If you see libraries as the enemy, then you’ve needed more libraries in your life

There are some things you just shouldn’t do because it’s just mean, or maybe stupid, or possibly something that would bring a smile to Dick Cheney’s or Sean Hannity’s face—which is only a short step from giving Satan a sensual foot rub. Basically, things YOU JUST DON’T DO. These include:

  • Going alone and unarmed into the scary basement of a freaky house (or, for that matter, your own basement or backyard at night when there is a suspicious or frightening sound emanating from it)
  • Punching babies in the face
  • Bringing any dish to the cookout that’s been updated with new and surprising ingredients by a newspaper or magazine recipe section
  • Pulling on Superman’s cape, spitting into the wind or pulling that mask off the ole Lone Ranger…or messing with Jim
  • Saying anything bad about Beyoncé on social media
  • Calling for the removal of public libraries from society

Well, maybe that last one got an exemption of some sort recently from the Oval Office. Oh, who am I kidding? Even before the current administration, I’ve seen people trying to destroy the whole concept and institution of public libraries for at least a decade. No doubt they are the people who also think teachers should pay for all the classroom supplies out of pocket and that poor people just need to yank harder on those bootstraps while working 20-hour days at three minimum-wage jobs to end up as famous business-people who can one day be elected to destroy civilization as we know it.

To be perfectly honest, I spent a whole lot of years (and still have partial ownership of a house) in a town where one of the most cherished annual activities of the city council was to cut the public library’s budget just a little bit (or a lot) more because apparently inflation doesn’t exist, and no one should have ready access to knowledge, entertainment and a safe public gathering space.

Yes, I lived somewhere where people were convinced that the only thing standing between them and a cushy retirement in the Cayman Islands was a librarian’s salary. I mean, that library is truly staffed by superheroes because they keep things going despite having a constant fiscal gun to their literary heads—but they shouldn’t have to be superheroes to keep the library open. No library should have to go through that, though many do.

I’m saying all this largely because of the story that was published recently by Forbes online titled “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money,” written by Panos Mourdoukoutas (the story has since been deleted; get the story about that here).

Naturally Forbes will publish some other gems along the lines of “Corporations should take over police functions” (Robocop) or “We should make intelligence and science things to be ridiculed to improve society” (Idiocracy…or the actions of almost every Republican politician and pundit for the past 20 years). Right? Right!? C’mon Forbes, you might let the librarians down but surely you don’t want to let the extreme libertarians down, do you?

Now, the article I linked to above breaks a lot of this down, already, and literate non-Trumpite denizens of social media’s saner neighborhoods had a field day dragging the author and Forbes on Twitter (here, and here…also here…and hey, here too..oh also this and that one…just to share a few), but here’s my own bullet list to consider for those who have a brain and don’t hate libraries because gun-loving anti-healthcare blue-eyed white Jesus told them so:

  • Not everybody has access to tablet readers or other mobile devices
  • Not everyone has easy access (or even access at all) to the Internet (so having those devices means nothing and besides, plenty of people rely on libraries to access the Internet…including to look for jobs even though some of y’all think they’re all just lazy porn surfers)
  • Amazon and other businesses don’t do wide-scale social charity like that. Privatization doesn’t mean better access; it means controlled access
  • Physical books can go places it isn’t wise to bring electronic devices, and physical books don’t need power
  • Many libraries now serve the function with movies that rental places (which no longer exist much) used to, and many people still want to watch movies on something other than Hulu or Netflix
  • Libraries provide meeting spaces and the ability to publicly gather
  • Many libraries provide spaces for free meals to kids and teens who otherwise don’t have access to three squares a day
  • Libraries provide ways for families of very small children to interact and to grow those little minds and develop their social skills
  • And a thousand other things I can’t think of right now (a few of which are mentioned in some of those tweets I linked to above)

Basically, libraries are spectacular. Stevie Wonder “Songs in the Key of Life” wonderful. Getting a fat refund from the IRS at tax-filing time kind of goodness.

If you don’t want part of your tax money going to fund public libraries, I don’t want my tax money funding emergency response people to pull you out of your mangled car after you have an accident because you’re laughing so hard at how FOX News just owned those liberal snowflakes again.


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Fascism takes shape and ICE is key to that…and not just at the southern border

Look, I’m about to get into some serious shit, so let’s start off by lightening the mood. Check out these silly-ass animals!

I hope that brightened your day.

