Toronto Time


Niagara Falls

Have you ever heard how friendly Canadians are or even how nice they treat people? On Friday, March 20th, 2014 my wonderful girlfriend and I set out on a trip to Toronto, Canada to a conference I needed to attend. We woke at 1:00am and hit the road driving through the night and arriving in Toronto between 9 and 10:00am. During our trip we encountered a few roadblocks such as my GPS not working once we crossed over into Windsor Canada.

Good thing, the wonderful girlfriend and I had some printed directions. But in order to really get to Toronto we stopped into a gas station to ask for directions. Upon entering the gas station the clerk and I had a very friendly exchange about the wintry weather then I proceeded to ask him about our drive to Toronto. This dude was overly kind and made me check how much nicer I need to be to humans

Now this isn’t to say all Canadians are kind, because we know that isn’t the case, but like any stereotype when you meet a Canadian and they fit that, then you’re able to further corroborate why the stereotype exist. I was fortunate that most of the experiences that we had along our journey were pleasant. After the conference ended on Saturday, my wonderful girlfriend and I stayed an extra night in downtown’s Sheraton hotel. We had such a bombass dinner at the restaurant Quinn’s that on the drive back to Ohio we ate surf and turf again. If you are in the area, check out the Quinn’s Steakhouse located in the downtown Sheraton hotel in Toronto. While it is a bit pricey the quality is superb.

Early that Sunday we woke to a beautiful blissfully cold day in the city of Toronto. We had a plan to get out of the city and tap the Canada side of Niagara Falls. Driving about an hour and forty minutes we arrived in Niagara Falls to find such a majestic and wonderful sight.

Overall our trip was so refreshing to our souls, our relationship, and our work lives. At times, as Americans we don’t get the opportunities to travel and have a short vacation away from the diurnal mundane activities called “work”

Thank you to Miami University for helping sponsor my scholarly activity at the 2014 CIES conference.

CIES Conference Day 1

Photo on 3-15-14 at 10.14 AM

Taking Notes Like a G!

On Day one I attended the New Scholars workshop at the Comparative International Education Conference in Toronto Canada that heaped me shape my understanding of how scholars in the comparative international education field conceptualize both qualitative and quantitative work being done. There were two highlights to me.

First, Professor Nancy Kendall of the University of Wisconsin Madison reiterated the need for graduate students to choose a committee that could work collectively, collaboratively, and cohesively on the graduate students dissertation. To me, this screamed choose your committee wisely and under the guise of being purposeful about how they work together.

Second, Professor Noah Sobe of Loyola University in Chicago and I had a sidebar conversation about some work he was doing on transnationalism. During our session he made it pretty clear that we must define what we mean in our work around internationalism, globalization, and transnationalism. To me, this screamed continue to cultivate the definition that I want to use for my dissertation.

Overall, the session I attended was very thorough in making me become reflective on choosing my definition, by this I mean how I will define terms in my literature review. Secondly, it made me think through who will be on my committee come August. August is the day of reckoning.

On to the next one….

CIES Conference

I wil be attending the 58th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society in Toronto under the guise of exploring how we can revision education for all in the 21st century. As a 2nd year Ph.D. student at Miami University focusing on the transformative nature and critical aspects of study abroad, I look forward to engaging in intellectual conversation with scholars from around the world.

Here is the link:

I will also be engaging the CIES conference on twitter. Be sure to follow me:

Will you be in the house? How do you think Comparative Education fits into the conversation about the educational rights of all especially the marginalized and the oppressed?

One luv,

Johnnie Jackson

river of thoughts

right of my thoughts run from the ohio river to the nam river. i work, eat, breath, and think thoughts of rivers overflowing. a river full of smiles saves a complete stranger. studying the life lived as a river finds the stream of consciousness. leading a useful life is leading the life you were always promise for me the river. 

The Problem With Little White Girls (and Boys): Why I Stopped Being a Voluntourist

Sharing this idea in the problem creates more space for dialogue about the purpose of volunteer work abroad and who interest it truly serves. What are your reactions about this piece? Do winter terms, summer study abroads, and other short term voluntourist trips serve to reproduce the status quo of white privilege?

Pippa Biddle

White people aren’t told that the color of their skin is a problem very often. We sail through police check points, don’t garner sideways glances in affluent neighborhoods, and are generally understood to be predispositioned for success based on a physical characteristic (the color of our skin) we have little control over beyond sunscreen and tanning oil.

After six years of working in and traveling through a number of different countries where white people are in the numerical minority, I’ve come to realize that there is one place being white is not only a hindrance, but negative –  most of the developing world.

Removing rocks from buckets of beans in Tanzania. Removing rocks from buckets of beans in Tanzania.

In high school, I travelled to Tanzania as part of a school trip. There were 14 white girls, 1 black girl who, to her frustration, was called white by almost everyone we met in Tanzania, and a few teachers/chaperones…

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Matthew, Jonae, Harbin, and Lula

Title: Matthew,Jonae,Harbin,and Lula

Critical Race Theory Counterstory

By Johnnie Jackson, MBA

Jonae: African American female student who is the lead character and undertaker of African American history through geography.

Lula: Originally from Salvador, Brazil his parents moved to the U.S. when he was in middle school. He and Jonae have been very close because they share a common secret.

Professor Choi: Multiracial professor whose father is Egyptian and mother is Filipino Korean. Professor Choi teaches a course on international studies for a small liberal arts university where she is going through the tenure process.

U.S. Ambassador Chuck Toll: Ambassador Chuck Toll graduated from this liberal arts university and has a middle size endowed scholarship in the international studies department. He has served on the Board of Trustees for fifteen years now. He has seen the landscape change in higher education and believes study abroad and international education need more minority students and minority faculty led trips.

Scene: U.S. Ambassador Chuck Toll has been on a mission to promote more faculty members of color and students of color to study abroad, travel abroad, and live abroad while being immersed in the higher education environment. However, his narratives about who has helped lead the American journey abroad historically seems to reflect all majoritarian narratives and leave out people of color. The audience is a cadre of students of color and faculty of color who have been invited to start the dialogue about people of color studying and living abroad.

Questions: 1. From reading the story, to what extent is Ambassador Toll’s narrative about American exceptionalism exclusion a white dominated tale? 2. Jonae and Lula discuss the history around Ambassador Toll’s story and amend it by adding the story of Matthew Henson, which tenets of Critical Race Theory might this fall under? 3. Critical Race Theory recognizes the experiential knowledge of people of color is legitimate, appropriate, and critical to understanding, analyzing, and teaching about racial subordination,” how does this story legitimize the historical stories of people of color? How does this act to delegitimize the historical story of people of color?

American Exceptionalism

The American has always chartered the waters of freedom. Stories of Abraham Lincoln, Warren G. Harding, Robert E. Peary, and Ronald Reagan stand tall in the history books for our children to look up to. Take the legacy of Robert E. Peary, this fine fellow fought against hunger, weather, and even the tyrant Inuit people to find the North Pole. As the purveyor of exploration in 1911 our dear American Robert E. Peary reached the North Pole accomplishing a feat no other American had completed yet. A true great American story, after Peary graduated from Bowdoin College in Maine in 1877, he went to work as a local surveyor, then would later take a post with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. By 1881, Peary entered the U.S. Navy Corps of Civil Survey….

 While the Chuck Tool, U.S. Ambassador tolled on about great American achievements throughout the globe, the sense of American exceptionalism spread amongst and between the American guests and distinguished faculty members. Professor Harbin Choi’s international studies class was in the audience taking note of the accomplishments of “great Americans.”

Lula, Afro Brazilian American whispered to Jonae “wasn’t there some African American man who helped that guy Peary reach the North Pole? We were just talking about that brotha last week in our media class and how the media gave him only a footnote after reaching the North Pole.” Professor Harbin Choi looked back at both Jonae and Lula with a serious eye, cutting their vocal cords to silence, but Jonae stared right back without an ounce of fear. “She ain’t my momma and I know my history. Professor Choi did you know that Matthew Henson is said to have helped find the North Pole, along side the Eskimo people, sled dogs, and Mr. Peary?”

History Lesson

Jonae had been researching Matthew Henson for her Advanced Geography course, and she was quite enamored and amazed to find out how much his accomplishments with the Inuit language and helping find the North Pole were underpublished and underappreciated.

Right before Jonae could skip to her next thought, Professor Choi chimed in “Jonae, how did you know that and where do you find that information?” In a jiffy Jonae spoke up proudly “Well Prof. Choi my grandmother would frequently have Henson’s son over our house for Sunday dinner. At first when I asked who he was he wouldn’t tell me, then my grandmother told me the legacy of Anauakaq had and how his father was one of the first Black Americans to reach the North Pole.”

Critical Race Analysis

A critical race theory analysis is important to get at some of competing and coalescing themes in the aforementioned story. Our characters present very complex views on the way they discuss history, historical events, and historical characters. Take for example Ambassador Toll, although his intentions are to stir the curiosity of studying abroad, living abroad, and traveling abroad to the crowd of mostly minority students and minority faculty, the majoritarian narratives used do little to stimulate the minority epistemic curiosity. Solorzano and Yosso (2002) tell us there should be at least five elements to dismantling racist practices in education. The five elements include:

  1. The intercentricity of race and racism with other forms of subordination.
  2. The challenge to dominant ideology.
  3. The commitment to social justice.
  4. The centrality of experiential knowledge.
  5. The transdisciplinary perspective.

The aforementioned taken together can be used to critically analyze the story above. Ambassador Toll, while well intentioned he may have been, used the names and political stances of Warren G. Harding and Ronald Reagan, two presidents who were known for their deficit narratives and tropes about black and brown youth. Going even further, an investigation of the narratives Ambassador Toll uses to discuss American exceptionalism notes no women of color and only white males who have been historically privileged in all American social institutions.


We do know that incentivizing faculty of color to lead study abroad is an issue we face in higher education. Many scholars note that students of color face various barriers when deciding to study abroad. Brux and Fry (2009) explain “academic scheduling difficulties, absence of relevant programs, lack of information to be the main factors prohibiting more students of color from studying abroad” (p.509). Ultimately, the way that Ambassador Toll needed the story of Peary to feel prideful about being an American, students of color need a critical race theory perspective of study abroad to feel welcomed.



Murray-Brux, J., & Fry, B. (2009, August). Multicultural Students in Study Abroad: Their Interests, Their Issues, and Their Constraints. Journal of Studies in International Education.

Solorzano, D. G., & Yosso, T. J. (2002). Critical race methodology: Counter-storytelling as an analytical framework for education research. Qualitative inquiry, 8(1), 23-44.