behavior, call center, common sense, cultural awareness, cultural understanding, customer service, customers, diversity, life lessons, manners, race relations, racism, values

Be Nice!

Von and I have made it no secret that we work in a call center. Only the name and location have been changed to protect the not so innocent. The company we work for also has a call center in the Philippines to handle things such as billing and tech issues. It’s not an unusual thing for American companies to outsource some call center operations to other parts of the world.

On several occasions, I’ve had customers erroneously call me with complaints about the advisors overseas.

‘Thank God, I reached someone who speaks English!’

‘Where are you located? I’m tired of talking to foreigners!’

‘I hung up on the last person because I didn’t want to talk to anyone in China.’

‘I want you to get somebody from America on the phone!’

Those are just some of the ugly, nasty things I’ve heard over the years about the call center employees in the Philippines. It’s not that they’re incompetent or can’t do the job, people are offended because they’re not American. They use the excuse of a language barrier, when in truth they speak fluent English, some of them with or without an accent.

Sometimes they try to reel me in to their nastiness chuckling at their own derogatory humor, but I purposely let them hang themselves with awkward silence. If you feel this way about someone who’s different from you, what would you think about me, a black woman? You’re just letting me know what you’re all about.

Call center employees take their share of abuse and I’m pretty sure those from foreign call centers get it worse. That just adds to the widespread belief overseas that Americans are selfish, arrogant, and rude. How many of those call center employees go home with horror stories about the intolerant Americans they’ve talked to all day?

If you’re not happy with outsourcing, that’s fine, but it’s not the call center advisor’s fault. They’re trying to earn a living just like you. Write to the company you get your services through. If they refuse to change, take your business elsewhere. Just don’t make your grievances a personal attack on someone who’s just trying to do their job.

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behavior, black women, cultural awareness, cultural understanding, disrespect, Fame, hip hop, life lessons, radio, rap music, rape

I Think I’m Growing Up

I grew up in Detroit, my diet of music a combination of hip hop and R&B. The rise and fall of Tupac and Biggie was the era of music I belonged to.  While the two rappers were great story tellers of their time, like most rappers tend to do, some of their songs took on a negative slant concerning women. Tupac was good at that: uplifting women with one song and degrading us with another. I’d hear the misogynistic lyrics and just give it a pass, using the excuse that I’m not one of the hoochie mamas they’re talking about in the songs. I’d focus more on the beat and the music, as opposed to what was being said. For years I listened to rap music, without really listening, until recently. When you know better you do better I guess.

This new rap music doesn’t hold the same sway for me. Whether it was that way all along and I just ignored it, I don’t know, but some of the new stuff is atrocious. The other night I heard a song with some troll who probably looks like something found on the bottom of my shoe calling a woman ugly. Or the song where a rapper boasts about some woman who doesn’t like women “but a stack will make her kiss her”. Even Usher went that route with a song about some weak minded woman in the club seeking another woman so the three of them can have ‘fun’.  Most of what I hear from rappers is how they plan to use and abuse women for their enjoyment. They think that having money and fame gives them the right to treat women like objects to be discarded the next morning. Even Blurred Lines sounded a bit on the rapey side.

Maybe it’s because I know and work with women who are fools for men and get heartbroken and played all the time, but the music isn’t working for me. For the past few years, my taste in music has been evolving. If it sounds good, I’m there. Occasionally I’ve even strayed to the country channel. I absolutely love Billy Currington by the way.  I may not give up rap entirely, I’m not perfect and there are some good artists out there, but I’m more picky about what I actually take in.

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black women, cultural awareness, cultural understanding, diversity, life lessons, manners, race relations, racism, radio, values

If You Don’t Like What I Have to Say, Get Off My Blog!

I’m going to make some people mad, I know I am. Too bad and if you don’t like it there’s the door.

As a black woman, I have an issue with black radio. About a month ago, I was in my car listening to one of the syndicated, drive time radio shows. The day before a white woman had called in to complain that the show was basically racially charged. Everything she heard was ‘White people this’ and ‘White people that’ which I agreed with and she compared him to the last radio show which did the exact same thing. The host got flippant with her and since it was a replay from the day before I’m not sure where the conversation went after that.

