La vida de una mujer extranjera en América Latin – Cosas diferente y el mismo

La vida de una mujer extranjera en América Latin - Cosas diferente y el mismo

The Life of a foreign woman in Latin America – Things different and the same.

  Are  racism & misogyny losing ground?

Some of you might be aware of the recent scandal happening in the United States relative to NBA team owner Donald Sterling. For those unfamiliar with the event, he was audio recorded in a spat with his “girlfriend” (mistress) who also happens to be of a Mexican and Black racial identity background. Sterling was caught in a peppered stream of racists and misogynistic rants that would make most octogenarians’ shutter (Sterling is 8o+ years old). His visibly younger paramour, appears to have also had a sexual relationship with Sterling because in the audio tape (Google it if you want to hear it as I do not want to embed that messy link on my blog) he graciously extends to the woman an offer to sleep with other black men that she would fancy. The only caveat relative to his sexual invitation was that he forbade her to bring such black associates to his basketball games. Moreover, he admonished her to work harder at being a more delicate, desirable woman, and to use white women as her prototypes.

Turning the channel just a “skotch”, in my Twitter news feed on yesterday I saw that a Brazilian soccer player who is a member of Spain’s soccer team, suffered the indignity of a racist taunt. Someone threw a banana onto the playing field in proximity of the athlete, to suggest that he was a monkey, in an effort to insult him. His response was to pick up the banana take a bite of it, and  go back to playing his game. Ha ha, kudos to him for keeping it classy!!  Today, on my friend Fernando’s blog, The Talking Violin, I had a chance to better understand the story. That was because when I searched for an image of the player (Daniel Alves), who someone thought looked like either a monkey or of Black heritage, he appeared visibly to me as neither… But, what does that mean? What does “looking” Black mean such that it is internationally viewed as something to be feared or chided?

So last night, in my idle internet surfing time (which happens a lot as you try to complete your dissertation), I decided to create a fake magazine cover of myself with a Facebook photo I recently took (see above). What was most interesting to me (in my pseudo-scientific study) is how many people liked the picture and some indicating that I looked Latina. This is not the first time that someone thought I was Latina just from my picture. At first, I thought it was because I was studying in Chile and someone might have assumed I was of a Latin background. Some here in Chile have wondered if I were Columbian.  In actuality, my father always told us about our Native background with his side of the family coming from Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma. Like most multicultural/multiracial groups you are defaulted to what is considered the lower sociopolitical group (at least historically in the case of the United States) if you have only a “hint” of non-white blood.

The irony is that things are changing in our World.  Most anthropologist and social scientist who study race in the United States project that the “appearance” of a so called minority persons will continue to become quite ambiguous for distinction as either Black, White, or Other. So what will that mean for power and privilege dynamics in the future? Will Blacks be threatened to have their metaphorical “Black-pass” taken away from them if they do not boldly with raised fist proclaim to the world “I am Black!!” Will it also require the refusing to accept any privileges or opportunities that a non-black ambiguous appearance might be afforded? Some people may choose that route, but I think many will not because many people are not always consciously aware of how race, in some cases, has subliminally impacted their lives and how others perceive them based on phenotype expressions.

How many times has someone responded in a pleasant manner to you, in spite of your “blackness” or “whiteness” because you reminded them of a prototypical Black that they are comfortable with engaging (e.g., Oprah, Colin Powell, Barack Obama, Beyoncé, or Aunt Jemima). I was not being snide about that last character reference, because many people view the image of a smiling, robust, Black woman (especially cooking some pancakes) as safe and inviting.

But, here’s the good news, and where I introduce my dissertation theoretical framework of Spiral Dynamic Theory and Memetics. Below in a hierarchical framework introduced by Clare Graves, who found in his research that adults go through stages of developmental change moving from simplicity to higher order thinking and problem solving. Additionally, the framework oscillates between more individualist worldviews (right side) to more collectivist worldviews (left side) which are subsuming systems and remain a part of your cognitive toolkit as you advance through the spiral. Graves primarily developed the first 6 levels of the framework before his death in 1986. Myself, along with other scholars and practitioners’ of the Gravesian-Spiral Dynamics frameworks, are seeking to better define the higher order levels (of memetic worldviews in my case) in this diagram.  I am specifically looking to expand on this theory and framework in my civic engagement research.


I am encouraged that the NBA decided to ban and fine monetarily Donald Sterling for his horrible remarks and actions, suggesting to me that perhaps we really could be making a higher order change on issues of race. The NBA sent a very strong message that the community (collectivist “we” worldview) of basketball would not find the actions of people like Sterling welcomed moving forward (Green vMEME). In the very short past, I would have expected more of a business decision were Mr. Sterling would have received maybe a public tongue lashing, possible fine, but still be allowed to retain his rights as owner and money maker in the league (Orange vMEME). I was pleasantly surprised by the NBA’s response yesterday to the incident.

Additionally, celebrities and fans of Brazilian athelete Daniel Alves took to social media with an outpouring of support towards him in the form of pictures of their eating bananas and metaphorically thumbing their nose at the racists. I also interpreted that as an Orange-to-Green memetic shift, because in the recent past, although some people might have thought the behavior shameful, they would not have been willing to risk their own social positioning in speaking out on a world stage in opposition to such negative and offensive racist behaviors. Bravo to them for shunning the, “I don’t want any trouble for myself” syndrome.

