As many of you know, I am competing in the Miss Washington Scholarship Organization one final time. This means I am required to make a commercial to support our premiere sponsor Brotherton Cadillac Buick GMC. This year we were randomly assigned video topics and mine was “chains.” This is a competition amongst the contestants and whoever gets the most views will win a cash scholarship! YouTube is tricky about how it counts views, so be sure to view on all your devices. If you like the video enough to share it, I’d sure appreciate it! If you hate the video enough to message me about how you hate it, I’d appreciate that too because at least you watched it. Thanks y’all!
In the middle of April I had the opportunity to take a private tour of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The tour was followed up by a Q&A session with two Gates Foundation employees who spoke on how to best go about getting a job at the foundation. I was in awe at some of the projects that the Gates Foundation has funded and the work they are continuing to do. Despite the literally billions of dollars the foundation gives away in grants each year, I couldn’t help but feel a little uncomfortable with the method being used to solve world health problems. More on that after a little background on the foundation.
At the tour we were actually told how Bill and Melinda met, a story I had not heard before. Melinda came to work for Microsoft as a programmer and that is how she met Bill. They were later married and in 1997 they read this article about children dying from diseases no longer in existence in the United States. Both extremely intelligent and very capable, this article sparked the idea to form the foundation. 1997 also marked the launch of the Gates Library Foundation. In 1998, the Bill and Melinda Gates Children’s Vaccine Program at Seattle-based PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health) was formed. The Gates Millennium Scholars Program was established in 1998, and in 2000, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was officially formed. Many changes happened between 2000 and 2010, including new offices all over the world, Warren Buffet pledging $30 billion and Bill stepping away from Microsoft to work fulltime at the foundation. In 2011, the world headquarters opened in Seattle, the same headquarters I had the pleasure of touring.
What this Foundation does is hand out money in the form of grants to organizations and groups that they think will do the work needed to solve world health problems. Some of the Gates Foundation’s goals are to eradicate polio from the face of the earth, help develop family planning in poverty stricken regions of the world, and reduce hunger and poverty through agriculture development programs across the world. All of these are valid causes I support.
The Gates foundation solves these problems by encouraging innovation. The foundation will present competitions such as the “Reinvent the Toilet” challenge. This challenge was open to anyone and entries were submitted by colleges all over the world. Similar challenges have been presented with similar results. The Gates Foundation has inspired new innovative solutions to vaccine storage, water filtering and even condoms. All of this advancement is truly incredible and downright inspiring but I had an uncomfortable feeling about it all. It dawned on me when I saw a pair of TOMS shoes displayed at the Foundation (I once wrote a paper on the trouble with TOMS). Then it struck me, nothing was said about education. Of all the things that were highlighted verbally in the tour, none of them included providing educational opportunities for those living in third-world countries, so I did some research.
In 2013 the Gates Foundation awarded $3.6 billion in grants and in 2014 that number rose to $3.9 billion. Incredible! On top of that, the Gates Foundation endowment is around $45.3 billion. All of these numbers were taken right off their website. (As a side note, if any of this info seems sketchy to you comment below and would be happy to site my sources.) Although I think these projects are important, I want to see the Gates Foundation work towards giving impoverished and undereducated people the opportunity to help themselves. Armed with an education and a means to use that education, I believe these populations could help themselves. The method the Gates Foundation is using right now, or rather the method of the charities they support, is to come in and give people something they need (a toilet, a vaccine, a mosquito net) and then leave. This is the “White Santa Claus Effect.” This is when a predominantly Caucasian or really any group from first world countries hand out something to poorer less educated people. In some cases, this is absolutely what’s needed, but in the long term this method of philanthropy doesn’t teach a man to fish, it feeds him for a day. There are other moral issues that this creates, people using their money as a means to feel less guilt, people not wanting to do any actual work to help, creating a dependent population etc. but I won’t get into that now.
So what does the Gates Foundation give to education? Last year they gave about $93.3 million. That’s a ton of cash but when compared to overall giving and potential earnings on their endowment, that $93.3 million is about 2% of potential endowment earnings and only .2% of the whole endowment. That seems crazy to me considering most people agree that an education is the ticket out of poverty.
I am glad that the Gates Foundation gives anything at all! I only wish that they would focus more on giving these impoverished populations the tools to get themselves out of trouble. This could be done by building new schools and funding them until they are self-sufficient, improving existing schools and then creating opportunities for students to use what they have learned through employment opportunities; building, creating and experimenting. Let these countries invent their own toilet!
