Ronke Oke, Ph.D.
Scholar | Public Programmer | DEI Strategist
Ph.D. and MA in Philosophy
C-Suite and Board Service
18 years in the education sector
12 years of experience creating innovative & diverse learning tools
10 years of experience in public programming
Skilled presenter, speaker, and facilitator
Skilled in strategic management and cross-functional team dynamics
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in the Workplace Certification
Managing Real World Projects Certification
I am an experienced scholar, DEIB strategist, and thought leader who operationalizes the tools of my academic training to address social issues, build individual capacities, and create real, sustainable social impact. I am passionate about innovation and move beyond metrics and best practices to create customized DEI heuristics that help companies keep up with the demands of an ever-changing world. I am interested in working with/in companies and institutions at the leading edge of organizational change to scale their operations, embed their diversity change agenda at every level, and empower their people to use the tools of DEIB to solve organizational problems. I see my strengths as critical and strategic thinking, capacity development, presentation and facilitation, cross-departmental collaboration, public programming, and developing interventions to bridge engagement, leadership, and communication gaps.
For most of my professional career, I have been part of various efforts to diversify my discipline, department, and organization. I know firsthand the limits, challenges, and dangers of symbolic and performative attempts at diversification and, thus, continually strive to be inclusive and globalist in my sensibilities and affectations, moving at the pace of the most marginalized.
DEIB is an emergent field, and like any emergent field it is still in its early stages of development and must be sustained by innovation and new technologies. As a systems thinker I believe that the most critical parts of the diversity alphabet soup are accessibility, equity, and belonging. Accessibility challenges us to conceive new ways to enhance engagement, facilitate dialogue, and cultivate more inclusive communities, while belonging deals with the imperceptible, suprastructural perceptions we have about our internal organizational culture, thus, mimicking larger social structures of oppression. Our vision for (organizational) diversity is shaped as much by our response to the challenges to accessibility and belonging as it is by our vision of community and the values that move us towards a shared future. Thus, DEIB remains in service to the lived communities we all belong to. The tools and resources of DEIB inspire us to increase our cultural and human awareness and engage in this world in a more meaningful and authentic way. For these reasons I utilize an organizational learning model that emphasizes knowledge production, praxis, tiered-communication, and shared accountability.
What I Specialize In
DEI Strategy, Consulting, & Messaging
DEI Career Coaching
People & Process Structures
Developing Your "Worth" Ethic
Race, Gender, & Identity Formation
DEI in the Workplace
Theories of the African Diaspora
Critical Philosophy of Race
"The pandemic changed the way we live and work dramatically in many ways. Almost overnight, full-time teleworking became common as companies and employees adapted quickly to the constraints of repeated lockdowns. The number of Americans primarily working from home more than tripled between 2019 and 2021, according to the Census Bureau. Now that things are getting back to normal, some firms, such as Twitter and Goldman Sachs, have made it clear that they want employees back in the office, but many others appear happy to have a fully remote or hybrid workforce. Americans are embracing flexible work – and they want more of it, according to a report from McKinsey, a global management consulting company. As the trend gathers pace, offering teleworking has been hailed by some as a way that companies can boost their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives."
“Traveling Elsewheres: Afropolitanism, Americanah, and the Illocution of Travel” Critical Philosophy of Race. Vol. 7, No. 2 (2019) pp. 289-305
This paper is an attempt to excavate one of the most labyrinthine occurrences in immigrant life – the decision to return “home” – through an analysis of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2013 novel, Americanah. This paper seeks to challenge the claim that returning to Africa is counterintuitive and only departure from the Continent is desirable, and in so doing it attempts to displace the centrality of America as the necessary backdrop of subjective life, especially immigrant life. Offering “Americanah” as a counterweight to the portmanteau “Afropolitanism” this analysis distinguishes these two popular (an contemporary) modes of “being African in the world” and ways of conceiving “Africanness” in the world today by exploring the link between the migration away from and to Africa. Ifemelu’s story is an interesting counterweight to Afropolitanism because of the very fact that she returns home. Her return opens up two questions in the context of this analysis: (1) What does the logic travel offer to Ifemelu’s racial identity as she comes to understand herself in two geospatial temporalities? (2) What does the language of ‘home’, as contrasted to the discomfort of travel, contribute to her ontological understandings?
The world (especially the philosophical world) has not been the same since W.E.B. Du Bois raised the important question, “what, then, is a race?” and put forth his first and most systematic definition of race in “The Conservation of Races” (1897). This paper returns our philosophical gaze back to Du Bois’s address to the American Negro Academy (“The Conservation of Races”) and offers a close and careful reading of the text that will reanimate Du Bois’ sociohistorical definition of race as the world celebrates the 150th anniversary of
Research in Progress
Theories of the African Diaspora
Critical Philosophy of Race
“Race Doesn’t Really Work Here: Theorizing Transnational Conceptions of Blackness in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah”
Near the end of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2013 novel, Americanah, the main character, Ifemelu, is asked whether she continued writing her very successful blog on race since returning to Nigeria. Her response is the central point of analysis in this paper. Ifemelu states that, “Race doesn’t really work here. I feel like I got off the plane in Lagos and stopped being black.” This paper endeavors to interrogate the logic of “racelessness” involved in Ifemelu’s statement, in order to question whether the physical presence of her body in Nigeria – as a historical artifact and a geospatial location – is able to achieve the scathing universality Ifemelu’s words engender. Thus, this paper displaces the centrality of the US and questions whether a romanticized longing for home is the necessary backdrop of subjective life (especially African Diasporic life) and argues, against Adichie, that Nigeria is a site of critical engagement with the concept of race. The final work this analysis performs is to provide a new way to engage the African Diaspora in race discourse and to bring African fiction like Americanah into the highly theoretical space that is Critical Philosophy of Race, allowing both to make a more robust contribution to the fields of African Studies
and Transnational Blackness Studies.
“Revenge of the African Booty Scratcher”
This paper offers some insights into the complex relationship between African and African-Americans in response to the February 2018 release of Marvel’s Black Panther movie. I tease out the affective quality of Blackness and associated sentiments of Black pride/solidarity Black Panther invokes through the hashtag #WakandaForever, while simultaneously interrogating representations of Africanity that feed into aspirational views of Blackness. In this way, this paper calls out the hypocrisy in both Africans and African-Americans as a way to expose their complicity in anti-Black violence and Black antagonism.