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02/19/2019

Ask the Oracle

Melissa Harris Interviews Dr. Kami Anderson


Dr. Anderson

Bio: 

Dr. Kami Anderson is an interculturalist, scholar and language advocate. Dr. Anderson has spent the past two decades immersed in languages and cultures.  From working overseas in relief and development, to teaching language in the classroom, to molding future intercultural scholars in the lecture hall, Dr. Anderson has always kept a tight grip on her passion and compassion for others and difference through language. Her primary focus is family empowerment through language with an emphasis on application and confidence. Dr. Kami Anderson is the founder and CEO of Bilingual Brown Babies and creator of a revolutionary online program that meets Black families where they are in their journey to bilingualism. She’s a passionate life-long teacher and the go-to girl when it comes to language, Blackness and identity. She built her business with her four bilingual children in her heart and on her mind. Using speaking as a way to share her expertise and teach families, this mompreneur launched and grew her business working only a handful of hours a week while still holding a full-time faculty position at a university. Kami helps Black families become confident in language  taking away the struggle of doing it alone. She helps Black families gain powerful resources, which allow them to grow in language more efficiently, effectively, and enjoyably.

Ask the Oracle:

Question: You are an active mother, scholar, and social activist. How do you manage all of those responsibilities and passions while taking care of yourself?

 

If I may, I want to have an informal “girlfriend moment” with my response. This is always such a loaded question for Black women.  But we get it so often as well as these:  How do you do it all?  How can you be all the things that you are expected to be, perform them excellently, not bat an eye or complain, look flawless while doing it and still maintain your sanity?

 

The truth is there is no magic process.  What is also true, is there are critical questions we need to ask ourselves in order to livethe responses we give. At the suggestion of a friend, I wrote a list of my top five priorities and evaluated how each and every action, person and community relationship impacted those priorities; be they positive, negative or neutral.  I was hesitant.  It seemed too simple. 

 

But I did it.  I wrote my top 5:

 

  • Physical Health
  • Travel
  • My Business
  • Artistic Activities
  • Spiritual syncretism

 

I then had to ask myself whether or not the things I was doing and the people I was engaging with were positive, negative or neutral to me keeping these priorities.  Below I provide you with my self-reflection on my priorities to offer examples of how to apply them to your own priorities.

 

Physical health- This is more than just exercise. I had to examine not just my physical activity, but what I consumed (literally and figuratively) that contributes to my physical, emotional and psychological well-being.  For example, I had to let some relationships go because they were not optimal to my health.

 

Travel- I wrote a chapter in Black Women’s Mental Health (2017), where I explain how travel is my reset button. It is my moment of self-reflexivity and assessment.  I ask myself, am I doing the things that will allow me to be able to use travel as a means of rejuvenation and inspiration to continue my research, and achieve my goals? 

 

My business- Language is my passion.  Uplifting Black people brings me joy.  Showing my children how they can be their best selves and craft their own path is my mission as a mother.  My business, does all of these things.  To prioritize my business is to prioritize my family, my passion and my people.  My business is my activist work.  It is the weapon I use to fight for social justice.

 

Artistic activities- The most important question I have to evaluate this is, how does this activity or person keep me connected to the Black aesthetic? 

 

Spiritual syncretism- This is not an error.  How you understand syncretism is exactly what I mean here.  My faith and spirituality is both African and American.  I make sure that all that I do when it comes to spirit and how I feed it, clearly blends these two.

 

These priorities listed above, manifest in everythingI do. Focusing on these priorities are what make it appear to make being a scholar, mother, business owner and social activist seamless.  I am all of these things, because they are all woven in my top five priorities for my life...at this moment.  I am truly and intentionally making my passion my lifestyle. My research for the past two decades has always been focused on my love for language and Black identity. When I decided to launch my business, it was a natural extension of that and included my family too.  My business was built with my four children in mind and was the perfect marriage of my passions for language and Black people. All of my priorities are impacted positively each day I get up and give my best to my business.

 

It was a completely selfish act to list these priorities and then make the necessary life adjustments.  But it is also my example of how I chose my joy. If you are asking yourself, “how do I balance it all?,” I urge you - pick your five!

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