Sometime I come across as someone that wants to critique everything, but that is not my goal. I believe the Gates Foundation is an incredible project and I applaud Bill and Melinda for their work. I do think that there is a fundamental problem with the way the Gates Foundation money is being awarded and although the work they are doing is good, bigger strides towards solving some of these issues could be made. I encourage you all to keep a watchful eye on any charity and do your own research on the difference between simply handing out cash and teaching someone how to get it for themselves.
Growing up Dyllin Drolz knew there was one path he would never go down. The military seemed like a far cry from anything that he would be interested in or good at. Yet something called him to a career in the service and over three years later he still has no regrets.
In high school Dyllin played football, enjoyed auto mechanics and banged on the drums in pep band. Dyllin lead a fairly normal
life for an American high schooler, something that would plague his mind later, that word, “normal.” Like any young person or really any person at all, he had his own insecurities. One of these insecurities was his weight. Though not exceptionally heavy, Dyllin had always been a “big guy” and didn’t consider himself fit enough to be fire fighter let alone a United States Marine. Firefighting seemed like a good idea but fighting fires required physical fitness too and is an extremely competitive profession. After Dyllin graduated from high school, the idea of military career started to seem like the best way to acquire some of the skills he would need to become a fire fighter.
As Dyllin’s friend, it’s crazy to hear him talk about some of his insecurities. Fear of failure, fear of being average. From the outside, Dyllin always appeared comfortable in his own skin and at times, maybe even overly confident. While Dyllin himself didn’t see himself joining the military early on, I was not surprised when I heard the news. The confidence he portrayed, extreme loyalty to his family and desire to help others (he has won numerous volunteer awards) provided a background that would prove to be a perfect fit for the military.
Those traits are what Dyllin reflects on now. When you ask him why he joined the Marines, he’ll mention a desire to serve his country or do his duty. While the opportunity to benefit from the GI Bill was also a factor, Dyllin shipped off to boot camp on September 19, 2011, not because he was simply trying to pay the bills, but because he was on a quest to better himself.
While the Marine Corps certainly isn’t for anyone, Dyllin was drawn to it because of its core value system. The Marine Corps brotherhood stood for what Dyllin stands for. One team. One Fight. It’s rather incredible that Dyllin joined the marines considering his struggles with weight. It’s no secret that the Marine Corps is usually considered the toughest branch of the military. In high school, it would’ve been hard to imagine Dyllin as a marine, but now it’s hard to think of him as anything less than a badass. He has leaned out, bulked up and gained a new kind of confidence that’s rather remarkable.
Now an air craft mechanic in the Marines, Dyllin has been deployed twice and is awaiting confirmation of a third deployment. The Marine Corps has taken him around the world. Spain, England, Iceland, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Djibouti have all been checked off the list with Japan on the horizon. The work he is doing is intensive. While he is currently is not deployed and is living in California, 50 hours a week is the norm. Despite the long days and limited sleep it doesn’t usually feel like work for Dyllin. “Semper Gumby” or always flexible is an unofficial motto of the Marine Corps and one Dyllin and his brothers live by. The term “brothers” isn’t used lightly either. These are the men Dyllin would die for and he knows they would do the same.
“My brothers at work, we motivate each other,” said Dyllin. “You can have the worst day at work with jobs and chores but if you have good morale you can have a good day, you can have a fun day. You’re working with your brothers and best friends all the time.”
Despite the taxing job and long hours, Dyllin still finds time to hit the gym and got married in December of last year. The gym is his happy place, so to speak. It’s where Dyllin challenges himself on a more individual level. A career in the Marine Corps
means one must be physically fit, no exception. Dyllin has not only become physically fit, he has found a hobby that his transformed his body, mindset and even career ambitions. This gym mentality of doing an extra rep, adding another set, pushing yourself when you think you can’t translates into his job as a marine as well.
“There’s always a little more than you think you can. In the gym doing eight sets when you know damn well you can do 10,” reflected Dyllin. “I find myself stopping at work and being like you know what you should probably be going a little bit harder than you are now.”
Although I consider myself to be fairly well-versed in the military lifestyle, my interview with Dyllin on his strenuous lifestyle was eye opening even for me. But that’s all Dyllin asks of people, a little understanding. Veterans and soldiers aren’t always thought of as heroes and during a time of unpopular wars, sometimes the treatment at home isn’t much better than deployment overseas.
