Sunday, December 4, 2016

Fake News Stories are Related to Culture and Information Literacy

[This blog post is a sketch of ideas. I plan on fleshing these ideas out.  I want to share them now though.]

Fake News as Related to Culture and Information Literacy:

The recent information that has come out about fake news sites and stories that were shared on social media and influenced the recent elections are directly related to the concept of Information and Culture.  The idea of controlling public perception via the control of media was perfected by the Nazis' Josef Goebbels.  Now the ideas of Edward Bernays have been combined with Goebbels  techniques to manipulate and reinforce the idea of Whiteness in US culture. In many ways, this election was about Whiteness versus the alternative developing multicultural worldview that exist within the USA.  These ideas, because a lack of access to education and publishing by people of color, are still developing.  The pace this development has picked up steam recently. The backlash by the Racists in our country is a reaction to this progress.

As a person of color, I am struck by how similar these fake news sites and stories are to how the dominant culture publishes and diffuses the idea of Whiteness.  This is done by packaging and repackaging the idea that europeans and european culture are the most important things in the world.  Whiteness also sees itself as the epitome of culture.  It sees itself as superior in every manner.  
This message is embedded in our history particularly.  People of color and other marginalized groups have been almost completely left out of history, except for using them as examples of primitive culture or other savageries.

Not only does this apply to people of color, it applies to class, gender, sexual identity, and physical ability and more.

The #Breitbart Nazis and their ilk are good at FAKE news stories. In fact, they proved that people didn't care if the news was fake after the fact. #ACORN story. How do you think their techniques of social control will be incorporated into our educational system?

Our stories, information relevant to our understanding of our history, liberatory information, information that could topple the concept of #Whiteness which is so embedded in every aspect of our culture. We need to tell our own stories and to develop our own ideas about the world without being boxed in by Whiteness.

Purposes of fake news:

The purposes of the fake news sites and stories seem to be to form and shape (CONTROL) public opinion about particular political and societal viewpoints.

Social control

Promotion of Whiteness as the norm.

Purposes of fake information in libraries and education:

The purposes of the fake news sites and stories seem to be to form and shape (CONTROL) public opinion about particular political and societal viewpoints.

Social control

Promotion of Whiteness as the norm.

We have been living with Fake News and Fake Books, and Information for a long time in the USA.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Book Review: Hip-Hop Family Tree Vols. 1 & 2

I love comics, hip-hop, history and beautiful books.  All these things helped form who I am today. As a librarian I still love comics, hip-hop, history, and beautiful books. I feel it is important to cover these aspects in a library collection. Rarely do all these categories come in one work, but this series has it all.  I was stoked to receive this collection as a gift, but didn't get around to reading it until now.
Amazingly beautiful slipcase!
The Hip-Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor Vols. 1 & 2 exceeds the bar of comics, art, hip-hop, history and beautiful books standards. It will make an invaluable addition to your library collection.  This comic is published by the amazing Fantagraphics press. Buy it now--your community will appreciate it. 

Vol. 1 traces the history of Hip-Hop from the 1970's to 1981.  It is filled with little vignettes about seminal figures and events in Hip-Hop history.  The stories it tells begin in the bronx with kids rocking out to Cool Herc's new kind of music.  Community halls Hip-Hop parties was where it all started.   The break was the instrumental part of the song.  When a break occurred Cool Herc saw that was when people really got into the groove dancing.  Cool Herc Figured out how to extend the break of the record by looping it using two copies. This spurred on Break Dancing.
Vol. 1
The story goes on to show how the dj's, dancers and artists all collaborated and formed the culture of Hip-Hop.  Fab 5 Freddy, LEE, GrandMaster Flash, Samo and all the important key players are in this amazing work.  The history covers business dealings and key PR moves that created a buzz and sold records. Artists are given their due in this amazing comic. The graffiti scene is shown and described in anecdotes and short story lines.

Panel about the film Wild Style
The artwork in this comic is so dope. Piskor's ability to caricature people and bring out their personalities in comic panels is amazing.  His caricatures of Russell Simmons and other key figures of the Hip-Hop movement had me rolling in laughter and recognition.  The use of newsprint style coloring is sometimes enhanced with special coloring to make it really zing!

