Thursday, March 16, 2017

Race Relations in America and why we are not ready: an educator’s view

Sociology 101 tells us: “Race is defined as a category or group of people having hereditary traits that set them apart. While race revolves around the idea of biological traits, ethnicity is based on a shared cultural heritage. Sociologists and other social scientists accept that race is a socially constructed concept. It is an idea that was created in society to justify inequality. Race is a modern concept”.

Skin color does not now, nor has it every been a race; and because the United States has never confronted its history fully, the good, the bad, and the ugly, this conversation makes people squirm.
“The 1924 Racial Integrity Act defined race by the “one-drop rule,” defining as “colored” persons as anyone with any African or Native American ancestry. This law was in effect to purify the white population, while also expanding the scope of Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage (anti-miscegenation law) by criminalizing all marriages between white persons and non-white persons. In 1967 the law was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in its ruling on Loving v. Virginia”.

Discussions on race nowadays are met with sayings such as: “that is in the past”, “we are post racial”, “it had nothing to do with me”, “I am not a racist”, “discussing race is reverse racism”, “other races had it bad as well”, etc. It is a pity, because the fact that we still have race listed on official government documents, the fact that there are still hate groups that openly espouse and emulate racists beliefs of past evil regimes, and the fact the statistics we collect daily still show we have a problem, means we are nowhere near ready to truly confront this.

The other day I was watching a film clip from a 1980s Clint Eastwood movie that contained the famous line “go ahead, make my day”. The movie was pure Hollywood, , with the typical Hollywood bad guys (young black males). I take that movie for what it is and nothing more, pure entertainment. However, today we also have social media, something that did not exist when that movie came out; and social media makes people feel safe, it brings out the “trolls’, it brings out the things people say in private and often think about in their head, it brings out the ugly side of the country that we refuse to deal with. Go ahead read all the comments and see for yourself.

The comments on social media posts reveal many truths, they reveal the cesspool of hate that bubbles just below the surface and they reveal peoples’ true feelings. In some cases people do not understand what social media actually is (it is not private)  and they just post straight out what they feel not even waiting for the comment section, including members of law enforcement who really should behaving at a higher standard considering the responsibility they have:  

As I write this, I am well aware that I will be inviting trolls into my own world, but here is the reason why I write this: OUR CHILDREN ARE WATCHING AND LEARNING! Kids do not grow up that way, they emulate the people around them, and with the access to technology that exists today, there are more “people” around them.

If you ignore a disease, it does not go away. Perhaps the disease will go into remission for a while, and we can certainly treat the symptoms with medication: but that is not a cure. Civil rights bills, updated laws, diversity training, sensitivity training, and all the other things are not the cure, they are merely Band-Aids on an open wound.

There is no quick fix because we are not ready. We are still in blame mode, pass the buck mode, we still do not really want to find solutions; and before you disagree with me ask yourselves this: how can we put a man on the moon but we cannot solve this? The answer is simple; because we wanted to put a man on the moon but we do not care to solve this.
These are just some of the observations from an educator.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Undocumented immigrants, an educator’s perspective

There is no doubt that the largest proportion of undocumented immigrants in the U.S come from or through Mexico. It makes sense considering the proximity of the country, our history with the country, for example: states like California, Texas, and Arizona (there are more states I know) used to be part of Mexico. Also, not everyone coming through Mexico, is Mexican. There are large groups coming from other places.

So where do the other groups come from? Let’s look at some numbers:

1.      6.72 from Mexico
2.      1.78 from South and Central America
3.      1.17 from Asia
Here are some specific 2012 numbers

2012 Country Populations
1. Mexico 6,720,000
2. El Salvador 690,000
3. Guatemala 560,000
4. Honduras 360,000
5. Philippines 310,000
6. India 260,000
7. Korea 230,000
8. China 210,000
9. Ecuador 170,000
10. Vietnam 160,000
All Countries 11,430,000

Why do people want t come into the U.S? Opportunity, and we should be flattered because that says a lot about the potential in the U.S, and there are enough stats out there proving that these undocumented people are not here stealing our jobs. Quite the contrary.

I am not going to get into politics, because I am not looking at this from a political point of view. I should also point out that there are whole continents missing from these numbers because somehow, they are not reported in the same way (save that for another post).

This is a nation of immigrants remember, and history is repeating itself; but is it for good or bad? Let us not fear each other, let’s just learn who are.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III
The ETeam

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The non-interview interview: why do employers do this?

Are you aware that most jobs posted (especially in the education sector where I work) have already been filled? Are you aware that it is a common practice for employers to interview people that they have no intention of hiring?

I am not going to try and analyze the various reasons as to why because that is not my problem; I am going to discuss why this practice is unprofessional and does a disservice not just to the candidate, but also to the company.