Adaption to civilian life is a struggle for many marines post-service. Dyllin jokes that his grandma has simply come to accept the fact that he has the mouth of sailor now, and that’s part of the culture. Shifting from one extreme culture to a “normal” life can be shocking to vets who aren’t used to speaking in a politically correct way, having a routine lifestyle or even sitting most of the day. Contract deadlines creep up on you and all of a sudden a marine is back in a world that is now unfamiliar.
Though pity is the last thing Dyllin or any veteran wants, Dyllin acknowledges that more respect from the civilian world would be appreciated. Dyllin and his brothers (and sisters) are proud of what they do and do it for little pay. Dyllin reminds me that when you take into consideration hours worked verse pay, a huge percentage of service men and women don’t break minimum wage. Yet during economic hardships, the military is always put on the table as one of the first things to cut.
“We don’t do it for the money but people are so willing to materialize the service members, they’re just the boys and girls overseas doing stuff,” Said Dyllin.
A $15 an hour wage seems almost dreamlike to a solder getting shot at making half that much.
“A mutual respect is needed,” added Dyllin. “We raised our right hand and you said I’m going to protect everyone in this nation and our constitution by any means necessary. They did that for you.”
After a third deployment, Dyllin will exit active service in September of 2016 with an additional three years of reserve duty left. Right now he plans to earn a business degree and open his own gym. While the Marine Corps has helped Dyllin to realize his full potential, he hopes to do the same for others.
“Release your inhibitions and get more ambitious,” advised Dylin. “Do what you want to do instead of what you think you should do.”
I have always been proud to call Corporal Drolz a friend and watching his transformation into a young man the whole nation can be proud of has been nothing short of a joy.
*This is the first of a series on veteran and military topics. If you are or know a person I should be talking to, whether a veteran, army wife, VA employee or something in-between, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Females dominate public relations. At least they dominate the major. They don’t necessarily dominate the actual jobs out there, but this is something that I’ve discussed in another blog worth checking out called “Where My Sistas At.” We know why women aren’t always in the high profile PR positions, but when they are, are they treated differently?
I think I’ve always been able to hang with the boys. I remember in elementary school when the boys and girls would race down the playground and certain boys didn’t want to race me because they were afraid I’d beat them…how embarrassing. Chances are my grades are just as good as yours, male or female and although I am majoring in public relations, my second major is economics, a field heavily dominated by men. I have a management job where I manage men and women and I bought my first house at age 18. Boo yah. I’ve made it clear I am capable of taking care of myself. Throughout my successes, (and low points) I have been subject to a little bit of sexism. Usually people act this way towards me without even realizing that what they’re saying is potentially offensive. I have a position of slight power as the Brand Manager at 88.1 The ‘Burg, I’m a leader by default on my track and XC team and I am a current participant in the Miss America program. These are my top five most annoying things people say to me because I am a woman.
1. You’re pretty tough, because you never cry.
My high school friends would laugh if they saw this one. Yes, since coming to college I hardly ever cry…in front of people. I cry all the time. Within the last 24 hours I have cried. Do I think I am tough? Hell yeah. Is it because I don’t cry? Heck no. You may be asking yourself, so you cry; I still don’t see the problem. When was the last time you heard someone tell l a man he was tough because he didn’t cry. I never have. That’s because there is a double standard. Women who cry are normal, men who cry are weak. Women who don’t cry are tough or hard while men who don’t cry are normal. Crying in public is one of the toughest things you can do. Its making yourself appear vulnerable, its letting you emotions show instead of hiding them down somewhere deep. Crying in front of people is badass, whether you’re a man or woman. Don’t get me wrong, nobody likes a crybaby but the periodic cry is fine by me and I won’t degrade you for that whether you’re a man or woman.
2. You seemed like a prude when I first met you.
This has been said to me at the workplace. I’m sorry? In what way did I seem like a prude? I wasn’t loud? I dressed well? I don’t gossip? When I ask people why I seemed like a pride they usually confirm all of the above. Though men are referred to as prudes, other males who acted similarly to me at the workplace were never accused of prudishness (to my knowledge). I believe there is a false notion that women are bubbly, social, airheaded creatures, or at least they should be. This isn’t what everyone thinks of course, but when you don’t fit into one of those categories you are sometimes labled as a bore.
