food for thought: clover food lab edition

This week looks to be the first five day work week, for many of us in the Boston area, since the week of January 19th! We hardly know how Mondays function any longer, and many of the classes that were supposed to meet this spring are floundering their way through make-up sessions and finding other creative ways to get through their syllabi. As I put this links list together I’m sitting in Clover Food Lab in Harvard Square (Cambridge, Mass.) waiting for my wife’s evening class at Harvard Extension to wrap for the evening. Thanks to her benefits through the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW) she’s able to take a class per semester for $40.00 tuition! Hip hip hooray for unionization is what I say.

My links from the week…

Erik Loomis @ Lawyers, Guns and Money | Culture Wars and Studying History (II)

[Gordon] Wood has found a new publishing outlet and that is The Weekly Standard. His discussion of his dissertation advisor Bernard Bailyn is little more than a cranky old white man screed against how new generations of historians talk about the past. He has a litany of complaints–too much race! too much gender! too much other countries! not enough big stories! historians trying to use the past for social change!–that for whatever merit (and I don’t think the complaints have much merit at all) they might have, basically come down to Gordon Wood believing the solution to these problems is seeing the past and writing about the past precisely in the way Gordon Wood sees the past and writes about the past. To say this is an unfortunate essay is a severe understatement.

Lara Hogan | Working in Tech with a Chronic Illness

I reached out to three other folks in our industry who have chronic illnesses to ask them to share their stories. I’m so appreciative that Lyza Danger Gardner, Mat Marquis and Nicholas Zakas have all been willing to participate. It’s important to note that lots of people with chronic illness don’t want pity or concessions—and we definitely don’t want to sound like we’re complaining, and so we just try and barrel through our workday.

I should also note that this post only reflects four individuals’ experiences with chronic illness; it’s not intended to represent the entire spectrum of ways illness can affect someone. Rather, I’m hoping to illustrate how our web development jobs are impacted by chronic illness, and how these kinds of jobs can also empower people who may not be able to work in traditional fields.

bossladywrites | The Fairytale of the Work-Life Balance

The only way to have any work-life balance is to take it. By that, I mean in order to maintain balance you have to absolutely know when to say No and know when things are starting to feel off balance and need to be realigned. Only you know those things. I’m pretty sure most bosses will let you work yourself into a tizzy and are busy enough that they may not even know until it’s too late. Because I’ve had very serious health concerns happen to me that were related to stress in a previous job, I try to be really aware of all of my people and check in with them (especially the most eager beavers) to make sure they are not overdoing it.

Jordan Schneider @ Chronicle of Higher Ed | A Letter to Full-Time Faculty

Complaining about low standards of education won’t do it. Showing the plight of adjuncts won’t do it. I’m pretty sure administrators know that adjuncts sometimes have to go on food stamps, that they have to work multiple jobs to support themselves and their families, and that the life of an adjunct is often filled with isolation, disappointment, and anxiety. I just don’t think most administrators really care, and no amount of shaming and guilt-tripping will change the balance sheets they have to show to presidents and governing boards. I don’t think administrators are bad people; they just have priorities and perspectives that are different from those of faculty, and no amount of handwringing and ethical indignation will change that.

So if adjuncts are so attractive because we’re so cheap, powerless, excluded, and replaceable, the solution seems to be to make adjuncts more expensive, more empowered, more included, and more secure in our positions.

Sarah Seltzer @ Flavorwire | Online Harassment Is the Missing Piece in Discussions of “PC” Culture

[Michelle] Goldberg focuses primarily, but not exclusively, on prominent white feminists in her piece. This is unfortunate since her point holds for the larger community. It’s common knowledge that women of color and queer women who are prominent, powerful voices on social media and blogs get the same, if not worse, cruel and violent harassment on a regular basis.

