June 28, 2017

WE HAVE A STORY TO TELL

I was invited to give the keynote address on 7/23/16 at the reunion of blacks and whites who grew up in Smelterville, the poorest section in my hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. I don’t know of any other poverty stricken place in America that has produced a greater success rate of African American men and women than Smelterville. Although we grew up dirt poor we had a support network that got us through. We have some very powerful stories to tell about race relations, persistence and accomplishments. I want my hometown’s image to be much more inclusive than just being about Rush Limbaugh and his hate-filled right wing agenda. I hope you’re inspired by this speech!

PECAN ST

Pecan Street-the street I grew up on-in Smelterville, the “slum” section of Cape Girardeau, Mo. We used to joke if the bathroom burned down, it wouldn’t even make it up to the back porch. My house is the shack with the car in front across the street from New Bethel Baptist Church-photo © Ken Steinhoff All Rights Reserved

If you ever lived in Smelterville make some noise. Well alright-my people!  It’s good to be home and to see so many familiar faces. You see we know each other in ways that no one else ever will….that’s why we have lifelong friendships. As Buster was introducing me I was just thinking that most of my true friends in life are from Smelterville and Buster tops the list. Thank you for that wonderful introduction and generous embellishments Cuz.

It is an honor for me to speak to you tonight. Let me also thank the Vine Street Connection Planning team for their vision in sponsoring tonight’s event. For making it possible for us to fellowship together; to renew old acquaintances and to reflect on days gone by.

When I first learned that I was being asked to deliver the keynote address I didn’t believe it. In fact they called me three times to accept this invitation. I finally relented and told the operator I would accept the charges. You gotta pay that phone bill man. In all seriousness I’m absolutely honored to be home among friends and family. It’s good to see all the folks from Smelterville in the house.

You see Smelterville (where many of us grew up) was the poorest side of town-the slums. If you lived there, you were supposed to feel ashamed. Well I’m not ashamed-in fact I’m proud to be from Smelterville because we have some powerful stories to tell Cape and America about race relations, about our many successful Black residents who beat the odds and about the importance of nurturing young people.

Many of you know that we might have been born dirt poor but we were spiritually rich. Smelterville taught us that we could overcome our circumstances. We learned leadership skills at the Civic Center and in our youth clubs; were given lessons in credit and responsibility from John Dietiker at his grocery store; taught to work hard by our parents and were spiritually grounded in our church. I’m here to tell you tonight that we turned out alright. We weathered the storm. And we have a story to tell.

What we learned transformed our lives and prepared us for the life we’ve been living. We knew diversity before it became popular because we lived side by side with, worked with, played with, and sometimes gently fought with our white brothers and sisters in Smelterville who are in the house tonight.

Blacks and whites got along just fine in Smelterville-thank you. As Madeline said it wasn’t until we went on the other side of Tollgate Hill that we faced racial animosity. I won’t go into all of the history around Smelterville and why poor blacks and whites were forced to live in the conditions that we grew up in but I can tell you that there is a deeper history that reflects the unfinished business of race relations — and the persistence of racism that has never been fully discussed in Cape but I’ll save that talk for another time.

Tonight we’re here to celebrate each other so I will be spending the next 15 minutes talking about three things:

  • First I want to reminisce a little more about Smelterville.
  • Secondly I don’t want the memory that some of you have of Bobby Williams (former community leader) from his remarks last year to be the final thing that you remember about him. As a result I want to share what Bobby Williams meant to those of us who knew him at the civic center.
  • The last topic is intended for our young people because I believe  education is your ticket out
  • I’ll end each topic by saying Word!

REMINISCING

Speaking of reminiscing, do any of you all remember when?

  • Kool-Aid was the drink of the summer  and real candy bars were only a nickel
  • Any parent could discipline any kid, or feed him or her, or have him carry in the wood and nobody, not even the kid, thought anything of it
  • Yawl don’t remember when parents stood on the porch and yelled for you to come home
  • Waking John Dietiker up to open his store on a Sunday morning cause you needed something to get ready for church.

[Read more...]