Nevertheless, it appears that in both of these instances, folks were willing to say I am not going to sit idly by and give this racist conduct a pass… Enough is enough, and we are looking to a better future and not to be shackled to an ignorant past. So to revisit the original question regarding misogyny and racism, I think the above two cited responses certainly signal positive horizons on issues of race, but women, and misogyny (as per usual) will likely be a little lower on the social re-engineering strategic agenda. But of course, I could be miscalculating. Let’s hope that is in fact the case. 🙂

My Resurrection Day in Chile (Semana de Santo)

My Resurrection Day in Chile

Luke 24:5 King James Version (KJV)  And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

 My First Easter Sunday in Chile

In light of Resurrection Sunday on yesterday, and today feeling particularly reflective about life, my academic/career plans, and my relationship to Jesus of Nazareth. I thought about his messages offered to the world. Holidays have always been special times spent with my family, but since entering my Ph.D. program at the University of Georgia and now conducting my dissertation research in Chile, South American, I have learned to adjust to not being able to eat the wonderful family meals prepared by my mother or one of my sisters during holidays. I also miss out on the family fellowship times which can easily turn quite competitive if someone breaks out the games and we all form our teams looking to become the Scrabble, Monopoly, or Trivial Pursuit champions.

However, these memories did not lead to an existential crisis, on the contrary they led to more of an existential epiphany. Why does a person need to feel ostracized if they hold values and beliefs that are not common to me or visa versa? More specifically, when I study the life of Jesus, it is rarely depicted like you see in commercially produced movies or picture cards commonly seen during religious holidays. Jesus was very strong in his objections to religious leadership that held the less powerful to standards that they themselves did not regularly achieve. Yet at the same time Jesus produced a message that was both compassionate and full of expectation that called people to strive to a more excellent way. The call did not seem to be based upon some rules or commandments, but more due to his wanting people to aspire to their highest forms of self. Jesus’s teachings suggest to me that these lofty goals of self-awareness are not easily attainable in disassociation to The Creator.

We live in a physically comprehensible world, but our awareness of “reality” is incomplete if we limit ourselves to those things we can understand with our physical senses. Things that are explained through the principles of physical/natural science phenomenon are not enough for me cognitively or intellectually. For example, what is the substance that makes living creatures by nature want to survive… and conversely, what element of the self is lost among those people and things that no longer want to survive and exist to the point that death becomes a welcomed relief. I have come to the conclusion that it is our spirit, in the case of human beings, made alive unto God the Creator in a way that is not fully or easily comprehensible. The proposed inexplicably, in my view, is in large part because we are “so fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) therefore, the five known human senses become insufficient as a means to describe spiritual connections. Also, the fact that God is a Spirit and the aspect of everyone that is like God is made of spirit being, there has not to date been any scientific physical instrumentality that can capture the individual “you” in its entirety. Ahhhhhhh, there it is, complexity has just entered the room (smile and a wink). Jesus is my role model for teaching. I admire how when dealing with adult learners he used a variety of modalities to “meet people” at the level in which they could comprehend his messages. He used parables and allegories to help the most simple to the most erudite listeners understand his teaching.

Children and the less powerful preceded Jesus on a fateful Passover day (that many celebrate as Easter) with songs of praise and hopefulness; while respected scholars and theologians were so captivated by his wisdom and understanding of scripture many secretly counted themselves among his disciples but kept it hidden for fear of being ostracized by those who were the more politically connected and religiously powerful during that time period.

Fast forward to 2014, I find myself at an academic/career crossroad. I have been doing some research for my committee chair (I am also her graduate research assistant) about what will the 21st Century New Knowledge academic and/or scholarly practitioner resemble in comparison to pre-millennium professors and practitioners. I first surprisingly discovered that I fall into the category of Generation X, with a confidence interval of ± 2. he he  I have also learned that there doesn’t appear to be the mass exodus of aging faculty leaving the academy as miscalculated; poor economic times has led to many a professor to work longer versus entering into retirement. So currently, we are producing from our universities a dearth of bright-eyed new doctoral graduates with no place to go per se.

I personally am finding the “publish or perish” paradigm quite unsettling. Not because I have reservations about publishing or writing, it is because I want to publish and write things that I feel are important to improving and changing lives, systems, and societies. I don’t want to be so obsessed with impact factors and finding “the right” journals that my research and scholarly contributions will only be relevant to a small circle of scholars looking to compete with their colleagues in introducing the next big theory or framework. I don’t want to lose folks who I thought were friends because they might be jealous of my seeming success during their time of struggle. Nevertheless, the conflict for me is that I love teaching and engaging with students and communities. I love academic research as I am also a scientist by nature, holding degrees in biology (specializing in microbiology) with a minor in chemistry, plus a MPA. My adviser mentioned to me an emerging field of “Social Entrepreneurs”. I need to do more investigation into this area as I think it might be something I will find rewarding. I told my committee member Dr. Watkins that I am not sure if I want to be an Academic and she vehemently told me that she very much thinks that academia was the right career path for me. That made me smile really big on the inside knowing someone I admired and respected so much in academia viewed me as a future scholar with much to offer.

This is probably one of my longest blog posts, which is cool because it’s been a minute since my last post, and this issue is weighing heavily on my heart and mind in my final year of doctoral candidacy. Now, if I could simply find a career (not necessarily in this particular order) post dissertation completion that allows me to: 1) show the love and compassion of Jesus yet have the right to hold my own values and convictions, 2) exercise my love for teaching, research, and civic engagement while getting paid to do so, 3) be able to make a contribution to the field through my publishing and research, 4) make sure I have a personal life with time for my family and friends, 5) have my own business where I can focus on social issues and ministry needs that are directed toward those with less power and opportunity in life and finally, have the time to go to my Zumba and Body Pump classes every week; then I would be most figuratively in Heaven on Earth!  🙂