Feliz día de Padres (Happy Fathers’ Day)

Feliz día de Padres (Happy Father's Day)

We have so much respect, love, and appreciation for our Daddy.

Where do I begin to share with you all about the awesomeness of our father? My Dad’s nickname growing up was “Sonny”, and my little sister Keasha always says… “Everybody should have a little Sonny Brown in their life.” Today, more than any other time, I concur with her assessment. We are very blessed to still have both of our parents; because many people find celebratory days like this one very difficult to experiences. I greatly empathize with that reality and whoever is readying this and misses their father, I invite you to share mine in this short blog exchange.

I have always been a self-proclaimed “Daddy’s Girl” and I am sure that few in my immediate family would disagree with me about that position. All of my siblings and Mom tell me that emotionally, I am very much like my Dad who I would describe as walk softly, but carry a big stick if people start trippin’!! Ha ha.  My father and I have always seemed to have a mental, intellectual, and spiritual connection that allowed us to communicate without words.

My parents were very young when they married (around 19 years old) and at times it seemed that we were growing-up right alongside these young parents. In my opinion there was only an upside to that reality. There are numerous stories I could tell about how my father has been there for his family, from the time he helped me manage my asthma as a youngster by encouraging me to run with him down by Summit Lake at 6 am in the mornings, to the time he walked from his factory job returning home with actual icicles hanging from his nose as he had to walk home from Barberton, Ohio when his car broke down. Because of my Daddy’s encouragement during my early years, I went on to become a star-athlete in junior high and high school in track and field earning a silver medal in Junior Olympics competition and breaking a school record in the hurdles as a teenager. My father supported and encouraged us not only in our extracurricular activities, but also in our academic and spiritual development. I remember my father attentively reading my papers during my undergraduate and graduate years in college and he remains today the smartest and wisest person I have ever known. These are not simply the musings of a daughter holding larger-than-life exaggerations of her father; because there are easily 5 more sibling corroborators along with a long host of grandchildren who can attest to how very special and wonderful our Daddy (and Grandpa) has been and continues to be.

One of the few pictures of our Daddy as a teenager.

One of the few pictures of our Daddy as a teenager.

My Dad is the oldest of seven siblings and only he and my Aunt Bev are still on this natural earthly plane with us out of that group. I can only image the heartache associated with the transitioning of your parents and most of your siblings that my father has endured.  Nevertheless, my father’s spirit and dignity always allows us as a family to remain both mentally and emotionally strong during some of the toughest challenges in our lives.

Of course, there were times when I thought both of my parents were out of touch as a youngster growing up, believing that they simply didn’t understand how things are changing in “The World”. But, I have come to realize as an adult that my Dad’s claims (as per King Solomon) that there is nothing new under the sun have been pretty accurate, and that although technology and innovation has introduced new complexities in life, human beings maintain a consistent type of character that if you are attentive, you can learn how best to negotiate. Ultimately, wisdom is the principle thing with my Daddy (1 Kings 4:29; Proverbs 4:7). It is because of my father that I always had big dreams and was never afraid to pursue them. Words cannot express the joy I felt being able to Skype with my Dad from Chile and sharing with him my excitement about traveling to another country in the pursuit of my PhD.

So, in order to try and wrap up this post and honor to my father I have to say that the “true” blog post would be much too long in my effort to describe how my father has always been a man of quiet dignity and strength for all of his children. He teaches and examples to us the virtues of hard work, family support, loyalty, and how placing God as the head of your life can greatly assist in directing for you a prosperous path. So on this special date, I pause to thank God for my Daddy and every time I see his smile, hear his laugh, or listen to him pray, I am every more appreciative to be his daughter. ¡Te quiero mucho Papi! Gracias por todos. ❤  🙂

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With the help of my daughter I could Skype and laugh with my Daddy and Mommy from Chile

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Saturday family homemade Ice Cream scoops with Daddy pre-Father’s Day

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It was perfect weather today for our get together BBQ in order to celebrate the awesome Father’s in our families.

Happy Father’s Day to all who call or know you as you Daddy

Feliz Día de Madres (Happy Mother’s Day)

Feliz Día de Madres

Happy Mother’s Day to the Best Mommy in the World. Thank God for Skype! 🙂

I was simply just to tired yesterday to write a long blog post related to Mother’s Day,  thinking it would appear somewhat cliche.  I mentioned my mommy in an earlier blog post and there simply are not enough words to describe how awesome she is and how much I love her.  My mother provided the model framework that has made me and my sisters the great mothers we have become today.  All of our children adore and respect us, because (like our mother) we provided them with the appropriate amount of unwavering support, a kick in the pants when required, but moreover our unquestionable love.  I am so proud of my mother and how she raised us and the values she and my father instilled in all of their children.  But, since today is a time to celebrate Mother’s Day my Daddy will have to wait as I tip my hat to my mother and thank God that I was blessed to grow-up under her love, eternal care and wisdom.

So many of our friends would call her “Mom” and tell us how fortunate we were to have a mother like her.  I used to get jealous as a child when other kids would call her that thinking she’s NOT your mom.  Now, as I have matured and can reflect upon those feelings, I sometimes feel ashamed for being so selfish.  I myself am a mother and my daughter’s friends will sometimes call me mom.  She never has told me she resented it however, she never hesitate to let people know that she is my Princess Little Mermaid and an only child.  Currently, I have come to understand why our fiends expressed those loving sentiments toward our mom.  Her care and love toward children has always spilled over into whatever arena she would find herself with us (e.g., Girl Scouts, Cheer-leading, Track, Football, Basketball, Gymnastics, etc…) or without us when teaching the children in her classrooms.  In the above picture she in my Daddy are applauding my sister Veronica as she is being sworn in as a member of the Akron Public School board.  They’re always there when you need ’em.

