Wednesday, September 4, 2019

A Librarians With Spines Chat!

Please join us on Google Hangouts for a discussion between Yago, Autumn, Max and yourselves!
Please follow the URL below on Sunday, Sept. 8th from 6-7 pm PST.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Living Under Racist Terrorism Impacts Learning

Young indigenous victim of colonial settler terrorism.

A whole generation of BIPOC children and college students in the US are being negatively impacted by the climate of fear that is being perpetrated upon them by the unrestrained white-supremacist movement and the government that supports this abomination.  Their mental health, their educations and their lives are all being stunted and slowed down by these racist attacks by settler colonists.

According to Zaretta Hammond in her astounding work, "Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain,"  students should be able to feel safe and confident to be able to become a self-sufficient learner.  Becoming a self-sufficient learner means the student becomes involved in their own educational and personal development by reflection and by being warmly challenged by an instructor who has earned their trust.  A dependent learner is always dependent on someone outside themselves to take charge of their education and are thereby passive learners who often give up because they have come to depend upon help.  They have a fixed mindset and not a growth mindset.

Photo from Hammond Text
Hammond, Z., & Jackson, Y. (2015). Culturally responsive teaching and the brain: Promoting authentic engagement and rigor among culturally and linguistically diverse students.

One of Hammond's four elements of the academic mindset is, "Our belief in our ability to move about our world freely and control our external world."  This helps the student begin to believe in themselves, especially when the observe progress because of their hard work.  If the student does not feel they can move about freely, say for instance--they feel like their parents might be arrested by ICE, or that they themselves might be shot by the police because of the color of their skin--then the student's amygdala will be sent into threat reaction.

Human Brain

If the amygdala is sent into a threat reaction, learning cannot occur.  The amygdala is sent into threat reaction when the brain feels threatened.  It triggers the fight or flight reaction and learning is the farthest thing from what can occur at that point.  The student just wants to survive, they just want to get out of there.  The student cannot learn when this occurs.

As I write these words there is an attack on Latinx people in the US.  White supremacist have purposely targeted us and have murdered many in CA, TX and OH just in the past few weeks.  There has also been a string of immigration arrests in the US--leaving many children without their parents on the first day of school.  This creates a general fear in the Latinx community throughout the US.


Black Americans are under constant attack as well.  Not even safe in their own churches, Black Americans have to put up with daily racist humiliations like the recent mounted police officers leading a walking black man through town by a rope.  Black Americans, no matter what their age,  are often shot with no reason by the police and so-called vigilante criminals.  This creates an unsafe environment that is perpetrated by the dominant culture, who are also in charge of the educational system.  This can lead to distrust and set off a threat reaction in the amygdala and thereby impact learning.  

Image Source

All of the above lead to an unhealthy climate for children of color.  Granted, before 2016, it wasn't great for BIPOC kids in the US, but today the climate has worsened.  Today, even US citizens are arrested by ICE because they are Latinx.  This creates a climate of fear for our children.  If they are Latinx and old enough to understand what that means, they fear losing their parents--no matter what their citizenship status.  This creates an unsafe environment that is perpetrated by the dominant culture, who are also in charge of the educational system.  This can lead to distrust and set off a threat reaction in the amygdala and thereby impact learning.  

Our BIPOC student's brains are  are being turned into fixed mindset brains.  We need independent learners more than ever in our struggle for social justice.  Independent learners require a growth mindset.

Illustration from Hammond, Z., & Jackson, Y. (2015). Culturally responsive teaching and the brain: Promoting authentic engagement and rigor among culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Our children's brains are being damaged by this treatment and we need to talk about this.  Our children face so many obstacles already--now we are facing a neurobiological attack in addition to the regular attacks we AND OUR CHILDREN face daily.

Some things YOU can do:

Fight against the current administration's acceptance of white-supremacy.

Make your classrooms more welcoming.

Post up images of BIPOC leaders, educators, business people and scientists in your classroom.

Talk about the racist attacks that are ongoing with your students.

Honor their feelings and ask them to express themselves--to provide counter-narratives to the racist narrative that is ongoing.

Build trust with your BIPOC students.

Demand excellent work from your BIPOC students.

Buy this book and learn more about culturally responsive teaching and the brain!

Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain by Zaretta Hammond

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Yago Cura Speaks about Librarians with Spines Vol. 2

Yago Cura--co-editor and publisher talks a bit about why you should Librarians with Spines Vol. 2 now!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Librarians with Spines Vol. 2 Now Available!

We are proud to announce the publication of our new book.  Published by Hinchas Press, edited by Yago Cura and Max Macias, designed by Autumn Anglin.  This book is comprised of 6 great chapters of varied Library/Information Science topics.  Our authors are amazing and the content is unlike any other you will find out there.

Librarians with Spines Vol. 2 Cover

Librarians with Spines Vol. 2 is now available here.

Here is the content of the book!

Here is what people are saying about the book!

Intended audience:

LIS Instructors
LIS students
Academic Librarians
Public Librarians
Outreach Librarians
BIPOC Librarians 
Librarians in general
Educators who are interested in libraries

Monday, March 11, 2019

It is All Pretty Words and Shell Games

Who is accountable?
For DEI: Nobody!

Holding Cultural Petting Zoos is Easier than Creating Equitable Institutional Structures.  Many institutions are stuck in a loop of cultural events that consist of food tasting and traditional dress modeling, etc...As if the mere exposure to such multicultural aspects would cure racism overnight.  Of course, these events do have a place, but they can't be relied upon to create progress in a historically white institution.

I've been thinking about this for a long time and it really comes down to accountability and value.

Claiming Equity, Diversity and Inclusion as a part of a traditionally white educational institution or organization is a benefit most schools have taken.  Schools have the benefits of doing something without actually having to make any real changes as there is literally no accountability, nor credibility.

The above claim is damaging to people of color  and other oppressed groups because it puts out the issue, but doesn't really seek a solution.  In the end--all sides are frustrated and race and other oppressive relations and structures remain the intact.

And the worst part of this is that it is all built on the backs of POC and other marginalized people.

We are meant to represent ALL people of color and when and if we screw up we are so severely punished that it sets a psychological example for others on all sides.  In the end--POC and other oppressed groups--raise their hopes, but are constantly let down--because there is no real accountability for DEI to the admin, faculty, staff, nor the organization.

Here is a sarcastic take on DEI in educational institutions and organizations:

Benefits of DEI inclusion on organization mission statements.
  • Increased reputation
  • Increased student enrollment
  • Increased administrative pay
  • No accountability
  • No real changes required 
  • Huge ROI with little to no effort
  • White people feel great
  • All of this built on the pain and suffering of POC at your institution
  • Implement now for highest returns
  • Organizations don't have to value DEI work by staff members
The above bullets are satirical, but they are based on my experience working in large educational institutions and national professional groups.   

Accountability and transparency are vital.

We must have accountability for DEI progress, or lack thereof within organizations and institutions.

We must have real change in faculty, administration and staff representation.  

We must demand that resources are spent on DEI if they are part of a mission statement.

We must demand that POC are not the only ones expected to have a stake in this work.

We must demand that DEI work is valued and counts toward tenure and other professional advancement opportunities.

We must require our organizations and institutions to live up to their mission statements when it comes to DEI.  

Callout a lack of DEI progress.

We must hold our leaders accountable for progress or lack thereof when DEI is part of a mission statement.

DEI should be part of performance assessments, budgets, organizational goals and other concrete planning for any educational institution or organization.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

I was Facebook's Pawn: A Confession

Facebook is a cesspool of invalid information.  Image is public Domain.
Dear readers, I used to be a huge proponent of FB.  I am a librarian and early on I realized the potential of social media for networking, sharing information and as a medium for learning. 

This is no longer the case.

I used to believe FB was a great tool to share information.

It is not even a good tool for sharing information.  

I am an information professional.  Part of my job is teaching students information literacy.  Here is a definition of Information Literacy that ALA uses:

Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information." 

This has much to do with the the person's ability to search for and find valid information.  

Most dictionaries define validity as: "The quality of being logically or factually sound;  soundness or cogency.

This is fundamental to using information to create knowledge. That is to say, if you use corrupted information to create knowledge--then that knowledge will be corrupted and invalid. 

Facebook is a cesspool of false, misleading and triggering information.

