Author: Dear Ms. Harriet

Giving back while Black

Dear Ms. Harriet, I’ve come into a part of my life in which I’m able to give back a little something. I usually hang up quickly on solicitation calls, but I was happy to hear from my alma mater. My college years rocked. After anticipating 4 years of being a token, I showed up on campus to a critical mass of Us! We students of color received funding, got matched as roommates, and enrolled in classes focused on our own cultures, history, and people. We studied, partied, cheered, and eventually took the long walk together, graduating into the great unknown. Although...

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Mentoring like we all matter

Hello Ms. Harriet, Your letters have given me a lot to contemplate.  I mentor graduate students and, when they’re ready, help them navigate the academic job market.  Some are minority students.  I think I’d be considered an ally to them.  I’m hoping to learn how to be a better one, especially given these turbulent times.  Finding faculty positions makes doctoral students anxious.  But, who wouldn’t be?  The academic job market can be intimidating. I’ve got one student who uses big words.  She’ll casually mention a California conflagration, while the rest of us refer to the latest forest fire.  Her best students are...

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Sharing in the gig economy

Dear Ms. Harriet, Sharing in the gig economy struck me as something for musicians. Now, most of my friends drive for Uber. Quite a few host with Airbnb. And, they’re making all kinds of money! Getting a gig sounds like music to me. My job pays enough that I just bought a nice car, and friends compliment my place. I guess I could give a few rides here and there. Make some extra cash. It’d help me be what you call a One? That’s my question. It’d be so easy to do this. Should I? –Ready to Lyft as I Climb...

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Matter at work

Dear Ms. Harriet, Black Lives now Matter, right? I assume that includes professional ones, but what does it take to matter at work? My colleagues and I rehash office gossip, help each other avoid messes, and share stories about our time off. We even go out for drinks occasionally. We’re friends even though I’m the only One among us. Together we make a good-enough job great. “Black Lives now Matter, right …including professional ones?”Of course, we don’t talk politics or religion. Still, I want to know what my friends think and them to know what I think. They’ve shared...

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Musical madness

Dear Ms. Harriet, Do you ever get musical madness? That’s what I call it. I shop. I dine out. I get around. In most places, people don’t look Black like me. You can hear all kinds of talk about how the help, those cleaning and cooking, tend to be black or otherwise not White. Why don’t we also talk about the heavy use of Black music—from blues to jazz to Motown? The White folks around me are courteous enough—some after I assure them I really am going to make a purchase. (I do get tired of that.) Why are Blacks...

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