On Positionality and Strategic Equity Leadership

We need champions, leaders for equity at every level.

Top, middle, bottom — in positional authority and on the ground. Inside and outside, people at the margins, and we need allies at every level and from every position if we are truly committed to equity work. We need leaders to have one rule of RESPECT and to use the 5 LEADERSHIP PRACTICES.

5 Leadership Practice from Kouzes and Pozner

And then my Mami called, and I was telling her the story of when Ehle had her cousin over for the first time, Ehle had to share her parents with another child, a younger child. So I tell mom that Ehle was all about saying ‘Mine’ . She didn’t want to share her things, or us for that matter, with her baby cousin.

This is essentially what mom’s do:

We make things visible [unpacking processes], we have to tell the story to explain [intent], so that kids can understand [knowledge translation]

Like what we do for kids: UNPACKING all the time, bi-directional, multidirectional, love in its purest form.

So it went like this:

12/31/2017 Conversacion con mi mami
Yo: ‘Mami, cuando recibí la revista, física, vi lo material, nuestra historia. No era solo lo que yo sentia dentro, sino que tambien lo vi materializado. Vi mis fotos, fotos de mi gente, de conocidos, en una revista.
Cuando vives en un mundo que te dice y recuerda que tu no estas en el centro, no te ves, y lo que te puede pasar, es que te olvidas y puedes empesar a creerlo.’
Mami: ‘ Si, estas fuera de tus raíces, y eso influye mucho.’

Yes, and the MATERIALITY, the forms, the records, the data, the archive [hybrid — digital and analog], what we see reflected in them, and who we see represented, [WHAT BODIES |IDENTIITES MATTER?]- that is what people internalize and OUR BRAIN DO THE STATISTICS, IN ORDER TO CREATE SCHEMAS to PROCESS LARGE AMOUNTS OF INFORMATION — our brains are the ultimate computers. [1]If we don’t see ourselves or identities like ours in our schemas — then we begin to forget.

In the beginning, things are not visible, and we begin to think it is not visible, that we are not there — that there are no boundaries.

And then Mom put Tia on the phone, and tia tells me a story that thankful at 8pm EST she places her phone on ‘Do not disturb’ because the other day a text came in at past midnight on her phone. Our notions of time — are different, from different preferences, accesses, capacities and in different environments — they are FLUID and unique. Sometime they are what leaders would call PROGRAMMED DECISION MAKING [routine, virtually automatic, formulaic, that follows established guidelines] and sometimes they are NONPROGRAMMED DECISION MAKING [fluid, flexibile, relational]. We can make the value-based decisions — the programmed and make sure our values are par of the established guidelines.

If we can see — like this story, then we know what we need. This is my palace image — for this image, we need this. It is my story.


“Facebook can’t contain all the tender feelings I have for _____” — Isis Rose, Anthropology scholar that I connected with via my last trip to University of Illinois Urbana — and that I met at the Seeing Systems conference said this and then it connected.

The data we have cannot contain other dimensions of knowing. If we look at WHOLISM, as described by Jo-Ann Archibald, in ‘Indigenous Storywork’ — then we can SEE what cannot be contained by these form, by these structures, in these design elements, these data and these particular metadata.

Wholism as an aspect of Indigenous Storywork, Jo-Ann Archibald

It was at ASIS&T conference in Seattle, that I first was introduced to the multiplicity as we thought through and co-created an experienced through our interactive session ‘Mediating Connections through Materiality: Cultures and Communities’ in co-theorizing with Dr. Lynne Howarth (U of Toronto), Dr. Iuluan Vamanu (U of Ohio, then Rutgers) and Jamilla Ghaddar, (U of Toronto).

This is the CONVERGENCE of Digital Transculturation (theory development) — of my lived experiences, within the social and technical systems, which we all have the same, differently. Too much data but on being economical, as mothers are, we have to be selective on the nuggets of clarity. Those nuggets that contain the truths we have inside, our very own papelitos guargados.

Because of this materiality that George Dyson described in The birth of the computer. [2] We have ARCHIVAL records in global context of the initial computer, we are able to SEE and uncover, SOME OF THE TEXTURE behind the intent, design, ethos, processes and VALUES which occurred in relation to those contextual elements (time, thinking, history, global context).

Intersections of: [temporality, schools of thought, history, wholism]— universal benefits of utilizing trauma-informed processes can be similar to the principles for universal design — [3]

everyone benefits from the humanity being central, in similar ways of designing for accessibility.

We need to make invisible visible, to uncover the processes as a way to teach, and as a way to learn towards equity in our social AND technological worlds.

Sandy Littletree and I, met up with Manouchka in Nevada, the year we attended the American Library Association conference. Or rather — Dr. Manouchka Celeste, Professor | Speaker and Author of Race Gender and Citizenship in the African Diaspora:Traveling Blackness.

And this is what Manoucheka had to share with us in a nutshell — you will never be as smart as you are when write your general exam, propose your dissertation and or defend your dissertation .

Those are powerful words and they are true words. I still go back to those two documents. And when I do, when I re-read them, I think — ‘Damn, I am pretty smart.’ I even speak and sound smart.

Both of those documents will be included in their entirety in the dissertation. However, a third and also pivotal piece of writing was a letter I wrote to my committee before the general exam — when I was struggling in formulating the structure and process for me general exam — but was lost in its digital state, also serves as a tipping point. That letter, was only in digital form and no one of the 5 or 6 people who I shared it with, were able to located it, it is lost, but not its meaning or purpose. It was the shift in my thinking — it was when I KNEW that working with the women at Casa Latina was more than transactional, it was a relationship, with mutual respect and reciprocity. The digital words may be lost, but their effects live on in my intentions, words, actions, and behaviors.


These are the Odes to our mothers, teachers, leaders.


I have POWER from within, from my ANCESTORS, seeing it alive in material form, in the words, artifacts [DIGITAL and PRINT], words and actions [THOUGHTS and BEHAVIORS] and in POLICIES and PROCESSES [INDIVIDUAL and COLLECTIVE] EMBODIES ways of knowing are the MATERIAL archive. They gave/give me power to claim MY TRUTHS and to UTILIZE my position, my words, my voice, my ACTIONS in the name of TRUTH, LOVE and that SPANS BOUNDARIES. That IS strategic equity leadership, that bridges theory and practice.

If we go back to Dr. Megan Bang and the questions she taught me [that she probably has not realized that those seeds were still alive in me]—

‘What does smart look like? What does it sound like? and How do you know?’

I need a SMART that is relatable to our digital and our material worlds. A particular kind of SMART. A SMART that I can live with and share regardless of the ACE Framework.

ACE Framework remixed and adapted by Ivette Bayo Urban — in this document as a way to explore social and technical structures and flexibilities for Diversity and Equity Leadership [in practice].

A SMART that we can ALL have and aspire to have — regardless of our intersecting identities.

What Leticia Nieto calls a habit of keeping in mind at least nine areas of social membership present:

AGE, ABILITY-loss/disability, RELIGIOUS culture, ETHNICITY, SEXUAL ORIENTATION [IDENTITIES], SOCIAL CLASS culture, INDIGENOUS HERITAGE, NATIONAL ORIGIN, GENDER — [I would add RACE, TECHNOLOGY, CONTEXT,and OTHER VULNERABILITIES to her list — making it thirteen]. Because they all matter and different contexts may make different identities more vulnerable for different folks.

“Oppressions seeps through in many forms. All of them matter.” — Nieto (2010, p.xx)

I want a SMART that we can aspire to in case of life changes, trauma, disaster, injury, violence, experiencing homelessness, poverty, illness. A SMART that can relate our values to our material and digital worlds and processes. It is a particular kind of SMART. It is a cross section of SMART that a) further explores the value of critical theory paradigm within information science, b) to recognize, document, and analyze perceptions of technology in relation to identity construction for Spanish speaking immigrant women, c) to “hear” the voice of women who are not seen as producers and holders of technological knowledge in order to provide their counter narratives.

And a smart that is builds theory, that is accessible and practical.

I need a SMART we can ALL afford when we are defenseless, when we rely solely on someone for all our means of survival, completely and utterly.

Yet we make it — Our mothers have that kind of SMART. It is contained in the simplicity of the three R’s — Respect, Responsibility and Reciprocity. Our humanity depends on it Our mothers, our educators, our leaders posses it. I need care. Care is a Feminist Technology.

When I say mothers, I mean ALL MOTHERS, the verb.

Not only the biological, physiological or psychological mommas, I mean the EMBODIED mothers, and aunties, tias and abuelas, the fathers, daddy, uncles, and buncles — those are the villages. I mean and include all — foster mommas, queer and trans mommas, I mean single mommas, and black mommas and the mammys.

They have the SMARTS that are RELATIONAL and TRANSFORMATIONAL. They are the culture bearers.

I am evidence of that kind of SMARTs, as a daughter of a strong Cuban mother, with strong Cuban grandmothers and a whole lineage of ancestors with a history of strong women, las mamas y las tias. And I as a mother, came to know THAT kind of SMARTNESS too, not the kind that is learned in books, but the kind that is STRONG, POWERFUL and that MOVES MOUNTAINS. A SMART that is ‘amor a todas horas’ — built on a timeless work ethic enmeshed with lived value systems.

Amor A Todas Horas —art by Simon Silva. Gracias a mamá y Dra. Marisa Herrera por presentarme a esta obra de arte.

So what is it?

It is ART and SCIENCE.

It is DECISION science and LEARNING science.

It is feminist experimental PEDAGOGY and it is Indigenous PEDADOGY.







It is analyzing and changing society from the unique perspective of gender relations. [https://gwss.washington.edu]

It is examining society and culture from a perspective of disability [https://disabilitystudies.washington.edu]

It is conducting meaningful and rigorous research examining the relationships among people, information, and technology. https://ischool.uw.edu/research


Aspiration, Success, Achievement, Economic Progress and Engagement.
As expressed by Everett Community College and their Equity and Social Justice office, of which Maria Peña serves as Chief Diversity and Equity Officer.

It is building theory and spanning boundaries in the practice and for the aims of INFORMATION EQUITY AND EDUCATIONAL EQUITY.

This is who I am and this is where I have studied:

University of Washington,Seattle, WA, Library and Information Science, PhD [https://ischool.uw.edu/programs/phd]

Florida International University, Miami, FL, College of Education, Curriculum and Instruction with Specialization in Learning Technologies MA [http://education.fiu.edu/masters_degrees.html]

Florida International University, Miami, FL College of Business, Management Information Systems BBA [http://mymajor.fiu.edu/browse/320MGTSYBBA]

And I am part of the Cuban diaspora.

— — -


Want to know more about art, check out Annie Liebovitz teaches photography | official trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZxOvNxbi7U

20 Tips for Instructors about Making Online Learning Courses Accessible

Technology for Online Learning Accessibility — [https://www.washington.edu/doit/videos/index.php?vid=79]

Strategic Planning with Equity [https://www.everettcc.edu/files/administration/institutional-effectiveness/strategic-planning/strategic-plan-bot.pdf]

Equity Framework & 5 Dimensions of Equity

DRAFT of the 5 Dimensions of Equity Accessed on 12/31/2017
5 Dimensions of Equity
Concepts: Explicate Dimension
Equitable aspiration allows for students to continuously negotiate multiple contradictory voices to co-create a vision of possible dreams that build self-efficacy and contributes to a just society.
Equitable access allows for students, especially historically underrepresented students, to experience a mutually beneficial relationship with the institution to create a true sense of ownership, belongingness, and familiarity.
Equitable achievement allows for students to exercise, refine, and acquire capacities that nurture and grow their talent as individuals and as members of a collective. This dimension intends to challenge simplistic notions that achievement equates to individualistic accomplishments. (Cronon)
Economic Progress
Equitable economic progress allows for students to be self-sufficient individuals and contributing members of society, understanding and negotiating the interdependent relationship between equitable aspiration, economic capital, and community cultural wealth. This dimension challenges the need to sacrifice any of the above for the sake of economic and social mobility. (Yosso)
Equitable engagement allows for students to exercise, refine, and acquire capacities that they can use to exert influence within their social, cultural and political contexts to further equity, social justice, and community well-being. (Cronon)
Cronon, W. (1998). “Only Connect…”. American Scholar, 67(4), 73–80.
Yosso, T. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 69–91.

— — —

[1] You don’t have to believe me, check these three videos out — 1) Patricia Kuhl –the Linguistic Genius of Brains, https://www.ted.com/talks/patricia_kuhl_the_linguistic_genius_of_babies

2) Chimamanda Adichie, Danger of the Single Story https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story, Shooting 3) Down a Lost Drone and why Dogs Tilt their Heads — Smarter Every Day 173 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oai7HUqncAA

[2] Check out George Dyson’s TedX https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EF692dBzWAs, Because of it this history existing we are able to SEE the labor that is INVISIBLE [or compressed] and SEE what some people have ACCESS TO KNOW and can UNDERSTAND depending on CONTEXTS and therefore what is NOT — what many others CANNOT EVEN BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND THE HISTORY of it — because it’s distance from our ACCESS, CAPACITIES, ENVIRONMENTS — our POSITIONALITIES and our CONTEXTS.

[3] to read more on this check out the work of some of my colleagues — Dr. Marisa Duarte, Dr. Daniela Rosner, Dr. Kristin Shinohara, Martez Mott, Dr Miranda Belarde-Lewis, [our sister Ally Krebs, Research with Respect https://vimeo.com/17471303 and What’s in a Name? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2VilYmM81M&t=169s