FIRST MALE INVITED TO DISCUSS NOVEL AT WOMEN’S BOOK CLUB

Bookclub photo 5-15-16

Dr. Taylor & Sisters with Books

According to Marilyn Ruffin-the President and founder of this 22 year-old African American Black Women’s Book club: Sisters with Books, I will be the first male author they’ve ever invited to discuss his book. As long as I don’t screw it up, this could open up the doors for the next male, in about 15 years-just saying.

Seriously I’m honored to be selected as the first and am looking forward to having an engaging and thoughtful discussion about my novel, Lakeside University Cover Up. I love dialoguing with our sisters because they are so insightful, enthusiastic and always teach me new lessons about my novel and its characters. I’m so grateful they selected my novel as their monthly read and extended this invitation for me to meet with their members. I understand a good meal is always served to allow members and guests to fellowship before the discussion. I just don’t see a downside here and can’t wait to join them in May. [Read more...]

DOES DIVERSITY MATTER TO GOD?

 

christI have been blessed to help a large religious organization with churches throughout the U.S. and overseas answer that question and embrace diversity, inclusion and equity as a core value. My team and I are challenging them to use it as a guiding question and rationale as they travel down the diversity assessment road. Every Christian that I’ve met who believes in social justice also believes that diversity does matter to God and that it’s anchored in scriptures throughout the holy bible. They tell me that Jesus could not have been clearer when issuing his commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. If that is true, then my question is this: Is it time for churches to reclaim their leadership role?

The scripture compels churches to be inclusive. In almost every chapter of the New Testament you’ll find God telling his people that they are one and to love one another. The gospel is intended to bring people together, not separate them apart. What could make this organization’s diversity initiative so profound and so special from all others that I’ve been involved with is their ability to link their diversity efforts to God’s commandments. Business leaders can’t make that connection-for them diversity has to increase the bottom line; Educators can’t make that connection-for them diversity enhances the learning environment; but Christians have a tremendous opportunity to show how the gospel can be used to build bridges between people and nations. What will churches do with this great opportunity? [Read more...]

RETIREMENT: A LITTLE OVER A YEAR AWAY

Next May, 2017 I will officially step down as a professor in the School of Education’s doctoral program. While it has been a great ride, I’m looking forward to working on projects that I’ve put on hold and slowing my pace from this hectic schedule I’ve been maintaining over the years.

I’m already committed to helping three people publish their book. I also intend to write another book myself-probably on some aspect of African American history. I want to see my play staged again and continue to produce documentaries from time to time. I know this sounds like my pace is not really slowing but I’m not going to place a timeline on these things and will get to them when I’m able and not based on a deadline.

When my wife retires we will decide if we spend the winters out of Wisconsin by moving elsewhere (Northwest) or just moving out during the winter season and still call Madison our home. It’s a lot to think about but we have time to do so intentionally and thoughtfully.

I also need to give thought if I should revise my monthly free e-newsletter in which I try to provide useful and informative information that people can use to increase their skills and knowledge. Here is a sample of the free information that I’ve provided monthly in the past. This sample would be content for just one of my monthly e-newsletters.

outdoorsThe Best Places to Find Free Stock Images for Your WordPress Site. Here’s the site to help you find the right images for your website? http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/best-free-stock-images-wordpress/


tv

        www.WheretoWatch.org. WhereToWatch.org is a website featuring a comprehensive, up-to-date list of safe and legal online entertainment viewing outlets. Each site listed has been thoroughly vetted by the MPAA to ensure that your favorite film and TV content is easy to access, safe from viruses and malware, and most importantly of all, ceaselessly committed to honoring artist royalties and copyright laws. [Read more...]

Dr. Taylor Honored with Faculty Award

Flanagan and Taylor (2)

(Dr.  Taylor (r.) with College President Scott Flanagan)

Madison, Wis. (May 12, 2015) – Dr. Charles “Chuck” Taylor was recently honored with the Edgewood College Faculty Award for Excellence in Multicultural Education.

This award recognizes outstanding contributions to students, faculty and to Edgewood College across multiple aspects of multicultural education.

Dr. Taylor’s work in multicultural awareness, inclusion and honoring of diversity in the workplace and the world was noted in the citation.