The next day I had a discussion with my mother about it and she shared my viewpoint since it’s something she deals with everyday. As much as she loves the Tom Joyner Morning Show or the Steve Harvey Morning Show, she can’t listen to it in her office. She works with two white women and who wants an awkward situation when one of the radio hosts launches into a white people tirade or joke? The office radio is set to a pop channel, a predominantly white channel by the way, with no fear of a racially charged topic or someone feeling uncomfortable. The only side effect is that my mother knows more pop songs than what I’m used to.

As a people we want people to open the door and accept us, yet we put our own dividers up. Now we have our situations from time to time where we have to get organized and involved, I know that, but it’s not every single day.I even like the little known Black facts segment on the Tom Joyner show but the jokes concerning other races really have to go.  If a white radio station ranted about black people the way we talk about them, we’d be outside the building picketing with our pitchforks and torches with Al Sharpton and the Rainbow Coalition being flown in. So why do we feel we have the right to do that to other races?

If you want people to change, you have to start with yourself. If we’re not willing to take change seriously, why would any one else?

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black women, cultural awareness, cultural understanding, daughters, life lessons, manners, Multicultural, women

Women of Color on Television

I don’t have to have to tell you that there are a multitude of bad stereotypes out there concerning women of color. Those bad stereotypes are only perpetuated by what we see in the media. Just five minutes ago I turned the channel past MTV and there’s somebody’s daughter twerking in a pair of Daisy Dukes for the entertainment of some dread locked rapper with a gold grill. We’re assaulted with those negative images on TV of the Housewives fighting over a man who isn’t worth two dead flies and the ghetto girls in the videos gyrating for fame and a couple dollars. What about the toothless street urchin who can barely string two words together who seems to be a magnet for a local news microphone? Somebody finds these shows entertaining for some reason so they continue on, season after season. To me the bad behavior is cringe inducing and I can’t stand it.

I can honestly say I’ve never considered twerking and never will. I’ve never bitch slapped another woman or been asked to leave a restaurant because I’m getting loud. Getting into a hair pulling and shouting match over some trifling man just isn’t in the cards for me. I’ve never lived in Section 8 housing or used food stamps. None of those images reflect who I am as a black woman and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. But like in most cases, those who make the most noise get the most attention. So the Hip Hop wives and Video Vixens are thrown into the forefront, even though they don’t represent the majority of us.

That’s why I find some of the new women of color on television to be refreshing. It’s a breath of fresh air seeing Scandal’s Olivia Pope do her thing, even though she is a deeply flawed character. She’s educated and about her business and I’m pretty sure twerking isn’t in her agenda. This fall season we were introduced to Abby Mills the female counterpart to Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow and there’s also Sasha and Michonne from The Walking Dead, who also break the popular mold. Hoping that Hollywood or whoever runs the show is paying attention, I go out of my way to watch these shows. Hopefully they’ll get the point that there is more to us than cat fights and gyrating body parts.

 

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cultural awareness, cultural understanding, diversity, life lessons, Uncategorized, workplace

Extremes of Fitting In

This week on The Talk, co-host Julia Chen confessed that she gave in to pressure from her boss and a potential agent to have surgery that would make her eyes less Chinese and more Caucasian. They felt that the eyes she was born with were not expressive enough for an anchor’s position. The plastic surgery seemed to work for her because she excelled in her career and her co-hosts applauded her for doing the right thing. So when is it okay to change who you are to please other people?

If my boss tells me I look too black, my nose is too big, or my hair is too nappy to make it in the workplace, where do I draw the line? Do I succumb to racist peer pressure for the sake of a job? We’re talking more than not dressing business professional, we’re talking about the features a person was born with. My dad’s eyes, my mom’s smile, the light spots on my legs I got from my grandmother, the moles that were passed down from my maternal great grandmother’s native American side, all these things make me who I am. It makes me unique. Is changing my outside appearance even worth it.

What about kids who are bullied? I’ve seen stories where parents who have a kid who’s being teased takes their child for cosmetic surgery to correct the ‘problem’. What lesson is that teaching? Yes, they’re right, there is something wrong with you, let’s fix it. What does that do to a person’s self esteem? Why not give kids the ammunition to get past bullying?

Is it okay now to let other people’s opinions affect what we see when we look in the mirror? Do I really want to disfigure myself because my looks offend some jerk who really needs a trip to Human Resources? What about the thirteen year old girl who gets a boob job so the kids can stop teasing her about her flat chest?