3. You have a dude’s sense of humor.
What does this even mean? Yes, I can quote Tropic Thunder almost all the way through, but so can my female best friends. Are we actually a bunch of bros and I didn’t realize it? What is a female’s sense of humor I wonder? While rom-coms are generally marketed to women, when it comes to pure comedies, is Bridesmaids the only thing we women can claim? Maybe Mean Girls? And even those could be categorized as romantic comedies. Maybe instead of saying I have a dude’s sense of humor; you should tell me I have a good sense of humor. And no, I’ve never seen The Notebook.
4. You eat like a dude.
Once again, the comparison to a dude. Statistically, perhaps men do eat more than women, but anyone who thinks that scale is universally true doesn’t hang out at my house. I eat like a cross-country runner. I eat like an active person. I like to say, I eat with a purpose. What is a comment like that supposed to accomplish. For a split second it makes me feel bad, only for a spit second, Domino’s pizza is just way to delicious for me to feel bad any longer than that. By the way, I’ll take anyone on in a pizza eating competition, I don’t care if you’re male or female.
5. You have a nice a$%.
Need I explain? I put this on the list because I feel that this is something only women regularly hear. I have never heard someone, male or female, tell a man he has a nice rear-end. I have been told this in the office, I have been told this in a casual setting, I have been told this at a bar. It doesn’t matter where I am, I can’t seem to escape the fact that people seem to like my bum! Most of the time, it just isn’t appropriate to tell a woman this, but in a world of booty songs, booty jokes and a general fascination with the derriere people somehow think it’s OK to tell a woman what they think of her tuches.
Being in the PR profession will undoubtedly come with its difficulties, trials and tribulations. There will certainly be moments when I will want nothing more than to have a good cry and other times when even a compliment on my caboose will make me feel better. Although I am sure I will be able to handle whatever comes my way ultimately I just want a family. Whether I become a mother and housewife, or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company I am sure I will find happiness. And that, my friends is the beauty of being a woman.
As I get ready to compete at the NCAA Division 2 Track & Field Championships today in Allendale, Michigan, I can’t help but notice something about the athletes that surround me. A lot of them are black. We all know that track, especially jumps and sprints are usually dominated by African-Americans, but there are a lot more black students competing at the national level then in my own conference which is in a “whiter area” of the country. Not a knock on my part of the country, but it’s nice to see so many successful black and white athletes running around. I’d love to see Martin Luther King enjoy a track meet where a white teammate hands off to a black teammate and a hug at the finish line follows
With all these black kids running around I did notice something strange, not a lot of black adults. Where are the black coaches? For that matter, where are the women coaches? Well, there aren’t very many. This got me thinking about a thesis written by the Associate Dean of Student Life at Central Washington University, Dr. Keith Champagne. The thesis was on the lack of African-American athletic directors in the U.S. Before Dr. Champagne’s thesis I had never realized what an imbalance there is in athletic administration. This is a field that has recently seemed appealing to me. With my PR, economics and athletic background, this might be right up my alley. It may shock you to know what an outlier I would be if I acquired an athletic director position. There are very few black or female athletic directors at the university level, and don’t even get me started on black females.
First, let’s take a look at the statistics concerning black athletic directors. Black athletes make up about 25% of all Division I athletes. This may seem surprisingly low, but keep in mind that there are three sports in which black athletes tend to compete in, basketball, football and track. Other sports such as swimming, lacrosse, golf, tennis, ice hockey, field hockey, crew and even baseball and soccer have low levels of African-American participation. This is in part due to black workers making about 75% of what their white counterpart makes. Expensive sports or are available to those who can afford it. Sports that are dominated by white players are also usually those where club play and early exposure are key to later success.
Although there are sports with virtually no black players, the sports most heavily attended, broadcast and financially profitable are dominated by African-Americans. 45.8 % of DI football players are black compared to the 45.1% that are white. 60.9% of male DI basketball players are black and 51% of female DI basketball players are black. Basketball and football are the biggest money makers in college athletics. Statistically, black people have more experience playing these high profile sports and dealing with the pressures that go along with them. These experiences are not reflected in the hiring of athletic directors.