“Dr. Taylor’s efforts to provide a laboratory for engagement in an intersectional analysis of race, ethnicity, class and gender, represents a distinguished record of excellence in multicultural education at Edgewood College and in the greater Madison community,” said Dr. Dean Pribbenow, Vice President for Academic Affairs.

“He has developed innovative, academically rigorous coursework in critical studies of race, ethnicity and multiculturalism in the United States, which is now a required element in our doctoral program in Educational Leadership, while using culturally responsive pedagogies in all of the courses he teaches,” Pribbenow said.

The plaque they gave me read: “For your invaluable contributions and commitment to multicultural education and scholarship, as well as your energetic and imaginative diversity initiatives both in and outside the classroom. Edgewood College honors you for the profound impact your teaching has had on your students.

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commencement-my three grad students

Dr. Taylor with doctoral graduates Dr. “Tay” Allen, Dr. Douglas Jensen, and Dr. Ramon Figueroa

Indeed I was humbled by this award but an equally fulfilling honor came when I was able to walk across the stage with three of my students who earned their doctorate degrees this year. I am so proud of each of these students and I know each will continue to make great contributions to our society. That’s what we as educators hope for and expect of our graduates. I want my students to use education to challenge social inequities. We need researchers who will arm themselves with liberating knowledge to help us reclaim our true history and accurately tell our stories. I want all of my students to leave my classroom more empathetic, engaged and willing to stand up for social justice.

 

 

 

Commencement with chuck hooding Taysheedra

Dr. Taylor “hooding” Dr. Taysheedra Allen and welcoming her to the ranks of the doctorate.

Taysheedra wrote her dissertation on: Nursing students’ perceptions of two program outcomes modeled by nursing faculty at a mid-west technical college. Her goal is to set up a health clinic for women. I have no doubt in my mind that she will achieve her goal. I’m thrilled to have contributed to the educational part of her journey.

9-Tips for Working with Culturally Different Students on your Campus by Dr. Charles Taylor

This article contains practical advice for working with students of color on your campus. Faculty, Staff and especially student services personnel should find these tips helpful.

Introduction

Working with culturally different students can be extremely rewarding and transformative. On the other hand for those who have had limited contact with students of color, it can be a challenge that requires sensitivity and vulnerability. Because of the potential for mixed signals, suspicion and misunderstanding, it’s important that care be given to how this interaction is to be structured. While do’s and don’ts are unnecessary, it is important to acknowledge some broad generalizations that may prove helpful when working with students of color. If these guidelines are followed you stand a better chance of creating positive interactions.

Remember that racial minorities are not all the same

Avoid the tendency to lump all minorities together or view them as the same. Much has been written about the recent trend of adopting a ‘color-blind’ approach towards people of different ethnicities. Bonilla-Silva and Forman (2000) analyzed interviews and surveys conducted with white college students to highlight a form of colorblind racism where students continued to hold on to prejudiced views but considered themselves to have moved beyond prejudices by not noticing the color of the person they were talking to.

Color blindness as a long-term societal goal may be a good idea, but as it is presently practiced, is a form of prejudice since it denies people their identity and history. Diverse racial and ethnic groups have a different history in the United States, and therefore traveled very different paths to becoming part of the American Society. Lumping all minorities together is tantamount to stripping them of their collective histories, rich cultural heritage and unique experiences in the contemporary society. Helping students accept differences is more than just teaching tolerance. Practicing diversity is key to our survival as a nation and as a member of the world community. Sensitive college personnel who understand this create practices and cultural programming that respects each group’s unique cultural differences.

Celebrate diversity

Stress cultural pluralism and celebrate diversity while downplaying the notion of the U.S. as a melting pot. When one is expressing the sentiment of ignoring differences, one is generally supporting the melting pot theory. Although European immigrants were encouraged to “melt,” generally racial minorities were not permitted to. It is not surprising that the melting pot concept is rejected by many people of color today. Cultural pluralism or multiculturalism is the concept being embraced by such groups. Gold (1977) offers a reason for this when he writes:

“…multiculturalism equates with the respect shown the varied cultures and ethnic groups which have built the United States and which continue today to contribute to its richness and diversity.”

