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 - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cahir_Castle_Portcullis_by_Kevin_King.jpg#/media/File:Cahir_Castle_Portcullis_by_Kevin_King.jpg

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.  


Rome
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.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Information Diffusion and Hip-Hop


Information and knowledge are diffused via artistic expression in Hip-Hop culture among other methods. Here is a very brief sketch of some ideas on this topic. ANY and ALL comments will be answered and are valued. 

Graffiti and Tags

There is a lot of metadata here!  
Tags and other graffiti carry metadata. for instance, when one sees a tagger's tag--and one is familiar with the the tagger, then one will know about them--how brave they are--by where they throw up their tags--the more dangerous, the braver. One would know much about their style oftentimes. If they are a local, they might have legendary status, people might know much about the tagger from the metadata derived from their tags, yet they might not even know the tagger's real identity.

Murals

Political Information Hip-Hop Mural

Hip-Hop murals tell stories. Sometimes the story is that of the local neighborhood. The art will be done by someone who intimately knows the neighborhood's characters, triumphs and tragedies. This kind of artwork is powerful, moving and imparts information and knowledge about the neighborhood even if the observer is a stranger to the area.

Educational Concepts in Hip-Hop Lyrics



Hip-Hop lyrics are often full of rich educational information that informs the listener in their own language and on their own terms via Hip-Hop music. For example, Immortal Technique imparts knowledge on a wider-variety of subjects from politics to the drug war. His song Peruvian Cocaine tells the story of the drug trade from the people's point of view--in this case indigenous people forced into the drug trade and how the governments involved in the drug war all profit from it in one way or another.

Dead Prez are another amazing example of Hip-Hop imparting knowledge via flow and beats. Their music addresses so many topics it is hard to cover. Some topics include, social behavior information, political information, historical information, artistic information among other great and relevant topics. Dead Prez has songs about health and fitness, discipline and education--real education--not the White-supremacist standard education, but education from the people's POV.



Both Immortal Technique and Dead Prez sample historical figures such as Malcolm X, Mumia Abu Jamal, members of the Black Panther Party for Self-defense and others. These samples allow young people to hear historical leadership and their ideas. They impart an historical narrative from a Black and Brown POV The information and knowledge imparted by Dead Prez and Immortal Technique cannot be underestimated.

Only Educational Opportunity for Many



In many cases these are the only arenas people will get a chance to hear about COINTELPRO, Colonialism concepts, other political viewpoints. Also, the people speaking are respected teachers and artists in our community and have authority to speak to social, cultural, educational and political issues. I know I trust these artists more than almost any politician I can think of today.

These ideas can be more fully developed, but I would love to work with someone to get more detailed articles written on this subject.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Whack a Mole...

When you are a person of color and you speak about race, you are playing a game of Whac a Mole and you are the mole.

Whac a mole player
Ready for the next one!
Something I have seen recently jarred me into consciousness about how peer pressure bullying works in combination with Race in the US.

Often, when a person of color brings up Race, they are most often told to shut up in one way or another.  If they don't or happen to bring up Race again, then they are most often attacked.

Once the initial attack happens, other bullies join in and reinforce the idea that non-White viewpoints on Race don't count and don't matter.


This has happened to me countless times and most often it happens with the bullies hiding behind the guise of paternal/maternal patronizing comments about the person of color being a racist.

This type of bullying has happened to me in forums, on Facebook, in person and in various other scenarios when speaking about Race.

Recently I was a witness to this on this kind of attack on FB.  A person of color had said something to a White Group that they didn't like.  That person was then ridiculed and chastised in such a powerful manner, one of my lifelong White friends tagged me into the conversation.  She thought I should see an example of a person of color being 'oversensitive.'  As she believes I am often oversensitive and could use some help seeing this in myself.   The insidious thing about this thread was that White people were chastising this person and telling them they should be peaceful and that they should NEVER talk about violence.  This thread was patronizing to the extreme and very mean.

Mike Brown murdered and displayed as an example for other POC

Obviously, the people in the thread live in a world where they feel safe from violence.  As a person of color who holds a higher education degrees and who is a professional, I don't feel safe from violence.  I feel I could be pulled over by the police at any time and shot.  I feel I could even be killed in my own home by the police or some other form of 'law enforcement' -- as has happened often to POC in the US.

The main bully on this thread had the audacity to state that they were dedicated to peacefully helping people of color, but would not allow POC to speak out of line.  Out of line in this case--being an alternative viewpoint that condoned self-defense and seemed angry.

While I do acknowledge the viewpoint was flawed, I won't stand by any longer and watch this kind of bully beatdown.  I did my best to defend them and myself and then left the thread very bothered.


Oxen encircles around baby oxen--protecting them
Protection From Dangerous Forces

We must not let these kinds of attacks happen to our people when we are witnesses.

I love my White friend, but she is so wrong.  In a sense by bringing me into this bullying scenario she was bullying me (albeit unconsciously).  You see--these scenarios serve to reinforce the idea that POC need to keep their mouths shut--that they are too angry and too ignorant to express themselves in a 'civil' manner.  All the while ignoring the uncivil violence and bullying that is going on by the dominant culture.   POC often jump on board and become 'overseers' during these scenarios.  We cannot let this happen!

I won't be bullied and I won't stand by and let other people bully people of color when we speak about race any longer.

