In anticipation of the upcoming vote for Second Vice President of NCA, caucus leadership provided each candidate with a list of questions to answer. See below for the candidates’ responses.
1. What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing our association with respect to issues of diversity and inclusion?
2. If elected, what initiatives will you foster to address these specific diversity and inclusion issues?
3. Do you have any specific programs in mind that would help increase LGBTQ diversity and inclusiveness in the association?
4. Are there any specific initiatives that you are considering, which are targeted to diversity and inclusion with respect to academic hiring?
5. What have you done in the past to demonstrate your commitment to the mission of the Caucus for GLBTQ concerns?
Here are my responses (in corresponding order):
1. The biggest challenges to diversity and inclusion are related to flickers of benign neglect. We need to define what diversity and inclusion excellence looks like as an association, then we need to achieve it. Clearly we absolutely need diversity with leadership and governance. We need it was well in our pedagogy and journals. We need it in our classrooms and NCA resources. We even need it in our public advocacy. Fortunately Brenda J. Allen has been appointed as chair of the NCA diversity task force. Also, if I may be very frank here, I suspect real progress will emerge if someone who is invested in diversity is elected to leadership each year for the next few years. I believe our current NCA leadership values diversity and inclusion, which is why we have such a task force chair having been just appointed.
2. If elected I will work to expand the involvement of marginalized group members in NCA leadership and governance. I will work to engage our diverse members including marginalized group students in the conference planning process so we have fresh new ideas that will enhance the convention experience.
3. I think the suggested National Center for Communication Excellence and the biennial Think Tank or two programs or initiatives where JGBTQ members can be very much involved.
4. The NCA career center and job fair may need a refresh. I’d like us to consider that. I also think that academic hiring, although the province of each university, is something that we might be more explicit about as we invite employers to the job fair and the career center. We might even include a blog on the NCA website that takes into consideration resources and tips and provides sound advice about “minority” hiring from both the employer’s and prospect’s standpoints.
5. I can answer that question broadly. My entire career has been about social justice advocacy including social justice advocacy specifically related to the LGBTQ community. My advocacy for equity and social justice broadly speaking has been actuated in my research, classroom pedagogy, journals (I edited CSMC for three years with Kent Ono), conventions (mainly ECA and NCA), and in what we call “the public” (I.e. Local communities).
My commitment to addressing LGBTQ concerns is unwavering. I fundamentally believe LGBTQ members need to be at the helm of our association participating in decision-making processes. When NCA lobbied against hotels that were against gay marriage I was one among many that advocated on behalf of the LGBTQ community working to help the leadership understand the significance of taking a stand. Although I do gender research concerning masculinity I do not do LGBTQ research, so I cannot reasonably say my scholarship has been specifically about LGBTQ concerns except in defining and discussing masculinity and femininity as fluid gender constructs.
I hope I answered your question as fully as you anticipated. As Martin Luther King Jr. stated years ago, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere!” I hope we are able to work together to make our association stronger and increasingly more accountable for addressing lapses in social justice across the U.S. and beyond. We must start with the local and move outward. I look forward to hearing more from LGBTQ members of NCA. There is work to be done, and we all have a part in this much needed transformation.
I invite you and your members to share your own ideas. I will remain open to hearing suggestions for ways we might improve NCA to be more welcoming and conducive to the needs of LGBTQ members.
Please remind LGBTQ members that if they would like more information about my candidacy they can visit http://www.jacksonfornca.com. They can also find me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RonJacksonforNCA2015) and twitter (https://twitter.com/JacksonForNCA). I hope they will go to the online polls in large numbers on January 13 when NCA announces the link for voting.
I appreciate that you have contacted me to provide me an opportunity to answer your questions. I hope you don’t mind if I provide some context before I answer the specific questions.
I have had experience with diversity throughout my career. My second teaching experience was at a high school in south Chicago in which about 60% of the students were African-American. I enjoyed teaching there but also found that I regularly had to defend myself for teaching at “that school.” While living in Chicago, I worked on my MA at Northeastern Illinois University where Randy Majors was one of my professors. Your caucus now gives out an award in his honor. Another of my professors, Dr. Bernard Brommel emphasized the importance of inclusionary language in textbooks. As a result of those experiences, you will notice that all of the case studies in my book Socialization: Joining and Leaving Organizations use androgynous names so that they do not impose gendered stereotypes on the readers. I helped nominate Jenny Dixon for the dissertation of the year award in the LGBTQ division a couple years ago. I was on her dissertation committee and thought her study of how different sexual identities influence the socialization process of newcomers made an important contribution to the understanding of some of the concrete ways that LGBTQ issues impact the workplace. I fully support equal benefits in the workplace for couples regardless of their sexual orientation in keeping with the policies and laws as they are developing through our legal system across the country.
