Saturday, May 23, 2015

Free Speech Should be for Librarians Too

Librarians and Self-censorship
Free Speech Mural
Free speech for librarians comes with unspoken conditions

I encounter many (often young) librarians in real life and online.  One of the most frequent things people tell me is, "How come you are so free with your speech?  I could never talk about those things--I would get fired." or more often, "...I would never land a job!"  

It is striking that librarians consider themselves defenders of free speech and intellectual freedom, but that the above sentiment is held by so many librarians.  

Why are librarians scared to speak about important issues?

I understand about library constituencies, but I'm not talking about library directors here--I'm speaking about regular librarians, or librarians searching for a job.

Last month, I had a session at the Oregon Library Association Conference.  My session was on cannabis resources for librarians.  The session consisted of a panel.  I had invited another knowledgeable librarian to be on the panel.  However, the librarian's director told them that they could not be part of the session.  I found this interesting--especially since the state of Oregon has legalized cannabis for recreational and medical consumption.

Censored and Self-censored 

Anyway, the fact the librarians are scared to speak about certain issues, or to let their staff speak about certain issues because if might offend their constituencies is incredibly offensive to the notion of free speech AND intellectual freedom.  It would be wiser to create a campaign on intellectual freedom and free speech than to censor librarians, or to self-censor--which is the most usual case.  

Librarians should never be scared to talk about issues.  We should never be wary of pointing users to legitimate information sources, not matter what the subject and we should never self-censor.

It is chilling to me to hear so many people who are fearful of speaking out, speaking up or bringing up topics that might make others feel uncomfortable.  One of the main issues with our country is that it avoids issues that are uncomfortable.  This leads to anger, violence and other social issues.  

As librarians, we should feel free to speak our minds, be ready to defend our free speech rights and use, be ready to defend free speech for others and access to information that some may feel should be restricted.  

I have suffered the ramifications of free speech.  In fact, one of the heads of an academic diversity in libraries program recently told me to,  "Never contact me again.  Your rhetoric is weak, and your arguments are unconvincing."

If he doesn't like my arguments, then attack the arguments--don't cut me off from you and your program.  

When things like this happen, and even worse--when they happen in public, these ramifications serve as a model of punishment.  This model informs others of what can happen to them if they speak out, or don't reinforce the status quo.

If we self-censor, how can we ever hope to achieve promote free access to materials, and the free speech of ourselves and others?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

LSTA Advisory Councils and more...

I hope your Spring is springing.

I wanted to ask you all to consider volunteering to be on your state's LSTA Grant advisory boards.

I am currently the chair of the Oregon LSTA Advisory council.

My place on the council give me a voice that I can use to represent others who are not at the table.

There have been many times already where I was able to make an argument that would have not been made (concerning Latino issues) if I had not been there.

If we take our places on these and other committees that have a say in where money goes, then more Latino programming may get funded.

At the very least, we can represent where we are not represented already.

We can create change, we can lead from anywhere we are and we can help one another be strong.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Cannabis Information Resources for Librarians Conference Session at OLA, 2015

This slideshow and talk was the first part of the first library conference session on cannabis resources for Librarians ever. The second part of the session was a panel. Max Macias: librarian, Jake Boone: dispensary owner and Bethany Sherman: cannabis testing facility owner. This presentation was meant to show general types of cannabis resources available in Oregon and other places. 

This was not a primer on Cannabis. But you can find that here:

Link to handouts: 

This was not a primer on Cannabis. But you can find that here:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Citizen by Claudia Rankine (Book Review)

This book is amazing on so many levels.

Poetically, it stands almost alone as an example of relationships, alienation, microaggressions, and racism in the 21st century US.

Quote from Citizen

A friend recommended this book to me over the break--as we were all freshly cut wide open from the Ferguson coverage, revealing local discussions and ongoing murder of POC from any age and area in the US.

I finally got a hold of it via the library and read it in earnest.

The descriptions of racial microaggressions in 2nd person narrative poetry are so powerful I was shaking as I read them.

Quote from Citizen

Each page is condensed emotion, reaction and analysis of a lifetime of experiencing relationships that bite while smiling.  Her poetry describes how inescapable it is to be a POC in the US at this time and place.  The relentless assault upon our senses of 21st century lynchings and their impact the mental health, awareness and identity of POC is explicated in detail.  This explication is via emotions, images and the powerful poetic voice of Ms. Rankine.

