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Archive for January, 2011

  • Share your thoughts on any aspect of the movie Crash…not on the movie as a whole.
  •  Site fragments of the movie to bolster your comment. 
  • Link your thoughts to something physical or emotional as evidenced in the movie.

Here are a few tag words to jar your writing.  POWER     INSENSITIVITY     TENDERNESS     FEAR   APPREHENSION     PAIN    IGNORANCE    BROKEN PEOPLE    DIGNITY    DESPAIR    REDEMPTION

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Listen ~ The Black color just pisses some people off!  It simply infuriates them.  It’s got nothing to do with why.  There’s no “why” to it.  They just shake and bubble with anger.  You can’t ask them “Why?”, ‘cause there’s no “Because!”  It’s an actual, physical bubble-up of pain, anger, resentment, “piss-off-ed-ness.” 

They would aggress against it if given space (freedom) and authority. Some environments offer that authority.  Some situations offer that space.

In some places, there is nothing you can do but cede that authority.  Education is one.

In some places they take that authority.  The Prison is one.   

It is always a holding pattern in some parts of this country. There is that tenuous balancing act – – – that tight-rope that you walk to keep yourself and your family safe.

Yes, this is 2011, but we’ve really not advanced the civilization much.  We’re good at clothing stuff – but we’re not particularly civilized.  But then, there is always next year.

Then for others the Black color increases anxiety. 

          “Look to your left.  There’s a Black one.”

          “Where? Where?”

          “To your left!  Right there!  You blind?”

          “Oh my gosh! Fuh real! He is Black.  What’s he doin’ here?”

That anxiety provokes unnecessary attention.  That’s when you get a personal escort around Wal-Mart, or Shopko, or Target – or cameras at Boston Store…or cops follow you out of town.

Now, that happens on the other side too. The difference is POWER.

POWER or access to it is the game.  Don’t get it twisted.

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She looked at him – somewhat meekly – as if asking forgiveness. Her eyes were joining yet avoiding.
“So I’ve never seen a Black man before” she declared. “No need to get all pissy about it! I grew up on a farm – just north of here. Ain’t no Black folk ‘round there. I mean – like – the’re these two Black kids – but they’re adopted like. They grown up like us. That’s the only two. I mean like the Packers and stuff!”
A slight smile drew to one side of her cheek. She remembered that everyone referred to them as the Pacoons ‘cause there were so many Blacks on the team. She knew it wasn’t right to say it just then…but it was funny.
He glared at her. His brown eyes searing deep into…searching every corner of her soul. But he knew that she was right. He just didn’t know how to say it. There is a way to be when someone confronts you like that. There is a way you learn to pose and spit right back at them.
It just didn’t feel real ‘cause her darkness was pure and honest. She hadn’t seen one of me in the flesh before. I so wanted to be pissed and tell her how racist she was – but it just didn’t feel true. She didn’t know what she didn’t know…and I didn’t want her to pretend. “Just tell me you don’t know!” he thought.
That’s exactly what she did.
– Despite her fear of being misunderstood.
– Despite her fear of seeming ignorant.
– Despite her not knowing the exact terminology.
– Despite her fear of coming forward.
– Despite her fear of being rejected by her own.
– Despite her fear of being rejected by yours.
– Despite her fear of having nowhere to call safe or home anymore.
– Despite her fear of losing friendships.
– Despite her fear of being scolded for approaching…or not approaching.
– Despite her fear of vulnerability of openness and disclosure.
– Despite her fear of blurting out stereotypes – and being punished for it.
…she stepped to him and said:
“Hey, I don’t know. I didn’t have reason to know. Nobody around me knew. They didn’t have reason to know. Quit bitchin’ an blamin’ and teach me what you know.”

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I was at a meeting recently and this White guy, about 5’ 11”, 200lbs, starting his rotund process, steps right under my chin and declares: “What if all the kids were White huh!  There wouldn’t be a need for all this diversity crap, right?”

So I ordered two cups of coffee…decaf for him.

We sat.  I pulled out a piece of paper.  I always have paper.  My wife worries about that!  I tear a piece out and pass it over to him.  The coffee is here now.  We place it to the side.  He nods a “thank you.”

