ICYMI: The Best of The Social Scholar in 2017

ICYMI: The Best of The Social Scholar in 2017

Traveling Down 2017 Reflection Lane

As 2017 comes to a close, I look back on the stories that inspired me to write. In case you missed it (ICYMI), there was a lot going on and The Social Scholar tried to contribute to some significant stories. Of the 20-plus posts on The Social Scholar in 2017, I picked some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy this walk down reflection lane. And, I would be so pleased to have you join me in 2018 as I commit to writing and telling more socially responsive stories. My deepest desire is that The Social Scholar will invite a movement, conversations, and actions that lead to greater equity and equality in schools, in workplaces and in everyday lives.

Here are just a few of the stories from 2017:

Black Women’s Experiences in Corporate America

My friend and colleague, Dr. Cheryl Jordan, wrote a post that makes the list as one of the stories I thought represented the true spirit of The Social Scholar. In, “Ready to Make a Difference: How My Research on Black Women’s Initiatives Changed Me,” Dr. Jordan shares insights from her research on Black female executives in corporate America. The stories highlight how these 12 women overcame gendered racism and marginalization in the workplace with conviction and enthusiasm.

Jordan shared how listening and learning from the women’s stories caused her to reflect on her own practice as a professional. She said, “One executive caused me to reflect on my courage to affect change in the organization and to speak truth to power, not only regarding gendered (everyday) racism, but also regarding my influence as a leader.” How wonderful when that thing we give our attention to moves us beyond what we expected. It creates change in us so that we can help change the world. That’s the story Dr. Jordan shared with The Social Scholar. Thank you, Cheryl. To read the rest of this story, click here.

This is What Democracy Looks Like

I could not not write about “The March” that is considered to be the largest march of solidarity in U.S. history. More than 3 million women and men marched for causes that matter to them. The Women’s March on Washington moved me to come from behind the computer and get on my feet. It was the first protest I have ever participated in and it is still one of the things I’m most proud of in 2017.

I marched because women’s rights are human rights. I marched for my deceased mother and grandmothers; and I marched for my children and grandchildren. My marching was a show of visible activism. Read more about why The Women’s March on Washington should not be forgotten. Click Here.

Do We Still Need Feminism?

In my post, The Workplace Needs More Feminists, I ask if we need feminism today. After all, women vote, serve in the military, outnumber men in graduating from college, and affirmative action legislation has paved the way for more women in the workplace. I even write that sexual harassment legislation has provided legal protection for women in the workplace. That is true; however, we see that legislation doesn’t tame behavior.

I make a point that not only is feminism still relevant today, we actually need more feminists. Here are some of the facts:

  • Women make up the majority of the nation’s poor
  • Every 9 seconds in the U.S., a woman is assaulted or beaten
  • Women’s healthcare and women’s control over their reproductive rights are constantly being debated and decided upon in a room comprised of mostly (or all) men.
  • Though women are the majority of college graduates, the rise to management in slower for women than for men with comparable career investments.

The list goes on. I assert, feminism is good for business. A workplace where more men and women identify as feminists would be a workplace where equality and equity are deeply held values in the culture. Perhaps gender pay gaps and sexual harassment would finally be in our past. If you’ve had a negative view or even an indifferent view of feminism and its value in our society, I encourage you to read this post. Click here.

Stay in Your Lane

When Lavar Ball told reporter Kristine Leahy to “Stay in ‘yo lane,” it was the subject of news commentary for days. Some of the attention was simply because it was Lavar Ball. However, there were plenty of people who felt Leahy made assumptions about Ball and his relationship with his son that exposed her biases as well. Their exchange opened up the dialogue on sexism and racism, again. The phrase, “stay in ‘yo lane” reminds us of historically preconceived beliefs about a person’s rightful place in society.

In the article, Stay in Your Lane: Micro-aggressions and Aversive Racism Seek to Maintain the Status Quo, I delve into the tactics which unconsciously try to keep women and minorities in certain positions. I recommend education and training on unconscious bias to make people more aware of their biases and how those biases can have a cumulative effect of telling someone to “stay in your lane.” To learn more about micro-aggressions and aversive racism, read this post. You’ll also find a link to my full doctoral research. Click here.

Human Resource Developers: Catalysts for Equity

I am a human resource developer. This post was largely my message to fellow HRD professionals on the criticality of our roles in creating what I call Open Access Employee Development. Surely, there are programs designed for high potential employees, for executives and people leaders. But, let’s not forget to also design and offer programs for the solid performers, the individual contributors, the second shift employees, the employees with disabilities, etc. We are catalysts for equity in our workplaces.