Aaron Wiener @ Housing Complex / Washington City Paper | The “Gentrification Myth” Myth

The Economist piece makes passing reference to one of the core problems effected by gentrification—a term I usually avoid for its ambiguity and loaded connotations, but generally referring to the displacement of low-income residents by wealthier, whiter ones, amid rising housing costs and new restaurants and shops. “In New York and San Francisco, which both have rent-control rules, soaring property prices create an incentive for property owners to get rid of their tenants,” the famously un-bylined magazine writes. “Stories abound of unscrupulous developers buying up rent-controlled properties and then using legal loopholes or trickery to force residents to leave.” That point is made briefly, as part of an argument the piece sets out to squash. But it’s actually an important one.

What have you been reading this week? Share via email, Twitter, or in comments!

food for thought: the long winter edition

As I put this links list together on Tuesday afternoon it’s snowing in Boston … again. My wife had gallbladder surgery on Friday, thankfully between blizzards, and we’ve been snug at home over the long weekend as she heals. I was grateful not only for the skilled and kind surgeon and medical staff at Beth Israel Deaconness hospital here in Boston, but also for the robust insurance my wife has through work, and also for the fact we live in a state where I don’t have to worry about being kept from her side due to non-recognition of our kinship status.

This morning we walked 1/2 mile up the road to enjoy leisurely cafe au lait at Caffe Aromi in Hyde Square — my wife’s first venture out since returning from the hospital. At the Hyde Square traffic circle we passed a group of incarcerated folks, similar to this crew, being paid less than $1.00/hour to clear roads and sidewalks throughout Boston. While I am glad that incarcerated people have opportunities to work for wages, it is deeply problematic that they are required, by law, to be paid less than minimum wage, with sketchy workplace protections at best.

Meanwhile, I logged into my work email this morning to find that people had driven to work only to be unable, full stop to find a place to park their cars. So they’d had to turn around and return home. That’s how structurally unable to handle the snow Boston is. It’s been a season of reckoning with the power of the nature world to humble human inventions like city infrastructure.

This week’s links…

Katha Pollitt @ The Nation | Republicanism vs. Multiculturalism in France (via Amiable P.G.)

Like the United States, France enshrines the separation of church and state in law, but laïcité, which is usually translated as “secularism,” is much more than that. In the United States, especially in recent years, the accent is on protecting believers from government interference, including, as in the Hobby Lobby case, excusing them from following important laws that benefit hundreds of thousands of people and that everyone else must follow. Laïcité, by contrast, is overtly anticlerical: it’s the creation and maintenance of a religion-free public space. In America, which has always been a jumble of denominations, atheists are few and Christianity is vigorous and politically powerful, and conservatives tend to support a wider public role for religion. But in France, where Catholicism is on the wane and Islam is energetic, even Marine Le Pen supports laïcité.

Colleen Flaherty @ InsideHigherEd | 15k Per Course?

Most observers agree that adjunct instructors deserve better pay, but what about $15,000 per course? The Service Employees International Union shocked even some adjunct activists last week when it announced that figure as a centerpiece of its new faculty advocacy campaign. But while union leaders admit the number is bold, those involved in the campaign say adjuncts might as well aim big, since they have little to lose. They also say they hope the $15,000 figure will force a national conversation about just how colleges spend their money, if not on middle-class salaries for instructors.

Eric Loomis @ Lawyers, Guns, and Money | Workplace Safety

One of things that drives me really crazy is when people talk about unions only in terms of financial gain. While workers (or anyone) will never turn down more money, unions are not primarily about money. They are about dignity on the job and worker power to have a say in their work life. To achieve that dignity and that voice, workers may very well want higher wages. But they may also want shorter hours, better equipment, a break for lunch, not to have to provide their own clothing or safety equipment, and an end to arbitrary firings, just to name a few of the issues workers have fought for in the past and/or fight for in the present.

Nicole Sanchez @ Medium | Which Women in Tech?

Something that everyone paying attention to diversity in tech needs to understand is this: White women speaking for us as representatives of the “diversity in tech” movement must stop. White women are a small sliver of the available talent, but are currently used as the proxy for all diversity. What works for them is not what works for us.

Nomy Lamm @ The Body is Not an Apology | This is Disability Justice

Soon after I moved to San Francisco eight years ago, I was introduced to radical crip artist/activists Leroy Moore and Patty Berne, and the project they founded, Sins Invalid. I had recently been approved for federal disability benefits, and though I have a lifelong disability and have been an activist since I was a teenager – and even though I’d spent the past fifteen years doing fat liberation work, and the past five years doing personal work around the legacy of medical trauma in my life – I had not figured out a way to integrate my politics within a bigger framework of disability activism.

Nadine Muller | An Anxious Mind

You tell yourself that things will be different once you have that holy grail, that first permanent academic job, when you can relax on a decent salary, traveling to only one place of work, being an integral part of your department and a permanent good colleague. But if you internalize the behavioral patterns described above now, during your Ph.D., they won’t ever go away. Not on their own, not without you recognizing that you are the one who maintains them, feeds them. You will continue to feel insecure, you’ll feel unfairly threatened by colleagues, you will beat yourself up because not everyone in your department likes you, because you can’t please everyone, because you do everything wrong, always. While academia can be challenging and punishing in itself, don’t underestimate the effect your Ph.D. studies can have on you. Depending on your subject, spending three years on your own and largely in your head is bound to throw up the good, the bad, and the ugly, especially if you have struggled with mental health issues before.

WBUR (AP) | Harvard, MIT Sued Over Lack of Closed Captioning Online

Advocates for the deaf sued Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Thursday, saying the universities failed to provide closed captioning for online courses, podcasts and other educational programs.

All Confirmation Bias, All the Time | Creating Just Online Social Spaces

Social spaces grow from their seed members, and as it’s been studied, people’s social networks tend to be racially and genderwise insular; White members beget more white members; men bring more men, especially in technology as we’ve found. If a space is insufficiently representative of the diversity of experiences that should be there, people will leave, having seen yet another space that isn’t “for” them. So, too, power structures reflect the initial or core body of a social group, and a social group will tend to reflect the demographics of those in positions of power, creating a feedback cycle that will be hard to break without a lot of effort. Seed your network as broadly as you can, and put people without homogenous backgrounds in power.

What have you been reading and thinking about vis a vis work and social justice this week? Share, as always, via email, Twitter, or in comments.

food for thought: gosh more snow edition

This marks the third week in a row that I’ve put together this links list on a snow day from work; as Boston is learning painfully and unequally this winter, chronically under-funding socialized city services comes home to roost when nature decides to play rough. Blizzards apparently played a key role in creating the role of modern city government — it will be interesting to see whether they play an equally key role in re-imagining that role for the era of climate change and 21st-century infrastructure.

Whether you are comfortably at work or digging out from this most recent round of snow, I hope you find something thought-provoking in this week’s links list.

Maggie Mertens @ Refinery29 | Will Millennial Women Ever Get Paid Maternity Leave?

Here’s the thing: Business doesn’t suffer because of paid-leave laws. In California, one of only three states with paid-family-leave laws, 91 percent of businesses reported that the law either boosted or had no impact on their profitability. And, women there were more likely to stay in the workforce and report increased wages after having a baby than those in states with no such law.

“Paid parental leave encourages loyalty and productivity, and reduces turnover in a workforce,” says Tracy Sturdivant, co-executive director of Make it Work, a nonpartisan campaign working to advance economic security. “That’s why successful businesses like Google offer generous paid leave for mothers and fathers. These policies are good for loyalty, morale, and for a business’s bottom line.”

Meg Winikates @ Brain Popcorn | NEMA Wrap up 3: Discussing Diversity

The first task the Think Tank took on was trying to encapsulate what kinds of diversity we seek as a field.  Recognizing that ‘diversity of thought is even more important than diversity of look’ to promote change, while not underestimating the impact of the ‘this place is for people like me’ effect, meant that our definition in itself was diverse.  The questions raised included ‘how can we define/identify what diversity is – and should we?’ and ‘what kind of diversities are priorities for museums?’  These are both much bigger ideas than we had airspace for in an hour long session, but I would love to hear your thoughts!