I ask you to join me in this effort.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

2015 ALA Election Candidate Analysis from A Lowrider POV

ALA 2015 Presidential Candidates


Joe Janes



Joe Janes is an academic who uses run of the mill librarian arguments about the importance of libraries.  He sounds like a great guy who is really nice, but didn't have much to say about how he was going to lead ALA.

He gave some standard answers like, "We must rethink, reinvigorate, and reinstate our why--our rational for being--above and beyond the familiar."

I've heard that for a very long time already with little result.  We won't be getting any real changes with his Joe's leadership.  He will maintain the status quo.  I'm not voting for him.


James LaRue



James LaRue has been a librarian, a community leader, columnist, radio and tv show host, writer, teacher and a leader of a large organization.  His statement is concise and focused.  You can tell he has experience writing.

1)  We should elevate librarians as community leaders.  "Imagine librarians who catalog their community..."
2) We muse unleash our power in the marketplace.  "This means we should define and defend digital publishing agreements." 
3)We must showcase our leadership as 21century Literacy champions.  "This begins with early childhood literacy."


IJames LaRue sounds like he really knows what he is talking about and his writing is passionate.  His literacy champion idea goes covers human development and the need for information literacy at all points.  His messaging about messaging is accurate and exciting. 

JP Porcaro



JP Porcaro is a librarian, a DJ and a comics fanatic among other things.  His platform is really about relationships and people in our organization and in libraries.  

Presidential initiative: "As president, I will challenge ALA to embark on a large-scale public relations campaign demonstrating that it's the staff that makes the library."  

In the public eye: "Its time to step up our visibility as a profession and as a career--in the eyes of the public.  

Telling out stories: Jp told a story of consoling a student in mourning while on his reference shift and asserted that "human engagement" is a vital aspect of librarianship.

Promoting Diversity: "Comparing figures between ALA's 1985 "Equity at Issue" document with the latest ALA diversity figures, we have had little change in attracting people of color to our field."

The Library's Future is ALA's Future: "I have the hope that we can tell our story anew--the story of librarians--to the public."

JP is the only one of the ALA candidates to mention Diversity and Library Staff.  For these reasons alone I would vote for him, but his focus on human relationships and interactions is the clincher for me.  I'm voting JP.


Julie Todaro



Julie is a dean for a community college library.  She has vast work experience in a variety of libraries and settings and is also a consultant and author.  Her platform is all about leadership.

Libraries lead: "...I will be committed to stimulating innovation, expanding content, snd modes and methods of delivering messages."

Library Workers Lead: "...I will be committed to the design and delivery of education, training, and marketing content that illustrates and advocates the expertise of those who work in library and information settings."

Library Supporters Lead:  "...I will honor the contributions of supporters and stakeholders and ensure that they have positive and persuasive messages to influence decision makers and civic leaders..."


Julie clearly has real world skills and knows the library lingo.  I don't think there is much in her message that I have not heard repeated for years.  I like the leadership concept, but she really talked about it in such an objective manner that it came off sounding like the standard stuff people hear about library advocacy.  I'm sure she is a talented manager and Dean, but I am not sure she is the right person to lead ALA at this juncture in time.


Here are my choices in order:

1)  JP Porcaro
2) James LaRue
3) Julie Todaro
4) Joe Janes


Conclusion:  Vote JP!




Saturday, February 28, 2015

Hackers Have a Stronger Sharing Ethic than Librarians




The dysfunctional model of Librarians, who already have great jobs as librarians--writing books for ALA, or other publishers who will then pimp their information out to libraries who can afford the price to these publications. Most often, these publications are on essential library best practices and technology implementations. To put up a barrier to this librarian created information is ethically and morally wrong. It goes against the librarian principle of sharing information.

This information should be made freely available to libraries who can't afford the new ALA techSource title, or to small rural libraries who can't afford to attend the 350.00 pre-conference.

Shit--I have learned more from Hackers for free than I have learned from librarians sharing their vital information.



This site needs to be hackerfied--meaning--it should be converted to an information sharing site:


When I was first introduced to computers and the internet I had a friend who was a hacker. He turned me onto a group of White Hat Hackers who dedicated their lives to sharing information.

Much of what they did was illegal, but it was not malicious. It was about sharing. These people would spend hours and hours creating tutorials for users--this is where I learned about ports, scanning, FTP and more--all for FREE.

This sharing ethic made such a huge impression on me that I wondered why more people don't share information so freely.

Then I became a librarian and was so excited by the purported ethic of sharing information with those who are in need. Once I became a librarian, I quickly realized that this was not the case. What I mean by that is that in order to serve your patrons well, then you will have to cough up the money (most often) to get that information in the form of a pre-conference, a publication or a trainer. BIG bucks paid to librarians, whose ethics are supposed to include sharing information--even with those who have nothing. There is something wrong when our profession sells information.




One of my academic friends on FB told me that it is a tenure issue--"...people need to publish in the antiquated system in order to be recognized professionally."


While, this is indeed the case for academic librarians, we ALL need to be pushing the envelope on the publishing platform issue. Blogs and other related platforms can and should be used by academia to publish their work and get critiques from colleagues and a wider breadth of readership than simply publishing your article in one journal. Blogging to a wider audience can inject a healthy dose of transparency, information diffusion and a diversity of ideas into Academia. Academia is in dire need of these things at the moment.




Librarians should set up a virtual publishing center and publish their work there. It should be Be freely available to anyone who needs the information and should also include multimedia production and storage capabilities.

I should note here that many library related publications that are written by librarians and sold by publishers do not pay a dime. However, the publishers make money if the book sells through library related channels.

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