I remember when my mom went back to college and was taking classes with my sister and I at the University of Akron.  I was so overwhelmed by her commitment to academic excellence and how she excelled (more than I) grade-wise in here academic courses.  My Mom has served as an inspiration to me in returning back to work on my Ph.D. as an adult learner.  Recently, my mother has been forced to master more internet competencies since my undertaking of a study abroad experience here in Chile. She has learned to use Skype with growing confidence and I have to be careful not to login accidentally when I am  trying to work.  That is because, in very short order, I will hear the familiar chimes of Skype indicating she is calling me because she saw my Skype symbol said I was available for chatting. lol 🙂  But, I don’t mind one bit and will stop whatever I am doing to make time to talk to my Mommy.  So Happy Mother’s Day to anyone who has served as a mom to your own children or someone else’s kids.  It is simultaneously one of the bests and most challenging jobs in the world, made special by the smiles and joy you place on the faces of those you touch and who have come to depend on you for emotional support and encouragement.

It's my special day and I'm doing laundry... can you say irony?

It’s my special day and I’m doing laundry… can you say irony?

 My mother’s day was spent in Chile doing dirty laundry (how “motherisk”).  But I did get to Skype with both my mom and daughter so it wasn’t a total bust.

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Found these awesome soccer team World Cup fan paraphernalia at the grocery store on last Saturday.  I was loving those bright colors and the fact that the countries are spelled in their own language (Brasil v. Brazil and España v. Spain).  It would have been hard to find these back in Athens, GA at the grocery store.  Can you say?  New Zumba gear!! lol 🙂

Mother's Day 2014

Me as a very young mother with my beautiful Princess Little Mermaid.  I so love that little girl (and now young woman and Attorney). #Proudmommy #gratefulmom

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.

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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. 🙂

Well that was Pretty Awesome!

Cultural Exchange Experiences

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Last Fall semester 2013, I presented in a class with Universidad Católica del Maule students.  I shared with them about the focus of my doctoral research and they also where able to interview me.  The course Professor Partrick Metzler informed me that this would be the first time many of them had ever met someone from another country (in my case the United States).  Their challenge was to speak and listen in English as much as possible, but if I would notice any furrowed eyebrows suggesting someone was not understanding me, I would translate by speaking the response or questions in Spanish which seemed to help allay many of the students’ nervousness.

Upon my return to UCMaule this semester, I finally had an opportunity to go by  Professor Matzler’s office and view the students’ project posters they used in their final class presentations.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how much they had  keyed in on particular topics.  I am sharing copies of their work in this blog post.  Their Professor  and I were very proud of the work that they did.  He and I  have plans to do something similar this semester with another class, and I will also do more of an academic teaching event with them in my Visiting Scholar capacities. 🙂

During their interviewing of me last semester, I spoke about my research focused on the civic engagement activities of adult learners following their careers as undergraduates (post-título).  I mentioned that my theoretical framework used Gravesian theory (Clare Graves) and it’s offspring of Spiral Dynamics a theoretical framework developed by Don Beck & Chris Cowan.  My scholarship and research also incorporates Multiple Intelligences theory (Howard Gardner) and Memetics, birthed from the early works of Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene) and Susan Blackmore (The Meme Machine).  In essence, I plan to wear my “teaching hat” with the students here at UCMaule moving forward,  and I’ve also been invited to present to faculty and students at the Universidad Autónoma del Chile  her at their Talca Maule campus.

Being much younger than the adults I typically teach, these pregraduado  alumnos (i.e., undergraduates) were less interested in the ethereals of my doctoral level  graduate student life, but more attentive to discussing North American sports, racism, the University of Georgia, and my hometown of Akron, Ohio.  Clearly, some of the students did their research and visited my blog  site, because I noticed that a few of the posters focused on subjects I don’t remember discussing in their class.  Nevertheless, to those budding young scholarly researchers I say, “Well Done!”

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Issues of college sports, LeBron James, and athletic exploitation was discussed.  It’s ironic that subsequent to my visiting with them on these subjects, the courts have recently passed a law allowing college athletes to unionize.  Perhaps, that was the Futurist part of me coming out during our discussions. 😉

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Many student wanted to know about the history of American Slavery (Chile was one of the first countries to abolish slavery) and from my very limited research on these topic (not my area of scholarship), this country did not have as intricate a system of Chattel slavery as is historically documented in places like Brazil, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Cuba, etc…  Maybe that is why demographical Chile does not have a very large black population.  Honestly, issues of race rarely come up in conversations here.  I did witness an interesting exchange during my research with people trying to determine if they should call themselves white of latino/a.  That will be in my findings section where I mention possible future research.  But, I did learn that there is a supposedly thriving black population in northern Arica, Chile.  The name of the region is clearly named after the continent of Africa and I believe that there are some wonderful stories yet to be told by those inhabitants.

I will say that it was very interesting to me that no one really asked me much about my time as a field organizer during the 2008 Senator Barack Obama Presidential campaign.  I spent more time talking about LeBron James than President Obama.  That was different! lol  So, moving forward I am going to share the students’ visual aid documents and if any of them are reading this blog I want you all to know I think you did a great job on this assignment.  Kudos to Professor Patrick Metzler as well. 🙂

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I spent some time talking about North American racism and the historical legacy of both the Northern and Southern states in relation to the civil war and the Civil Rights movement.  That could easily be a class all by itself of course.  The interview and discussions had occurred fresh off of the recent court ruling in the George Zimmerman trial.  Seems liked someone must have pick up on some still raw emotions from me surrounding the killing of Trayvon Martin.

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