Vol. 2
Vol. 2 covers from 1981-1983.  It just keeps getting better.  The stories and characters are done so well this comic reminds me of an amazing documentary.  I really love how Piskor makes these larger than life figures into real people.   These stories are historically accurate and insightful.   These volumes cover both East Coast and West Coast movements.  The Ice-T origin story and the Dr. Dre Origins are great and really fun.

What I like about these books:
  • Historically accurate
  • Beautifully drawn and colored
  • Caricatures are amazingly good and accurate
  • Coverage of different aspects of Hip-Hop
Classic Hip-Hop NYC scene.  
Why you should buy this book for your library:
  •  This book is an important work on the history of Hip-Hop
  • The art is great
  • The stories are wonderful
  • The book fits YA and Adult classifications
In addition to being an excellent addition to your library collection.  This slipcase makes an amazing Christmas gift.  I know--I received mine as a Christmas gift and was thrilled!

Any student, or fan of Hip-Hop will love these books.  Go get them!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Book Review: An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873 (The Lamar Series in Western History)

Buy this book for your Library
An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873 (The Lamar Series in Western History)by Benjamin Madley is a book that should be in every library in the US.  This book covers an essential history that has heretofore been neglected save for a few works such as Murder State.

  • Series: The Lamar Series in Western History
  • Hardcover: 712 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (May 24, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300181361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300181364
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches

The book covers the history of the genocide of Indigenous peoples in the state of California from 1846-1873.  During this time, the book traces the beginnings of the genocide from scattered massacres to full scale state and federally sponsored militia and military massacre campaigns.  The sheer brutality and callousness against the indigenous people of California is stunning and hard to read.
CA Indian Population 1845-1880 Genocide in Numbers
This book shows how the pattern of forcing Indians from their home hunting grounds and by the removal of game due to large numbers of immigrants--beginning during the Gold Rush.  The indians then could not feed themselves, so they stole cattle from White ranchers.  The White ranchers would then raise a posse, or a militia force to go "teach the indians a lesson."  The lesson would entail murdering every man, woman and child of the first indigenous village happened upon.  No matter if they were 'guilty' or not.

Vigilantes were supported by the local government and the state. 
 The combination of vigilante massacres with state sponsored militia killing campaigns and the military murder expeditions was lethal and decimated the Californian Indian population.  The Indians had nowhere to hide except high in the mountains, where there was little food.  This forced them to steal from White people, which led to more murder expeditions against them.  It was a cycle that was lethal and effective in 'eradicating' the indigenous people of California.

If you were lucky enough to survive a massacre, you would not have any food, clothing or shelter to help you live.  Many survivors died from exposure or starvation.  As I was reading this, I thought of Ishi--his story is heartbreaking.  You can read about it here:

The brutality of the immigrants is mind-boggling. 
The killing was relentless.  The Indians sometimes fought back and killed whites, which raised even more ire and retribution.  The murder unmerciful and was encouraged by California Newspapers.  These papers called for total annihilation of all Californian Indians.  

Slow death at the  reservation.
You may be thinking, "Why didn't the Indians just go to a reservation.  When Indians fled to reservations starved the Indians.  They didn't provide the promised supplies.  Many starved to death. 

This brought about the horrible choice of leaving the reservation and facing:

Enforced slavery.  There were vagrancy laws that stated an Indian had to prove they were not in debt to someone.  This entailed the possession of a certificate that stated they were not in debt.  If the Indian could not prove this, then they were arrested and put up for auction.  They were sold to someone for a period of time, usually years.  During this time they were charged for food and clothes and were never paid enough money to pay off this debt.  Therefore, they could never get their certificate of no debt.  They would be stuck in perpetual slavery.


Being tracked down and murdered by a posse of citizens or a state sponsored militia.  After a theft, they would hunt down and kill any Indian they encountered.  They used this as a chance for "pedagogical violence."  Violence that would teach anyone who heard about it that they should not steal from White people or they would face utter annihilation or slavery.  They often collected scalps and brought them back as souvenirs.  Some local country stores had Indian scalps nailed to their walls well into the 20th century.

The state paid well for militiamen to track down and murder Indians in CA.  They they sought reimbursement from the the federal government.  The federal government paid for the genocide of California Indians and it paid well.  This pay, in itself, was a reason to form a militia and make some money.
State sponsored Genocide in CA.

