“In a way, this reflected what I would call “slow-boil activism.” I have certainly encountered a number of academics who push gently, evenly, and slowly so that they may advance to a more powerful position. My own critique of this is how much one must bite their tongue and compromise to stay on this path, and that waiting to make a big difference in 5, 10, or 20 years is a gamble on time not promised to you. But, I would be a hypocrite to disparage this approach because, in many ways, I am enacting this strategy on my own career.”
Some of my random thoughts: Surviving in the belly of a very hostile beast is not easy. Thanks for the tough love. But what I really need is the gentle kind.
Should I have the fortune and enough fortitude to continue with my graduate studies, it would be because of my desire to make a difference in the lives of people living in the margins. Oh, helping advance the field would be great, too, but really, it’s optional. Right now, I am glad to do what I can, in support of matters that are of gravest importance to me.
Things crystallized for me, as an academic-librarian-wannabe-scholar-wannabe-activist, after reading Michelle Munyikwa‘s post, “Be Vital. Be Involved.” She writes of a woman’s plight to seek legal justice for her son, who has been jailed. She attempted to contact a number of scholars of mass incarceration, but came up with nothing.
For her, this was a source of outrage and shock. How could no one have responded to her? What were we here for, studying this stuff, if we aren’t going to help community members as they need it?
Many librarians believe in, are committed to the spirit and letter of service to their communities. I know many believe in, are committed to, and can articulate answers to the questions posed by the woman in Munyikwa’s post (conveniently quoted above).
While having these questions answered and settled allow us to do the work necessary to be of service, I strongly suggest we never, ever, ever stop asking these questions. Failing to do so regularly puts us on the very precarious path towards further irrelevance. As a friend of mine whom I greatly admire recently said to me, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.”