 I rifle through my bag, find a pen; place it on the loose sheet of paper.  Then I say, “Let’s walk through this together.”

What’s your favorite color?  White it down.

What’s your favorite flavor ice cream?  Write it down.

What’s your favorite food?  Write that down.

What’s your favorite music?  Write that down.

What’s your favorite sport?  Write that down. 

All this time, I’m drawing a box-figure of him.  Then I take his answers and place each like little labels sticking out from his rounding body.  (I didn’t draw him to scale)

I turn the paper to him and share, very politely: “So let’s say this is you.  …and I make a city that’s got two-thousand people…all looking just like this – eating like this – walking like this – being just like this.

So he chimes in, “That will never happen.  That’s pretty stupid.  People are different.”

So I smile and say, “But it is you who asked me the stupid question! It is all in your conceptualization of diversity and how you operationalize it. It’s not whether it’s important or not.  The great Spirits decided on that one long ago.”

He never finished his damn coffee!

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From CLUTCH magazine on line:   “The founder of BET, a entertainment network for African-Americans, is calling out Oprah Winfrey on her new startup, OWN, otherwise known as the Oprah Winfrey Network. Sheila Johnson believes that the media mogul is not doing enough to encourage diversity on-air.”  The question posed was  – Do You Agree?  My response follows.

Honestly ~ It is really a poorly phrased question. What do I think of it?  There is legitimacy on both sides.  BET has been trying to define itself, initially as competition to – then as rejection against.  You can see a distinct move toward a more modulated posture now.  They are journeying trying to find the best voice and the best way to offer that voice.

There is not enough data on Oprah’s current effort to make strong opinion, however, if you take a projection from her past work these comments would suggest a trend.  Oprah “had” a depressed lower-middle, and lower working-class Black population viewing her shows.  Her numbers within that population segment were low.  BET does very well in that sector.  Is that Oprah’s target audience?  Is that the belly of the bell-curve?  From her show-profile history, I would suggest not. 

So there is legitimacy, but once you’re targeting different populations – you prepare different meals.  Let’s look at whether Oprah sees herself as having a responsibility for, or being a voice of Black America.  Do the same for BET.  You will see how the conversations actually glide past each other.  Have Fun!!      

 

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This is not my blog.  I picked it up off Blogspot this morning.  It is a post by Dean Dad.  The entire blog is reposted here for your review.  The response (below) is mine. Enjoy!

Diversity Hiring

I’m on the horns of a dilemma here, and I’m hoping that crowdsourcing the problem might lead to a sustainable solution. Wise and worldly readers, I’m counting on you!

Like many colleges, my college’s faculty does not reflect the demographics of either its students or its community. Bluntly, it’s a lot whiter. The disparity is largest on the faculty side.

The Board of Trustees has made a public commitment to diversifying the college. However, opportunities for hiring are fewer and farther between now than they once were, with the recession-driven cuts in state aid. The pincer movement of ‘a drive to diversify’ and ‘a paucity of openings’ means that the college has to take a serious shot at candidates from underrepresented groups whenever it can. That’s proving harder than one might expect.

The teaching load here is typical for community colleges in this region, which is to say, it’s not for the faint of heart. And while the benefits are good, the starting salaries won’t blow the doors off.

Even in this economy, we’ve had trouble recruiting minority faculty. We’ve made offers, but we keep losing out to places with higher salaries or lower teaching loads. Minority candidates are in much higher demand than others, so even in this market, they can command offers far sweeter than what we can muster. And faculty salaries here are determined by a pretty mechanistic collective bargaining agreement.

We’ve exhausted the low-hanging fruit. We advertise in venues likelier to attract minority applicants. We have racially mixed search committees. We screen job posting language carefully to ensure that nothing in them creates unnecessary barriers. The low-cost, nonconflictual stuff is already done.

Which means, in practice, that the available options are few.

One is to simply make the salary offers the contract allows, and to hope for the best. When we get turned down, turn to whomever else is available. It’s legally clean, but in practice, it makes an already very white faculty that much whiter. It winds up placing a value of ‘zero’ on diversity, with predictable results.

