Category Archives: Teaching

{Sexual Harassment Series} Women, Ask Yourself: Am I Part of the Problem?

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In discussing Sexual Harassment Training, I have come across many instances of women who are creating the problem rather than solving it. I believe that I can speak for those of us who have been damaged by sexual harassment/assault, when I say, “Stop!” If you are participating in behavior that reinforces sexual harassment, then, I demand you to quit.

One example of women who are reinforcing this issue is the woman who uses her sexuality to get what she wants. In 2017, if you think that getting what you want by flirting or using your sexuality is okay, you’re wrong. You should only be getting what you want by means of intelligence, skills, and capabilities. Otherwise, you are part of the problem.

In trying to end sexual harassment, solidarity is required. If you want to flirt, that is your prerogative. I’m not slut-shaming. I’m not trying to say that there is anything wrong with exuding sexuality. I’m saying when someone purposefully uses their sexuality to obtain a position, a raise, or other benefits, then it becomes a different issue. This is why people think that sexual harassment is okay: because some women accept it.

I do not want to obtain a higher position because of my sexuality. I do not want to get a raise because of my sexuality. I want to obtain a higher position because I am smart, strong, and competent. I want to obtain a raise because I earned it. Women taking shortcuts and allowing their sexuality to be used are demeaning the accomplishments of people like me, and ultimately, I am sick of it.

Women Helping Women: It Happens!!!

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Coming from Atmore, Alabama, I was accustomed to women hurting women more than helping. When I started teaching middle school, I only had two girlfriends who were open and honest with me. The other twenty or so women that I worked with were pretty much out for themselves or competitive. For instance, we were encouraged to take initiative and participate in activities like pep rallies and other assemblies. When I offered to participate, I was quickly told that I was not needed. Once I moved on to community college, I was asked to attend a training for a new program. I was introduced to an exciting and innovative program that the state was funding through grants to help adult education students. When I returned enthusiastically hoping that this program could be considered for our school, I was quickly turned down by the female dean who explained simply, “It is not done here.” Here we are three years later, finally catching up and implementing the program. Even my friends were not really helpful. I watched them drop like flies when I went through a divorce. When I started different business ventures, no friends supported them. I couldn’t even get friends to come to a party/fundraiser that I held. Sometimes these experiences made me try harder to be a good friend and make sure that I didn’t treat people this way. Unfortunately, more often than not, women have not helped me.

In my new business ventures, I’ve started looking for a new tribe. Luckily, Pensacola actually has a different mindset. Last Thursday, I attended the annual Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast conference. My wife encouraged me to go, and although I expected division, I went. From the second I walked in the door, I was glad that I did. I fought back tears of joy to see so many genuine women helping each other. The group was founded by a group of friends after Hurricane Ivan devastated the area. They got together and helped each other rebuild their businesses, and this lead them to build the group.

As I found my way to the ballroom, I was greeted by vendors and realized that the group had given them the opportunity to present their businesses to the attendees. I found a spot at a table near the front and was soon joined by others who shared their stories. One lady was in a similar place as me–finding a new place in business. Another was looking for ways to recruit clients to her counseling. Another woman joined us as a rep for her sales group. An accountant joined the table who was just there for the inspiration. All of the women were nice and forthcoming in their stories and enthusiasm for the group.

The day progressed in empowering speeches and presentations. I didn’t even realize it was nearing the end because I was so impressed with ALL of the presenters. At the end of the day, we participated in a networking exercise where we exchanged our business cards and pledged to stay in touch.

That night I cried as I explained all of this to Alisa. I cried tears of joy in finding a group of women who genuinely want to help other women in business and in life. I also cried tears of anger that I was just finding this group at 35.

What happens when we help others? Only good things. I vow to be even more conscious of helping others, especially women because we need it. It is not easy to be a woman in business or society. We need each other.

Struggles Teach Us Something. Listen to Them.

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Struggle Meme

I was forced out of bed this morning by thoughts of writing. It’s amazing how passion can make us do things. As I was proofreading the second chapter, I decided to share my thoughts on struggle. I have struggled for years, no, decades, with wanting to write, but I have never followed through. I actually finished a book last year, but have not touched it sense. This struggle is one of self-doubt. However, as you’ll find in my book, I do not believe that we struggle for no reason. Our bodies physically try to protect us, so they get confused by our fears. When we fear something, the body turns away from it as a means of protection. Unfortunately, these fears are often irrational and reinforced by a false sense of security. My fear of writing is that I won’t be good enough. It is that someone will read it and think I’m stupid. Or, no one will read it. Why do we fear these things? Because we have struggled with something similar. Someone somewhere has put these thoughts in our heads, whether it is social media, television, friends, enemies, family…But, a cool thing can happen when you realize that this struggle was just meant to be a lesson, not a debilitating reality. This struggle was meant to prepare you for the possibility of rejection. But, this struggle is not permanent. No struggle is. That’s why it’s a struggle. It’s hard, you push through it, and you’re better on the other side. You can appreciate it more. With me, I’ve learned that I don’t care if I’m rejected. I have been there. I don’t care if someone thinks I’m stupid; I know plenty of stupid people. What I care about is finding my voice and letting it out. It’s been screaming at me for decades inside my head. It needs out. SO, if you are struggling with something, take a good step back and try to see what the lesson is within the struggle. Then, push past it. Get on the other side and remember it for future struggles may come, but they too can be lessons rather than realities. Happy Wednesday!

Sexual Harassment Training

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As a consultant, I identify problem areas, research best practices, put my own spin on these practices, and conduct training. With sexual harassment, it’s personal. I have been a victim of sexual harassment all too often. Unfortunately, the online training and video training that I have always been required to participate in has not helped me in any way know how to actually handle sexual harassment in the workplace.

What happens to organizations when sexual harassment training fails?

  • They are at risk of a lawsuit
    • Lawsuits are expensive, duh
    • Lawsuits are time-consuming
    • Lawsuits can be detrimental to an organization’s reputation
  • A hostile work environment is created
    • Even if there is no lawsuit, problems are still created
    • Employees need to feel safe and protected by the organization
    • When employees do not feel safe, they lose their loyalty, their enthusiasm, and their confidence in the organization

The misconception that you are safe if you are not involved is being torn down. If you are a leader and you do not practice due care to prevent sexual harassment, you can be held responsible for someone else’s actions. Look at Penn State. Leaders who had nothing to do with the charges are responsible for the lack of handling the situation.

It’s time to be pro-active and get proper training!

WHY CHOOSE ME?

I understand sexual harassment from the inside. I know that it is not easy to deal with sexual harassment at a job that you have worked hard to obtain. I know that people get backed into corners and file lawsuits out of desperation. But, I believe that lawsuits are not the answer. They do not help the situation. I want to help both victims and organizations avoid lawsuits and end sexual harassment. What has been done is not working, so it’s time to try something new.

My sessions will not only cover the legal and organizational needs, but they will also help to develop stronger employees. I have researched the problems with current training and developed solutions for better training. The sessions are fun and interactive, which means that they will last. I will continue to provide assistance as needed even after training.

OSHA says that online/video training is not sufficient for sexual harassment training. What does this mean? That if this is the only method of sexual harassment training an organization employs, and there is a sexual harassment incident at that organization, the organization can be held liable for not having proper training.

FOR VICTIMS:

Everyone knows what sexual harassment is, and everyone knows that it is illegal. However, you may not know how to deal with sexual harassment when dealing with it threatens your career and your livelihood. You are not alone in this.

For information on how to book my services go to my website: julietsmilesconsulting

 

Why I Will Continue to Support Black Lives Matter Even Though I’m White

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First ofblack-lives-matter all, I shouldn’t have to write “even though I’m white,” but I feel that it is necessary because I’m hoping that this will reach at least one white person who doesn’t think it’s okay to support the Black Lives Matter movement as if it will harm their white privilege in some way. Secondly, I will attempt to refrain my anger and sarcasm as much as possible, but I can’t make any promises. These are my disclaimers.