Inside Higher Ed | Inequality on Rise in Higher Education

Rising costs and lower government aid have made it more difficult for lower-income students to earn a college degree, according to a new report from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (AHEAD) at the University of Pennsylvania. The study tracked data over 45 years. It found that students and families paid for one-third of the cost of the higher-education system in 1980. But that proportion grew to a little more than half in 2012.

Brittney Cooper @ Salon | White Male Temper Tantrums: What the ‘Political Correctness’ Debate Completely Misses

In the hands of uncritical white liberals, black women’s radical knowledge production becomes the shrapnel of democracy, the violently shredded material aftermath of a “free” and unregulated war of ideas, embedded painfully in the hearts and minds of otherwise well-meaning white people. Clearly, black women’s ideas about political correctness and identity politics grow out of a liberatory politic that is about the pursuit of freedom for black people, rather than the suppression of white people.

Samhita Mukhopadhyay @ Al Jazeerha | Why Political Correctness is Still Politically Relevant

Building off the civil rights movement and feminist activism of the late 1960s and early 1970s, identity politics as a field emerged in response to the unfair treatment that people from marginalized groups received in daily life and the ways in which American culture did not reflect or include our experience or realities. Identity politics emerged in academia as a response to history’s not including the plight of Native Americans, women or black people. It was a response to racism, sexism and homophobia that pushed back on the assumption that everyone was straight, white, cisgender and middle-class. Identity politics — also known as the fields of women’s studies, ethnic studies, African-American studies, queer studies and the like — paved the way for Edward Said to study colonization’s role in how the West understands “the Orient,” Kimberle Crenshaw to consider a politics of intersectionality and the powerlessness of women invisible to the legal system and Audre Lorde to insist that her words as a lesbian and woman of color mattered.  

Sam Pritchard @ Contralbum | Political Correctness Is More Reasonable Than Jonathan Chait

Chait, by arguing that all ideas merit the respect of good-faith Enlightenment discourse, exhibits dishonesty. He, like all human beings, excludes many positions from his notion of what is reasonable, and dismisses them summarily. He even does it within the very piece where he pleads for a democratic ideal of reasoned discourse in which his ideas are never dismissed—and, incredibly, some of the ideas he rejects flippantly are indeed reasonable. Chait shrugs off these ideas perhaps more subtly and in a more tonally-restrained style than the PC discourse he criticizes, but it is no less galling to those being dismissed, and it is no less a tactic of ideological policing. Again, we find that Chait is primarily uncomfortable with being subject to the dismissal that he, as a centrist, assumed he was entitled to dole out and immune from receiving. That assumption is so ingrained that he doesn’t even recognize his own language as the dismissive policing of ideology that it is.

 Sydni Dunn @ Curriculum Vitae | Where Do English Ph.D.’s Get Jobs? It Depends on Where They Studied

From Ph.D. to the professorship, the market moves downward. Of the graduates who get tenure-track jobs, most end up at universities ranked lower than the ones they attended. Virtually no one moves up. Even moving from a fourth-tier Ph.D. program to a tenure-track professorship at a third-tier one is nearly unheard of.

Michael Ortner @ Quartz | How to Have a Successful Unlimited Vacation Policy

Americans are not good at taking vacation. A study from Glassdoorreports that American employees only take 51% of their available time off—and 15% take no time off at all. And these statistics are not good for business; studies have shown again and again that vacations are intimately tied to higher productivity, workplace morale, and employee retention. We decided to give our employees the ability to use their best judgment and take as much vacation as they decided they needed, when they needed it.