Sometimes the children and women were kept alive, but sold into the california slave system.  Women were sold into sexual slavery and other forms of bondage.  Children were often sold to estates where they remained the rest of their lives as chattel.

Some Indians turned to gold mining when their territories were impinged upon. Once there was an influx of White immigrants into CA though, there wasn't enough for everyone and the White miners simply murdered the Indian miners and claim jumped their claims.

There is a timeline at the end of the book that tracks the murder of indigenous people in CA according to state historical record that includes body counts.  This is the most well-researched and comprehensive information on this subject to date.

US genocide has yet to be covered in any manner similar to the Holocaust in Europe.  The time is coming though.  The cat is out of the bag.

Other important books on this subject:

Churchill, W., & Mazal Holocaust Collection. (1997). A little matter of genocide: Holocaust and denial in the Americas, 1492 to the present. San Francisco: City Lights Books.

Lindsay, B. C. (2015). Murder state: California's native american genocide 1846-1873. Place of publication not identified: Univ Of Nebraska Press.

Stannard, D. E. (1992). American holocaust: Columbus and the conquest of the New World. New York: Oxford University Press.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Whiteness in Libraries

Whiteness in US Libraries

[Note--this is a blog post.  These ideas can and will be further developed.  These ideas are sketches of what I am thinking at the moment.  Feedback is encouraged and welcome.]

US schools and libraries serve as points of diffusion for Whiteness.  

Whiteness, as used in this post is defined as the concept/s that state European people and European culture are more important than other people and other cultures.  

Whiteness is purveyed uncritically in libraries.  This shucking of Whiteness is done under the guise of objectivity, of adhering the the 'marketplace' of ideas.  But this so-called neutrality is really an adherence and capitulation to the Whiteness paradigm.  

Children of color hear the message of Whiteness--"European people and European culture are more important than other people and other cultures.  

Children of color live in a world of discrimination and bias in US schools.  
You might not be thinking of US culture are not European, but it is derived from European culture and is fundamentally White-supremacist. 

I don't say this lightly.  Whiteness is embedded everywhere.  From the shapes of the buildings, to the hierarchies of the library staff and administration, Whiteness surrounds us at all times in the world of the US library.  Ethnic categories, demeaning classifications, cataloging systems with names like the Anglo American Cataloging Rules, and staff who don't look like the people who live in the neighborhood.  Microagressions, discrimination, hiring bias and collections centered around Whiteness all are outcomes of the ubiquitousness of Whiteness in libraries.  

Engravings on Multnomah Co. Library Central Building Photo by Ismoon Maria Hunter-Morton.
Many people will now be thinking that Max is saying all White people are racist, or that all White people are bad, or some such nonsense.  That is not what I'm saying. I'm saying that the idea of Whiteness defined above is what our country was founded upon. 

What I mean by this is that European immigrants now live on stolen indigenous land.

Europeans and European descendants committed genocide against Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas.

The wealth of the Americas, in large part, was created by slave labor. This slave labor was both African and Indigenous.  

Whiteness says that this is okay, that this is correct and that it is justified. Those who adhere to Whiteness also believe these fundamental principles of Whiteness.  Most of what is in libraries say it is okay, or they don't address these issues...

That is what I mean.

Engravings on Multnomah Co. Library Central Building.  Photo by Ismoon Maria Hunter-Morton.
The diffusion model works something like this:

Whiteness is brought from Europe. It is part of US Ed. System from the beginning.

Children are inculcated with #Whitenes via books, lectures and the culture of US schools.

Some children become authors, scientists and other types of academics.  They produce information and knowledge in the form of books and other types of media.

Racist mainstream 'Intellectual' book 
The knowledge they create is fundamentally flawed with the concept of #whiteness embedded everywhere within it. Even if the creators of this knowledge are people of color. They are working with tainted information that has not been fully analyzed from a cultural perspective. This lends itself to embedding Whiteness in all new knowledge created from this tainted information. This is why we have seen no real advancements, even with the educated people of color. They exist within and are heavily influenced by Whiteness. Libraries serve as key distribution points of this information and knowledge in this model.

