[image description: a black and white photo of a small protest. The placards visible say “Homosexuals should be judged as individuals” and “Support homosexual civil rights”]
With all the excitement, here’s just a note on the history of librarianship and the gay rights movement:
While I did know a bit about librarian activist Barbara Gittings (pictured above and featured here in My Daguerreotype Librarian) and I knew about the American Library Association’s GLBT Round Table, I did not realize the GLBTRT was founded as the very first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender professional organization:
In 1970, the ALA founded the first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender professional organization, called the “Task Force on Gay Liberation”, now known as the GLBT Round Table. In the early 1970s, the Task Force on Gay Liberation campaigned to have books about the gay liberation movement at the Library of Congress reclassified from HQ 71–471 (“Abnormal Sexual Relations, Including Sexual Crimes”). In 1972, after receiving a letter requesting the reclassification, the Library of Congress agreed to make the shift, reclassifying those books into a newly created category, HQ 76.5 (“Homosexuality, Lesbianism—Gay Liberation Movement, Homophile Movement”).”
Today, from ALA:
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Round Table of the American Library Association is committed to serving the information needs of the GLBT professional library community, and the GLBT information and access needs of individuals at large. We are committed to encouraging and supporting the free and necessary access to all information, as reflected by the missions of the American Library Association.
I’m feeling pretty decent about being a librarian today. And a member of ALA, at that. Let’s keep being allies. Let’s keep trying. Let’s try harder. OK?
Grace Lee Boggs, the 97-year-old feminist, activist, and philosopher, was born in the United Stated in 1915 to Chinese immigrant parents. Boggs earned her PhD in 1940; these credentials were no shield against discrimination based on her Chinese ancestry. When Boggs married African American activist James Boggs, over a decade before the Supreme Court of the United States invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage, she made the choice to add his name to her own. Their marriage would last until James Boggs’ death 40 years later.
In observing debates around the politics of naming, especially when it comes to gender, I often think of Boggs. Someone who knows little of her life and politics, or of intersectionality, might judge Boggs’ last name as an acceptance of a patriarchal naming tradition that privileges men. But is it?
The argument could also be made that by adding the last name of her black husband to her own Chinese name Boggs was putting into personal action the political solidarity between people of color traditionally pitted against one another by white supremacy. Perhaps her acceptance of the name was even a revolutionary act that flew in the face of the laws of a country that said race must determine whom you choose to love?
Or maybe, in 1953, a deeply political Chinese American woman marrying a black man simply had bigger fish to fry than worrying about her last name? Of course, these arguments are just as much speculation as the first. Still, I’d argue it is Boggs’ life-long record as a thought leader in the labor, civil rights, women’s rights, and environmental justice movements that actually defines her identity.
Boggs put into action hooks’ concept of ideas over identity long before the rest of us even started talking about it. That’s an example that could do us all some good.
Where Furrows Run Deep
Black farmers in the United States have been losing their land and going out of business at the rate of 1,000 acres per day; three times faster than the national average. In 1920, there were nearly 1 million black farmers owning 14 percent of all farms in the U.S. Today there are less than 18,000 owning less than 1 percent. Why? While the corporatization of the agricultural industry helps accelerate the decline of the small, family-owned farm, many black farmers claim they have an added burden: the institutional racism pervasive in local USDA offices. Delayed loan awards, lost paperwork, preferential treatment for white farmers, equipment being shot up, racist remarks and threats are still happening. In April of 2004, an African American man was found hung in rural Mississippi apparently while researching mineral rights on land his family had farmed over the last century.
In 1997 a class action lawsuit was filed against the USDA; Pigford v. Glickman (now Veneman). In 1999, a consent decree supposedly settled the case. According to the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, to this date, 40% of the claimants have not received their settlement.
I started this project while a graduate student at Ohio University in 1999. In an effort to expand the project, I spent the month of May 2001 camping and living out of my Grand Cherokee with my German shepherd Luna documenting black farmers in Ohio, VA, NC and SC. Initially, I meant it to be a visual anthropological account. A segment of our culture was disappearing and I felt it important to create historical records before that happened. Though its still about that, it has become much more. Its about a shattered American dream seen through the eyes of the black farmer.
