Science and Perspective.



Anemic Advocacy

Have you met that person that pours all their energy into helping the group/cause they feel deserves it? I mean 100% all the time, every time? This is not about them.

We have to challenge anemic advocacy. Those that need advocates are weak. They cannot defend themselves and often, they are trying their best to fight the good fight. Some of us have the power, privilege and opportunity to help. So we join in.

Are you a senior employee? a manager? Perhaps in academia, you are a graduate student, faculty member or administrator. Perhaps even a Tenured Professor (I always picture Dumbledore). You have more power than any undergrad and in the case of a tenured professor, much more power than graduate students and new faculty.

So look and listen. Your employees/students are suffering. Something is wrong, on every campus, in every business.

if you have not helped to shine a light on one challenge this year, you are not advocating for those who need you. If your reasoning includes:
“This place will never change”, “I do not have the power”, “that is not my responsibility”… you are wrong.

Don’t be an anemic advocate. Strengthen your advocacy by feeding it with knowledge of the groups around you and their challenges, knowledge of the pathways to change, and knowledge of historic successes and failures.

Share with me what group/cause you need advocacy for and I will share through this page (when appropriate). Make sure to tell me what you have or are willing to do for your group and share any tangible efforts you have completed already.




There is a test. You score high enough on some scale to be given credit for the accomplishment. You are acknowledged and given the privileges afforded all those who pass.

What happens when the scoring rubric is never given to you? What if you enter this exam from an entirely different system? Perhaps, you are overqualified and pass without even trying. Perhaps, you pass but it is a struggle and a challenge. Perhaps you don’t pass.

As international scholars, much of our extracurricular work lies in passing, much like post desegregation blacks trying to figure out how light their skin had to be or DADT era officers figuring out how “straight” was straight enough to die for their country.

We live in an era where academic culture tells us that multiple viewpoints and open discourse are the cornerstones of academic progress. International students and scholars are not just welcome, but essential to the daily conduct of science, business, social justice etc.

Unfortunately, if you look closely, you may notice your students and colleagues struggle to pass. What percentage of the English language do we need to master for the exam? With the exam test our written as well as verbal abilities? Will any of the cultural competencies from our home countries/cultures be on the exam? Trick questions. All of them. Because there is no single exam. Every day and every interaction is an exam.

Personally, I speak more slowly, about 70% normal speed is passing for American English. My accent has to be at 20% for listener comprehension, slang at 0% native use. All the time.

But there is one way I pass that was unexpected. I pass for African American. Ironically, in today’s media it seems like this is the lowest rung on the USA diversity power ladder (without factoring in intersections). I pass for the citizens most likely to be shot by police, have the worst healthcare outcomes and least lifetime earnings outside of sports.

Strangely, my pass gets me invited to the table, involved in discussions on rights, liberty, equality, justice, meritocracies and privilege. Because as a Black Man, I should know the history of race in America and support those around me that are affected daily by its lasting impacts. Usually, sometime during the planning phases of whatever action the group has planned, I pipe up. Usually there is some open answer question, like every exam ever. My response includes, what abut international students?

This is where I stop passing. No longer African American. I am just black. Except, now I am a black foreigner. The mandatory blood tests can be justified, even in the same room we talk about the STD experiments on black men or birth control experiments on Latinos. Anything racist you can think of to say, becomes ok or at least legal, when you apply it to non citizens.

(Yes the blood tests are real, happening this semester. Ask an international student).

So, yeah. I guess I can no longer pass with you. Maybe a whole bunch of international students and scholars no longer will. But maybe it is better to be recognized for being 100% ourselves, than 50% passing.

If you are an international student or scholar who finds solidarity in this, please comment and share your experience. You can do so via twitter or Facebook or anonymously on the website.

People can be more than one thing…

Gary: I always took care of my niece, Kayla. She’s had a lot of bad breaks, but I was the one person in her life who always made sure she and her baby had food to eat, a roof over their heads.

Sheila: That’s really nice.

Joel: He assaulted you. He’s a creep.

