She Prepares Black Children For The Global Economy



You hear the term “globalization” or hear people say that we live in “global economy”, but what does that really mean? It means that more and more companies and organizations are operating in a global scale (thinking globally, not locally). It means that the economies of the different sovereign states in the world are interconnected and not segmented as previously thought. It means more and more skills, including language skills, are necessary for job seekers to remain competitive in the job market. But where does that leave those who can’t speak a second language? Enter Dr. Kami whose platform is to both give visibility to the importance of a “global education” and help provide that to black children.

BGLL: Thank you so much for agreeing to share your story! Tell us about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?

Dr. Kami: My name is Dr. Kami J. Anderson, I am African American and I live in Atlanta, Georgia. English is my native language but speak Spanish and French and have varying degrees of knowledge in Portuguese, Italian and Wolof.

I have a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Spelman College, a Master of Arts in International Affairs, Interdisciplinary Studies: International Communication and Anthropology from American University and a Ph.D. in Communication and Culture from Howard University. I am a Fulbright Specialist for Communication and Culture. I’m a published author, having authored three books and been a contributing author of two chapters to edited volumes dealing with issues as it pertains to language, identity, black women and black families. I am a 2016 Ruth Landes Research Grant awardee to research and publish about black bilingualism. I was the Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Honors Program at Kennesaw State University (Marietta Campus), but recently resigned to pursue my passion, Bilingual Brown Babies.

I am the founder and CEO of Bilingual Brown Babies, a language consulting service for families that want to foster foreign language development and bilingualism in their children. I have been featured in the Huffington Post for Bilingual Brown Babies.

I'm a mom of four beautiful bilingual babies (9, 7, and 5-year-old twins)! I love African dance, the color orange, musical theater and traveling the world (I have been to 14 different countries so far).


BGLL: Wow, what HAVEN’T you done, Dr. Kami? That is such an inspiring and motivating list of accomplishments. What made you want to learn those languages?

Dr. Kami: I learned Spanish and French during my undergraduate studies. Although my major was in Spanish. I still needed to fulfill my foreign language requirement, so I chose French.  I started learning Portuguese during my PhD program.  I wanted to begin to learn all of the colonized languages.  I then became a Teacher’s Assistant for a simultaneous interpretation class and was then "forced" (my term clearly), to really pick it up as I assisted with that class. Italian, I had to learn because I took a group of students on a study abroad trip to Italy and language courses were included.  Wolof, I learned phrases during my time in Senegal, while I was doing dance study tours.  I visited Senegal twice and learned enough to get to an interpreter.

Of those languages, Spanish and Portuguese are my favorite languages because I can hear the Africanisms in those languages the most prominently and I love that!

BGLL: I can see why your focus has been on languages, bilingualism and intercultural communication. Is that why you started Bilingual Brown Babies?

Dr. Kami: I started Bilingual Brown Babies really for my kids.  I have been raising my children bilingual since they came out of the womb. One day, my oldest told me he didn't want to speak in Spanish anymore because none of his friends did.  That prompted me to create a tribe for him and his siblings IMMEDIATELY.  Now granted I was already well aware of the little number of Black children who were bilingual.  I wrote my master’s thesis on the necessity of it.  I did not officially act on all of this until the conversation with my own child.

BGLL: Why do you think it's important for black children to speak more than one language?

Dr. Kami: Speaking candidly, we are swiftly moving in a direction where bilingualism will be just as necessary as the ability to read in the workplace.  Black children are disproportionately disadvantaged in this area because (in a general sense) we have not prioritized language.  Now, it is urgent that Black children have it, just from a basic employability standpoint.  Aside from that, culturally, the ability to have a language breadth that will give us more possibilities of expressing our uniqueness as Black people is vital to how we maneuver through language.  More languages in our pocket offer more creativity in expression, more creativity in identity and more creativity in interaction.

BGLL: Do you think foreign language is an essential part of a global education?

Dr. Kami: Frankly, global education without language is short sighted.

BGLL: What global opportunities do you suggest black children be prepared for?

Dr. Kami: Black children should be prepared for study abroad, gap years where applicable as well having "global role models." I think one of the gaps is that the idea of moving beyond the USA is not centered as possibility in many communities.  Many of us don't get the "travel bug" until our adult years.  What would it look like to treat global education as vital to the success of Black children as we treat STEM education?  We have science camps, math camps, robotics camps, etc.  What would it look like to have travel camps, more cultural exchanges, language camps (which we have, but the expense prices some of us out)?  Providing resource for children to do these things teaches our children that it is just as important to develop a global mindset as it is to succeed in math and science.

BGLL: What three tips can you offer those who are trying to learn the languages?

Dr. Kami: Use it as much as you can, don't beat yourself about not sounding perfect as you learn. No! You don't sound stupid!
    
Where can we find you to learn more about what you’re doing?

Dr. Kami: You can connect with me through my website, Instagram and on LinkedIn!

CONVERSATION

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