OK. Now for the serious shit.

The United States of America will probably become a literal dictatorship very soon.

Every person of color in the USA saw this coming a long time ago. Even those of us not paying attention figured it out at this point.

But since then a lot has happened and you better believe it all goes in the same direction.

The president of the United States of America is separating the country from its democratically elected allies and aligning the country with cruel and brutal dictatorships. He speaks ill of democratically elected leaders and fondly of cruel and brutal dictators. He has always enjoyed the support of klansmen and Nazis and all other brands of bigots within the United States, so, naturally he publicly speaks fondly of them.

Like all cruel and brutal dictators, the president of the United States dehumanizes minorities and immigrants with his speech, calling them animals and their presence as an infestation.

The president often speaks of changing the country into a dictatorship. He publicly wishes United States citizens would obey him like those suffering under cruel and brutal dictators. He talks publicly and hopefully about getting rid of his own term limits and suspending due process, which is probably more important than you think.

The president’s administration is deliberately separating children from parents with no plan or desire to reunite them. They are even going so far as to have toddlers appear in court all alone. These peoples’ lives are so meaningless and disposable to this administration that the attorney general even publicly jokes about how meaningless and disposable he thinks they are.

And there’s also the recent Supreme Court rulings furthering institutionalized racism and sexism as well as continuing to destroy workers’ rights. Adding the likelihood that the shockingly corrupt court itself will soon begin dismantling the rights of gay people and women and minorities and voters in general, It’s clear that a dictatorship is on the rise, if not already risen.

This is not an exaggeration or hyperbole. Again, the president is talking about actual people as animals and he’s seeing to it that they are caged and abused worse than animals. People are being kidnapped, beaten, sexually abused, their identities are being stolen, their children are being ripped from their arms and then those children are beaten and sexually abused—and it’s being done in your name by the United States government.

And again, the president is referring to actual human beings as an infestation. We all know what that means. We all know there is only one thing to be done about an infestation. We all know that dismissing one’s humanity makes it very easy to kill them. And we all know that there are certainly active members of the military who appear ready for the killing to begin.

Now, if you’re reading this and thinking to yourself that the president probably isn’t really serious or that he’s just talking tough, you should know that we’ve been down this very predictable road before. Also, you’re being this guy. Don’t.

The secret police are roaming the streets and kicking down doors. They’re setting up check points. They’ve even got German Shepherds. And they are everywhere. Seriously, everywhere.

They’re even here in my state, in Maine, where there are barely any people of color. That makes it pretty easy for one of these Schutzstaffel pieces of shit to single out a person by their race. Yeah, it’s illegal, but of course it happens.

Now, look at this stumblebum, Hogan’s Heroes-looking, schweinhund right here. The driver asks him if she has to answer his questions and he just straight-up lies to her face, telling her that she does. Listen to him stutter and stammer like so many fascist Porky Pigs as he attempts to trick the driver into answering his questions with some kind of bullshit hall pass he pulls out of his filthy, Stasi pocket.

And it’s this moment that is going to decide where this country goes.

As Corporal Goosestep is trying to manipulate those young women into answering his questions, we need to ask ourselves the age-old question: How heroic would you have been had you lived in Nazi Germany?

Who would you have been?

What would you have done?

When you see a person of color in Maine, do you think we belong here?

You may have some kind of terrifying, Christophe-Waltz-type of idea as to who or what state-sponsored evil looks like, but real evil isn’t necessarily cruel on its face. Real evil is disarming. Real evil can be as charmingly inhibited as that crossing-guard-Uncle-Fester-looking motherfucker politely telling that young, white, female driver that he’s only attempting to detect accents.

How heroic would you have been?

If we don’t already know, I think we’re gonna find out pretty soon.


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How are you showing up for Black women in Maine and beyond?

“De ni**er woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see.”– Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Zora Neale Hurston published these words in 1937 and yet in 2018 those words still ring true for far too many Black women. Black women were the backbone of the Civil Rights movement and yet how many Black  women from that era aside from Rosa Parks can anyone name? Black women have been at the forefront of the current movement for Black Lives and yet too often we see men being lifted up for their work. The critical behind-the-scenes labor that Black women provide is often dismissed or taken for granted.

Last year, in Alabama, Black women came through and were instrumental in the election of Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate, thus kicking off the rallying cry of Black women as being our collective saviors in  Trump’s America. And this year, with the midterms elections looming large, Black women are playing a prominent role especially with Stacey Abrams winning the Georgia Democratic Primary for Governor. A historic win.