Another would be to go above the grid and simply endure the grievances. If paying an extra, say, 5k will make the difference, and the Trustees have determined that the difference is worth making, then so be it. The advantage of this approach is that it stands a greater chance of actually recruiting people. The disadvantages, though, are several. For one, it virtually guarantees protracted legal battles with the union. For another, it stirs up resentments that tend to get ugly fast. And at a really basic level, it raises the question of just what, exactly, the candidate is being paid for.

The union, of course, would prefer that we simply raise the entire salary scale until the whole thing is high enough that we can recruit without premiums. But that’s a budget buster, and it would actually freeze the existing imbalances in place. It’s both unaffordable and unhelpful. It’s a nonstarter.

(And please, don’t start in with the usual “bloated administrative salaries” crap. We’ve already shed administrators, and I’m looking now at the fourth consecutive year at the same salary.)

Which means that the second option is rapidly becoming the preferred one. Without it, recent results have shown, the racial gaps will simply continue to grow.

But if we go with the second option, the question of magnitude becomes real. So, wise and worldly readers, is there a reasonably elegant and sustainable way to improve our minority hiring results within the confines of limited resources and a vigilant union? I’d honestly like to know.

 # posted by Dean Dad @ 2:18 AM

RESPONSE to Diversity Hiring: 

Okay ~ let me help you out here. 1.  I don’t know where, geographically, you are talking about. That makes a difference relative to your ability to attract ethnic minority candidates. (I am assuming that is your reference in using the term “diversity”). If you are in a culturally white area, there are only two reason I would come there. (a) Does the benefit of the 5k balance the social & emotional cost of uprooting myself and working in that environment?  (b) Would my experience in that environment translate into opportunities elsewhere – let’s say 3 years down the road.

If the answer to each is “no” or “not likely” then I am not coming. Makes sense?

So you are left with another option:  Search within an environment, similar to the one you’re in, where the population you are looking for (Blacks, Latinos) are already acculturated. They’ve grown-up in the environment.

3. You have differences (not the point of discussion here) between African Americans and Africans, or African Americans and Caribbeanos.  Africans and Caribbeanos are more readiliy acculturated or “acculturable” (See – I made up a word) than African Americans. Why is not our point of discourse here. You target that population.

Finally, it is according to what you want them to teach.  There are readied populations in certain areas…there are invisible populaltions in other areas of academia. There are certain areas of academic that we have not yet discovered, been advised of, engaged in…blah, blah, blah.

Good Luck.

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I make it a general point not to write on issues of Pop Culture…of things you would find on TV. Not that it’s not my forte, but…let someone else do that. A most recent situation has compelled me to take a brief diversion – very brief.
Many of you have, by now, seen or heard the story of Ted Williams. This is the story, soon to be a movie I am sure, of a man who was a radio personality, eventually falling on hard times, homelessness, and addiction. If you haven’t heard of him, run a Google on the name or pull a video of the Today Show interview. He was recently discovered or re-discovered, and is being offered opportunities to rebuild his life. Wonderful story. We don’t know the ending.
Here’s the thing. I don’t want you guys jumping up, giving yourselves high-fives, and setting off fireworks. This young man is in tremendous pain – and the pain is stuck at around 16. I don’t care who hires him – Kraft, the Cavaliers, et cetera. He needs two things.
One is a shadow. For Ted to be successful, he must be given a therapeutic mentor. Please! Ted is not 53. Think of this like a high school graduate from a challenged family circumstance being drafted first in the NBA draft. This is TED. Ted needs a therapeutic mentor…a shadow.
TWO – There are serious familial issues that must be resolved. The therapist working with Ted must not take the perspective of “I know your mother’s pain!” or “Why did you hurt your mother?” This will not work!!! Ted will say what he thinks you want to hear. TED IS 16. For Ted to have been stuck at 16, the pain resides somewhere within that authoritarian “I am the center of the universe” relationship between himself and his mother. He has a pain that needs to be released for him to grow beyond it. This takes time, trust, and safety. If you’re really giving him a second chance, you’ve got to hold him safe.
I am wishing him well – but I fear for his Shakespearean journey. I am praying that somebody steps out of him/herself and the wish to grap piece of this young man’s golden cloth, and helps this child find himself. You have a 37-year gap to fill. He is a gift. I just fear that you do not understand the type of help/support that he needs. Good Luck Ted.

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