To quote the ubiquitous chanteuse Adele, "Hello from the other side!" Greetings dear readers! It's your friendly neighborhood prison-turned public librarian. I bet you thought you'd never hear from me again, but here I am, and unlike Adele, I don't want to just sit and talk about how great things used to be because things are pretty awesome right now! So, what have you all been up to since I wrote last? I saw that we have 18 followers, which I am pretty sure is more than we had last time I checked. (If anyone is fact-checking my blog in between debates and you're like, "Well, actually last time you had 20" then thank you 18 for sticking around! :-) )
So, I am back because I have been working on a presentation lately with a prison librarian in my great new state and we are going to collaborate at a conference about how public libraries can help patrons re-entering society after incarceration. Because the topic of mass incarceration is being recognized as a serious issue lately-ish, people in positions to help other people are becoming more mindful of the need to help those whom society has forgotten about.
In preparation for our presentation, I watched Ava DuVernay's documentary 13th because if I am going to recommend it to others, I should know what it's all about. It's streaming on Netflix right now, and if you don't have Netflix, either get Netflix or watch it with someone who does. The film is extremely well done and will make you mad as hell. I had no idea that the 13th Amendment had a clause in it that allows slavery if you are convicted of a crime. That revelation made me start thinking a lot, and I Googled the Black Lives Matter campaign, because all I knew about them was hearsay. Black Lives Matter activists are featured prominently in the documentary, and their message is not that your life doesn't matter if you're not black, but that when we humanize this group that has been de-humanized for so long, we all win.
One part that struck a chord in their Guiding Principles under the Black Villages box was the commitment that they will "...support each other as extended families and 'villages' that collectively care for one another..." If you are in my generation, you all heard "It takes a village to raise a child" while growing up and I know I enjoyed having neighbor moms around to go to if I crashed my bike, wanted to play, or needed a cookie (or two) if my single mom was at work. Then, as I got older and made the decision to not have kids and didn't really have any little kids in my life, kids just became an annoying but necessary part of continuing the human race.
But then today it was 6 pm at the library and there were three young Latina girls who asked to use the phone to call their mom for a ride home, and the mom said she wouldn't be able to be there for 20 minutes. That's a problem when the library is closed, so the Children's Librarian and I waited with them in the lobby so they wouldn't be unattended outside the library in the rain where who knows what terrible things could happen to them. The librarian is awesome with kids (hence why she's a children's librarian) and they started telling silly jokes and riddles to pass the time. I went outside of my comfort zone and told them the only joke I know:
Me: "How many librarians does it take to change a light bulb?"
Girl #1: "Ummm, three!"
Girl #2: "TEN!"
Girl #3: "Zero!"
I loved their enthusiasm and when I told them the answer, "I don't know, but I'll look it up for you!" they all laughed and it was awesome, because honestly, I try to not deal with the kids too much because I am used to adults, having come from an adult prison, and I don't want them to hate me because I don't know how to interact with them haha. But this was a perfect example of what it means to have a village to care for you. I can see how having three kids would be chaotic to say the least, and if you live in an area where the native language is not your first language, it can be even more difficult to navigate and learn the norms. However, because she knew she could trust the library to entertain her kids and keep them safe while she shopped for groceries we were able to help her care for her family. Now, granted, we talked to her when she got there so that this wouldn't become an all-the-time thing, but we were there when she needed us, and I hope that she felt like we cared for her and that her life and her children's lives are important, because that's the key to fixing everything in my opinion is to treat everyone like they matter, because they do.
Here is the link to the trailer for 13th:
Until next time!