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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cultural understanding, customers, family, holidays, life lessons, shopping

What Happened to the Holidays?

When I think back to the family holiday celebrations when I was a child growing up in the 80’s, I remember the family gathering at my grandmother’s house. The food would be set around the dining room table and the desserts on her buffet. Mom and Aunt Pat would see what needed to be done in the kitchen. It wasn’t yet known if Aunt Pam would be making a guest appearance, even though she literally lived right around the corner. My grandmother would have every thing covered in that cheap plastic wrap she used to buy, the food barely covered. We’d hold hands to bless the food, one random adult selected to say the prayer. Everyone would say Amen and we’d commence to making plates.

It was a guessing game as far as the meats, pick one at your own risk. Grandpa was a hunter, so you were subject to get raccoon, rabbit, or even goat on your plate. I remember the Christmas where my Uncle Phillip, jockeying for position to get closer to the bowl of chitlin’s knocks over several of my Grandmother’s house plants, spilling dirt every where. It’s thirty years later and he still can’t live that one down.

Now we wouldn’t eat at the dining room table, so everyone would take their paper plates out to the living room. God forbid if you spilled any of the red pop on the carpet. After everyone was stuffed, we’d either see what was on the TV or the rest of the evening would be spent catching up on family events. Aunt Pam would show up with her family, right after the dishes were washed and all the clean up work was done. ; )

These holiday celebrations from years past live on only in old photographs. The kids are adults now, some with kids of their own. Uncle Junior, my mother’s baby brother has been sleeping in his grave since 1999, Grandpa followed a few years later, and this year Grandma joined them in eternity. My parents have been divorced for years, Aunt Pat is still up in Grand Rapids, and Aunt Pam and one of her daughters are hours away in St. Louis. Life happened between then and now, which is why those holidays spent together are so precious.

Those are times that we can never get, which is why I don’t understand people nowadays. Instead of spending the holidays with their loved ones, they’d rather spend it in a tent outside a store, waiting to buy some item they don’t really need. When did Thanksgiving or the other holidays become so twisted? With today’s society and everybody focused on me, me, me, and what I need, they forget the real meaning. Worse yet, their shopping habits affect the poor people who work at these stores.

My mother works for a retail giant, the head of her office which is vital to the running of the store. We can’t spend the holiday together because she works Thanksgiving morning and then has to report to work at midnight the same evening to be ready for Black Friday. Now our holiday dinner has to scheduled before or after the actual holiday because some executive who’s having his holiday meal catered by the help decides they can make a lot of money on Thanksgiving. All so somebody’s kid can have that nice new tablet or laptop, which truth be told is last year’s model anyway. It’s something you might want to consider if  you decide to venture out on Thanksgiving to shop.

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call center, coworkers, cultural understanding, etiquette, life lessons, manners, Uncategorized, workplace

It’s Secret Santa Time Again!

It happens once a year. You and your coworkers draw names for Secret Santa. Here’s a word of advice, be mindful of the person who’ll be purchasing that gift for you.

For example, last year Von had the sheer luck of drawing one of our coworkers. Now this young lady didn’t ask for a nice fluffy Snuggie or a pair of comfortable slippers. She wanted a copy of 50 Shades of Grey. If you want the book, that’s fine, that’s your business, your personal business. My question is why would you want to put someone you work with in the awkward position of purchasing a book that’s has the stigma of being ‘Mommy Porn’? Now you’re leaving a coworker with the decision of whether to gift wrap it or just throw it in a paper bag.

Being a Secret Santa is all about the spreading the Christmas Spirit. There’s nothing like the joy of picking out the perfect gift for someone you work with and the look of glee as they open their gift. I shouldn’t have to be embarrassed going to the store and purchasing an item on your list.  Gift buying shouldn’t be a life altering decision. So if the thing on your list requires batteries or has three speeds, unless it’s a blender, take it off. Yes, that even includes that paperback copy of Taken by the T-Rex ; ) Please refrain from putting personal items on you wish list. Happy Holiday Season y’all!

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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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