Facebook is able to build a psychological profile of users and then use this profile information to 'feed' information that will trigger certain reactions in that targeted user.  They know what we have shared in the past and what led up to this sharing.  This is incredibly powerful information and is key to understanding how their stimulus response system works.

The 2016 election results were partially a result of this.  

I can no longer use FB as an information professional.

Will I use it to promote my books and other work?

Yes--most certainly.

However, I won't use it as a vehicle to share information any longer.

I can't trust the information I am 'fed' on FB.

I often share information that is:

  • Old
  • Semi-true
  • Biased

I am not the only information professional that does this.

Since it is a networking interface--I often receive information from other librarians, teachers, authors, activists, etc...that is invalid. 

Sometimes I share information based on my trust of the individual, but many times they have been manipulated into sharing this invalid information and I unknowingly pass this on.  People might think that since I'm a librarian--what I share is valid---when it sometimes isn't.  Then they pass it on.  I hope you see where I'm going with this. 

One point here is that it is so hard to tell what is true and what is not--or that I will have to go out and triangulate every piece of information I am 'fed' if I want to share valid information on FB.  Another point is that even information professionals share invalid information on FB.  

Throw in the psychologically triggering aspect and this makes FB an invalid tool for sharing information.  
The Gesture by Shirt58
I would also say that libraries and librarians should be wary of promoting FB in light of the above.

As an Information Professional it is unethical to promote a platform that shares invalid information with our patrons and to students.

Should we maintain FB pages?

Sure--there are plenty of reasons to use FB.

One would be outreach.

A library could use it's FB pages to teach patrons how bad an information source FB is and why they shouldn't use it as an information source.

Another reason to use FB is support groups.  Support groups on FB can be wonderful if properly moderated.  Just take a look at the Library Employee Support Network on FB.  

Where users share information with one another in a shared interest group is another reason.  Certain professional development groups are wonderful on FB.  I can think of the REFORMA Think tank as one example of a good use of FB.  

Groups are still a valid use of FB--provided they are not just a place where people share FB feed information.

So, I am no longer an active user of FB.  Those who know me--know I have been a active  proponent of FB and other social media.  I am rethinking my use of other social media, but I was never as convinced of any other platform as I was  of FB.  The idea that it was a great tool--was true for me for years and years.  

It is not a good tool for sharing information.  

Is it a good tool for contacting your old high school classmates?

For sure.

Is it a good tool to keep in touch with family?


Is it a good news or information source?

Most definitely not!

Have a great holiday season!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

RĒL is the Real Deal in Oregon!

RĒL Cannabis Oregon
If you live in Oregon than you have a wealth of options when it comes to higher THC vape cartridges.  I've tried many and there is a new one I would like to tell you about.I had the good fortune to be able to try out the RĒL 710 disposable vape pen recently!  The distillate I tried was a sour diesel -- and it was great! It was powerful: in THC 70's range.  It tasted like diesel from the natural terpenes RĒL uses in its products.  I was struck by the natural taste and a powerful impact a few minutes after exhaling a huge cloud of vapor from the sweet little 710!
RĒL 710
The 710 has a ceramic coil and is filled with one gram of great THC or CBD oil.  The one I had was THC as CBD does nothing for me.

Here are some major pluses of the RĒL 710 vape pen:

  • Smooth Draws
  • Large Draws
  • Didn't get clogged
  • Was able to vape all the oil in the cartridge
  • Discreet
  • Rechargeable mini USB
  • Long battery life
  • Price range- 40-50 bucks
As a long-term medical cannabis patient I can tell you that this is a great product at a great price.  I will be using their products more in the future.  
RĒL Cannabis Nano and 710
The Nano comes with either 1/3 or 1/2 a gram of oil.

And I will most definitely have to try their disposable cartridges.
RĒL disposable cartridges.
And they have these--SWOON!  The RĒL Clearomizer with up to two grams of oil for medical patients!  I need this!

RĒL Clearomizer
And lastly I will have to try their dablicators and get back to you!

RĒL Dablicators
Shout out to RĒL Cannabis from Oregon and for Oregon!  Thank you for your outstanding work!

A nice variety of products are avaailable.
Here is a link to RĒL Cannabis Oregon:


How to solve the illegal immigration problem