Langston Hughes: The Black Man Speaks

I swear to the Lord
I still can’t see
Why Democracy means
Everybody but me.

“The Black Man Speaks” from Jim Crow’s Last Stand (Worldcat)

To say I’ve been feeling this acutely over the last few weeks is an understatement. I honestly think I’ve felt this way almost as long as I’ve been alive, but the feelings grow sharper the longer I live in Vancouver.

Today is Langston Hughes’ birthday. Hughes has long been one of my favourite poets/cultural critics, though I feel like he’s fallen out of favour a little over the last 20 years or so. Though he is better known as a poet, his essay “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” has been a source of inspiration for me, more so when I was a young African American Studies scholar who was trying to balance claiming my place in the Black community with my feminist leanings and my queer identity.

If you find yourself in a despairing place, read a little Langston Hughes today.

Spice Up Your Life: A Diverse List of Library/Tech Speakers

My good friend Tiffany B. Brown had this to say earlier this morning:

 

This tweet and the Tristan Walker interview in question were in my mind when a friend and colleague asked me to put together a dream speakers list that the library’s Policy & Planning group could use for possible speakers. This list is by no means exhaustive, and it was pretty much just made up of people I know personally and/or people I admire and have seen present at other events.

If you’re a friend of mine and you’re not on this list, it’s probably because I know you don’t like/aren’t jazzed about public speaking, not because I don’t think you’re any good.

Here’s the list:

The demographic breakdown:

If I were to revise the list (and I may), I’d try to incorporate more Canadian voices/perspectives on this list, because library, privacy, and intellectual freedom issues differ so greatly between the United States and Canada.

Tristan Walker said  “If you’re not including what will be the majority demographic in our country at the table in positions of leadership, your company just could not be destined for the level of success it should be destined for.”  As someone from a woefully underrepresented demographic in my profession, I’m always thinking about ways to make library events more inclusive. I think some fantastic, creative thinking about technology and how it affects our lives happens within our profession, but I also think that some of the best thinking happens outside of libraries. The division between corporate culture and libraries, while still great, isn’t as much of a contentious point as it used to be; however, I made a conscious choice to include technologists who espouse a more human approach to the role and reach of technology into our personal lives.

Tiffany might’ve said “get some black friends,” but knowing her as I do, I’m sure she’d agree with me if I expanded that to “Get some black, brown, Asian, queer, international friends, too.”

 

Sister. PREACH.

Do not ever be afraid to be critical of anyone, regardless of who they are, when they start discussing means and ways of experiences and feelings when it is clear they have no experience in what they are discussing. You, and only you, can own your experiences and feelings. Do not let others dictate how you should live.

Lisa Rabey, Why (white) men should (mostly) not write about gender disparity in technology (I told you it was good!)