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Power in the Margins

Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Featured | 0 comments

Power in the Margins

Almost everyone can identify with being in the margins. Choosing to stand firm for personal convictions when the status quo dictates alliance with a populous stance, positions us in the margins. At other times, socio-identity markers—like cultural/ethnicity, class, gender or religious beliefs can place us at odds with the cultural zeitgeist. The margins represents those whose issue often get overlooked, and those who must grapple with personal, social and structural injustices before they can position themselves center stage. What I have come to realize is that far from being a position of weakness, there is power in the margins. In this article, I explore how tapping into that power is the basis for making use of the full complement of tools necessary to wage war against such injustices. (Check back soon for the full-length...

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Finding Your Life-Work: Connecting the Personal the Spiritual and the Professional

Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Featured | 0 comments

Finding Your Life-Work: Connecting the Personal the Spiritual and the Professional

A while back, I picked up the book Finding Calcutta (2001) by Mary Poplin. It had been sitting on my shelf for several months untouched. I am so glad I did. In this book, Mary Poplin recounts how the two months, she spent working alongside Mother Theresa caring for the crippled, the abandoned and the dying in the streets of India taught her important lessons about meaningful work and service. It taught her how to connect her faith walk with her professional life. This book got me thinking  that one of the biggest tasks each of us faces on the road to personal fulfillment and meaningful service is to connect the other dimensions of our lives to our professional calling—to make the life work connection and find our own Calcutta. So where is Calcutta and how can we find it? Calcutta represents a place of need to which we are called to serve. Calcutta is the place that challenges us often through sacrifice and struggle to fulfill our life purpose. I firmly believe that place lies at the intersection of our various socio-identities—the personal, the spiritual and the professional. And yet, surprisingly it is off the beaten path – because those who find it must embark on an intentional journey to live in opposition to normative professional expectations. It is a personal journey that begins with an interrogation of our personal, spiritual and professional selves to find the place where we are called to offer our best service. This is the makings of my own journey. Interrogating the Personal The most salient aspects of our personal identity are often the most visible markers, for example, our cultural/ethnic, immigrant identity and our gender. Other less visible socio-identity markers include our religious identity, our socio-economic status, professional standing and our identities as outsiders or marginalized group in public and professional spaces.  To understand my positionality in the US academy—I had to confront a few of these identities.  I am a woman. I am also a Black person —what complicates my cultural/ethnic and gender identity is that I am a foreign-born Black woman in a white-male dominated US academe.  Part of my quest to live authentically in this setting was to interrogate how these status-based characteristics were impacting how I negotiate advancement in this context. What I have become intimately aware of is that “we” women of color are woefully under-represented in faculty ranks within US academe. We are outsiders to the dominant institutional culture, and end up grappling with tokenism, micro-aggression, subtle discrimination, and the accompanying stress. The intersection of gender and race/ethnicity–called the double bind syndrome (Alfred, 2001; Bowie, 1995; Opp & Gosetti, 2002; Thomas & Hollenshead 2001; Turner, 2002) –creates unique challenges for us in the academy. At the same time, “I” sense an aloneness, as a foreign-born woman of color. Whereas considerable research has been done on Black women in the academy relevant to these challenges (Bowie, 1995; Gregory, 2001; Thomas & Hollenshead, 2001), the voices of Black immigrant women have not received as much prominence (Alfred, 2005, 2010; Edmonson, 2006.) As I interrogated my position based on these identity markers,  I felt a calling to advocate for others like me in terms of cultural/ethnicity and genderm but also  to advocate for others different from me who were in some way marginalized  because of personal identity markers, for example, black males, children living in poverty, and people of color. Interrogating the Spiritual Spiritually, what are religious/spiritual principles that guide your life journey—although there has been much debate in the academic community about distinction between spirituality and religiosity, I...

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Managing your Personal Brand on Facebook

Posted by on Apr 30, 2013 in Featured | 0 comments

Managing your Personal Brand on Facebook

Someone once commented that I had “presence”. At the time, I had no idea what he meant.  Since then I have come to understand “presence” to mean something that is distinctively you. When you enter a room, without even speaking a word, who you are communicates messages to others. That presence takes on nuanced understanding in online settings. When I first got on the social media bandwagon, I did so reluctantly. I soon realized it was the way to communicate with friends, update them about the children, send invitations and share pictures—e-mail was so yesterday. At the same time, I was getting ready to establish my business and everything I read about branding, emphasized the importance of establishing an online presence. Now even as I complete this article, I am thinking about the company brand– the logo, pictures, layout, and content. Is this article consistent with my company brand? What do I want to communicate about the “Nexe” and the owners? What is distinctive about who we were and what we do? I am a bit leery of trade books that suggest a little too much for my liking that one strategy for achieving online presence successfully is through gimmickry, for example, selecting certain font styles, colors or website layout. The online presence I hope for is one that communicates in spite of these frills. It is an authentic message that communicates personhood. This is as true for an online business as it is for one’s use of social media. It is critical to think intentionally about our social media brand– the presence that we are creating through our use of technology. Now, I admit that it took me a while to get to this point. But a few weeks into Facebook (FB), I decided to back track and establish some personal guidelines for how I would use it and to what end. I knew I wanted to take advantage of FB as a tool to reconnect and stay connected to others, but I also wanted to escape the “me-ism” that seems to be a hallmark of our time (me on vacation, me at work, me with someone famous), as well as not be drawn into another activity that would use up my time without advancing me towards my life goals. Though I am still thinking through how to craft an authentic online presence, I have found the following five questions to be useful in helping me along this journey: For what Purpose? Technology is only as good as the use to which it is put. I have spent time observing some of my friends who have been on FB for quite some time. These pioneers of-sort, have clued me in to how to use it well. Social media can be used to educate and inform. I am grateful to friends who forward wonderful articles on topics of mutual interest–which have helped me to stay current with the literature around my research interests, and widen my reading repertoire around personal interest topics including health, diet and exercise, food and nutrition, and natural living.  I can count on some friends to keep me up to date with fast breaking news stories. Sans cable and spending most of my work day typing away at my computer, it is easy for me to miss important happenings. It was on FB that I learned about a building collapse in downtown Philadelphia, and I immediately called my husband to make sure he was okay. Others take the time to post daily motivational quotes that sometimes seem crafted exactly for my situation or to share...

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