Gary: People can be more than one thing, Joel.

This is a brief exchange from “The Santa Clarita Diet” on netflix.

unimportant clarification:Gary is a disembodied head that was reanimated after Shiela (a zombie) killed and ate him for assaulting her.

I have been thinking about it alot lately. I watched the episode a few months ago. Since we continue to be surrounded by the crap storm of a) violence against people of color; b) immigration rhetoric and action that describes and or treats human beings and children as animals/ nonentities/ criminals alternatively, and c) global climate change, I need a way to compartmentalize or rationalize the different people I am seeing around me. Especially when two of those people share the same body.

I am studying at a Predominantly White “Public Ivy”. The professors and surrounding community profess mostly liberal views and you can see the “you are welcome here” signs in the front yards and activism is at an all time high. At the same time, laws at the local, state and national level and policies throughout the university are specific to International students in ways that target, isolate and ostracize them or reduce their potential for success.

In one on one conversations, we can see their passion, their commitment to the students and hear the heartbreak in their voices. But in their work, they tell you, “My hands are tied”. They have to choose the hills to die on. And I think I get it. Why push against the system to fight for international students, when you are more likely to be successful fighting for black citizens, latino citizens, LGBTQ+ citizens etc.?

People can be more than one thing.

While the faculty and staff dedicate their on campus lives to the delivery of content equally to all students, which is mandated by law, they have no responsibility to you outside the classroom. Outside the classroom, they do not have to speak to you, break bread with you, etc. At the same time, the most staunch supporters of equal rights and protectors of justice, must also consider the safety of their family, job security etc. so sometimes, they have to be more than one thing.

I can be more than one thing.

I am often one of the oldest students in my classrooms. I have visited more countries than most of my colleagues (and professors). As a matter of fact, even our dog Sokka has visited more countries than many of my students and coworkers. I am always “The Bahamian”. I have worked with Prime Ministers and Princes. I have worked under the sea and on land with endemic, endangered and invasive species. But, noone necessarily sees any of these accomplishments. Perhaps, they just see a student, a foreigner, “a F*$king African American”. 

The problem comes when people are more than one thing and those things do not agree.

Most recently my understanding of this came to a head. I had known a former professor since we came here. We have had meals together on multiple occasions and we met their family, even their dog. We have had enough conversations for me to hear the sound of their voice, clearly in my mind. And, we shared views on global climate change, local and regional policy and its effect on various social classes. This professor was a friend and as with friends in small communities, they were friends with others whom I am still friends with. Others that also shared food and conversation, advice, opinions.

This past week, the news broke that he was arrested while traveling. He had solicited sex with an underage girl via an undercover FBI agent.

He was a completely different thing. That thing consumed all the other things he was. No longer a professor, he has lost his family (and his dog), his future, his colleagues, to that other thing.

As I talk to others affected by this, I also see how much all the memories have been tainted. Words spoken now have different meanings, handshakes, hugs, a look, a joke.

People can be more than one thing.

I am trying to deal with this and part of my dealing is writing. Part of my dealing is helping others. So I want to tell you, just as one person you consider a friend may be another sinister thing on the inside, so too can your worst adversary or the most challenging person carry hope for humanity in them.

That unintentionally racist coworker may be the first to offer you a ride in the rain. That foreign student may hold the most american values at heart. The professor that gave you your first F may be sitting in their office waiting for you to come for help. The guy that thinks babies born in america to foreigners are Anchor Babies, may be have the best difficult import conversation with you if you just take the time to sit down with them.

Yes. You can feel betrayed. Mourn this loss. But I feel we owe it to ourselves to go out and make a new friend today, speak to someone who can fill this gap. reach across the void and open a channel.

Take care of one another.




If you know me, you know I am vocal about things I believe are wrong. Especially if they affect me and those I care about. Unfortunately, (for me) I seem to care about more and more people as I learn how connected we all are in the world. I also recognize how important my/our voices have become.

Check your feeds and followings. check your list serves and the professional communications from your organizations, your industries, your leaders. The world is a big place and we cannot respond to everything, but when something happens in your community, to your community, who speaks? What do they say?

More importantly, who is silent? Over the break or during the semester when women, men, members of the LGBTQ community, people of any religion, people from any country or culture are targeted by hate, is there a response?

Are they waiting for a response from someone higher up that they can model their behaviour after? Do undergraduates wait to see how upperclassmen respond? are the grad students waiting for the tenured faculty? Is your department chair waiting for the president of the University? Is the university president waiting for the Governor? Is the Governor waiting for the President of the country?

And you? who are you waiting on?

Tell someone, tell everyone.

I denounce racial supremacists. I denounce international hate. I denounce gender, race and ethnicity based violence and bigotry.

Now, at least I know you will not be waiting on me.


-This is in partial response to the Charlotteville, VA white supremacy gathering (August 11 2017) and violence that followed (August 12, 2017).


The six P’s of leadership decisions: Perspective, price, purpose, prejudice, potential, prerogative.

Hello everyone,

This text is going to be shared in video format as well on my youtube channel so check there as well.

As leaders in any field, there seems to be issues related to understanding the needs of your constituents; the costs of your decisions; the reason for making your decision; things that affect our decision making process; the possible collateral damage; and whether we, as leaders actually have the right to make some of the decisions we are making.

I have distilled these issues into the 6 P’s of leadership decision making: Perspective, price, purpose, prejudice, potential, prerogative. Some of these overlap and some may have a greater or lesser impact depending on the situation. this is just a guideline and your community may have other considerations. What would you add to the list? leave a note in the comments.

here goes.


Many leaders feel they have the big picture view. They have worked in the industry, read all the books, and maybe they used to be the employee or the student they are now representing. unfortunately, it does not work that way. You cannot have had the lifetime of experience you earned and that of even one other person, much less everyone you represent as a leader. Therefore, you need perspective. A leader should consult a financial expert when something impacts an employee’s take home pay, a legal conultant when there is any issue related to the rights of an individual or group, especially government mandated rules and regulations, a health care expert on issues related to human health, well-being, insurance coverage etc. But most importantly, they should consult with the people that they think will shoulder the burden (who pays) and whom they expect will reap the rewards. Remember the perspectives of other groups outside of yours (the other company pays this, the other country did this, the other schools have this) will never be as valuable as the input form your constituents.

So first, recognize your perspective, then get some more perspectives. Consult with as many people as possible. If you cannot talk to any of “those” people before making a decision for/about them, then ethically, that decision is not yours to make yet.


If there is a decision to be made there is some judgment call. One plan of action must necessarily cost more than the other or have different rewards or there would be no decision to make. Now, you may think it would be easy to make a simple choice of do I buy this or that when the difference is price. If you are a leader though, it is not so simple. the solution you choose may seem a reasonable price to you. Imagine a 1500 price increase to an administrative professional who makes $109,000 per year. This price (approximately 5 days work) seems reasonable for some benefit to that single decision maker. However if you are making a decision that affects several hundred people who all make $19000 per year, that 1500 dollars to them costs alot more. About a month’s work actually. It is also likely that the person with $19000 now has to decide between that $1500 benefit and something else. What if you could use $1500 to get your entire family back to your home country in the event of a disaster, death in the family, medical issues etc. Or you could use that $1500 to have medical insurance for one person in the household of three or four? what would you choose?…Hypothetically. So consider price, but speak to your constituents about what the cost truly is.


Why are you making this decision? Is your purpose to make the experience better for your employees, clients, students, administration, sponsors? Each of these groups will be affected differently by the same decision.
If you do not know why you are making the decision, you are not ready to make the decision yet. If you cannot communicate the reason for making that decision without violating your core principles, you are making the decision for the wrong reasons or without enough information.

example: You have to choose between underwater cement and two part epoxy. Which do you choose? Not enough information? Of course not. You need to know the application. Fresh water, saltwater? If you are attaching corals, is it toxic to corals? Can your employees use it? Does it meet their needs, are they qualified to use it, can it work inside the logistic constraints of their day?

Example 2: Your employees need health coverage. What insurance coverage is appropriate for all of them? Trick question. There is no “one size fits all” coverage best for every age, marital status, pre-existing condition, family size etc.

if you get a fixative that kills the corals you are planting? have you achieved the purpose of your decision? If your employees cannot afford the insurance you are making them purchase and therefore cannot afford vehicle maintenance, food, medicine etc. Are you achieving your purpose?


Hey, news flash: You are prejudiced. Everyone is. You may have thought about the situation and tried to make an objective decision, but if you made that decision by yourself, it is flawed.
*You remember how that Bahamian student broke their arm breakdancing and they did not have insurance and your office covered their bills? That was one student. Tragic? Yes. Costly? Perhaps. Representative of all Bahamian students? No. All International Students? No. All students of color? No. Representative of all students? No.


Chances are, you are focusing on the single, target result of your decision. However, many decisions have significant positive and negative collateral impacts. These are often difficult to predict.
I suggest listing all the positive benefits you can think of and all the costs. Now think of who gets each benefit and who pays each cost. Now think of everyone else in your organization. Who is not getting those benefits. Why not? Look at who is paying. How much are they paying? Are the people not getting those benefits paying less? Is the group with the rewards paying more? How much more? Is this an appropriate amount?
Could your target group potentially get a higher benefit if they pay more? less if they pay less? what will they potentially lose (from their perspective)?


One of the most important questions to ask: Is this decision your prerogative?
Do you have the right/authority to make this decision? Are you a Health care expert making an accounting decision?
Are you a domestic administrator making decisions regarding international scholars?
An affluent caucasian cis gender male making decisions about the reproductive rights of black and latin(x) individuals from low income homes across the gender spectrum?
Are you (or were you ever) a member of the group? If not, you may need to delegate this decision to a committee that can properly determine and serve their needs.


*Any similarity to actual circumstances, real or fictional is purely coincidental, but intriguing. please message me if you see some.

Thank you Mommy!

We all have a mother. fact. Everyday I meet people who I know have a mother. But each of these people are different. Each and every one of us.

I have a Mommy! I would never trade my Mommy for anything/anyone else in the world. Everything I am and do now I owe to mommy.

As a child going to St. Francis and Joseph Primary school, I still remember the days we would walk around the corner to the Royal Botanical Gardens to visit mommy at work. we had the entire gardens to play in and roam around in, to develop my love of nature and learn about the plants and their local uses and get dirty. I never lost this. Thank you Mommy!

I remember early mornings in our neighborhood walking around with a basket and a pair of scissors, when mommy would give me a list of plants she would be teaching her Bahamahost students about. I would go to the neighbors and ask if I could have a clipping of their plant and sometimes tell them a little about the plant that I learned from my Mommy. As I was learning the plants, I was learning to only take as much as was needed, how to speak to my neighbors and how to take joy in a simple job. Thank you Mommy!

Later on, I got my first part time job at the chicken farm through Mommy’s connections. I saw the chickens as they were incubated, housed and fed, killed, cleaned and packaged. The baby chicks would try to escape the crates and some of them would be crushed and killed. The adults in the big houses would eat centipedes, worms, maggots and other chickens that had been caught in the conveyor belt that carried their food. There was the first time I saw someone have a seizure. I saw the workers eating Kentucky Fried Chicken outside the slaughter house. I did not eat Kentucky for awhile after that, though eventually I did. Still, I think of the value of life when I eat any meat. It makes me more respectful of life and I will always carry that with me. Thank you Mommy!

I remember that we would use no kill traps to remove the rats from our house. I was still in primary school, but mommy explained to me that they carry diseases that we did not want in the house and it was to protect us, but to dispatch them she would drop the entire cage in a bucket of water. The rats would drown. Conflicted as children would be about the death of an animal, I would come after she left and lift the container out of the water. She explained to me that that made the rats suffer longer, though they had to die, they should not suffer and no animal should suffer. This compassion for vermin tempered with the need for their eradication gave me a balanced view which continues to take a prominent place in my outlook on animal welfare and kindness, even in killing. Thank you Mommy!

One of the greatest gifts my Mommy has given to me though, is the huge family of people she has brought into my life, directly and indirectly. Mommy’s ripples of kindness continue to impact me in strange and diverse ways through the people she has helped, because that is her way. Filling out an activity in 9th grade I realized that I had more Grandmothers than anyone else, Ma Rena in Andros, Grumma in the Grove, Ma Dora in Inagua, Gramma in Seabreeze (via Lawrence and Cheska them). I found out later that I gained all these “extra” aunts, cousins, grandmothers, sisters because my mom helped someone in the past and they became sisters. I still go home and people will tell me “You is Ms. Davis son, ey? *You killin’ ya ma boy.” It always makes me smile. I “**born fa luck” I know I look like Mommy and the luck comes from having such a great Mommy, that my face is like a passport to loving-kindness and respect wherever I go, because Mommy paved the way. Thank you Mommy!

As I am writing this I am thinking of our son #LeonardoDavis, whom we would not have if I had never met Alma. Whom I never would have met had I not gone to UMES. Where I never would have gone had I not gone to Abaco for the Abaco Parrot Project. Where I never would have gone had I not completed the Kirtland’s Warbler Research and Training Program. Which I never would have been recruited to had I never asked  Eric Carey to get some fish from the Botanical Gardens pond. Whom I never would have met had it not been for Mommy. and throughout, she has bailed me out financially, emotionally, spiritually and with her supremely balanced way of looking at things. Thank you Mommy!

Today (October 26th) is my Mommy’s birthday. Also our wedding anniversary, the date chosen by chance by Alma’s father, who happened to be born the same year. Alma’s birthday is May 27th, the same as my maternal biological grandmother. So how’s that for being born for luck.

So today, I just want to say Thank you Mommy! and in celebration of my Mommy, if you know her, please call, email, text or Facebook her to tell her “Thank you Mommy.” and if you have ever said thank you for something I did, please tell her “Thank you Mommy.” And then, after that, go tell your Mommy and all the Mommy’s in your life, Thank you Mommy.

*You killing ya ma. Is a Bahamian expression that means you look a lot like your mother.
** born for luck refers to a male child that looks like their mother. It is said that these children will have good luck throughout their lives.

How to visit the baby

So, you got this link. Maybe someone actually feels ready to have guests over after the craziness of having a baby. 

10: It’s not all about you.

If you haven’t been invited yet, your thank you notes have not been sent, you did not get a phone call…etc. um…yeah. The new parents are crazy busy. Things fall through the cracks. The last thing they need is a call or email about how offended you are. So don’t. What you can do is call and say “Hey, I know you guys are gonna be crazy busy with your new bundle of joy. Do you need someone to walk your dogs?” *Shout out to Cassandra Colton for offering and taking such good care of Sokka and Neji!* if you want to be a part of this special occasion, focus on the things you can do to support their mental health and well being.

9: OK. Some of it is about you.

Health and hygiene mostly, but manners especially. It’s a new baby, learning how to be a human…hopefully a quality human, healthy, happy, respectful and kind. So about you, that extra spray of cologne or perfume, or a couple beers on your breath… The baby doesn’t need it, but yes, please brush those teeth and take a bath maybe. Baby’s immune system is still on training wheels, so let’s wash those hands too. And guess what, babies start assimilating the sounds that make up language almost right away, so personally, I would avoid the profanity and the yelling. Who you are is up to you. But who we let be around our baby and hold him, is up to us. #imjustsaying

8: Is there a doctor in the house?

Now along with things you can do for us, come offering your professional recommendations. Everyone has them. You may have been one of the people encouraging us to have a baby for the 8 years we were married (none of your business by the way). Perhaps you are a botanist and you can say “Hey, that plant is toxic, make sure the baby does not put that in his mouth later.” But, chances are, we have already long chosen our pediatrician, obstetrician, doula etc. and we have read a million pages of the most up to date baby related science as well as the doom and gloom. So, unless you are a practicing physician in a child birth, or pediatric field,that has seen our medical history, please do not recant to us what you read on Facebook about things that can hurt babies. No, not even if your sister’s aunt’s brother’s friend’s bartender on your mommy side has a stepson it happened to. Just don’t. Personally, just getting a baby to term is crazy stressful, so if the baby is almost here and we are planning on birth or the stork has landed and we have our package in hand, your scary stories don’t help. Moms that have had babies get a special pass to say affirmative things, like oh, that will get better or you will love [enter weird pregnancy thing]. Men…shhhhhhhh.

7: Our superstitions versus yours.

Now I humbly accept that families have traditions. We all do. Some of those are superstitions and thank you for sharing. I find them interesting. But do not push. We probably will not be buying a chihuahua to sleep with the baby to prevent asthma or putting an open pair of scissors under his pillow or feeding him a spoon full of Vicks vapor rub… Yeah these are real things. 

6: The other kids…

Yours, ours, other people’s. Please, know that we want our kid(s) to be awesome, and yeah, that means the best they can be. Not judging your kids, but maybe. If your kid is a bit much for you to handle, spits, bites, is generally destructive or violent, maybe we should wait until our kid is older, or we can all agree to have them in the same room. And about our kids, this includes dogs… If we are inviting you over to meet our new baby, you probably met our kids already. Be honest with yourself. If you can’t handle them, tell us. For me, I do not mind you asking my dogs to go sit somewhere else, ask us how you should treat them and our discipline boundaries. I think I may feel the same with our son, but this may change. Basically, don’t put us in a situation where we have to mind your kids as well as ours.

5: Are you hungry?

We probably are. And the new mom probably has not had any fast food or take out for about nine months. Bring food or offer to bring food, maybe come over and cook.

4: Timing: Early, Late, and time to go.

3: House rules.

2: Parents rule.

1: Baby is number 1

If you have ever heard me speak of my time on the Kirtland’s Warbler Research and Training Program, you would know how much it meant for me as a scientist and how it has changed my life. Long story short, if it wasn’t for the Kirtland’s Warbler Research and Training Program, Alma and I would not have had #LeonardoDavis. So this past week in Ohio for Saving Birds Thru Habitat’s trip to Magee marsh with Ronald Brown Academy students, Dave Ewert and I reconnected. Leonardo seemed pretty impressed as well. Dave still continues to do lots of different things, but for myself and the students that went through the program, I think it’s safe to say he will always hold a special place for us.

Great to see you Dave!


Dave Ewert meets Leo
Dave Ewert meets Leonardo


Leaders are special people.
During a recent interview I was asked what I thought made someone a good leader and to think of the best boss I have had and what made that person a great boss.

The first to come to mind was Eleanor Garraway-Phillips, of course. In my short time (4 years?) at The Nature Conservancy, I got to see her take the tough stance on several issues and stand up for her employees in the face of government and political will. Not only is Eleanor well able to keep her cool under pressure, but she is one of the most sincerely passionate earth warriors I know. Most importantly, she would get to know her employees and support our personal as well as career goals. Throughout my time with TNC she also helped to encourage me to see balance and take time with family when I could. Though I feel she was sad to see me go, “E” was especially supportive of my decision to return to school for my PhD. Thank you E.

Earth Day planting at the Hub Art Gallery on New Providence 2011
Earth Day planting at the Hub Art Gallery on New Providence 2011

Now I am at Miami University and while the University has its issues with diversity, there are pockets where anyone can feel included, like the Center for American and World Cultures. Here, I get to work with Dr. Mary Jane Berman and Jacqueline Rioja Velarde, two amazing women with an unbelievable amount of energy. The center does an incredible amount of work, but these two ladies are especially great at recognizing the work of everyone involved. From undergraduate and graduate student workers to community members who publicize their events, they always give credit where credit is due. I think this is especially important.
Thank you Jacque and Mary Jane!
Mary Jane and Jacque

You ladies are all super awesome and one day I hope to be able to follow your example!


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