With that background, I will address your particular questions.
What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing our association with respect to issues of diversity and inclusion?
I think that there are probably two main challenges. One challenge would be complacency. It would be easy to take a position that since we have the various caucuses and divisions representing various underrepresented groups, we have done enough. In the same way that passing the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s is not enough to address racial inequality, NCA can do more to increase inclusion and diversity.
A second challenge is to recognize that diversity and inclusion can be looked at through various perspectives. For example, when my current department conducted its self-study two years ago, we evaluated diversity in a number of ways. Of the sixteen faculty members, half were women and half men, not particularly unusual for our field. What was unusual was that half of the full professors were women, half of the associate professors were women, and half of the assistant professors were women. In addition, we had faculty members born in five of the six inhabitable continents (no one from Australia) with international faculty representing 39% of group. We also had 28% nonwhite faculty members representing Asian, Black, and Hispanic ancestry. I have been involved in hiring a number of those faculty members. We also have five different content areas of research each represented roughly equally and a mixture of quantitative, qualitative, critical, and mixed method researchers. I have tried to create a climate where people do not feel marginalized for any of these differences. NCA faces a similar challenge of creating a climate of inclusion that broadly looks at inclusion and diversity.
If elected, what initiatives will you foster to address these specific diversity and inclusion issues?
An important way to support diversity and inclusion is to begin by providing space in NCA for inclusion of more diversity. The recent addition of four new divisions has some members concerned about whether this will result in a reduction of space for existing caucuses and divisions. In my statement posted as part of the election process, I mention that I would like to see NCA develop ways to use technology to eliminate space restrictions. By creating online (virtual) convention interactions, it will be possible to increase the space available for very small groups with similar interests or concerns. So for example, by living in Oklahoma, I am more aware of Native American issues than I previously was. It is unlikely that at any time in the near future that there will be enough NCA members interested in Native American issues to meet the current minimum requirements for a caucus or division and there will not be room at the convention for them to meet. By creating online convention space at almost no cost, it will be possible to provide room in NCA to include very small groups of people representing diverse interests and concerns. It will also provide existing groups, like the LGBTQ Caucus, addition space for research and advocacy interactions.
Do you have any specific programs in mind that would help increase LGBTQ diversity and inclusiveness in the association?
My goal if elected would be to listen to the concerns of the NCA membership during my years as 2nd VP elect and then as 2nd VP by attending regional conferences and business meetings of divisions to learn ways to improve NCA to better serve its membership. This would include listening to the LGBTQ Caucus and other groups with concerns. Then during my year as 1st VP planning the conference I would hope to implement some of those changes or push for them as President. I believe it will be more effective for me to develop specific programs after listening to the membership rather than for me to try to impose programs that I think might work before listening.
Are there any specific initiatives that you are considering, which are targeted to diversity and inclusion with respect to academic hiring?
Because academic hiring is done at the local university or college, and not by NCA, it is difficult for me to see ways that NCA can develop initiatives that will actually improve hiring processes at the local level. NCA can continue to make strides for inclusion in position advertising like it has recently done and by emphasizing that it opposes discrimination of any type. I am open to listening to other ways to accomplish this.
What have you done in the past to demonstrate your commitment to the mission of the Caucus for GLBTQ concerns?
My personal style is to work behind the scenes to promote change more so than to do things with a lot of public fanfare. So for example, when I was teaching public speaking in Texas in the 1980’s, textbooks warned against inappropriate humor based on racial stereotypes; I also urged my students to avoid humor based on homosexual stereotypes. I see that your caucus is opposed to the proposed bylaws in part because the way it limits diversity and inclusion. I imagine that you also opposed the bylaw changes voted down in 2014. I shared your same concern with the previous bylaw proposal and was pleased when they failed. I am in the process of determining whether the new proposal is any better. Like these examples, most of my efforts at supporting inclusion and diversity have been a routine part of my career, such as appointing the first female Director of Graduate Studies at Missouri in decades. I mentioned a few others in my opening statement. I will continue to work where I can to create a climate of inclusion of diversity. I know that Kathleen Turner has appointed a task force to address issues of inclusion and diversity and that the staff in the national office are involved in similar efforts. If I am elected, I will support continuation of those efforts and work to create a supportive climate for diversity in NCA.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to address your questions. Feel free to contact me if you have addition concerns. You can find out more about my candidacy and my career at http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/K/Michael.Kramer-1/vita/NCA2015.html