I hope that with this sponsorship from Blue Earth Alliance and subsequent grants I will be able to bring honor and justice to so many who have lost faith in that dream. Blue Earth’s non-profit status extends to Where Furrows Run Deep. Thus, your donations are tax deductable.
This is so amazing!
BUFFALO SOLDIER A studio portrait of an unidentified African American soldier posing with buffalo hide. ca. 1860-1880. Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
he Delano Grape Strike was a strike, boycott, and secondary boycott led by the United Farm Workers (UFW) against growers of table grapes in California. The strike began on September 8, 1965, and lasted more than five years. The strike was significant victory for the UFW, leading to a first contract with these growers.
The strike began when the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, mostly Filipino farm workers in Delano, California, led by Philip Vera Cruz, Larry Itliong, Benjamin Gines and Pete Velasco, walked off the farms of area table-grape growers, demanding wages equal to the federal minimum wage.
One week after the strike began, the predominantly Mexican-American National Farmworkers Association, led by Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Richard Chavez, joined the strike, and eventually the two groups merged, forming the United Farm Workers of America in August 1966. Quickly, the strike spread to over 2,000 workers.
Through its grassroots efforts—utilizing consumer boycotts, marches, community organizing and nonviolent resistance—the movement gained national attention for the plight of some of the nation’s lowest-paid workers. By 1970, the UFW had succeeded in reaching a collective bargaining agreement with the table-grape growers, affecting in excess of 10,000 farm workers.
The Harlem Playgirls was an African American swing band active in the Midwest and throughout the United States from the mid-1930s to the early 1940s.
Don’t edit the Voting Rights Act - remember Bloody Sunday
On March 7th, 1965, state troopers attacked and beat 525 peaceful protesters marching for voter registration in Selma, Alabama. The horrific display of police brutality known as ‘Bloody Sunday’ spurred the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which ensured and protected the right to vote for millions of minorities in America. To remove any part of the Act, to take away any of the rights included in it, would be disrespectful to those who lost their lives fighting for it.
Pagbabalik Project and Third Root Productions is currently casting for our upcoming April and May work- in- progress performances of A HISTORY OF THE BODY, a new play by Aimee Suzara, Directed by Pam Wu Kochiyama.
March 3 10am-1pm and March 14 5pm-9pm
Come with a 1-3 minute monolouge and a 1-3 minute humourous monolouge.
Rehearsals starting March 17th
Show April 18, CSU, Monterey
Show May 11, Oakland Asian Cultural Center
Please send headshots w experience and indicate availability for both audition dates. attached to firstname.lastname@example.org
1. LITA – 50-55, Filipina, cosmetologist/hairdresser at a Salon. She is a “trickster” and comes from a lineage of shamans and healers and knows other’s thoughts and secrets. She is very feminine, auntie-like to her customers. Medium skin tone. Be able to do gesture and movement. Ideally can speak Ilocano or Tagalog.
2. MARY / MARIA – 30-35- Filipina (can be portrayed by Filipino-American). She was born in the Philippines, works in a bank, Catholic, and has a secret dream to be an actress. Comes from a family of lower to moderate means, has a nursing mother who became a shop owner. She immigrated to the United States at age 8. She can demonstrate a mild Filipino accent. Ideally, can speak Tagalog. Tends to be more feminine and into looking “pretty” in a conventional way. She has gotten more superficial over the past ten years and even had a nose job. Medium to lighter brown skin tone but not passably white. (MARIA: an Ifugao indigenous woman on display at the World’s Fair, 18 years old. Possibly played by same as MARY. Should be able to have Filipino accent and read a few Tagalog lines.) Be able to do gesture and movement. Ideally, have dance experience.
3. STELLA – 30-35 - Filipina-American woman who was born and raised in the United States – in Southern CA. She’s spunky and bold, a Women’s Studies professor and a lesbian. Feminine but with an edge; was not into femininity in her youth and only recently started going to salons. Darker-medium to medium light brown skin tone but not passably white. She celebrates natural skin tone, in contrast to MARY. Be able to do gesture and movement. Ideally, have dance experience.