Only 7.4% of DI athletic directors are black, while in my division, DII, only 3.1% are. Almost as bad, only 8.3% of DI athletic directors are female and 15.5% of DII athletic directors are female. How many athletic directors are black females? One. Not including historically black colleges, there is one female African-American athletic director in DI. Here’s the real kicker, this woman, was hired in 2013, December of 2013. Before her there were none. What’s shocking about this fact is that many of the fields that best lend themselves to an athletic director position are dominated by women. For instance, 75-80% of PR practitioners are women and 43% of public administration majors are women. Women have the skills, we have the experience, but we’re not getting the jobs.
There are a lot of voices cheering for more equal opportunities between men and women. I’m all for equal pay, but I think a lot of the data supporting the notion that women make less than men is skewed. Yes, men make more than women on average, but when you control for certain factors, this isn’t actually the case. Women make less than men because they often choose to leave the job force for some time to have children. Women also tend to choose jobs that are lower paid. It’s in our psychology, we can’t help it! Women have the urge to nurture and help others, leading to jobs in non-profit, teaching and nursing. While there are high-paying jobs in these fields, most of them will not make as much as the doctor, lawyer and engineering jobs men are more inclined to be interested in. The lack of female athletic directors is still a bit of a mystery to me. As a black female, I can change the game. Whether it’s as an athletic director or in some other field, you can bet I will. I’ll be on the prowl for black and female coaches this weekend and if I spot a black female coach you can bet on a second blog. 🙂
As a newcomer to this blog I feel I should take the opportunity to introduce myself. I’m the other mutt in this here report. ‘Nuff said. I spend my days in Seattle attending the University of Washington, and here in Seattle there has been a less than encouraging development: the $15/hr minimum wage. The argument for this raise in wages is that Seattle is an expensive city, so it is difficult for someone making minimum wage to make ends meet. Seattle is indeed an expensive place to live, in a tie with San Diego for Forbes most overpriced cities in 2014, and Washington’s minimum wage is already the highest in the nation at $9.32/hr, it is frightening to think of what will happen to the market when the $15/hr minimum wage is enacted.
Murray’s bill will phase in the wage in 3-7 years depending on number of employees and value of benefits given to them. Companies employing 500 or more will have until 2017, or they can increase benefits to give themselves an extra year. On top of that, there will be an annual cost of living adjustment of 2.4% to match inflation. This sounds great if you’re a student, teenager, or an individual with minimal education and/or skills, but in the end, it is difficult to see how this will have the desired affect and raise people out of poverty without inflicting more damage on a good deal of those already living in it.
The argument is made by the AFLCIO that businesses will absorb cost of the wages from their profits, but when has this ever been the case? Take the roll out of Obamacare for example, companies are finding ways to keep employees on part time schedules to save themselves money, why would it be any different in this situation? Minimize hours and expect more for the time on the job. To get more productivity, employers would draw from more skilled workers and have them at the new minimum wage, leaving low-skill, low-education workers out of the job force. If employers chose not to go this route, there would have to be across the board raises so that employees were paid to scale for the education, skill, or danger their job entails. So, rather than absorbing the cost of increasing the lowest wage, they will absorb the increase of all wages. Rather than absorb the costs themselves, they will most likely pass it on to the consumer. This means that the poverty line will have to be increased with the increasing costs, meaning that even fewer people will be getting out of poverty which, again, is the reason for the minimum wage.
That’s the possible effect of the private sector, but let’s take a look at how it will effect one of Seattle’s largest employers, the University of Washington. Tuition increases have been in the news for the last decade now, and with these added expenses, you can bet it will continue to be a hot-button issue. This is something that will affect everyone in Washington, not just those in Seattle. For the youth that want to attend UW and the taxpayer who will, most likely, foot at least part of the bill to reduce the tuition increase. This will then lead to more demand for student loan restructuring and, more radically, the demand for free school. The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this is the first domino to fall in a larger plan.
Much smarter people than I have and will write more detailed descriptions of the impending disaster that is $15 minimum wage, I can only share from my personal observations and experience. As someone who has done minimum wage work and managed minimum wage workers, I can tell you there are some jobs and employees not worth two cents an hour. Hopefully this local experiment will make this fact all the more clear.
There aren’t a lot of mom’s better than mine. If you want to know how successful a mother is, look at her final product. My mom has two grown children who are pretty self-sufficient, paying for school on their own with no loans and getting pretty good grades while doing so. My brother and I are fairly well adjusted, contributing members of society who both have won awards and accolades for various accomplishments. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that my mom is a huge part of our success and my brother and I wouldn’t be where we are now without her.