I don't read many books of poetry, nor do I often recommend them.  However, this work should be standard reading for any HS senior, or 1st year college students.  Anyone interested in Race in the US should read this book.  It gets at the heart of what it feels like to live in the US at this time as a POC.

Read this book.

Order this book for your library.

Tell others about this book.

Friday, March 27, 2015

#EthnicBullies and #GateKeepers in Academia and Education

"Cahir Castle Portcullis by Kevin King" by Kevin King from Pensacola, FL, US of A - Ireland 2009, Cahir Castle PortcullisUploaded by guillom. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

On a web site I frequent someone recently posted a photo from an article on the san Francisco police giving some books to children.  Here is the link to the article: Article

I commented on the site that “I hope they gave the kids some books on how to survive a confrontation with the pigs.”  I said this in all seriousness because the police routinely kill people of color in the US.  In fact, citizen survival tactics during interactions with police should be programming in libraries. Using the term pig is English in origin and has also been used to describe police since 1851.

Apart from the police brutality based on race there was also some POC on POC bullying going on in this exchange on the board.

Immediately, the person who posted the article (a professional in the same profession as me) told me that I should act professional--”Aren’t you a professional Max--we should behave as professionals!”

I’m used to getting the “professional” ad hominem from discussions with White people who will attack me with this when I say something that challenges the established White-supremacist system.  Most often, these White people are ‘liberals,’ who claim to be on my side and to not be prejudiced.  #microaggressions

This comment was more insidious though.  This comment made me realize that this person is a gatekeeper/driver.  I use these terms because people who have benefited from Affirmative Action in the past--most of them older, mentors to the newer generations--are used as gate keepers and drivers.  

Slave Driver
They discourage and actively fight against advancement of those who could create change that would challenge the White racist power structure.  This is threatening to those who have achieved ‘professional’ positions, whose expertise would no longer be needed if the White-supremacist educational/professional system were dismantled and replaced with something civilized.  .  

These drivers I describe teach young people how to be successful in the current system that is dominated by outright racists and unconsciously biased people of all colors.  They also chastise, blackball and otherwise condemn those who don’t conform to the racist system of education.  #SlaveDrivers

Locked in a box of no opportunities
One reason there has not been any progress in education, economics and against the school to prison pipeline is insidious.  It isn't because of White racists alone.  It is because people who benefited from Affirmative Action are too scared and comfortable to create the needed change for those who were left behind in the barrio and ghettos.  They are in denial about the system and their place in the system of oppression.

These gatekeepers will focus on ‘civility’ and ‘professionalism.’  They will say a POC is uncivil if they speak in a manner that challenges the White-racist power structure.  Somewhere along the line, being civil and being professional became synonyms for servility, obedience, subservience and getting along within the status quo.  

This is not the definition of civil.  The English Word Civil comes from the Latin word civi--or city--being civil is the ability to get along and live with a variety of people, opinions, attitudes, etc...that come with living in the city.  It is the set of skills that allows one to live among the diversity of characters in the city.

These gatekeepers are guilty of complicity and abetting the White racist power structure.  They are also guilty or ruining good people’s chances at creating real change.  I say this because these drivers cut people out of the mix when it comes to opportunity.  They also help label good people as “angry,” “unprofessional,” and “uncivil.”  This keeps them out of professional positions, where they could create some real change.  

Not being angry, being professional and being civil are all requirements of a job in academia and anywhere else for that matter.  This is a main reason why we have not had any change as a result of affirmative action.  We are training people to be successful cogs in a system that despises us, is uncivil in a myriad of ways toward us, and murders us on a regular basis.  We need to train them and educate them to be leaders for change NOT leaders within this pathological system.  

Destroy the Ivory Tower!
Education should be liberating.  It shouldn't just lead to a comfortable life, jet-setting around the country and the world to conferences for intellectual posturing that creates no real change.  So, don’t lecture me about being professional--you all should be professional and challenge the system that oppresses your people so violently and so openly.  But then again, you may live up in the hills somewhere where you don’t have to deal with harassment by the police, or worse--violence-- like most of your people do.  When people work in the system of the status quo, they need to remember where they came from and that their attainment means much more than material success.


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