In our roles, we are often in position to decide the content, to make decisions about who gets to participate, and when and where formal learning happens. If we are not conscious constructors of employee development, we can disadvantage some employees by limiting their access to needed development experiences. This is important because employees who participate in development experiences are not only more productive, they are also advantaged in career advancement. This post implores HRD professionals to understand our role and to lead ethically in creating more access to development experiences for all employees. Sounds interesting? Read more.

Is Identity Politics to Blame for the Great Divide in America?

Multi-ethnic AmericansI say, “Hell no.” Some argue that Americans have basically retreated to their “identities” and that is why we are experiencing more overt racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia. Those with that view say we have become obsessed with what separates us instead of what unites us. In the post, Identity Politics is the Scapegoat for America’s Troubles,” I deal with this assertion. I disagree with it. While focusing on our differences instead of our similarities can be divisive, I find that Americans are actually trying to find their way to solidarity. We still believe that diversity is our greatest strength. These two realities, celebrating differences and uniting as one do not have to be in conflict. Blaming our strife on identity politics is too easy. Actually, it’s the scab covering deep and dark wounds of inequalities that have yet to heal.

I take issue with the false and long-held depiction of America as the great melting pot. No we’re not and that should not be our aim. The analogy of the melting pot assumes that we put all of our differences into one enormous pot, let the contents simmer until they are barely recognizable and then, behold! We all come out indistinguishable and tasty. Nope. It’s never happened and it never will. Instead, the beauty of America is that we are a country, mostly of immigrants. We come from different backgrounds, cultures, religious beliefs, and native tongues. All of those differences remain and we bring what we have to bear together because we are joined by our hearts and our love for this country. So, let’s just stop with that melting pot analogy. Instead, let’s make sure that even with our differences, we recognize one another as Americans, fully entitled to equity and equality under the law and in practice. I think you’re going to enjoy this post. Click here.

I Came from These Beautiful People

My final post in this review is one that is deeply personal to me. It’s recognizing that I am the product of my ancestors. I wish I knew them more and better. I received pictures of my great grandparents. I knew their names, but I had never seen their faces until a childhood friend sent me their pictures via Facebook. When I saw the photos I was not prepared for how deeply they would affect me. Peering into their eyes, I thought to myself, “I came from these people. I came from these beautiful people.”

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

You may be familiar with the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I tried to analyze the lives of Great Grandpa Barnabas and Great Grandma Viney by looking at their faces for hours. The eyes staring back at me communicated resilience, strength, and pride. I saw history in their eyes. They did not live lives of ease and comfort; though I’m sure they loved and cared deeply. Instead, they lived lives of tremendous struggle and change. They were born in the mid-1880’s. They were children of slaves. As many strides as they dared to make, they were met with persistent opposition. Yet, they owned land, worked jobs and raised two sons who would go on to be first generation college graduates, educators and community leaders. They died in the middle of the civil rights movement. What a life they lived.

What Would My Great Grandparents Do? They Would Be Strong.

I thought to myself as I looked at Barnabas and Viney, the world hasn’t changed as much as it should have since their time. Today, in the news, we hear the White Nationalists are marching again. There’s resurgence in hostility and racism. Americans are protesting in the streets demanding equality for all people, while the world watches this great experiment in diversity and democracy.

I wonder what my great grandparents would say and do. But I already know. They would be strong. They would persist. That would remember their parents and the struggles they endured. They would determine to get up every day, honor their ancestors, and make a difference. I came from these people and this is my charge. I will not yield to racism. I will not adopt hopelessness. I will never lie down in defeat. I will take a stand and I will remember Barnabas and Viney. I want my great grandchildren to look within my eyes one day, whether in person or in a faded photograph and know that I was here and I cared. I came to bear fruit, to make a life, and to make a difference. If you’re interested in reading more of this personal story, click here.

Believe in a Better World for Our Children and Their Children

And this is how I close 2017. Let us all reach back to remember the histories of our ancestors, to understand their journeys, and to honor their legacies. Then, let us look ahead and be intentional about our future. Let us continue to believe in a better world for our children and their children. In 2018, let us commit to taking a more active role in helping to create a more equitable and just society – in our schools, our workplaces and in our everyday lives.

If you’re already a Social Scholar reader, then I ask you to take it one step further –  comment, share, and bring others along. My goal in 2018 is to increase readers and nurture more activists. I urge you to select a cause that matters to you and increase your activism.

If you have never read The Social Scholar or are new to social activism, you’ve found a great place to start. I’m on this journey too. Let’s go together.

Happy New Year.

With gratitude,


© 2017, Tonya Harris Cornileus, Ph.D.

All Rights Reserved.


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