Search Artz of Culturez

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Career Learning Lessons: Listen, Respect and Get to Know Your Colleagues

Whether you are an employee or the boss, it’s imperative that you listen when your colleagues speak. 

A recent LinkedIn post reminded me how important it is to remain silent when your co-worker says something controversial. WAIT - Why Am I Talking, resonated with me and I decided to put the acronym into full practice in my professional life. 

Be Willing to Ask Why

Several months ago, I was listening in on a heated discussion in the office. Instead of flying off the handle, my colleague Andrea* calmly asked our co-worker, “Why do you think this is the case? What’s been your experience?” 

Because Andrea asked calmly, the conversation did not escalate. It was at that moment I learned to appreciate the value of listening to my colleagues. 

If you’re willing to ask why, and if you’re willing to listen, you’ll probably find out what your coworker's aspirations are as it relates to the workplace. 

Respect the Experience

The same rules apply when talking to colleagues who have been working on their craft for several years longer than you and even those who are new to the workforce. 

As a journalist who is smack dab in the middle of her career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with professionals from Millennials to Baby Boomers. The one thing I know for sure is that I learn something new almost every day from newbies and veterans. 

No matter how much or how little experience your colleagues have, don’t be so hasty to give your insight as to why you think they should step outside of their comfort zone. 

I recently went to a journalism workshop. There I met a fellow journalist, who appeared to be in the business much longer than I. We had a decent conversation of why journalism shifted from television and print to digital and the importance of sharing news on social media platforms. When I learned that Sandra* is reluctant to doing video I quickly gave my two sense as to why she needed to get on the ball and embrace it.

Sandra later explained she’s still relatively new to the journalism world. She received her masters in 2012, and since being in the field, she was working through some insecurities because of her age. 

What I respect about Sandra’s experience is that, despite her age, she decided to return to school to earn a degree in a profession she admired. Most people in their 40s or 50s would say “I’m too old to go back to school.”

Get to Know Your Colleagues

If you ever felt that your colleagues misjudged your character, it’s okay to speak up. 

I had a colleague who assumed that because I’m a journalist, I lacked creativity. And instead of stewing over Janet’s* assumption I spoke to her directly and politely. In five minutes she learned that I’m passionate about music, art & culture, and I burn the midnight oil working on personal creative projects. 

You might find yourself in a similar situation, and I’m here to tell you there’s no need to be nasty or offensive. Janet gave me a heartfelt apology and the little tiff is now water under the bridge.

It’s easy for anyone to be misunderstood by colleagues and bosses. Even though we spend hours a day with coworkers doesn’t mean they are the same people outside of the office. 

Try to get to know your colleagues beyond their resume. Get to know their hobbies, inquire about their pet peeves, and if possible try to find out about their past lives. 

You don’t have to become their best friend but at least make an effort to find out what interests them outside of the office. You might find that you have more in common than you think.

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of my coworkers. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Internet Not an Option, Now What?

Would you know how to fill your day if you didn't have the Internet? Well, there was a time when most of us relied on creativity to occupy our day without the help of the World Wide Web. 

An article penned by Emma Rathbone gently reminded readers of what it was like to create dance moves in the spur of the moment, whip out a notebook to create a piece of artwork, and to flip through a booklet to identify a precious stone.  

I believe the short essay, which can be found in the pages of The New Yorker, actually sounds Better Said Than Written.

Take a listen to Before the Internet.

So here's a question for you. How would you occupy your day if the Internet wasn't an option?

Send your views to or leave your comments below.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

How I Came to Love My Black Name

The following is an edited excerpt from my memoir in progress, Mommy Wasn't There
Over the years, I've gone through a love hate relationship with my first name - Tamika. My graduating high school class of 1993, had at least five Tamikas. I didn't feel unique. 
My grandmother would say to me, "What kind of name is Tamika? I'm just going to call you tomato." This made me hate my name even more.
It wasn't until my mid-20s did I start to like my first name. A woman who owned a Japanese restaurant told me my name originated from Japan and usually ends with the letter O. So, Tamiko.
I forgot what she said the meaning of my name was but I do know it was a popular name in the early 1970s. Contributors of the website,, says the Japanese name Tamika means 'Child of the People.'
After further research, I found out the name Tamika was most popular in 1975, which is the same year I was born. Based off of information collected from Social Security card applications for births that occurred in the United States, a total of 2,159 baby girls were named Tamika.
Got it. The name was hot in 1975, and it started to creep into Black-American homes in the late 1960s. But why? Of course, I did some more digging and found the American singer, Tamiko Jones. 
Jones' name at birth was Barbara Tamiko Ferguson. 

Tamiko Jones was born in Kyle, West Virginia and was raised in Detroit, where she started her music career. She was part Japanese, part British, and has Cherokee ancestry in her blood.
Tamiko Jones genre of music included rhythm and blues, soul and jazz. Her first hit was "Touch Me Baby" and in 1975 reached No. 12 on the R&B charts in the U.S. 

(press the play button)

Her voice reminds me of Donna Summers and Diana Ross. Both women whose albums I used to dance to while cleaning the house on Saturday mornings.
Mommy never told me why or how she came up with my name, but these days I'm feeling much better about my name Tamika. Or maybe I'll just start calling myself Tamiko.
To get ahead start on the memoir in progress, Mommy Wasn't There, visit

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Man Inside the Purple Dinosaur

David Joyner knew he was destined to play Barney

If you grew up watching Barney & Friends, or parenthood started for you in the early 1990s, then you probably have encountered several earworm songs from the American children television series. 

David Joyner, who played Barney for 10 years, explained to Business Insider why "I Love You" was one of his favorite songs. Business Insider caught up with Joyner and he shared how his intuition led him to land the role of Barney the Purple Dinosaur.

The following video was initially published on

Clearly, Joyner followed his inner voice. What about you? We'd love to hear your views in the comment box below. Or email your views to

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

(H)afrocentric: Jewels Smith

Meet writer, cultural worker, and educator Juliana “Jewels” Smith. As an effort to connect with her students, Jewels created the comic book series, (H)afrocentric.

The entire series features four disgruntled undergrads of color and their adventures at Ronald Reagan University. "Before I knew anything about Ronald Regan, I knew he was racists," Jewels joked during her talk at the Drawing Lines - The Black American Experience. The event, which took place in early May, was held at The Great Hall at The Cooper Union in New York City.  

Jewels, who grew up in the 1980's, created (H)afrocentric as a way to challenge students and readers alike about the presumptions around race, class, gender and sexuality through character dialogue. 

Jewels published four volumes to date and in each issue, you'll find sprinkles of wokeness. "You're going to know who W.E.B Du Bois is," she explained. "(H)afrocentric is supposed to be a satire of what's going on right now."

Jewels dug deep to create the characters of (H)afrocentric. "I

Weekly E-Letter

There's nothing to think about, just signup for Arts + Cultures Recap right here, right now.

Have New Posts E-mailed to You