The candidate’s job at an interview is to bring their “A” game. They need to be prepared, have researched the company, have poignant questions to ask, etc. In today’s market, it is common to have most candidates prepared like this.

The employer’s main job is to have looked at the candidates resume, done some basic research such as LinkedIn, be prepared with good interview questions, and to be objectively considering every candidate they interview. From a candidate’s perspective, there is nothing worse than walking into an interview where it is obvious the employer knows nothing about you, where they are late to start the interview, people enter the interview late, and at the end, it is also obvious that they are not really serious about hiring.

A professional interview deserves professional interviewers who are truly looking at you as possible fit for their company. This current practice of the non-interview also explains why employers are not getting back to candidates at all after interview: lack of forethought about their company reputation and taking advantage of people in this saturated job market.
Word does get around, and if the company is not careful, it could become known as the company of “do not waste your time applying because they are not serious”.

At some point, we must understand it is not the candidates fault. Lessons in leadership.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Do not despair and know your worth

The social contract between employers and employees is all but dead; employers are not promising longevity and employees can no longer count on retiring where they started. Add to that is, the market worships youth, or seems to value youth more than experience. We see this in the high numbers of skilled over 40s in the job hunt, we see this in the want ads stating “recent college graduate wanted” (or some variation of that).

It is important not to let the actions of others affect one’s outlook; it is important that you try and keep your head up and know your worth. I say try, because we are all human and everyone has bad days.

Do not give up! There is an employer out there who will thank their lucky stars once they have you. You are worth it.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Monday, January 30, 2017

The punishment for being poor 2017

When you do not have money, you are often expected to do without certain things. For example: a nutritious diet, little treats such as an ice cream cone, gym membership, TV, vacations, etc. All these pleasures are well known to increase life and quality of life: why then are they often the first things expected to go?

We no longer have debtors prison, but we still have many people in this country locked in a cycle of debt, often “legal debt” such as parking tickets, child support, and lord forbid you have a probation debt!

If you have the money, you can pay these things off right away and move on, but if you do not have the money, these debts can quadruple in cost when you factor in payment plans, interest, penalties for losing your job and therefore a payment, etc.

These are issues the average American cares about, these are issues of which there is no solution proposed or even thought of because there are companies who make billions of dollars a year because of the status quo.

Misery should not be a for-profit industry.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Retaliation in higher education

Retaliation is a real thing, it is an unfortunate thing, and it happens more often then we like in higher education.

How does it happen? I am glad you asked. As an adjunct faculty, it is easy for a supervisor to do this, and sometimes they might not even realize they are doing it. Perhaps the supervisor med a scheduling error, and it caused a professor to lose a class. While we know there are no guarantees for adjuncts; it is still a loss. What happens is when the adjunct complains the supervisor leaves them off the list for the next term classes; and keeps them off.

People often leave an institution because of a boss or because the culture supports a toxic environment; and when a person mentions this in an exit interview, often times, they are blamed instead of the issue being investigated.

I have often written about how educators sometimes are the most indiscreet and inconsistent employers out there, and it is an unfortunate truth.

Why is it that as higher educators we often do not hold ourselves to a higher standard of management? Why do we let a culture fester to the point of jeopardizing an institution?
Make no mistake, higher education is in a crisis mode for so many reasons, and a lack of consistency is one of them.
Are we going acknowledge this or wait for the institutions to close one by one? The proof is out there, especially when we look at accrediting bodies, school closures, and position turnover.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Friday, January 27, 2017

When does it become your fault? A question for leaders/managers

One of the most common reasons people fail at a job is because expectations and details of the job were never clear. This happens from front line workers all the way to CEOs. When people have to get fired, “under performance” is often put as a reason. Maybe you write, “they were not good at their job” or “they did not have the right skills”, etc.

However, whose job is it to make sure that your employees are ready to the job? Whose job is it to make sure they are making progress throughout the year? The managers and HR.

I recently wrote about unprofessional behavior by the HR departments and hiring managers during the interview stage. The general consensus is that it has become a common occurrence for companies to simply ignore candidates who are not chosen after a professional interview. Some people are of the mindset that maybe the candidate was not “properly prepared” and did not “set the right expectations”. However, at some point we have to acknowledge that it had nothing to do with the candidate and everything to do with company bad habits.

Give credit where credit is due, but also take blame when the blame is on you. Stop excusing company bad behavior no matter how common it might be!

The leaders are responsible for setting the stage for employee success, at the very least they do their best to give them all the tools needed to be successful. Leaders are also responsible for any culture of rude unprofessional behavior that exists in their company.

Leaders, time to stop blaming others and accept responsibility for mistakes. How you bring them in is how they will leave.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam