Living in a Bubble

I spent the K-12 years of my education surrounded by other Latinos. Diversity, as I understood it then, occurred when a non-Latino student attended our school. On occasions when a “White” student arrived, I clearly remember the challenges he or she faced in their new environment: different neighborhood, people, culture, language, and school. In many ways, it was like attending school in a different country. Being kids and/or teenagers at the time, I’m sure we didn’t make their transition any easier.

My college years in El Paso paralleled those that came before. The college and city was well over 70% Latino. Many students were Mexican Nationals who crossed the border from Cuidad Juarez daily. I was enclosed in a bi-national campus packed with other Latinos. Every cultural facet of being Latino could easily be found, but I was living in a bubble.

The bubble burst when I accepted my “first college job” and moved to Dallas. Everything changed. The fast-track management development program included only one or two other Latinos and a handful of African Americans. Gone was the familiar cultural safety net which provided support, acceptance, and confidence. The sureness that propelled me through college in less than 4 years evaporated. I suddenly felt like the new “white” students did so many years ago. I lasted only 18 months.

Karma is a bitch.

My story is not new. It’s experienced by Latino and non-Latino students every day. However, experiences like these are rarely captured and documented, especially not on film. I came across this article in The Atlantic today which focuses on the documentary, American Promise. The independent film captures the experiences of two African-American boys, Idris Brewster and his friend Seun Summers, who enter a prominent private school of mostly white students. Spanning over 13 years, the film captured the cultural and educational challenges of the two boys. More importantly, it examines how diversity has evolved to mean different things to different groups of people.

The author makes this point:

I’d argue, though, that parents of color aren’t compelled by “diversity” as much as they are by reality. Independent school administrators may be invested in preparing white students for an increasingly multicultural future (or multicultural present, since children of color now outnumber non-Hispanic white children). But parents of color like the families in American Promise are more concerned with ensuring their kids’ success in the still predominantly white spaces of the present. The job market is obviously strained for everyone, however, it continues to be remarkably stratified by race

The Face of Bigotory

walkeraides

My former home state of Wisconsin made a bit of news today – and not in a good way.  Governor Scott Walker fired a campaign aide after it was discovered she tweeted insulting remarks about Latinos, referring to one as an “illegal mex”. It’s the second time in just a few months Walker has fired someone affiliated with his administration for making bigoted remarks about Latinos. Ironically, I was recently invited to Walker’s Annual Latino Holiday Event at the Governor’s mansion. Go figure.

In other news: I’m glad to be living in New York.

(Graphics via Fox News Latino)

Are Latino Leaders Different?

Many people would argue yes.

Several Latino thought leaders argue that Latino leaders have innate leadership characteristics which make them effective leaders.  In her new book on Latino leadership, Juana Bordas argues Latino leaders are inherently more collaborative, inclusive, and community oriented. Results from my dissertation and article on leadership and emotional intelligence parallel Ms. Bordas’ contention. Why? Many of these leadership traits are cultural. It’s in our DNA.

It’s the same reason you see Latinos over-represented on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Find Ms. Bordas new book, The Power of Latino Leadership, via Amazon (not affiliated).

Making a Living at Home

I have worked from home and have been a “stay at home parent” for over 13 years. My dual career has provided rewards and challenges but never regret. Career opportunities have presented themselves over the years, but none promised the flexibility or incentive to swap my current life with another. I realize other families don’t have a similar choice. I’m fortunate.

This morning’s NYT article about working moms and stay at home fathers is fascinating.  It captures many of the career and parenting issues our family has encountered and still  manages. In our case, choices were easier than those shared by parents in the article (or the comments section).

The article focused on mothers working in the financial industry, a very high-demand career. However, I think the issues are applicable to any industry or couple. As a Latino, my experiences as a stay at home father added a layer of cultural stereotypes and traditional beliefs. Imagine being a Latino stay-at-home father in the deep South – that was me!

I encourage you to read through the comments on this one – some interesting stories.

The Educational & Earnings Divide

This is a great piece by The Atlantic regarding race, gender, and the workforce.  An interesting comparison of participation rate of Latinos, women, and other demographic groups. The disparities among Latinos and African Americans can still be attributed to one underlying issue, education:

Blacks and Hispanics, who make up about one-quarter of the workforce, represent 44 percent of the country’s high school dropouts and just 15 percent of its bachelor’s earners. Until we can close the difference between those numbers, it’s unlikely that the workforce’s unyielding racial stratification will improve.

Graphic via The Atlantic

The Road Less Traveled

A recent California study shows Latinos disproportionally attend community colleges after graduating from high school. Why? The study points to several challenges faced by Latinos:

Previous research has found the concentration of Latinos in the public two-year sector to be attributable to many factors, including the relatively low cost, geographic accessibility, and curricular and program flexibility of community colleges (e.g., Crisp & Nora, 2010; Nora & Crisp, 2009). Researchers have also pointed to systemic disparities in K-12 school quality experienced by Latinos and the consequences that attending disadvantaged and underresourced schools have on Latino student college readiness (Nora & Crisp, 2009).

New York, New York!

Apologies! I realize that my last post was a couple of months ago – but for good reason.

I was in the process of relocating to New York. No, not the Big Apple, although I’m only a short drive or train ride away – the capital, Albany. I’m excited to be back in this part of the country; however, I will miss many of the colleagues and friends I made in the Midwest.

During my time in Madison, I had the good fortune to meet many inspiring Latino leaders who are working hard to empower and support an emerging Latino community. I jumped right in and was honored to serve on the board of Centro Hispano. I also helped set the foundation for the first Latino professionals organization in Madison. I’m confident significant opportunities still await the Latino community there.

The Capital region is certainly a much different environment, and in many respects, includes a much smaller Latino community as compared to Madison. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to meeting and networking with the Latino community in my new home of New York.

Latino Leaders in Corporate America

Four thought leaders weigh in on the state of Latino leaders in the workforce. Excerpts below – full article here:

Phyllis Barajas, Founder and Executive Director of Conexión
One is the fact that the pipeline to upward mobility for Latinos is faulty. It is not only about being educated. It is also about the type of jobs performed and networks that Latinos become part of in the workplace.

 Juana Bordas, President of Mestiza Leadership International
Strategic thinking and the ability to analyze and synthesize information are key leadership functions that require objectivity. These actions often necessitate a mental separation from a problem or group. This can sometimes be difficult for Latinos because the culture is much more feeling and process oriented.

Darío Collado, Program Manager of the Latino Leadership Initiative (LLI)
It is going to be very interesting to see exactly how the access to power through leadership positions will transform and influence the power structure in mainstream environment that is still to be realized.

Dr. Robert Rodriguez, President of DRR Advisors.
As more Latinos view their heritage as an asset, their leadership potential grows. Corporate Latino leadership development programs are also flourishing further accelerating the growth of Latino leaders.