I Was Reminded Of Rice Krispies
Friday Ephemera

Don’t Oppress My People With Your Public Libraries

Further to recent rumblings in the comments, Captain Nemo steers us to the Twitter feed of Library Journal, a “global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators,” and which proudly directs its readers to the mental exertions of Ms Sofia Leung:

Our library collections, because they are written mostly by straight white men, are a physical manifestation of white men ideas taking up all the space in our library stacks. Pause here and think about this.

Ms Leung, an academic librarian, is unhappy that public libraries in the US, a white-majority culture with a white-majority history, tend to have, among other things, lots of books by authors with pale skin. This, we’re told, is an “interesting mini-eureka moment” that our Queen of Intersectional Rumination feels compelled to share. When Ms Leung discovers that public libraries in China and South Korea have quite a few books by Chinese and Korean authors, I’m sure she’ll be equally aghast. Every bit as offended.

Ms Leung airs her distaste for “white men ideas” – as if they had been uniform across continents and throughout history - while reminiscing about attending a “white AF conference” two years earlier. I was unsure what the “AF” might refer to and searched for some literary or scholarly explanation. It then occurred to me that a “white AF conference” is, to borrow the woke vernacular, a white as fuck conference. Which is how not-at-all-racist academic librarians convey their thoughts, apparently.

If you look at any United States library’s collection, especially those in higher education institutions, most of the collections (books, journals, archival papers, other media, etc.) are written by white dudes writing about white ideas, white things, or ideas, people, and things they stole from POC and then claimed as white property… When most of our collections filled with this so-called “knowledge,” it continues to validate only white voices and perspectives and erases the voices of people of colour. 

At which point, things get a little breathless and intermittently grammatical. However, readers may wish to ponder how synthesising insights from around the world, and from cultures long gone, and preserving those insights, in libraries, is somehow a bad thing. Readers may also wish to ponder the implications of a librarian and self-styled educator, schooled at the University of Washington and Barnard College, New York, and who is offended, something close to enraged, by the existence of “white ideas” and the “so-called ‘knowledge’” of “white dudes.”

As if sensing that her thoughts aren’t sufficiently lurid and unhinged, Ms Leung then shifts into higher gear:

Library collections continue to promote and proliferate whiteness with their very existence and the fact that they are physically taking up space in our libraries. They are paid for using money that was usually ill-gotten and at the cost of black and brown lives via the prison industrial complex, the spoils of war, etc. 

Amid this avalanche of conspiracy theories and rote indignation, we’re told that the prevalence of books by pale-skinned authors in a majority-white country “indicates that we… don’t think people of colour are… as important as white people.” The exact line of reasoning here is somewhat unclear and obscured by the inevitable in-group incantations, including “sites of whiteness.” A term deployed to describe public libraries, which, we’re to believe, somehow crush the very breath out of the heroically brown.

Having dismissed as tiresome the entire breadth and history of “white men ideas” – from Ptolemy to Babbage, Tesla to Solzhenitsyn, Turing to Shakespeare – these “white dudes” and their “so-called ‘knowledge’” - Ms Leung then makes clear the kinds of feedback she is willing to entertain:

I still have some thinking to do around this topic, but curious to hear what others think. I’m less interested in hearing that you don’t buy it, so don’t bother with those types of comments.

Ms Leung’s Twitter account is, alas, now in shutdown mode, thereby depriving us of further elaboration. Or at least depriving us of further racial chastisement and smug philistine posturing. We do, however, learn that our academic librarian is fond of “cats, whiskey, intersectional feminism, social justice” and “critical race theory,” the stupefying effects of which have been noted previously.

Update, via the comments: 

Bgates quotes Ms Leung,

white dudes writing about white ideas

And adds,

I hadn’t thought it was possible to write six words that encapsulate the collected works of Socrates, Plato, St Paul, St Augustine, Marcus Aurelius, Thomas Aquinas, Shakespeare, Moliere, Newton…

Well, quite. But as we’ve seen many times, wokeness is a kind of rapid-onset morony.

And the fact that Ms Leung’s overt racial animus and eye-widening ignorance haven’t been mocked out of her or resulted in any kind of censure or career impediment – indeed, quite the opposite - suggests that she’s not entirely without the “privilege” she denounces in others, based solely on their melanin levels. I’m now trying to imagine a white librarian, employed by MIT, mouthing comparable noises about the history and literature of non-white people, and their obviously malign inclinations, and surviving the day with the approval of their employer, and their peers, and their job, intact.

Heavens, a button. I wonder what it does.