Suddenly, Black women seem to almost be in vogue. But, while that sounds good, how many Black women are truly getting the support and nurturing that they need? How many of us instead are fighting twice as hard or more as our white peers to be agents of change and getting far less of the credit? How many of us are getting no credit at all? How many of us are encouraged to change the world while getting precious little assistance and backup from anyone but other Black women? While it is popular to say that people are supporting Black women, the truth is too often we are still seen as the mules and whatever support we receive is marginal at best.

Here in Maine, we have a Black woman running for re-election for the Maine House of Representatives. I should mention now that Rachel Talbot Ross, the woman in question, is a personal friend. But my words have nothing to do with our friendship; rather, they are the observation and reality of what it means to be a Black woman who is working for change.

Rachel, in her two years in the state legislature, has sponsored bills related to housing security, mental health training for corrections personnel and tax incentives for businesses that hire people from traditionally marginalized communities. Four of the bills she sponsored passed and are waiting for funding from the legislature. One of her priorities was to involve people who are typically underrepresented directly in her work.  

As a Black woman in a very white state, Rachel knows that representation matters and as a ninth-generation Mainer she is only one of two Black people in the state legislature. Which is why it is all the more surprising that as an incumbent this year, she is being challenged for her seat by a member of her own party: Herb Adams, Adams held the seat from 2004-2010 until term limits forced him out. He’s had two other unsuccessful runs. Given that there are no Republican challengers, it is almost a sure thing that whoever wins the primary will secure the seat.

Look, it’s a free country and he is free to do whatever the hell he wants but it is this type of behavior that frankly makes me side-eye so-called progressives.

You have a Black woman who is busting her ass in this very white state to create representation and a truly inclusive space and after just two years in office a white man feels entitled to challenge her just because he can? Was there no one in the state to tell this guy to sit down? I am pretty certain that if Herb and I sat down, he would say it’s just politics, as would many other nice white people. But the fact is, as a white guy he sits at the top of the hierarchy and his decision means that Rachel must yet again work harder just trying to keep her seat, and be distracted from the work she’s trying to do legislatively. The white man’s ambition becomes more important than allowing the Black woman’s momentum to continue and her star to shine. And those kinds of challenges to hard work (and success) is the way of things often for Black women, especially in predominantly white spaces.

In this moment, many white people are waking up to the reality that racism never went anywhere and that it’s insidious and deeply entrenched into all of our systems. People feel bad and want to do something and yet the work that can truly move the needle seems to elude them. Understand this: Nothing will change until white people realize that the only way we solve our racism problem starts with them asking themselves “What am I  willing to give up?” You cannot right the scales of injustice without taking something from one side and moving it to the other in order to get the scales to balance out. You simply cannot. And while it’s bad enough when no white people are willing to step aside for Black people, it is especially galling when they actively try to displace them or diminish them when there is no need to do so.

Change will also require more people of color in the rooms where decisions are made. That means both seats at the tables as well as ownership of some of those tables. Racism is about power and privilege and despite the surface shifts since the 1960s, the levers of power across the board are still operated primarily by white men. We need Black and brown people to operate far more of those levers than is the case right now if change is going to happen. We need white people to recognize that fact and to step back and step down more often to make that happen. It also means calling out other well-meaning (or not so well-meaning, too) white people when they make missteps that are harmful to Black folks and other people of color.

Until a critical mass of white people move beyond awareness of racism to concrete action that requires some actual sacrifice on their part, not much changes. Until then Black women, who live at the intersection of both gender and racial discrimination, will have to work far more hard than will most white men to obtain, no matter if the Black woman is more qualified or deserving. Even the exceptional Black woman struggles to get what comes easily to the most average of white men. Despite being known for our strength, this type of struggle takes its toll on us; it’s what you don’t see when we are laid out in bed, unable to get up and filled with panic and dread but because you only see our strong faces and never see our human faces. Instead, you take our strength for granted and become dependent on us to go the extra mile and make things right.

No, that’s not  good enough and if you fancy yourself a white, progressive, liberal who isn’t racist, it’s time for you to get your hands dirty and share the burdens.

As for Rachel, if you live in Portland’s House District 40, I encourage you to vote on June 12 and let her return to the legislature to continue what she’s started.


If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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Photo by Ehimetalor Unuabona on Unsplash.