"My Diversity Story"
by Jacqueline M. Yohe "The Mother Rapper"
My name is Jacqueline Yohe. I am an Administrative Assistant II in IT BD. I come from a very diverse work background. I have held numerous positions with the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, Department of the Air Force, United States Marine Corps, major law firms, manager of a publishing company, Clerk for the Cass County Court System, Chief of Admin in the Civilian Personnel Office at Richards-Gebauer AFB, here in Missouri. I was in an upward mobility program with General Services Administration as a Realty Technician, and then a mid-manager as the Information Officer at the complex on Bannister Road. At the age of 38 I suffered a major coronary, and left the federal government on a disability annuity.
When I tried to return to work I discovered that the government could not find a place for me without stress at my former grade level and pay rate. I was rejected and felt dejected - but not overcome.
I divorced and left Harrisonville to start my life living in a very small loft apartment in the City Market. I had just written one of my poems titled "The Mother Rap" which I had written out of frustration for my daughter who was not doing well in college. I was invited to a poetry reading in the River Market, by the Riverfront Readers, and I tried out "The Mother Rap." Word does spread, and eventually I was contacted to write a rap for an organization called "Twenty Good Men." I wrote another rap and performed it at a street festival, by invitation, at St. Mark's Church, on Troost.
Well, I was not what they were expecting the Mother Rapper to look like on Troost. But after the crowd heard my message - the laughing stopped, and to this day many hear my message of love, peace, harmony, and have joined me in my crusade to speak to the children in whatever language they will listen and hip hop rap is still the beat of the street. You dig?
I came to Hallmark through a temporary agency and was assigned to Global Procurement. I confess I had never thought of Hallmark as a place to do office work. A number of years ago I responded to an ad in The Kansas City Star for a Writer, and completed the portfolio, submitted it to Hallmark, only to find out that they had received thousands of applications for only one vacancy, and it had been filled from within.
Was I discouraged not at all. The experience forced me to search my literary gifts, and I was quite amazed at what I was capable of creating. A new line of coffee mugs, all types of card verse it was quite a challenge.
When I started at Hallmark, someone recognized me, and said "I've seen you on TV - aren't you The Mother Rapper." I told my story to anyone who would listen, and eventually I was actually invited to perform at an IT Diversity Festival.
Being The Mother Rapper is not a comfortable cloak to wear. I have been sneered at, laughed at, had all the glances of disapproval that so many of us who choose to be different have had to put up with. A white woman, rapping, a secretary who is published who does she think she is.
And I looked like someone's grandmother to bootmy, my! A public entertainer, an actress, a storyteller!
Soon I was accepted for fulltime employment at Hallmark. I must confess at my HR interview I tried out one of my raps on several ladies in Human Resourcesand to my surprise. they were delighted! I didn't get a job or two because of my diverse approach during the interview process as you can well imagine.
I did not appear to fit the corporate Hallmark image in many cases and I tried to contain my enthusiasm for the spoken word.
When I performed at the IT Diversity festival, I was accompanied by the love of my life, Mr. Dwight Foster, who in my opinion is Kansas City's finest and most versatile, black jazz musician. Uh oh - The Mother Rapper lives with The Triple Threat more glances, more shaking heads but talent is not to be denied.
I have made many friends here at Hallmark I am known by all in the kitchen the housekeeping staff securityseveral members of senior management. and so many, many more friends here at Hallmark - allow me to be myself they listen to my stories as Jacqueline - The Mother Rapper as Jacqueline - Hallmarker. That is truly what Hallmark is all about - talent, hard work, optimism, creativity, faith in yourself, and devotion to the task at hand. It is about the spoken and the written word it is about reaching all cultures and ages with words that will fill others with hope and joy and encouragementwith friendship it is in caring enough!
If you want to embrace diversity here at Hallmark I would suggest:
1. Be yourself - step out in faith without fear.
2. Present a positive attitude to all
3. Be sensitive to others
Kindness, sincerity, empathy, joy these are my offerings to my employer - Hallmark.
I'm still waiting for the day when someone comes to my cubicle with a lump of clay and says "Now, Jacqueline, Create!" I'll be ready. Where there is a song to be sung, a story to be told, a sympathetic ear to listen, a smile to be given look for Jacqueline plus office skills
My personal life has been diverse as well: raised in a Catholic orphanage in South Wheeling, West Virginia - performing in Elks Minstral shows throughout high school, living in Japan, adopting a daughter from Korealife is meant to be lived it is in the diversity of peoples that I find my solace and identity. No pain no gain
To quote Popeye "I yam what I yam what I yam what I yam what I yam!"