I have so many links for you, but you guys, I just can’t. Not today.
On a personal level, mental illness and alcoholism and Peter Pan are all pretty formative parts of my existence and upbringing. The loss of Robin Williams is a deeply sad one for me.
On all levels, the events in Ferguson, MO this week are emotionally and mentally consuming, from the loss of another bright young life in the murder of Micheal Brown to the military state the peaceful protesters now face as they try to gather to mourn and understand and make their voices heard.
You can watch a live stream of the events in Ferguson here and here. Let us ask ourselves, as librarians, whose work is at its core social justice, and specifically as a community within librarianship that is committed to anti-racist works, what can we do? How can we be of service to this community held hostage by grief and state-sanctioned violence?
I think we can start by asking ourselves if we treat the visibly mentally ill who come to our libraries, for sanctuary, with the same compassion and grace we give to Williams’ memory.
I think we can start by asking ourselves, really asking, without flinching, how we react to young black men when they walk in the library, and what assumptions we make about them.
This dad, he looks an awful lot like the dads I see every day. The ones bringing in their beautiful little girls in fresh summer braids for storytime, playing Wii with their middle schoolers, and helping their about-to-go-to-college sons find books on their reading lists.
My job is to make one place where he is not watched with suspicion for the color of his skin. To make a space where those doing their best to cope with the betrayal of their own biochemistry can be treated as fully fledged human beings. Is it your job, too?
Let us ask ourselves who we are meant to be.
Let us make our nation safe, so that for young black men, living can be an adventure and not a daily exercise in terror.
I don’t know how to cure depression, or alcoholism, or systemic racism, but we can stand with the victims and ask, what can we do?
What can we do, Michael? What can we do, Robin?