As a teacher, I have witnessed many forms of oppression in our society, especially against black people. I see that the public school system reinforces many of this oppression. What do I mean? Let’s look at desegregation. When black children were finally allowed to attend “white” schools, how much did the schools change to include their culture? Did the history books change to include positive attributes made by black people? No. Did literature books change to include a fair amount of black writers? No. The only thing that changed was that they were allowed to attend. When I look back on my education, I think about how much I did not know about black people as a child. I didn’t have the pleasure of reading Toni Morrison,  Langston Hughes, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, etc. All that I was exposed to was the “norm.” So, looking at this from the perspective of a black child (if I may venture to do so), what would this tell me about my race? As a white child of a racist mother, I learned that white was normal, good, accepted. I was taught that black boys were rapists and violent. I was taught that black women were bitches. And, I was taught that all black people were stupid and did not belong in our society. My mother would say that she wished that black people would be sent back to Africa. I want to add here that I have long since departed from these teachings, but I’m afraid that many people still have this mentality. So, in 2016, has the public school system changed? No. They simply added a month to celebrate Black History–the shortest month of the year. Yes, they have included more black people in history and literature, but the narrative is ultimately the same. EXCLUSION OF BLACK PEOPLE BEGINS IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

As a college English teacher, I emphasize the fact that we are all basically bilingual. When I’m at home, I sometimes say things like, “He done started something,” or “She gone get in trouble.” This is our dialect. I know that it is technically incorrect, but I do not dismiss dialect because it brings richness, culture and identity to people’s voices. My black students are not used to this. They are not used to their speech being accepted as a language. They look at me like I’m an alien. EXCLUSION OF BLACK PEOPLE CONTINUES THROUGHOUT HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE.

Don’t get me wrong, black people are strong. I admire them for their perseverance. They have made tremendous strides considering the lack of acceptance in our society. They don’t need my support. It’s the white people who need to know that it’s okay to support them.

In fact, white people could benefit majorly from true inclusion. Look at the school system again. Now tests are the ultimate basis of knowledge. If a student doesn’t pass the test, the student is judged, the teacher is judged, the school is judged. The problem with this is that not all student knowledge can be measured by a test. And, ultimately the tests do not reflect the differences in race. This is a difficult subject because it may sound bad, but hear me out. When black people were allowed to attend white schools, they had basically no education besides the little bit that other black people could teach them. They were not up to white people’s “standards.” So, instead of changing the system and letting the black students catch up, they just kept going in hopes that they would give up. Then, legislature is passed that says that all schools must be performing. These black students who couldn’t catch up were hurting the numbers. What happens? They lower the standards. Now middle and lower class white students are also suffering. And, this is pretty much where the education system is today.

Also, some black people did give up. They recognized that they couldn’t survive this system. This system NEVER really let them in. So, what do they do? Turn to ways to survive that don’t include getting an education.

Another form of oppression is the welfare system. The welfare system was set up initially to help people get back on their feet after the Great Depression. Now, it reinforces a cycle of slavery to poverty. I once overheard a conversation among a couple of black seventh graders (ages 13-14). They were talking about naming their babies. I heard one of them say that she hoped that she would have twins so that her grandmother would get two more checks. When a person only knows one way of life, it is difficult to break out of it. It is the norm. It is a cycle. I’m going out on a limb to say that I’d bet most of our politicians know this, which is why welfare continues. I’m not saying welfare should disappear because I understand its important in helping people in need, but it should be a means to an end, not the end. So many white people disagree with me on this point because they are jealous that the government gives black people money. This is so stupid because 1. white people get welfare too, and 2. a life depending on the government is not a good one. White people say “I wish I could drive a Cadillac and get on welfare,” but that Cadillac does not make up for other hardships, and this is just nasty ass stupid prejudice assumption. Think of it this way: Do I want my daughter at 13 to be thinking about naming her child, the child that she is having so that her grandmother can get another check? Nope.

I could go on and on about the systems of oppression (a.k.a. slavery) that are thriving in our society, but this is supposed to be about Black Lives Matter. I’m writing this in response to white people trying to diminish this movement by using the term Blue Lives Matter as a rebuttal. NO NO NO! This movement was not established as a blow against police officers. It was established as a cry for help. Mothers of victims. Mother of victims. They lost their children. They lost their children to the violence of our society. Our society excluded their children, and they ended up dead at young ages. This is the problem. Stop trying to stifle their voices. Stop ignoring the exclusion. Stop saying that they can’t speak up for themselves without taking away from white people. Do white people need black lives to not matter?

No one said that blue lives don’t matter. No one said that white lives don’t matter. When a police officer shoots a black man sitting in his car unarmed, he is saying that his life doesn’t matter. When a white man shoots a black teenager for wearing a hoody and playing loud music, he is saying that his life doesn’t matter. When a child is gunned down for having a toy gun, it shows that someone believed his life didn’t matter. There are methods for preventing this violence, but they are not exercised. Are all instances of police violence about race? No. Am I saying that police officers should not protect themselves? No. I am saying that racism and oppression exist and cannot be ignored. I am saying that black lives do matter, but that does not have to take away from others’ lives. I am saying that if there are instances where a black person is targeted, then there need to consequences and recognition.

I don’t worry that my son will get shot because of the color of his skin. I don’t worry that my son will be excluded in school because of the color of his skin. I don’t worry that my son will be profiled because of the color of his skin. I enjoy white privilege in this way. I do not want to have to worry, but I want to share those same privileges with my black neighbors. I want my students to feel accepted in my classroom. I want my students to succeed and become productive members of society. I want to live in a society where we stop lying and start fixing the problem. If you want to say ALL LIVES MATTER, fine. THEN ACT LIKE IT! Until then recognize that BLACK LIVES MATTER.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modern Fairy Story Reveals Social Commentary

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a1ffac38-681f-48ff-8992-986c22d2c028-large16x9_PLT_Shrek_HeroLast night my wife and I took my kids and her niece to see Shrek: The Musical at the Pensacola Little Theater, and it was a treat! The costumes were fantastic, the setting was amazing, but what I loved the most were the hidden meanings that made me like this modern fairy story in the first place.

My favorite song was “Let Your Freak Flag Fly.” In the play, most of the characters are “outsiders”–the “Big Bad Wolf” is dressed in drag, witches are “not so wicked,” and many of the others are part of the B list fairy stories. What do they tell us? That we should celebrate our differences, and that being divided makes us weak and vulnerable to tyrants and society.

Of course, these characters are the side story, and Shrek and Fiona are the main protagonists. Shrek is definitely not the prince charming, although he rescues Fiona. He does so without violence. He is actually very logical. His whole analogy that ogres are like onions is hilarious yet meaningful. Fiona, as we soon find out, is also an ogre on the inside. She tries to be the typical princess. She shows us that little girls are given expectations based on fairy tales that do not come true. Shrek and Fiona are real life: reality.

One of the most evocative parts that I wish I could have recorded even though I know that’s not cool was when Shrek was mad and hurt and retreated to his swamp to build a wall. A giant green ogre dancing around on stage singing about how a wall was a solution to his problems was just too reminiscent of Donald Trump to go unnoticed.

However, the best example of irony was636053273925510881-Shrek-The-Musical-Farquaad-3 Lord Farquaad–the tyrant who wants to kick out all of the “freaks” so that he can have his perfect kingdom. His size is a realistic portrayal of his brain more than his body.

I appreciated this play, performed mostly for children, so much that I felt compelled to share. Please share your thoughts as well. 636053273954059064-Shrek-The-Musical-Shrek-Fiona-2

 

 

 

 

One White Feminist Who Wants to Talk about Racism in Feminism

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Let’s start a dialogue. I don’t want to be racist. I understand white privilege. I am a feminist. I recently read “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay, and I very much see her points. I agree. I will not be “free-bleeding” or whatever the fuck it’s called to not wear a tampon. I will shave my armpits, and my legs, and my vagina. I love some men–my father, my son, my girlfriend’s son, my friends, etc. So, I guess I too am a bad feminist. However, I’m not ashamed to call myself feminist in any situation. I’ve gotten over a lot of shame by coming out as a lesbian, so feminist is something that is low on the totem pole of shame. However, I do understand that there are negative connotations and associations with the term or label because of certain issues. We can’t just tuck our tails and run from these issues, though. Many feminists who fought for women’s rights and suffrage were working with black people to gain the same rights. Even those who weren’t should not carry the name of feminist into the mud. This is a new time, and it’s time that our views on feminism change. It is about empowering all people. Everyone can gain from feminism.

I am ashamed that some people are ashamed to call themselves feminists. While I’m writing this, I was thinking of comparing the idea of being ashamed of feminism to being ashamed of the white race because of the many fools in the white race that take things to the extreme and make me ashamed of my color. Then I thought, I would not be ashamed of anything that feminists do, even if I chose not to do those things, except for excluding people of color, and that’s something that apparently feminists share with white people, so I’m ashamed of racist feminists and white people.

 

 

But, not all white feminists are racist. Can I say that I’m not? I do see color. I think color should be embraced. It’s a part of what makes people who they are. It’s their heritage. Saying “I don’t see color” is an insult because it stifles the uniqueness of the people of color. It’s like saying “I don’t see gender.” I want you to see my gender. I love my gender. I get angry when people stick me in a box with all people of my gender (those who love making love to men) because that is not part of my gender identity, but I don’t want you to not see my gender. Asking, “Why do you have to make it about race?” is also ignorant. Because it is about race. It is personal.

I’m not going to claim to have black friends. I don’t. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t, it just means that I haven’t made friends with a black person that I hang out with (you’d have to understand the small-town lack of social gatherings, but that’s another blog). However, I have many black colleagues that I respect. I have many black students that I want to see succeed. I want to see equality for all. I want to see fairness for all. I want to see the liberty match the freedom that was granted. Isn’t that what feminism is supposed to be?

Walking in the Shoes of the Other: A Study of Jane Elliot’s Class on Race

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Walking in the Shoes of the Other

There is an old saying about walking a mile in another person’s shoes before you judge them, which means that before a person can truly understand what another person is going through, he or she has to share the same experience. In 1968, a time of racial controversy in the United States, school teacher Jane Elliott made  her students walk  in others’ shoes. Through an experiment that she conducted, she had them experience what it was like to be discriminated against because of a biological feature. The experiment that Ms. Elliott conducted on her class demonstrated George Herbert Mead’s theory  of the social self as it demonstrated how the students developed social reactions or behavior through their experiences.

    First of all, Ms. Elliott  explained to the students that the class would be divided into two categories: the blue eyed students and the brown eyed students. Simply because she has blue eyes, she said that the blue eyed students would be the better students on the first day. She gave the students scarves to wear to indicate that they were the brown eyed students. These symbols demonstrate Mead’s theory that “social experience is the exchange of symbols” (Macionis 69). People use symbols like words, hand gestures, or a smile to create meaning (Macionis 69). Ms. Elliott assigned the label of brown eyed students as the lower part of the class, and when she did she created meaning. When the students put on the scarves, they began to identify themselves as the lower class, and they felt what it was like to be the targets of discrimination. One girl kept looking around as if she was going to cry. This identification demonstrates another part of Mead’s theory that the self is the product of social experience (Macionis 69). The children were told that the brown eyed children were slower, less intelligent, and more greedy than the blue eyed children, and both sets of children began to experience themselves in this  way. The blue eyed children exhibited feelings that they were superior to the brown eyed children, and the brown eyed children showed that they felt inferior.

After the children understood the exercise, they really began to assert their roles. Ms. Elliott made comments throughout the class that provoked the students. At one time, she said that her yard stick was missing, and one of the blue eyed students said that she should keep that handy in case one of the brown eyed students misbehaved. She asked him if he felt that that was the thing to use if they misbehaved, and he said yes. She commented that the brown eyed students were slower and that the class had to wait on them. She said that the brown eyed students could not drink from the water fountain, and she said that they could not get second helpings at lunch like the blue eyed students could. To this one student replied that the brown eyed students would take too much, implicating that they were greedy and selfish. Ms. Elliott really did a good job of building the scenario so that the students could really experience what discrimination was like.    

The impact of the scenario was greatest when the students went out to recess. Ms. Elliott told the students that they could not play together because of their differences. The brown eyed students demonstrated how their self image had been built by their previous social experiences because they expressed that they felt like they could not do anything. All of the students sat down by themselves away from the others. One student held his book over his face in shame. Mead’s third concept leads into the idea of the “looking glass.” In this concept, others are a mirror in which people see themselves; therefore, what people think of themselves depends on how they think others see them (Macionis 69). Because the blue eyed children saw the brown eyed children as lower–slower, dumber, etc.–the brown eyed children began to see themselves in those same lenses.  

When the students returned to the classroom, Ms. Elliott addressed a fight that had occurred on the playground. One of the blue eyed students had been calling one of the brown eyed students names and picking on him, so the brown eyed boy had hit him. The significance of this incident was revealed in the responses of the children. Ms. Elliott asked the brown eyed boy why he hit the blue eyed boy, and he responded by saying that he was calling him names. Ms. Elliott asked him what names he was calling him, and he said that he was calling him brown eyed. Ms. Elliott then asked why this was a bad thing, and the brown eyed boy responded “because it means I’m stupider.” This shows that even though the students previously knew this to be untrue, their social experience caused them to create this image. One boy said that this was like when people call black people “niggers.” Just because the students had been told that the brown eyed students were not as good as the blue eyed students, both felt that this was true, which once again demonstrates Mead’s theory that the self is developed through social experience.

The next day, Ms. Elliott reversed the roles. She told the class that the brown eyed people were now better than the blue eyed people. The blue eyed people had to wear the scarves. Immediately after putting on the scarves, the blue eyed students’ body language exhibited their feelings. One student laid his head on the desk. Ms. Elliott used this as an opportunity to point out a negative quality of the blue eyed students just like she had done the day before with the brown eyed students. She would use actions that all of the students would normally do to point out that because one of the lower class students was doing it, it meant that they were all bad.

The oppression caused by the scarves or labeling was felt in more  ways than just the students’ feelings. Ms. Elliott’s class used phonic cards, and this was a timed exercise. On Tuesday, when the brown eyed students were the lower class, their timing was awful. On Wednesday, when the brown eyed students were labeled the better students, their timing improved by twice the time. When Ms. Elliott asked them why, they said because all they could think about on Tuesday was the scarves. The labeling actually oppressed their ability to learn and think as well as their social abilities.

Mead’s fourth point in his theory states, “by taking the role of the other, we become self-aware” (Macionis 69). When Ms. Elliott reversed the roles of the students, they had to walk in each others’ shoes. The subjective side of the self (the “I”) was exhibited when the students were a part of the better group, and the objective side was exhibited when the students were a part of the lower group. When Ms. Elliott asked the students to evaluate their experience as part of the lower group, they described it as feeling like being locked up in jail, or “like a dog on a leash.” Because both sets of students had experienced the same oppression, both could appreciate their experiences. When asked if it was okay or right to treat people differently because of their differences, all of the students agreed that it was not right. In this stage, the children developed their knowledge of the generalized other, or cultural norms and values that we use as references in evaluating ourselves (Macionis 70). They saw that the way that society sees them is a part of how they see themselves. So, they all agreed that viewing others as lesser because of biological differences is wrong.  

Ms. Elliott’s experiment may have only reached a few students, but it is a model that effectively taught young people about the harms and effects of racism and discrimination. Mead wrote, “No hard-and-fast line can be drawn between our own selves and the selves of others” (Macionis 69), and this is what Ms. Elliott’s experiment demonstrates. The self is built by social interaction. The students exhibited that the ways they felt about themselves were affected by social interaction. They showed that their ability to learn and think was affected by social interaction. And, they also showed that the way that they interact with others is affected by social interaction. Overall, Ms. Elliott’s lesson in racism forced the students to walk in each other’s shoes in order to demonstrate what racism and discrimination actually feels like so that they would not continue the cycle of hate. By taking on the role of the other, the students were able to build a self that would understand the feelings of oppression caused by racism and not become racist themselves. When the students returned years later, they indicated how much Ms. Elliott’s project had affected their lives, proving that social experience builds people’s personalities. Ms. Elliott’s experiment should be a part of third grade curriculum today.     

Bibliography

Macionis, John J. Society: The Basics. 12th Ed. Boston: Pearson, 2013. Print.