In another blog, I wrote about social media no-nos. Although I can be critical, I love social media. Some people hate it, but in my opinion the pros of social media far outweigh the cons. Social media is an important part of both your personal and professional PR portfolio. In general, I prefer following individuals over corporations. I feel more of a connection with individuals and usually the message seems more sincere. But, there are a handful of days out of the year where I want to delete every individual off of my news feed. One of these days is Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is a time when I prefer the corporate mother’s day messages over the individual ones.
Here’s my issue with the mother’s day posts. First of all, none of the captions with the photos are original AT ALL. Nearly every
mother’s day post uses some variation of “Happy Mothers’ day to the best mom on the planet. I appreciate everything you do for me. I love you.” I wish people would get a little more creative with their captions. Mine would say something along the lines of, “Although this picture may lead you to believe otherwise, no I’m not adopted. This is my mom and she’s awesome and I love her. Happy Mother’s Day Mom!” Still gets the point across, but isn’t the same old Hallmark boring I’ve read about 100 times today.
Now I said my mom’s day post would say because I haven’t posted a Mother’s day shout out. Why? The first reason is that my mom would be angry if I posted a picture of her. Like a lot of moms out there, she hates having her picture taken and hates pictures of her being out in public even more. I am doing her favor by not posting a picture of us on social media. The second reason I haven’t posted anything is because my mom DOESN’T HAVE SOCIAL MEDIA. She would never see the tweet/status/post unless I showed it to her on my own device. I’m guessing this is the case with about half the mom posts I see. Your mom isn’t going to see that, so why are you posting it? Are you trying to brag about how awesome your mom is? Are you just doing it because everyone else is and you don’t want to feel left out? Maybe instead of being on your Instagram, you should put your phone down and spend the day with your mom, you know, actually doing stuff together.
There are some Mother’s Day posts I really enjoy reading. Non-profits and corporations nail it when it comes to mom’s day. Although it’s almost a guaranteed PR move to get you to support their cause or buy more of their product, I still love it. Politicians have also done a nice job of supporting their mamas this year. In particular, John Boehner’s video tribute to his mom was excellent. Some of my other favorites included The American Legion‘s tweet and picture referring to mother’s currently serving. Oreo also had an adorable tweet that encouraged followers to save the last Oreo for mom. Even the NBA got in on the Mother’s day action with a simple tweet that still touched my heart.
Holidays are a time when businesses can capitalize on either selling more product, increasing traffic to their pages, developing the personalization of their company or all three. It’s not often that I prefer corporate social media over that of my friends but when it comes to originality and the “aw factor,” corporations have become quite good at pulling at our heartstrings.
P.S. I love you mom. Sorry for the picture.
We live in an era where people are constantly trying to define themselves, or rather they’re trying to define what they’re not. “I am not defined my weight,” “I am not my hair,” (great song BTW), “I am more than a number.” All powerful movements and statements surging through my social media feeds. Well, I’d like to add one to the list. I am not my race. As a halfie, my race is constantly a topic of discussion. Now sometimes, I bring this upon myself. I crack jokes, I refer to myself as a mutt for heaven’s sake! But sometimes people cross the line, especially complete strangers. Its got me thinking, who speaks for the halfies? Why do people think its OK to say some of the things they say to me? I try to beat out stereotypes for both minorities and women by living a life filled with success, service, style and hard work. But perhaps there should be a PR campaign based around PSA’s telling people how to appropriately approach people about their race.
Here are some of the more ridiculous things I have heard over the years:
1. So what are you anyways?
How does one even answer this question? What am I? Well, let me tell you, I am a human being, I am a hard worker, I am a loyal friend, I am an athlete, I am a weirdo…the list goes on and on. Though this statement seems harmless, lets put it into a corporate PR context. Imagine that Barack Obama was visiting a poor neighborhood in Tacoma, Wash. Imagine he is visiting a predominately Japanese neighborhood but he doesn’t know anything about the town accept that there is an Asian community there. Now imagine that President Obama asks a 14-year-old girl, “So what are you guys anyways?” The outrage and PR headaches that would cause would go on for weeks. I know for a fact, Fox News wouldn’t drop it for at least a month’s time. Although its easy for me to let this type of question role off my shoulders, its disturbing how many people have asked me this question, especially when I was a little girl.
