Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Because Sometimes I Just Can't Take it Anymore, Take II

Last night I asked my husband one of those questions that I wanted an honest answer to, but only if it was the answer I wanted.  

"Baby, do you think I'm...  too opinionated?"  

Bless his heart, he knew he was playing with fire.  He averted his eyes briefly before responding, "Um, sometimes."  And then, when my face fell, he made a typical back-pedalling man move: "I mean, of course not!"  

But it was too late.  I had suspected the truth, and now I knew it for certain.  

I am too opinionated.  

And just in case you don't yet believe it, I hereby present Exhibit A:

Dear OLLUSA Library Staff:

First off, I want to thank you for all you do for the students and the University.  The library is a clean, classy, beautiful building.  I appreciate the efforts of you and your staff to provide OLLU students with access to a wide variety of resources.  This is particularly meaningful to me as I did my undergraduate work at a very large university with a huge library: it is a comfort to know that, though our university is smaller, I can still get the materials I need, whether it be in print, e-book, online journal, or through inter-library loan. 

My reason for writing is to request a change in one of the shadow boxes you have on the first floor.  I am aware that it is Black History Month, and am pleased that the Library is recognizing and honoring it, especially in light of the diverse OLLUSA faculty and student body.  I was disappointed, however, to see a few errors in a shadow box containing a poster of Pres. Obama.  A poem that reads like an email chain-letter, complete with comma splices, is displayed on the right side of the poster and is attributed to President Obama himself (I am aware that the President has, in fact, written poetry, but certainly nothing so chintzy or self-aggrandizing).  The author, as far as I was able to find, is actually a young woman named Cherita Banton (http://www.amazon.com/INAUGURATION-SPECIAL-PRICE-BARACK-Original/dp/B001MYMLCS).  Being an establishment that is known for stressing the importance of correct citation, I figured you would appreciate this oversight being brought to your attention.  The mini biography of Pres. Obama, located to the left of the poster, was also disappointing: full of biased information and inaccuracies (i.e. distortions of his bipartisanship and senatorial accomplishments, etc.). 

Call me a critic, but I was also rather offended by the poster (titled "Freedom Fighters" with MLK Jr. and Rosa Parks super-imposed on the background).  King and Parks, two revered civil rights heroes, accomplished great things in the advancement of "liberty and justice for all" at a time where, in some places, black people were targets of horrible discrimination and injustice.  I feel that Barack Obama, while a very accomplished man, does not merit placement alongside them--he has not done anything to warrant the title "Freedom Fighter" in the same sense that they have.  His success may be one of the fruits of that movement, but he is not one of the founders of (or even, really, contributers to) it--his platform as president or senator had little to do with race or freedom or civil liberties. 

I was also sad to see that, with the whole of black history figures and events to choose from, Pres. Obama was the only one represented (with two posters not 10 feet apart). 

I realize this is a very lengthy email about something rather petty that would be changed in the next couple weeks anyway, but I wanted to let you know that there are people who do read and care about the content, quality and accuracy of your displays (which are normally quite aesthetic and interesting).  I certainly don't mean to be offensive, and I recognize it's likely that none of you had anything to do with the exhibits (for all I know they were put together by a student group), but I felt that you as leaders of the library should be aware that there are many of us who feel this way. 

Thanks so much for all you do.


  1. Oh you go girl! You do win at opinionated but its the right opinion that matters. Good for you to stand up to what you see. I probably wouldn't have even read the shadow box. I'm so impressed, tell Jay he's got a goodun.

  2. Gurl, you know I love you. And from one opinionated girl to another here we go...

    First off... there are TONS of "freedom fighters," like hundreds upon hundreds. It was in the small and big acts alike. Take women who walked to work instead of road the bus during the time of the Montgomery bus boycott, they were just ordinary people- but their names do not grace boards or shadow boxes. What about Malcolm X, who had a different but still worthy to look at view regarding the end of racism? While Rosa Parks is wonderful, and so is MLK, there are many more people who deserve to be recognized. Great and small. People "like" MLK and Rosa Parks because they were nonviolent, passive. But again, there are many others to honor this month.

    I think BO should be honored. You don't like him, I get it, but you know how annoying those people are who complained about Bush for 8 years? Don't become one of them. Try to see Obama for the good things he offers. And I personally think he should be up on that wall. There has never, ever been a black president (no Clinton doesn't count!). It's a HUGE deal. African Americans are still, in many places, continually oppressed. Obama has given hope to the black community, and to many others at large. But especially for African Americans, he is special because he represents the "yes we can" attitude and ability that so many in the black community were lacking. People said there would never be a black president, or it wouldn't happen for years, but it did happen, and people want to celebrate the moment in history.

    Another reason why I think he is celebrated so much within the black community is that for years and years AAs were kept from voting. From grandfather clauses to polling taxes, inequalities in government existed. Even until the 1960s & 1970s and some even speculate until recently, AAs were often denied the right to vote.

    Sorry to write a paper for you. I don't like grammer errors either, but I wanted to share my opinion.

    love you,

  3. Hey, I had no problem with Obama being honored or spotlighted for black history month. I realize how big a deal his election has been to a lot of people, minorities or not. I did not criticize him in my email or say he wasn't worthy of honoring. My problem was that a lot of information on display was incorrect or very biased. And of course there are tons of "freedom fighters"--I just don't think he's one of them, at least not like any of the named or unnamed heroes from the past you referred to. He is a fruit of that movement, not a contributer to it. I was sad that, with so many people to choose from that they could have showcased (Malcom X, Jackie Robinson, Ella Fitzgerald, Colin Powell, etc. etc. etc.), they had two huge posters of him on the wall (one in a shadow box, one on a bulletin board right next to it). I just thought it was a gross underrepresentation of the richness of black american history. Not that they could have done it justice with only two bulletin boards, but you get what I'm saying. And though you called me out, and it's true, that I really can't stand the man, that wasn't the point of this post or my email. I just can't handle seeing inaccurate information posted in public places (the incorrect poem citation was what pushed me over the edge--it really was an insult to the Pres to have that poem attributed to him :).

  4. I am inclined to agree with your take on President Obama. FOr one thing, just because he has dark skin doesn't make him part of the African-American subculture of America. He's not just black, you know - his mom was white, too. Funny how that gets glossed over, isn't it? (along with his smoking habit and the fact he did drugs in college.)

    The silliest thing I think is the fact they put one of those poetry chain letters in the library display. That's kind of stupid.

    That said, just because I don't think he's actually "black" (a descendant of slaves) doesn't mean I hate him. I just think the media is putting him in an ethnic group that he doesn't really belong to.