Allison Meier @ Hyperallergic | Emma Goldman Papers Project Faces Uncertain Future

The 34-year-old Emma Goldman Papers Project is in limbo after losing its affiliation with UC Berkeley and running through its funding. The university cites the slowness of the project and the need to direct funds elsewhere as reasons for the break, while the project’s director claims the charismatic Jewish anarchist activist is still a radical figure to support.

Adam Grant & Sheryl Sandberg | Madam C.E.O, Get Me a Coffee

Joan C. Williams, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, finds that professional women in business, law and science are still expected to bring cupcakes, answer phones and take notes. These activities don’t just use valuable time; they also cause women to miss opportunities. The person taking diligent notes in the meeting almost never makes the killer point.

When men do help, they are more likely to do so in public, while women help more behind the scenes. Studies demonstrate that men are more likely to contribute with visible behaviors — like showing up at optional meetings — while women engage more privately in time-consuming activities like assisting others and mentoring colleagues. As the Simmons College management professor Joyce K. Fletcher noted, women’s communal contributions tend simply to “disappear.”

What have you been reading on work, archives, and social justice this week? Share on Twitter, via email, or in comments!

food for thought: another snowstorm edition

Just as the Northeast was digging out from blizzard Juno, another band of wintery whiteness blew across the plains through Great Lakes region and is now once again blanketing the Boston area with about a foot of fresh snow. Here are some of the stories that crossed my desk while hunkered down working from home.

Special thanks to the participants of the 1/27 #critlib chat where several of these pieces were originally linked.

Annie Pho @ APALA | But am I Really an Activist? Dealing with Impostor Syndrome

When I was first asked to write an article about being an activist librarian, I was really surprised that someone asked me to write about activism in libraries at all. I have never called myself an activist. To me, activists are very organized, well-spoken (and outspoken), proactive in spreading the messages of their cause, and inspire others to be better. While I do care about social justice, I often find myself struggling with the right response to those who critique social justice movements. I consider myself someone who is constantly trying to learn how to be a better citizen, not necessarily someone who inspires others. That’s when I realized the depths of impostor syndrome—always feeling like you are impersonating the role that you currently fulfill. Impostor syndrome is an issue in our profession, and something that permeates many spaces in librarianship.

Angela @ Without Edge | Job Interview as Performance Art

There’s this desire for a prescriptive answer for interview outfits, as though your clothes get you the job. Let me be clear: your clothes do not get you the job; your adherence to the white, middle class costume is what prevents your exclusion. The middle class costume is framed in the maintenance of surface, so much that entire industries are sustained by this desire. Plastic surgery, anti-aging creams, hair dye, vanity sizing, shapewear, dressing to look thinner, and conforming to gender performance expectations. If you like your anti-aging creams and hair dye, fine. They are part of the costume regardless of our empowerment from them. I like makeup. I feel more confident wearing it. But I can’t deny its role in middle class performance.

#critlib | Book CFP

This book will provide practical tools and activities to integrate critical pedagogy into library instruction. Short chapters introducing key ideas will alternate with lesson plans and workbook activities where readers will reflect on their own practice or walk through the steps to alter an existing teaching activity. This approach reflects our belief that all librarians can incorporate critical pedagogy into their teaching. One does not need to be an expert in critical theory to get started, but every teaching activity is an opportunity to reflect, learn, and incorporate theory into one’s practice.

We welcome proposals from anyone who teaches using critical pedagogies, whether in academic, public, or community libraries. We encourage proposals from individuals who belong to communities historically underrepresented in librarianship, and from those who work with learners from marginalized communities.