2. I could tell you were half, because you don’t really act black.
Its hard for me to hold my tongue when people say this to me. I know they don’t mean it to be offensive, but its nothing but offensive. So because I study hard and get good grades I’m not black? Because I enjoy swimming I’m not black? My preference for Subarus over Cadillacs means I’m not black? You’d think because we have a black president now I’d stop hearing this sort of nonsense but I haven’t. ESPN commentator Rob Parker offended some when he made racist remarks about Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III after the quarterback said he didn’t want to be defined as an African-American quarterback.
“I want to find about him,” Parker said. “I don’t know because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancee. Then there was all this talk about he’s a Republican, which there’s no information at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue.”
The notion that having a white fiance is any sort of proof of not being a “brother,” as Parker is also sited as stating is ridiculous. Furthermore, since when did being a Republican mean you weren’t black? I was under the impression that America is a free country that encourages different opinions, discussions and beliefs. That’s part of what makes the country so strong. Parker later apologized to RG3 for the comments in a smart PR move.
3. So that’s why you’re athletic.
Now this has a a little merit because historically African-Americans excel in basketball and track, sports I have participated in. What makes this statement racist is the assumption that all black people are good at sports or are even interested in sports, which is simply not the case. People who think this should meet my cousins, some of the biggest nerds on the planet. Even funnier is that I excel in long distance running, something I most certainly inherited from my white side. The black side of my family are short, stocky and built more for power and speed. They look like sprinters. On the other hand, the white side of my family is longer, leaner and have a history of participating in endurance sports. Sorry to disappoint, but its fair to say that a good part of my athleticism comes from my white side.
4. Can I touch your hair?/Do you have back or white people hair? (Said while already playing w/ my hair)
First of all, don’t touch my hair. I don’t know you, so hands off. I understand why folks would be curious about my hair. But complete strangers approaching me and touching it is a little too far. Black people hair is a foreign animal to anyone who isn’t black. They don’t understand it, and most white people don’t realize how much fake hair is out there. Even more offensive is when people dare to tell me that I should be glad I don’t have “black people hair.” Excuse me, natural African hair is gorgeous. Although I am content with the hair I have now, I would love to rock some of the looks black women pull off. What’s more, is that folks don’t understand that not all black people have the same hair, just like they don’t all have the same skin color.
5. You’re only half anyway.
This is a confusing one, because sometimes people say this to me like its a good thing and sometimes they say it like a bad thing. I was talking with some close friends about how I sometimes feel like white guys aren’t as “into me” as boys of color and one (white male) responded with “you’re only half black though.” This person was trying to convince me that white guys think I am attractive, but the implication was that if I was full black they wouldn’t. In other cases, I have felt alienated from black people, and have been teased, even by my own family, for being the “white girl.” Its similar to the Tiger Woods complex. The joke being, when he is winning, he’s white. when hes losing, he’s black. You’d think being a halfie would mean I fit in with everyone but in reality, I often feel like an outsider in both categories.
Ultimately, I just want to be known as a good person, a kind person, a person you can trust. When RG3 said he didn’t want to be defined as an African-American quarterback I could relate. I did nothing to accomplish my race. This was the way I was born. Am I ashamed of my race? Hell no, and I wouldn’t ever want to change my genetic make-up. But I don’t want to be defined as my race, I want to be defined by my accomplishments, my triumphs and how I overcame failure. My race should be in the footnotes, not in the headline. As a future professional, I hope I can lead a life that changes the way at least some people see race, and gender! We’re all part of the human race and the PR campaign to convince people of that starts right now, with me.
I’ve been blessed to have many talents. I’m reasonably intelligent, athletic, musical and occasionally I can crack a good joke. I claim its because of the mutant half-breed genes. One thing I’m not good at is boys. A lot of women (and men) claim that they suck at relationships. Why is this? Why do signals get misinterpreted? Why do moments of opportunity get surpassed? Why am I not where I want to be?
Now that I almost have two degrees, my college education causes me to relate everything in my life to what I have studied in school. Economics is a fancy way of saying “the study of choice,” while my PR degree included nothing but communication courses! So I should be great at making choices and communicating my wants and needs right? Wrong. But when you think about it, everyone is a PR professional in a way. Public Relations is “the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person.” While this definition states that the image being maintained is an organization or famous person, we are all maintaining our own image to the public every day. Social media, in-person interaction, texting, calling, its exhausting. The funny thing is, the same stuff that can get a Fortune 500 company in trouble with the public, is the same stuff that can get an individual in trouble with the public.