For more information contact:
Don’t Know Much About Asian American History? Books for Children
In 1992, Congress proclaimed the month of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. And what better time to teach your kids about the history of Asians in the United States? Perhaps you’ve shared with your children how you or your family members came to America, but this is also a great opportunity to learn about the experiences of other Asians in the United States.
I’ve reviewed plenty of Asian children’s books before, but I’m especially excited about this list, because these are all titles that focus on the rich and varied history of Asians in America. Here are some picture books that feature experiences of immigration, forging an identity, and key points in history. Because these subjects are rarely taught in class. Think of it as Asian American Studies for the elementary school set.
Kai’s Journey to Gold Mountain: An Angel Island Story by Katrina Saltonstall Currier is a book I first saw while visiting Angel Island. In case you’re not familiar with it, Angel Island, in the San Francisco Bay, was the Ellis Island of the West. During the 19th and early 20th century, immigrants from China, Japan, Korea and the Phillippines were detained in barracks, often for long and unpredictable lengths of time. Twelve-year old Kai is one of those new arrivals, who must wait to be released so he can join his father on “Gold Mountain”.
Coolies by Yin and illustrated by Chris Sontpiet tells the story of Shek and Little Wong, who arrive in California to build the transcontinental railroad. Inspired by actual events, this story reveals the harsh truth about life for the Chinese railroad workers in 1865, while celebrating their perseverance and bravery. The author and illustrator also teamed up to create Brothers, a story about a friendship between Ming, a boy in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and his Irish neighbor, Patrick.
Where the Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai and illustrated by Felicia Hoshino is a recommendation from my friend Elisa Koff-Ginsborg. The book tells the story of Mari, who — along with thousands of other Japanese Americans– has been forced to move to the Topaz internment camp during World War II. An art class and a kindly teacher offer a ray of hope amidst these unjust circumstances.
Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki and illustrated by Dom Lee is another title about the Japanese American internment experience. The main character is a small Japanese American boy who dislikes baseball because he is often teased as he plays with his white peers. Life is even harsher at the camp, with tempers flaring in the tight quarters. However, a makeshift baseball game at Whether your kids are sports nuts or benchwarmers, they will probably find the baseball aspect of this story something they can relate to.
Going Home, Coming Home by Truong Tran, illustrated by Ann Phong is described by Terry Hong of Smithsonian BookDragon as “A poignant, lovely bilingual tale about a little girl who visits her ancestral home in Vietnam and realizes that she can be both Vietnamese and American, with a home here and a home there.”
Chachaji’s Cup by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Soumya Sitaraman is also a BookDragon pick. “A young boy’s special relationship with Chachaji, his father’s old uncle, teaches him important lessons about family bonds and his rich Indian heritage,” writes Hong. This book was also made into a stage performance in 2010 that featured Bollywood and sitar music and a multicultural cast.
Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet S. Wong and illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine is a more contemporary story that deals with an issue that many children of immigrants can relate to: food shame. The main character is embarrassed that her family is cooking Chinese food to serve in their shop, even though it is Independence Day. Of course, there is a delicious twist to the story.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi portrays a dilemma all too familiar to immigrant youth — whether or not to trade in a foreign sounding name for an American one. Unhei must make this decision after she moves from Korea to New York, and her new classmates attempt to help her by filling a jar full of potential monikers.
Do you have any recommendations?
For more recommendations, including chapter books and Young Adult literature, my favorite Taiwanese American author Grace Lin has a Asian-Pacific Heritage Month Booklist on PBS Parents.
“There’s always something we can do.”
Civil rights legend Rosa Parks was honored earlier today with her own statue in the U.S. Capitol. Revealed in a ceremony led by President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, the statue is the first of an African-American woman to be housed in the Capitol.
From Obama’s remarks:
Like the bus driver, but also like the passengers on the bus, we see the way things are — children hungry in a land of plenty, entire neighborhoods ravaged by violence, families hobbled by job loss or illness — and we make excuses for inaction, and we say to ourselves, that’s not my responsibility, there’s nothing I can do.
Rosa Parks tell us there’s always something we can do.
Photos: Charles Dharapak / Associated Press, Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images, Oliver Douliery / EPA.