Archive | June, 2015

My new book is OUT!

24 Jun

I have exciting news…………

I am pleased to announce the release of my new book, Language, Identity and Choice: Raising Bilingual Children in a Global Society with Lexington Books. It is available from all major online bookstores and from https://rowman.com/ISBN/9780739193624/Language-Identity-and-Choice-Raising-Bilingual-Children-in-a-Global-Society

From the Back Cover

Language, Identity and Choice: Raising Bilingual Children in a Global Society offers, through vibrant personal reflections and scholarly research, a valuable treatise on the promotion of second language and trans-cultural studies among African Americans. Those wishing to engender in their children and in their communities the positive benefits of bilingualism and intercultural literacy will find this text informative and entertaining.”

— James J. Davis, Howard University

Language, Identity and Choice: Raising Bilingual Children in a Global Society provides scholarly insight into how foreign language acquisition influences an individual’s understanding of identity within the African American family. Rooted in sociolinguistic, communication, and bilingual theoretical perspectives, Kami J. Anderson describes how foreign language acquisition, development, and use shape how African Americans describe and proscribe their identity and, in turn, the identity of the family. Language, Identity and Choice looks specifically at how family language choices, in particular choosing to be bilingual, affect family communication and perception of identity from people outside of the family. Anderson combines both extensive research and her personal experience of being bilingual to challenge the existing notions of what it means to be Black when personal experiences with race and ethnicity extend beyond boundaries of the native country or culture. 


I encourage all of my readers to get your copy TODAY (if possible, please:-))

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Makoroto and let your haters be your motivators

3 Jun

For those that know me, it may seem strange for me to link these two things together, for others the first may be unfamiliar. I just ask you to roll with me for a bit as I make these connections.
Growing up where I grew up, being the type of student that I was, working where I work, I have always been accustomed to being the only “one” there. The only butterscotch chip in the sugar cookie, the lone speck of cinnamon in the oatmeal, etc. (you get the idea). So I was disappointed but not surprised that my participation in this seminar would be no different. I am attending an intercultural seminar for faculty in Madrid. The demographic of the 18 of us is 98% female, 98% WHITE. Now here’s where it gets tricky for me. Yesterday, it became clear that this may be INTENTIONAL. Here’s what has brought me to this revelation. My examples are communicative in nature, using interactions and nonverbal cues to illustrate where I’m going. I needed time to remove (some) of the emotion that charges this (I gave myself a day), I may still be a touch in my feelings, so please bear with me.

1) There is a way that our facilitator has engaged us as a group. Each one of us have had the opportunity to speak one on one with her. The conversations with others have been around career, research and plans for after the workshop. When it came time to have my one on one, the topic of our conversation: Am I married, have I talked to my kids, do I like living in GA. (huh?). I try to shift conversations around pedagogy and practice and it would be diverted back to superficial topics.

2) This same facilitator has been talking to each and every person about participating in an institute that has the reputation of “pushing forward career opportunities and experiences in the field of intercultural learning.” Participants are being encouraged to apply, to try for the fellowship (it costs about 3K) in order to offset costs, offers to write letters to Department Chairs to help get them there, etc. There is one person that has not been told formally the opportunity to have this “life changing experience:” (insert photo).

3) I received some great news before I left for this trip. My book is finally in print (YAY!!!!!!!!!). I got copies of it just before I headed out to the airport. One of the ladies in the cohort shared this information with the group. The sentence began “We have some exciting news in our midst! One of us just got her book published this weekend…Kami! Tell them about your book.” As soon as she said my name, this same facilitator walked off to look at a flower.

 (excuse the profanity)
Now this is not my first rodeo. My first encounter with how “excited” (sarcasm intentional) the ones who don’t look like me are about “us” coming into this field of intercultural training has being a potential threat came in my Masters’ program. I believed I mentioned this in another post, but to ensure my readers are on the same page, I offer it again:

I had the pleasure of having one of the premiere scholars and trainers in intercultural training and development as a professor. When I went to him to ask him to be the advisor for my thesis, he told me that he wouldn’t help me because the topic of my thesis was an area he wanted to break into for consulting and if he helped me and I was good, I would be direct competition for him and take away potential clients. Because they would hire me instead of him because I was Black.

That pretty much sums up what we have in this particular field. Haters are gonna hate. Especially if they think that it will impact their money-making.
So here’s where it I shift to the other part of my title: Makoroto– Celebrate EVERYTHING

Something that I am learning from the people of Spain: they enjoy themselves! With an unemployment rate of 25%, you will still see many, MANY people getting tapas and enjoying their friends and family. Walking in the parks, hanging out in the plazas, laughing and living it up. It seems as though they have not a worry in the world. No one is worried about whether or not they have “enough” money to go out. Food is shared all around the table regardless who orders it. Tapas and drinks are relatively inexpensive in contrast to the value of the euro. You can go out, get a cerveza for $1.50 or a tinto (wine) for $2.00, nurse it ALL night and just time chatting with friends and enjoying the company. I have totally embraced the dining culture and the concept of free time is MY time and MY FAMILY’S time and worth celebrating.

  
 Another thing I learned at our tour of the bullring today. Some people just have to go through a few moments they the rest of the world how powerful they are. Say what you will about the sport of bullfighting, but the torero, is an honored figure in the Spanish community, because they are clear what his job is. They are clear of the risks he faces every time he has togo to work. The awesome thing about it is, he maintains the utmost HUMILITY and stays the model figure in Spanish society. Being a torero is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. I don’t want to be a torero, but I do want to make sure that I am eating breathing and living the lifestyle of an interculturalist. I may hit a few bruises (as I illustrated above), but the overall impact in my community and this field is far greater.


