020. The Psychodynamics of Enlightened Leadership; Coping with Chaos, Co-authored with Ralph H. Kilmann, Springer, New York, 2021. His latest is: The Socially Responsible Organization: Lessons from Covid 19, Springer, New York, 2022.

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash