March 1, 2003 Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Regular News Dr. Hobbs broadens her horizons on assignment in Brazil Dr. Hobbs broadens her horizons on assignment in Brazil Associate EditorVivian Hobbs views herself as the conscience of The Florida Bar Board of Governors, not bashful to spark frank talk about women and minorities and the legal profession, helping lawyers see old issues in new ways.An assistant professor of English and the humanities at Florida A&M University, she’s one of two citizen members of the Board of Governors.Her background and experience recently got broadened in Brazil, when she was one of a dozen educators from around the country chosen for the 2002 Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program Grant, funded by the International Education and Graduate Programs Service of the U.S. Department of Education.“We worked every day. There was not a museum in Brazil that we didn’t see,” said Hobbs, of her international educational adventure. “The museums, it’s just like being in Rome. It’s a beautiful country!”Hobbs, along with the others, was put to work researching for a paper she wrote titled, “Salvador da Bahia: A ‘Modern’ Imperial Rome,” where she explored influences of the Roman Catholic Church and the African religion of Candomblé in Salvador/Bahia.As the resulting scholarly volume, Broadening Horizons: Building Educational Linkages Between Brazil and the United States, that includes papers from all of the 12 scholars, describes: “The striking resemblances of the European and African religious pantheon, classical mythology, ritual practices, and imperial and modern history, enable Dr. Hobbs to draw lively cross-cultural comparisons of Roman, African, and Afro-Brazilian culture that affirm the enduring legacy and continual presence of classic and modern civilizations.”“You’ve got to remember, I’m a humanities person, so I am interested in the religion. I was interested in this predominantly Catholic country, all these beautiful cathedrals and monasteries, all the stuff I’ve read about that began a little after medieval times. It was all right there for me,” Hobbs said.“But the most striking thing was this is a country of such a beautiful people. I mean, physically, they are all beautiful. And nobody is any one particular race. It’s truly blending, the most I had ever seen.”There are the Amerindians, already in Brazil when the Portugese first arrived.“As a result, they have completely blended that European/Portugese people with the Indians. Then you have the African slaves coming in,” Hobbs said. “The most amazing fact I discovered was that on the census, you decide what your race is. You can be white. You can be African-Brazilian, Amerindian, and some subcategories under those.”In true bold Vivian Hobbs style, she wasn’t afraid to ask the Brazilian government officials: “If I came to live in Brazil, you mean I could check ‘white’?”“They kind of became uncomfortable with that,” said Hobbs, an African-American woman with a Ph.D.“They said, ‘Since you aren’t white, your educational background would put you in that category, so you very well could.’“And I said: ‘Are you kidding me!’ I’m looking at them like they are off their rockers. The census is absolutely no good down there, if you’re talking about ethnicity and racial makeup. It’s just an estimation. It’s how you see yourself, basically,” Hobbs said of what she considers the country’s loose definition of race.In Brazil, Hobbs concluded, prejudice is based not on skin tone, but economics.She describes the Brazilians as “a very warm people, very accepting, even in their poverty.” And the poverty of the favellas, shacks nestled around the high-rise buildings, was the most destitute living conditions she had seen in her travels.“This is what bothered me, as an African-American more than anything else: What are you going to do about what’s happening to you? Because when I came up in the ’60s, if you wanted change, you’ve got to go out there and fight for change. I just didn’t see any of that. They have just accepted the fact that some people are going to be poor, and some are going to be rich.”With mostly poor and, there is no middle class in Brazil, Hobbs said.The high point of the month of travel and research to three areas— São Pãulo, Salvador/Bahia, and Rio de Janeiro—was when Hobbs was invited to give a lecture in women’s studies at the prestigious Pontifica Catholic University.At first she panicked about the language barrier, but most of the students spoke English well. And she took comfort in teaming up for the three-hour lecture with Florida State University Professor Christopher Shinn, one of the 12 Fulbright-Hays fellows.“The students at first were prepared to be polite. But then as I talked, I could see their interest perking up. And the one thing I realized is students are students are students,” Hobbs said. “Before I knew it, they didn’t want me to go.”The whole trip that she calls “the experience of a lifetime” came with a bonus. University officials have invited her back for a three-month exchange teaching role.“They want me to come back as a scholar in residence,” Hobbs said, aglow just thinking about the possibilities of more scholarly research made richer by new cultural experiences.
Crumbley Award nomination sought Nominations are now being accepted for the Walter S. Crumbley Practice Management & Development Award, which recognizes a member of Florida’s legal community who has distinguished himself or herself professionally and who has rendered outstanding service to the profession of the practice of law or the management of the practice of law.The recipient of the award— sponsored by the Practice Management and Development Section — also must show good citizenship, significant contributions to the profession, and to the management of the practice of law, as well as distinguished service to the Bar.The deadline for nominations is May 1. A letter setting out why a nominee deserves the award may be sent to Carol Kirkland,The Florida Bar, 651 East Jefferson St., Tallahassee 32399 or [email protected] flabar.org. The award will be presented at the Bar’s Annual Meeting in Boca Raton in June. Crumbley Award nomination sought March 15, 2006 Regular News