Using incorrect grammar or spelling in any social media post is my nightmare. What’s worse is that one little mistake can make you appear to be a total dummy to whoever you are crushing on. It seems like no matter how many times I check my post or tweet or comment before I hit send, errors occasionally slip through. Some people are such nazis about this, that a misspelled word could mean intellectual suicide! Oh, you used the wrong “your?” You’re (your?) now an idiot in the eyes of your followers. The same goes for major organizations. Even more terrifying is the thought that someone might hack your account and write something embarrassing. Oh, your friend posted “I love pooping more than anything” on your Facebook page. Yeah right, you’re now a freak in the eyes of your followers. Telecommunications company Vodafone had a PR headache when a homophobic tweet was sent from their account by a supposed hacker. These sort of public relations nightmares can ruin any chance at a relationship with one special individual, or thousands of individuals.
CEOs, celebrities and politicians have all gotten into trouble over saying stupid stuff. CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, Mike Jeffries was nailed to the wall when he said, “Abercrombie is only interested in people with washboard stomachs who look like they’re about to jump on a surfboard.” Mel Gibson lost his A-list status when it was discovered that he said, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” And politicians seem to have the worst PR mangers in the world because they are constantly making ridiculous statements, such as Bill Clinton‘s infamous, “It all depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” When I am around someone I like, I get nervous, I say the stupidest things. This usually involves me letting too much of my weird show, too early. For instance, admitting that I am obsessed with unicorns on the first date, or mentioning that chicken gizzards are one of my favorite snacks. I get nervous, it slips! The same probably happens for people constantly speaking in the spotlight though that’s still no excuse.
Sometimes I wonder how I can expect to manage the reputation of an organization when I can’t even manage my own reputation. I’ve been referred to as “the quiet one,” “the crazy one,” “the serious one,” and recently my fellow employees told me that I would do well in prison. I didn’t know whether to be honored or to be insulted. I’m not quite sure what I want to portray myself as to the public but perhaps some corporate PR strategies would work well in my personal life.
There’s a lot of people who like to hate on Kim Kardashian. While I don’t consider myself one of the haters, I can’t say that I am a fan. Though I’ve never seen an episode of any Kardashian related show I can’t help but learn tidbits of her life while waiting to pay for my groceries. Somehow, even though I have never seen one episode of any her shows, I know Kim K. has sisters named Khloe and Kourtney, along with two younger ones that are not as famous. I know her mom is Kris Jenner and I know that her stepdad is Bruce Jenner, the famous decathlete. I know that Kim has a baby with Kanye West named North. How do I know so much about Kim Kardashian without watching her shows? Because Kim Kardashian is a PR genius.
Kim Kardashian is and has been one of the most famous women in America for quite some time now. But why is she famous? Is she a singer, politician, actress? No. The woman is famous for virtually no reason. Her fame has now given her the opportunity to sell products like nail polish, jewelry, perfumes and more under her name.
How did Kim accomplish her empire? How the heck did this “normal” lady build an empire? Through genius marketing and PR moves. When ratings for her show start to drop, there’s a surprise engagement, baby announcement or fight. Kim K is rumored to be extremely cooperative with the paparazzi. Kim will tip off the paparazzi as to where she will be, so that pictures of her in the media will be when and where she wants them to be. Sometimes Kim will sell her own vacation, wedding or other highly sought after pictures to the press herself. It is estimated that she made a cool $100,000 selling pictures of herself and ex-husband Kris Humphries in Mexico.
Other celebrities have taken noticed Kim’s marketing prowess. With 13.85 million followers on Instagram and 20.7 million followers on Twitter, this woman who fell into fame is quite impressive.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, he said, “Kim started from pretty much nothing, and now everyone everywhere knows who she is. That’s what I want to do.”
Say what you want about Kim, she knows how to work the media. Bad press is good press in the case of Kim, and she knows this. Her and beau Kanye were recently on the cover of Vogue magazine, there’s now a image of the “ideal woman” the emulates Kim floating around on social media and there are whispers of a $30 million wedding with Kanye. Kim hasn’t peaked and she isn’t going anywhere. Keep your eyes up in the checkout lanes for what’s to come.