One example is the fact the everyone knows Thomas Jefferson is a rapist, yet he is given an okay and is hailed as a hero still. This is #Whiteness. 
Thomas Jefferson (Slave Rapist) bust in the Library of Congress
Technology in libraries has not been looked at with a critical eye when it comes to Whiteness.   I would postulate that metadata, algorithms and other location tools are just as infected with Whiteness as the rest of the library world and American Educational culture.  This is particularly pertinent as we transition into a more digital information world.  

These people are probably still in control of your library technology.
The idea that White people, European Americans are more important, smarter, better, stronger, more worthy, and that their culture is superior is embedded in most of the books in US libraries. People check out these books and are then influenced by these books. And since most of these books have the message of #Whiteness uncritically embedded in them, the reader is most often influence by #Whiteness without giving it the critical eye it deserves.
This is how libraries are points of diffusion for Whiteness.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Culture and Information Literacy Video

This is a video I created (with help from the school's video production team) for my introductory Information Literacy class. It was meant to broach the subject of Culture and Information Literacy. It can be used to generate a discussion or as a reflection writing assignment catalyst. I would LOVE feedback on this please.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Book Review: The Other Slavery

The Other Slavery:  The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement In America by Andrés Reséndez is an important book that you will want to add to your library collection.

Cover hsa a photo of the Arizona Desert
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 12, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0547640986
ISBN-13: 978-0547640983
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
It is important in several areas:
  • History
  • Economics
  • Law
  • Political Science
It sheds new light on so many areas. It shook my understanding and revitalized my resolve to learn as much as possible about the history of our country and of the genocide that took place and in many ways is still taking place against indigenous people.  For instance, I had no idea that smallpox did not hit the Caribbean until a full 26 years after Columbus' invasion.  This gives new light to the claim that the majority of these Indians died from disease.  These people were murdered or worked to death.

The book covers the rape of the Caribbean and how, once the local population was exhausted, the need for more slaves drove the Spanish to raid nearby lands and import slaves.

Map of slaving expeditions in the Caribbean 1510-1540
Map of slaving expeditions in the Caribbean 1510-1540
The first part of the book begins by looking at the Spanish system of indigenous slavery.  It has a fascinating chapter that covers the fate of many indigenous people who were sent to Spain to become slaves.  
Brand placed on cheek of Slaves captured in War
Image from The Other Slavery

 Slaves could be captured in war.  Meaning--if the Spanish raided your village and you resisted in ANY manner--you would be deemed a violent enemy and could be captured. 
Brand placed on cheek of ransomed slaves by Spanish.
Image from The Other Slavery   
 Slaves could also be purchased from other Indians who had captured them.  This provided an incentive for Indians to slave raid other tribes an expanded market for slaves in the Americas. 

The Spanish soon discovered Silver in Mexico and this caused the need for massive amounts of slave labor.   The from Northern Mexico were used in massive numbers for this purpose.  Mining, smelting and other labor was done by these slaves.

The system slowly turned to one of peonage.  This new version of other slavery lasted well into the 20th century and probably exists today as well. 

Indian Peons in Guanajuato mining for silver.
Indian peons in Guanajuato mining for silver.  1905

There are also chapters that inform the reader of how tribes such as the Utes were able to build slave empires by raiding other tribes and selling their captives to the Spanish and other tribes.
There is also an excellent chapter on the Navajo tribe's destruction and removal which led to massive amounts of Navajo being enslaved in the Southwest--particularly in New Mexico.
I am hooked on this topic and will be researching extensively for years thanks to this wonderful book.

Ute territory in SW North America
Ute territory in SW North America

There is also a great chapter on the California Genocide and Slavery starting with the Spanish and then carried on by the Americans.  If an CA Indian was not 'employed' they could be arrested and then auctioned off to the highest bidder for labor.  Once indentured like this, they could not leave their place of employment without 'certificates' which were almost never granted.

Passage describing the plight of CA Natives.
Passage describing the plight of CA Natives.

The plight of indigenous slaves is little known and fascinating.   This book is seminal and creates a new field for study that can help us understand where we are today and how we arrived here.

Indian Slaves in the Americas 1492-1900
Indian Slaves in the Americas 1492-1900
If you are even remotely interested in this topic you will appreciate this book.  It is well written, extensively researched and is a new instant classic.  Professor Reséndez has done our country a great service by writing this informative book.  Get it now!


How to solve the illegal immigration problem