Celebrate Diversity and Immigration: “Calle Ocho” – Miami


Happy Friday, All!

As is customary, T.G.I.F. is the best greeting from me to you!!  How about you?!?

From as far back as I can remember, “people from other countries” is what these United States of America were settled and built by; some immigrants came willingly, and others were forced into servitude commonly called “slavery”.  A quick side note, which is actually central.  Let us NOT forget that there were some people … yes, I said people … who were already here!  The American Indian’s culture thrived and spread across this land where the Europeans ultimately carved out the first “13 Colonies”.  Then there was a tremendous amount of Western expansion until this nation went from “sea to shining sea”!  Let us NOT forget that the American Indians were here and had a very different culture from the Europeans who ultimately “conquered” them as they had often done to each others’ cultures and countries in Europe, from agriculture and hunting to weapons and language.  There was in fact, a culture for the original inhabitants that was all but destroyed … in the name of progress.

I remember some years ago shortly after I had arrived in South Florida, I worked for American Express as a “telephone service center” representative.  We took incoming calls from AMEX customers from all over the world!  The office building was huge, well built and had people from all different cultures, sexual preferences and religions.  What American Express sought to successfully do was to establish a corporate culture that “embraced diversity”.  Not only was I  promoted to a “tsc” representative in “the Spanish gate”, I was later promoted to learning manager.  I taught the incoming “tsc” agents how to handle both the hard skills of navigating nearly 80 – 100 different computer screens, but also taught the incoming agents “soft skills” of customer service and de-escalating a complaining customer’s call.  The most impressive feature of this extremely complex and professional call center was that we also had a “Diversity Team”, on which I also served.  Our goal was to create a culture where all of the employees felt welcomed and in turn, were productive!  This was the secret to the success of American Express’s call center there in Sunrise, FL.  It is still there, though I no longer work there, and it continues handling customer service calls world-wide!

Do you think that the administration in charge of the government could learn something from this example?  Meanwhile, the current president touted the “fact” (by now, we see that it, too, was an alternative fact) that his cabinet has the highest IQ of any administration in American History.  We already know by now that the cabinet and other representatives have the highest income of any previous cabinet and administration since many of them are billionaires like Exxon’s Rex Tillerson.  However, the current president himself showed his lack of knowledge of American history when he publicly stated that he believed “Fredrick Douglass is a leading figure for African Americans” and insinuated that he was alive today!  It was later stated by another of Trump’s cabinet members, Dr. Ben Carson, an African American, that African Americans were also “immigrants who worked hard” … hmmmm.  IQ is still what is known as “intelligent quotient”, right?!?

Well, this Sunday is one of the largest, if not THE world’s largest, Hispanic culture festivals!!  “Calle Ocho” is a celebration of all of the Hispanic cultures here in the Miami area of which there is a plethora.  An area of many many blocks in Miami will be closed for traffic and all of the food, flags, music, dance and customs of this multicultural city, though predominantly Hispanic, will be celebrating what has been called “The World’s Largest Street Festival”.  Transportation authorities are encouraging participants and celebrants to leave their cars at home and use public transportation.  The vibrant, festive and colorful celebration is an annual activity that attracts people from all over the world!!  The streets are filled with dancing and loud music, some of it live and some recorded, and often continues well into the late evening hours!  I can’t think of a better place to embrace and celebrate diversity in these United States of America, other than perhaps, New York.  Next week, we’ll be celebrating “St. Patrick’s Day” festivities highlighting the Irish culture’s contributions to the building of America.  There is a huge parade in New York City.  Let’s NOT destroy this “acceptance of all cultures” in the U.S.A. with the smoke screen of “make America great again”, especially since it has ALWAYS been great.  And please don’t let anybody tell you anything different … not even the current president whose family is also of immigrant stock.

Enjoy your weekends, folks!


John I. Cook, Director

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