Multiculturalism recognizes that as Americans we share many things in common, but as hyphenated Americans our lifestyles and values need not be the same. The way we dance, speak, party, dress, etc., can reflect our cultural heritage and need not be considered anti-American. Multiculturalism attempts to make the point that differences are not deficiencies.

Despite the many things we have in common, we also share diverse experiences that may only be common to our “racial group.” Integration in the United States for people of color has been qualitatively different than that of the Anglo immigrants. Johnson (1997) discusses the experiences of Mexican immigrants and coins the term ‘ring of fire’ rather than melting pot to describe the difficulties that Mexican immigrants face in becoming citizens of the United States. Therefore, the U.S. has not been a melting pot for people of all ethnicities and to use that term can be construed as showing a lack of historical knowledge and/or cultural insensitivity.

Avoid stereotyping ALANA groups

Watch for stereotyping in language, in media, and in institutional practices. The way in which ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) groups are portrayed in the media, whether it be the news or popular films can have a significant impact on how people view that group (Bjornstorm, 2010). In general there is a tendency in the news media to report crime or other negative news due to its newsworthiness (Bjornstorm, 2010). When minorities are over represented in such news stories, the public can be influenced into projecting stereotypical negative attitudes towards the entire group.

It is therefore imperative to step back and help college students develop a more informed and critical perspective on how ALANA groups are portrayed in mass media. One should for instance consider the fact that minorities are generally underrepresented among those who are newsmakers, or hold positions of power and influence in the business of news making, and therefore there is a much greater chance for them to be portrayed negatively (Ungerleider, 1991).

We need to take this notion of stereotyping seriously because it affects the quality of life that students of color experience on predominantly white campuses. Solorzano et al’s (2000) study found that minority students were constantly exposed to subtle indicators of prejudice, in the classroom or with their peers. In social situations students reported that African American functions or gatherings were under greater scrutiny and they were held to a higher standard of following rules and regulations as opposed to white gatherings. Students in the study also reported having to spend more effort not only to perform well, but also to do so while navigating a host of racial stereotypes in almost all settings. Many students admitted to changing or dropping courses because of their inability to cope with the racial micro-aggressions in one form or another. [Read more...]

How to overcome Systemic Resistance to Diversity is greatest need of respondents in a national survey

DIVERSITY SURVEY RESULTS

 The survey was sent to nearly 300 people across the U.S. The intent was to gather input from a national sample about the key diversity issues that campuses were most interested in addressing. Respondents were asked to reply to three questions listed below. Although demographic information of respondents is provided, there was only one answer that produced any significant variance between respondents. That answer is: “How can I overcome my personal challenges” in response to the first question. This was overwhelmingly submitted by white respondents.

All answers were grouped and organized under broad headings. If an answer was repeated multiple times it became a heading so you can assume that all headings were created based on many respondents answering in similar ways. Examples of submitted individual answers that led to these headings is included. The answers are numbered in order of importance based on the number of responses; meaning answer #1 received the most responses, #2 the next highest and so on.

 DEMOGRAPHICS

Male             48%     Female                   52%

Black            45%     White                     42%

Asian            7%       Multiple Races    6%

If you had 20 minutes of a top-notch diversity consultant’s time to help you with anything you want, what would you ask this consultant?

1.      HOW TO OVERCOME SYSTEMIC RESISTANCE TO DIVERSITY

  • How to overcome systemic resistance on topics of diversity and equity?
  • How do I generate belief and trust in the system?
  • How do you get administrators to invest real money into diversity programs and initiatives?
  • Why isn’t there a curriculum requirement to teach African American Studies in all schools and universities in the U.S? [Read more...]

Colleges & Universities must enter the fight for Racial equity

I entered college in the late 1960s at a time of great civil unrest. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been killed, Lyndon Johnson had announced that he would not seek re-election and our cities were exploding with racial discontent. Despite what looked like total despair from the outside, there was still this promise of hope-that America would get it right this time and create this multiracial democracy that would include all of us; that surely the civil rights era would be the time when racial equality would become a reality.

Blacks were entering college in record numbers after the passage of Civil rights legislation and the Higher Education Acts. Social programs were expanded. Government spending for training and jobs increased. Although discrimination continued, these advances were significant. Equally as important were the “intangibles.” The consciousness of not just African-Americans but other people of color, and millions of whites had substantially changed.

