What Nationality is Cinco de Mayo?

I found out from my Chinese-American friend (my designation-not sure how he self-identifies) on his Facebook update today that he felt misled by what he thought was a traditional Mexican holiday.  However, he discovered and shared that: Cinco de Mayo is only a big deal in America. It’s not even a holiday in Mexico…It’s actually a Hallmark Holiday!!!…

Can you be a Chicken and still be a good intercultural communicator?

Can you be a chicken and still be a good intercultural communicator?* The short answer is “no.” I was having an amazing conversation today (or as I said, let’s talk about something really interesting, let’s talk about me!”) with Marti Barletta of Trendsight today. Marti is the premier provider of ‘marketing to women’ insights and ideas,…

Intercultural Competence, Socrates and Charlie Chan

US business culture norms today are all about action and the bottom line.  “Show me the money!” Think about it.   If Socrates were working at a corporation in the US today, with all of his thinking and pontificating, his boss might say “he’s full of baloney…what has he actually DONE?” (or more likely, “Socrates, stop…

Why Anthropology?

The “olden days” of diversity training started with “the other.” It assumed a majority culture norm, and defined everyone else in contrast to the norm. “This group behaves this way. This group behaves that way.”  The anthropological approach gives each group ‘hegemony,’ the power to exist in its own right. It recognizes the inherent value…

The 7-Year-Old Samba Queen and Identity vs Societal Norms

Have you heard the old joke that plays on the philosophical question about a tree falling in the forest?  You know the one… “If you’re in the forest and you say something wrong and your spouse (of course I’m going with the gender neutral version!) doesn’t hear you, are you still wrong?” While seemingly innocuous,…

Cross Cultural Communications in Music: Jazz and Classical Unite at Chamber Music America

(If you’re my client reading this please skip to the second paragraph) When Carolyn and I first arrived at Chamber Music America’s 32nd annual conference in New York City this past weekend, as “Jazz People” people there representing the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, we thought “what are we doing here?” At the outset people self-identified…

Noting When and How we Reference Race, and the Assumptions behind the Absence

Hey you racist, why did you mention only Serena Williams race in last week’s post about the Mother Nature/Tampax ad? Luckily that comment didn’t come in, but as I was riding the train (or the “L” as we call it in Chicago) downtown yesterday, I realized I did mention Serena’s race, but not “Mother Nature’s”. …

Beyonce, Qadaffi, and Core Values in Intercultural Communications

My college roommate used to love to start conversations at parties by asking “Do you think good and evil are objective or subjective? (This was the same roommate whose favorite Charades word was Dostoevsky’s “Gulag Archipelago,” but that’s another story…) A lively conversation always ensued. Is murder always bad? What if the person is terminally…

What I learned from Marc Sims: Self Proclaimed “Pseudo Motivational Speaker”

   When Marc and I first met, I didn’t know what to think.  We were in the “Green Room,” aka the Counselor’s office at Robeson High School in Chicago, getting ready to visit classrooms as motivational speakers, as part of the Black Star Project.  “I tell them about careers in marketing, and to believe in…