Is a job or fitting in even worth that much trouble? If I have to make all these changes to fit in, maybe it’s not a place where I really want to be.

Life is tough, we all know that. There will be bumps, bruises, and roadblocks along the way.  How nice is it to face all those challenges and still be intact when we reach the finish line?  True, Ms. Chen got her dream job, but is the victory still sweet when she looks into the mirror and sees a totally different person staring back at her? How does it feel to reach your goal, knowing you took the easy route?

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Author, biracial, cats, Chicklit, Chihuahua's, cultural awareness, cultural understanding, diversity, dogs, felines, Fiction, Guide Dogs, Indie Author, Labrador Retrievers, Labradors, Multicultural, Turkish Angoras, Uncategorized

Dogs by any other name….

Does my Labrador Retriever know that he is? do my Chihuahua’s know that they are just that?  At what point do we go from being proud of our culture and ethnicity to ethnocentrism? That we devalue all others and exclude people and other ways of life.

The line is fine and easily crossed. Those of us who are blessed enough to live in melting pot areas of the country like I am, that can find Arabic bakeries and Asian markets along with Polish and Italian meat markets, Soul food restaurants, Mexican restaurants, Indian food and everything in between (My taste buds should never get bored) have an opportunity to enjoy many cultures without ever having to get on a plane. Now you would think that with all these ethnicities I live in a utopia where everyone gets along. Yeah, no! I have heard phrases like ‘marry your own culture’ and witnessed people who will not talk to you because even though they are living in the land of a really humongous statue that says ‘Bring me your huddled masses’, huddle only with their own. Birds of a feather…….

My Labrador is yellow and weighs 80 pounds. He is a retired Guide Dog for the Blind. He is smart, playful and loves to…you guessed it….retrieve. He still tries to Guide on occasion forgetting that he is retired and I am not blind. So I wonder what is his culture? Guiding was taught to him so that is not part of his culture, that was his job. Maybe  retrieving, killing and destroying toys is part of his true culture. (hover your mouse over the pictures)

brooks (2)

Brooks the ex-Guide dog toy destroyer

My Chihuahua’s were there first and Brooks had to adjust to their way of life, much like the Chi’s had to adjust to feline culture when they arrived. The Turkish Angora’s (Yes we are a multiracial feline/canine household) showed the then 1lb puppies the ropes and how things were done in their feline Arab American household. They grew up speaking cat and had an overwhelming love of them even though cat was not in their DNA.

Cat culture

Cat culture

Brooks never got a chance to learn the ancient and honorable feline culture from the elder statesmen of the feline tribe since all the cats have passed on, but the Chi’s have done their best to educate and depart the time-honored feline knowledge and culture of their feline Arab American brothers and sisters to him. Sleeping anywhere he pleases is one of his favorite adopted cat culture activities he’s learned.

Now Chihuahua’s it’s been rumored are not descendants of wolves but from Fennec foxes from Mexico. An interesting theory because that would mean over the many years Chihuahua’s have been human’s pocket companions we have been forcing a domestic canine culture and silly clothes on a native desert animal. Sound familiar in human history? Do my Chi’s tolerate domesticated wolf culture, sparkly shirts that say grrrl power or tuxedo t-shirts for the boy Chi, or do they pine for the desert life of their ancestral homeland? That would explain the burrowing in blankets and sunning themselves in 90 degree temps while their much larger canine companion enjoys air conditioning. Labs are after all from Newfoundland not as the name might imply Labrador, where colder temps are normal.

bindi cheech

Psst! We’re actually foxes!

fennec fox 2

Yo no soy un perro! (I am not a dog!)

My 4 legged household companions can teach us all a lesson in diversity and getting along. Enjoying and learning from each other’s differences and recognizing that we all share in one universal culture, human culture. We all want ultimately the same things, family, faith, love, a nice place to live and enough to eat, a bright future for our children and to be able to carry on our legacy through them, plus small dogs to dress up. Be proud of who you are and the heritage you came from, take the positive lessons of your ancestors and the good things of your culture and move them forward, share them with others and enjoy the diversity and history of another. Mix it up a little, I’m a firm believer in once you learn about it, you end up respecting it and your world is a richer place for it.

Then again maybe I’m being Pollyanna. (an excessively or blindly optimistic person.)

Part of Chihuahua culture is staring, giving off subliminal messages till you give up the coveted object. Something they learned from their feline Arab American upbringing.

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