Victor Ray @ Conditionally Accepted | Reflections on Nominal Diversity in Academia

As a stopgap means of providing more support for race scholarship, students of color also organized a race workshop, providing a space for students, postdocs, and professors from across the campus and from other institutions.  The majority of white faculty in my department rarely attends this workshop—but this award gives them credit that work.  Further, faculty members get angry that students have the audacity to organize.  Essentially, for pointing out that there is a problem with racial inequality, you become the problem.  You have, after all, made (white) power uncomfortable.  The racial etiquette of our “colorblind” era means you’re rude for talking about such things.

bossladywrites | Not Just Surviving, But Thriving: How to Deal When You Can’t Get Out of Your Crappy Job

So, last week I gave my advice on knowing when to leave your job. But, what if you know it’s just shit, but you can’t leave. You are place bound. You have a home, kids in school, partner. You have a mortgage. Or maybe it’s because you just can’t find anything else. A full time job takes up the bulk of our time every week. And if this full time job is a part of your long term career goals, you have a lot vested in it.

I have only had to survive a real hellish job situation once. So, I am not an expert. But, here’s my advice (with some from my peers sprinkled in). You need to find out how you can not only survive, but thrive, until the right time comes along to leave. Also, before you go negative, the right time *will* come. This is a game of biding your time.

Chris Bourg @ Feral Librarian | Never Neutral: Libraries, Technology, and Inclusion

If you read the blurb describing this talk, you know that a fundamental tenet that undergirds this talk, and frankly undergirds much of the work I have done in and for libraries, is the simple assertion that libraries are not now nor have they ever been merely neutral repositories of information. In fact, I’m personally not sure “neutral” is really possible in any of our social institutions … I think of neutral as really nothing more than a gear in your car.

Homa Mojtabai @ McSweeney’s | Reasons You Were Not Promoted That Are Totally Unrelated to Gender

You don’t smile enough. People don’t like you.

You smile too much. People don’t take you seriously.

You’re abrasive, for example that time when you asked for a raise. It was awkward and you made the men on the senior leadership team uncomfortable.

You don’t speak up. We’d really like to see you take on more of a leadership role before we pay you for being a leader.

UC-Hastings | Double Jeopardy? Gender Bias Against Women of Color in Science (PDF)

We interviewed sixty scientists who were all women of color. Women of color face “double jeopardy” because they encounter race as well as gender bias (Epstein, 1973; Almquist, 1975). This study explores how the experience of gender bias differs by race.

Sarah Fenton @ AHA Today | Reflections on Ferguson and the Value of Historical Context

What made Session 245-A particularly well suited to unraveling that problem was not only the pressing importance of the topic, but also the variety of angles from which panelists approached it. Is it prosaic to talk about tools? There’s nothing prosaic about the tools themselves when handled by historian Colin Gordon; his maps and tables illustrate trends whose origins and impact can be hard to convey in words alone, uncovering chapters in the story of greater St. Louis lost in most reports on Ferguson last fall. Decade by decade, Gordon showed us neighborhoods segregated by race and wealth as “private and public strategies of exclusion overlapped and reinforced one another.” As black flight followed white, inner city poverty moved from the city’s near north side to its inner suburbs. “We’ve made some gains on wages and income,” Gordon concluded, “but the wealth gap is growing, and that is all about housing.”

Tylyn Hardamon @ NPR | The True Costs of Community College

Even though it was billed as bipartisan, Republicans did not welcome President Obama’s recent proposal to make tuition free at community colleges. It’s widely expected it won’t go anywhere in the GOP-controlled Congress, but it made us wonder what students at community colleges think about the plan. Youth Radio reporter Tylyn Hardamon went to his own campus to find out.

Jarrett M. Drake @ Medium | Marshawn Lynch and the Agency of the Silent 

Institutions that society empowers and funds to document our lives — including the news media and the archives — assume falsely that everyone wishes to be documented and reflected in the historical record. Moreover, we in these institutions take offense to anyone’s objections to our privilege to document their lives; particularly when we view the subject of the objection as someone who should be grateful to have microphones and cameras shoved in his face. “How dare he object to our authority to document?” As a result, when a person or organization obstructs our desire to document, we sometimes push them even harder, making us no better than the rank-and-file tabloid staff writer.

(via @NixoNARA)

What have you been reading? Share in the comments, via email, or on Twitter!