I do remember wondering how I would change my work post COVIC-19. We still aren’t beyond it; we still haven’t gotten beyond first thoughts in our racial reckoning so, no I don’t know what changes I’ll be making, especially not to this blog. Right now, I’d be satisfied if I could simply adhere to a routing for my posting! But, bigger than posting, I’m coming to realize a shift in my librarianship to more fully incorporate critical literacy into my work. It’s been over here in my review practices and over there in how I evaluate resources, but I’m finding more overarching concepts and practices that realize the power dynamics in information. In our post-truth landscape, it’s so important to realize how information positions us and in realizing this, it’s necessary to know when our information is being mediated because the mediator gains control of the message and holds power over what the experience with the information will become. This experience isn’t so much about what we’re learning, but how we’re being position: what we’re made to feel, believe or desire. Media can distract us through the language it uses (it can be intensely bias or it can be bias), through the use of music or through the use of colors and imagery.
I’ve done a lot of work regarding the oppression and dehumanization that occurs in children’s books and I’ve realized no matter how hard we work to eliminate a particular book from availability that the entire field is youth literature is replete with so many biases and prejudices that what must be done, is to teach our young people how to recognize the ways that they are being positioned through a text, whether it be a book, video or segment on the nightly news.
I do hold one exception though, and that’s in picture books. I will continue to battle to remove elements of dehumanization in picture books that perpetuate unconscious bias. Young children have not developed the skill necessary to consciously identify, to question or to disrupt Whiteness that exists in these books, nor do most parents or teachers. These books serve only to perpetuate stereotypes as an accepted part of our culture. They don’t have the awareness.
And that, I think is a message that is often left out of critical literacy instruction: the need to maintain awareness. Mediated sources (owned and operated by the 1%) lull us into semiconscious states where we are compliant consumers of whatever they’re selling.
I’ll have to add an article on mindfulness as the cornerstone of critical literacy to my list of things to write about.
If you’ve even taken a few days away from social media, you’ve noticed the difference. Same if you’ve gone to bed reading rather than watching television or had music in the background rather than your favorite news or cooking station. Friends, it makes a real difference in how I’m able to perceive the world and information around me.
Here are a few things I do. I have to admit, I have A LOT of work to do to develop my awareness. This is a journey for me that I’m happy to have company on. It gets spiritual, political, social and personal. These are some of my practices.
- When I walk, I do not wear headphones. Even in the deadness of this neighborhood, I listen if not to the few birds and squirrels, then to the utter silence where I can here
- Also, when I walk, I’ll go a couple of blocks balancing on the line in the middle of the street. PLEASE! Do not do that if you live in a large urban area, but do find a part or parking lot and give it a try. This fun, silly little thing (also known as a sobriety test) takes a keen sense of awareness, and it’s good for balance in those of us who are aging.
- I cook with all manual devices. I have to pay attention when opening a can so that I can feel when it’s opened.
- I try my best to peel my turnips, apples and oranges in one single, continues peel. Oh, the concentration that takes!
- I really try to maintain a strict bedtime routine, going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every day. It does wonders for cognitive function.
- I’m reading more. Finally.
I know, mindfulness has become much the buzzword, but to me, it’s an essential part of self-care. Through it, I am present here in this waking world and I’m more keenly aware of how forces in the media are trying to position me. I guess in writing this I’m trying to position you as well. Power to the people!
Be well and do good,