This break has been brutal. Too short. Too many disappointments. Too little cash.
And I could stop there or, I could flip the coin.
I’ve been busy getting things done. I’ve tapped into my creative energy. I’ve gotten some reading done. I’ve cleaned my diet up a bit more.
I can go high, or I can go low. Little things can make a difference, but when it comes down to it, it’s all in the attitude, right? I used to be one who thought if I was just saying what I felt, I was being honest, not negative. I’ve been wise enough to be able to work through that fallacious reasoning on my own without spending hundreds of dollars on therapy. I mean, it doesn’t take much to realize that when your feelings are based in anger, hurt or despair your truth will be, too. I watched Viola Davis brilliantly play the role of Rose Maxson in Fences yesterday. She was a woman who managed to go high.
While the movie, based upon August Wilson’s play, is focused on her husband, Troy, I was most struck by Rose’s willingness to chain her happiness to her husband. He was a black man who’d faced so many disappointments in life and who buried them deep inside where they festered in rage. Perhaps Rose admired the way he lifted himself to meet his responsibilities; the way he lifted himself from bed every morning to muddle on through. Perhaps she saw him as a safe harbor for her own rage. What more could a woman whose life intersected with her blackness and with her limited economic means in the 1950s in middle America do? I’m sure there are those who mock her for so easily giving up herself, but I think she gives us a portrait of what our mothers and grandmothers did to get by for our sake at a time when oppression was palpable. Although she hid parts of herself, she found ways to make self visible and she found a way to let her attitude wade in the higher water.
Prior to the movie’s beginning, oh you know there were trailers. Because I was seeing a movie with African American actors, I saw numerous movies featuring more of the same, including Get Out.
I often talk about the need for YA books that explore race and racism in imaginative, reflective and innovative ways and this movie seems to do that. Let me be clear: I will NOT go see this movie because my imagination is way too active for the situations it presents, but, WOW!!! This intellectually thrilling movie looks at a black/white mixed race couple visiting her white parents for the weekend. They don’t know that the odds are against him coming out alive. From what I saw in the trailer, this horror movie uses what horrifies most African Americans in this country and intensifies it by isolating the characters in an idyllic/White setting filled with the ghosts of the ancestors. Yeah, the fear is real. Will he come out alive?
There are real situations based in fear as well, particularly as we move closer and closer to inauguration day. First, let me say that we while we need to remain vigilent, we ought not be diverted too long by those baffling TrumpTweets. State and local elections are what really need our attention. It’s here where our daily lives will be most impacted. I just spent 2.5 hours in movie theater. Now, I need to spend at least that much time in a city council or local library board meeting. We have got to quite letting our attention be mesmerized by shiny, pretty things. No doubt, we all need a little R&R from time to time, but I think some spend a lot of time obsessing on the rich an famous when they are not the ones who affect the quality of our lives.
I hope you’ve found little to no relief in Facebook declaring that it will no longer provide a forum for “fake news”. What is fake news? Is it only bogus articles created as a means within itself? Does it include speeches and articles that inflate statistics to make a point? What about reports that completely ignore opposing viewpoints? Or satirical writing from The Onion? I think our ability to critically read the news is more of a problem than nebulous “fake news” and expecting anyone, include Facebook to delete it is a fake solution. Real solutions go back to schools teaching beyond the test, teaching students to read critically; to be critically literate. A good start comes with critically reading, asking those basic questions about who wrote the article, when they wrote it and why but, students today need more than that. The need to be able to look at any form of text (articles, tweets, news videos, advertisements…) and asked who does this piece empower? Whose voice is missing? Why did the author create this? What’s the author’s background? How is the author influencing me? How am I changing from reading this?
While teachers in many content areas could address these questions in their teaching, teaching this literacy is a fundamental part of what librarians do. While we promote and encourage reading, we strive to create citizens who are informationally literate. Libraries started with people like Dewey, Carnegie and Jewett creating collections that would be the backbone of our democracy. Libraries continue to be places that provide free and open access to information, places that protect our democracy and places that in our democracy that need to be protected. Working with educators to provide information literacy is a crucial part of what librarians, particularly school librarians, do regularly.
So, I admit here my fear of the evil in scary movies while professing my passion for #ownvoices, for critical literacy (#critlit) and for open access. This passion will not let me be averse to real life opression, injustice or inequity. Maybe I can go high.