Friday, October 30, 2015

#Terrorism, #Libraries and #POC in the US

Libraries and the Fight Against Terrorism

Libraries can and should be an important weapon against terrorism.  "Librarians are soldiers in the war against ignorance!"  Racism is fundamentally ignorance which leads to hate.  This is a call out to all librarians to help end the ongoing terrorism against people of color in the US.

People of color in the US live under a state of domestic terrorism.  This terrorism is conducted via many official channels.  The education system, law enforcement, healthcare, judicial system and other aspects of the state have been and are used against people of color in the US.

The terrorism we experience on a daily basis meets ALL the criteria below:
 "Domestic terrorism" means activities with the following three characteristics: Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law; Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S. 
Definition from the FBI:

 For example, here is how law enforcement treats our children in school:

Spring Valley High School 'safety 'officer' and student

What kind of an education can on get while studying under these conditions?  What kind of educational experience does this girl now have?

 This terrorism is conducted by state officers from all levels of law enforcement in the US.  As a person of color, I am more worried about being assaulted, or being shot by a police officer than I am of any sort of domestic terrorist.  I have been the subject of humiliating questions like, "What gang are you in?"  "When was the last time you were arrested?" and other non-question insults by the police.

Libraries Against Violence

Our libraries can help mitigate this situation by providing a broader viewpoint of the world to our patrons.  We can do this by pooling our resources, sharing information, planning and implementing programming that addresses the ongoing terrorism of POC by law enforcement and other state agencies.

This is a country that relies on force as a first choice solution to almost ALL problems.

When force/violence is used as a tool like this, then it becomes part of the culture.

Once it becomes part of the culture individual citizens will begin to use force as a problem solving tool--just as we have seen with the increasing mass shootings in the US.

Violence and force are now normal and everyday.  One turns on the television, visits a news web page, or turns on the radio, and one is confronted with a smorgasbord of violent offerings.

Librarians can help mitigate this situation by helping to educate people and offer alternative sources of information.

Contemporary lynching victim: Michael Brown

This violence/force is most often directed at people of color in the US  It is used to create contemporary lynchings--in the form of killings of POC by police.  These lynchings serve to reinforce POC's lack of respect in society, the lack of value placed on our lives, and the fact that our bodies can be violated and left dead in the street as some sort of macabre warning to everyone else. 

The officer in the video at the high school is practicing this kind of intimidation.  He is showing the other children what is in store for them if they don't immediately fully submit to someone who might harm them.

Library/Librarian Activism

Libraries can do much to help fight against this type of terrorism.  They can sponsor programming, have cultural events, reading groups, conversation groups, maker spaces, lectures and collections that can help educate the public and academia (if you work in an academic library).

A symposium sponsored by the Boston Radical Reference Collection

As librarians we can curate collections that are well rounded and that address multiple perspectives on our culture--not just the standard viewpoints adhered to by conservative anti-intellectuals (I don't think all conservatives are anti-intellectual).

We can use our spaces to hold important discussions and debates and we can help facilitate these events.  Our special skills at doing research and presenting the findings in an intelligible manner can be used to help in the fight against the terrorism that POC in the US face daily.

It is our duty to help fight against terrorism.

What are some other ways libraries, librarians and other information professionals can help fight against this kind of terrorism?


ramontrane said...

One of the best things that libraries can do in the fight about terrorism in this country is diversify their collections with more books about people of color written and illustrated by people of color, especially books for kids. Racism, ignorance, fear, terrorism are cultural constructions and in order to stop or ameliorate this cancer from society is to expose children to other cultures, that is, opening the windows and realizing that there is a new world out there that is changing and nobody can do anything about it. I mean, in few years, whites are going to be the minority in this country. In few years. And ninety percent of what is published is about whites and written by them. This is a different country. If we stop terrorism at home (the daily and indiscriminate state repressive apparatus against people of color), we'll stop terrorism in the world. Remember, we, the U.S.A. created terrorism with our interventions all over the world, not to spread the idea of liberty and democracy, but, first, destroying the country structure, then taking its resources and the leave a destroyed nation, a destroyed culture. If, we, as librarians don't begin doing an effort to change, everything is always the same. Since the arrival of Europeans to this continent, terrorism is a constant: genocide against original nations, slavery, indentured work, apartheid, experimenting with people of color or poor whites, etc., etc., etc. My take and I'm pissed off.

Lindsay Davis said...

I have been doing a little more social justice ordering. I don't have an actual budget or regular access to review materials at the very small community college campus where I work, but I can submit titles to the main campus library. I started doing this last year when I was going through a section of the collection and saw that there wasn't much on police brutality and people of color and the justice system. This is one small way I can help.

Max Macias said...

Thanks for your comment Lindsey! Yes, supplementing your collection is a great tool toward helping fight against this terrorism.

Thank you so much!


How to solve the illegal immigration problem