As a result I thought I had a legitimate reason to believe that in my lifetime I would be able to sit under the tree of racial equality and that our colleges and universities would lead the way. As I grew older I hoped that in my son’s lifetime that he would be able to sit under that same tree. Now I’m not at all convinced that my grandson will find shelter under that tree either.

Will we someday create a multiracial democracy that truly represents all of us? What role will our colleges and universities play? Will they continue to sit on the sidelines aloof from tackling the real social problems that continue to plague us; or will they get in the ring and go toe to toe with injustice, racial disparities and give meaning to the pledge: one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all? Those questions are just as important today as they were 45 years ago. I realize that we have powerful forces wedded to the status quo and that’s why I don’t think it will happen in my lifetime. My life and my generation’s lives are still needed to plant seeds so that some future generation will be able to bask in the shade. I understand that now.

But I also understand that change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We have to fight for change and we need our institutions of higher education to enjoin this fight and make the goal of social justice their clarion call too. Our great academic institutions are charged with “educating” millions of college students annually. Just imagine if they graduated these students with a passion for correcting inequities instead of replicating them.

That was my hope 45 years ago and unless these institutions undergo a radical shift I’m afraid it will be my grandson’s hope 45 years from now.

 

Why your campus should consider a Multicultural Retreat

retreat-lake

Lake Minnewaska Trail — Minnewaska State Park, New York.
Photo by Doug Kerr.
Great friendships have started by the lake

A multicultural retreat is a structured activity which allows White and ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) students an opportunity to explore racial and cultural issues in a secluded setting that is free of major distractions.

Participants who generally do not know each other are asked to spend two to three days away from campus eating, rooming and working together. Participants are asked to submerge themselves in learning about ALANA cultures. Because of the time they are required to spend together, participants eventually ‘drop their guard’ and allow their ‘true’ feelings to surface. A seasoned facilitator will not only move this process along, s/he will also create an atmosphere where honest disclosure is expected.

During the retreat participants are able to discuss, debate, and contribute in ways that may help them discover, share, and broaden their awareness of themselves in relationship to the multicultural world at large. Activities, speakers and discussion groups focus on objectives which are designed to ensure that the experience participants are exposed to, challenge their beliefs, confront their values and require some type of follow up action.

A cultural retreat is designed to be informational and educational. Three aspects of culture are presented on each ALANA group that is featured. 1) The cultural contributions-music, dance, art, etc., 2) problems the group faces in contemporary American society, and 3) the group’s U.S. and world history. The intent is to provide participants a context in which to understand the issues impacting a particular ethnic group.

The retreat experience is not designed to be complacent. It is dynamic and at times confrontational. However, as a result of such discourse, a certain bonding often takes place between participants. A sense of community among the participants frequently occurs. This process of permitting oneself to be vulnerable and open to new ideas often gives one an insight that results in increased cultural awareness.

Comments like, “I had no idea…,” are common during and after the retreat. Even the free time serves an important purpose during the retreat because participants are required to spend half of it with someone of a different “racial” group. When you consider the cultural activities, ethnic speakers and the great outdoors, all these things contribute to making the retreat an effective human relations experience.

I’ve witnessed firsthand how retreats have transformed lives and led to long-term friendships. Here’s a letter I received from a participant many years ago. [Read more...]

HAPPY 2014

Happy New Year

As we gear up for a New Year I’m pleased to say that I ended 2013 on a high note. We raised money to help a friend get the medical attention he needs. I was very pleased with the number of people who contributed and helped make the life of a former Motown musician a little better.

In two days I leave this Wisconsin deep freeze (bitter cold and snow) for the sunny skies of Hawaii. I’m doing a workshop in Honolulu at the Hawaii International Education Conference on 10 Problems that Students of Color face on predominantly white campuses. Afterwards I’m going to Kauai to visit an old friend.

I’m also going on a Virtual Book Tour http://bit.ly/19YEYYR with my novel Lakeside University Cover Up next week. What this means is that all of my interviews and book events take place online.

Find Additional Pop Culture Podcasts with KWOD Radio on BlogTalkRadio

Here is what a press release for the Virtual Tour said about the novel:

[Read more...]