My application of this concept: Celebrate this opportunity! Marvel in the fact that my vested interest and desire to be a part of this field despite its sociocultural history is my motivation to continue. Will I be the only one at some of these seminars and conferences? Yes! But not to wallow in woe and self-pity, I have the opportunity to continue to shine or bring whoever I want with me. (A just a note, they will be the most revolutionary! ) I love this! The fact I am “alone” (seemingly) in this is motivating me to shape it in a way that I can comfortably place myself and make room for the rest of us. But y’all need to be clear, since I’ll be the one “at the door” for a minute, VIP passes will be given to those who are looking to revolutionize the field AND make a radical difference in our community with the knowledge they get.

 

You knew it was coming…Africans in Madrid

1 Jun

 So in my ritualistic vaunt through the hotel neighborhood on the first day, I saw two surprising things. Walking out of the Puerta de Sol, I came up on a street that was lined with African merchants, in true African style — tarp on the ground, wares laid out (mainly knock off bags and sunglasses and a few knock off soccer jerseys) and of course, standing in the shade and talking with one another. Several others were walking up with their tarps bundled on their backs. For a minute, I forgot I was in Spain and thought I was in Dakar (there were THAT many).
I didn’t think too much of it, beyond the quick “that’s odd” thought and continued on. When I walked up to the next plaza, I saw about 15 African men running at full speed with their tarps bundled on their backs. I’m not sure from whom they were running (I didn’t see police or anything like that behind them) and no one else seemed moved by their flight. When I headed back to the hotel, the street that was once lined with African vendors was completely clear, as if they were never there.

So you know I immediately went to “Africans in Madrid” on Google on found a blog post by Nelson George (http://nelsondgeorge.net/?page=blog&item=39) that mentions Africans in Madrid, a few articles about South Africans and many, many comments and posts about racism in Madrid (later on that one).

I then needed to turn to my primary research. I just asked my Seminar Program Assistant (an Afro-Brazilian). This was her response:

There are a lot of illegal African immigrants in Europe, Spain too. Many come from South Africa, but they are from many different countries in Africa, majority West Africa after the South Africans. Because they are illegal, they cannot work, they cannot get healthcare, they cannot get housing, they cannot get an education. A lot of them fall into the hands of the mafia and cartels. They sell goods for them on the street. Often times for about 10 euros a day (around $8). Because they are illegal, they cannot get a vendor license to sell so when the police come, they pack up and move to another location. It hurts me to see them live like that. They have no place to go and no hope. It’s so sad. (translated)

So this “pack up” is a bit more intricate and well thought out. Initially, when I saw the first group on my first day, it just looked like they had everything bundled in the tarp like a satchel (an old school word). In truth, the tarp has rope rigged in it so when they see the police, they can quickly “close shop” by pulling on the ropes, move and easily “set up shop” in a new location.


Now to paint a broader picture for you, I need to give a little bit of our walking tour today. We visited a neighborhood, Lavapies, that has historically belonged to the immigrants in Madrid (I’m about to focus on the Africans only, so more information can be found here: http://www.crecelatino.co/About_Lavapies.php). According to a presentation by upcommons.edu, posted from 2009, African immigrants make up about 11.14% of the immigrant population and about 1/3 of the unemployed in Madrid. Imagine if you will Lavapies looking not much different than the West End in Atlanta, U Street in DC (in the early 2000s just before gentrification REALLY hit) or the West side of Chicago: parts that are cool, parts not so cool, parts that are safe, parts not so safe and occasionally a gray area or two in between them. From what I saw today, the Africans are the drug dealers, which given the inferred mafia/cartel connection above, makes sense. There is a desperation for survival present from the money hustle to the home hustle. There are a few abandoned buildings in Lavapies (no shocker there given the demographic) and the neighborhood association has turned some of them into quimeras (safe havens) for the homeless to squat. There are no squatters’ rights in Madrid or Spain as a whole, so in my idealistic mind, I see it as the government paying selective attention by not shutting them down.

So here comes the political rant……

Black people really deserve better! This is not your opportunity to try to school me on illegal immigration, I have worked with the displaced, refugees and illegals for a good portion of my professional career in some capacity or another. I know the difference between what’s legal and illegal, what governments can and cannot do. What I see is in a different direction: 1) What have we (as a western society) done to the continent of Africa that many of the BLACK people who live there see no other hope but to risk life and limb and expend their savings (and possibly the savings of others) to become homeless and unwanted in a westernized country? 2) What have we done that “that life there” (as described in #1) looks so much better than “this life here?” 3) Why is it that there is no better accountability within the countries on the continent and us (as a western society) to consider the basic life needs of the BLACK citizens?

Yeah, yeah, I know “corruption, blah, blah, blah,” “post-colonialism, yadda, yadda, yadda,” “we tried, etc.” but at some point, rehashing the same failed solution should cause reflection.

Bringing it back to seminar discussions today, Kolb (1984) describes experiential learning this way: You have a concrete experience (such as a failed attempt to assist the countries in Africa), you then should reflect on that experience (What went wrong? How could we have done things differently? What factors played a part in the failure?). After reflection, you make meaning of the experience and the reflection in order to do something different (Maybe if we do X in Africa, it will eliminate some of the negative factors from the first time), you try out the new way and start this process all over again…until you get it right! Study abroad and international education scholars have flocked to Kolb as the be all for teaching the intercultural experience for students. Isn’t this really what I’m describing?

So yes, I have brought my second day in Madrid back to the concerns of the Diaspora…but you knew that was coming.

References:

https://upcommons.upc.edu/e-prints/bitstream/2117/9863/1/ERSA09_Pilar_Blanca.pdf

Kolb, D. (1984).  Experential Learning: Experience as a Source of Learning. Prentice Hall

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