Proposition L

This November voters in the Kansas City area will be asked to decide whether a small tax increase should be implemented in order to improve the Mid Continent Public Library system.  Ordinarily I wouldn’t think twice about a measure such as this one.  I always vote in favor of improvements to schools, mass transit, parks and other city services even if I do not benefit from those services directly.  I think that libraries are important public resources that should be supported and utilized by the public.

However, I worked for MCPL for more than two years.  I was very disappointed by my observations and the way I was treated when I worked for them.  I will say that MCPL is a great library system.  They offer many invaluable resources to their patrons and I loved being a part of that organization.  I wanted to have a career there and I could have happily seen myself working there for many years to come.  But I am an African American woman and there is a strong hillbilly factor in Missouri that can be a barrier to progress.

MCPL is run by a bunch of hillbillies that do not appreciate diversity on any level.  They don’t support it in their collection and they don’t support it in their staffing.  If you need proof stop into any MCPL branch and you will most likely see White women.  That’s all they really want to hire.  I am an avid reader, I have years of customer service experience, I love literature, have three college degrees one of which is a Masters degree.  During my two and a half years as an employee of MCPL I applied to work as a full time employee around forty times.  I think I was interviewed twice.  I was never offered a full time position.  I was never told that I needed to improve in any area in order to become a full time employee.  I don’t think I fit their image of what a librarian should be.

I think that the lack of diversity in the library branch employees is a problem.  Minority communities have lower literacy rates than Whites.  I think that a library system that serves communities with large African American or first generation American population should do more to reach that community and increase literacy in those communities.  The Mid Continent Public Library System is primarily concerned with White soccer moms.  I am not White nor am I a parent so there is not reason for me to support an institution that is not looking out for my interests.

I think that it would be a powerful message to young minority patrons if they see a more diverse staff at the library.  As it is now it would appear to young eyes that literature is solely in the hands of White women and it is not for a young Black or Hispanic boy.  I think that it is the responsibility of librarians to encourage literacy and readership for everyone.  The library system should do more to recruit more male and minority including bi lingual library staff.  There should also be more programming that will encourage reading among young boys and minority children.  They will never do this at MCPL because they are uncreative, racist, Mid western hillbillies with one track minds.

Their collection lacks diversity.  Last May my hero Cam Newton was on the cover of “Ebony” magazine with his mother for Mother’s Day.  I wanted to save myself a few dollars and look at the magazine in the library.  They didn’t have it.  “Ebony” magazine was no longer on their shelves.  “Ebony” is a very old and widely read publication in the Black community.  The that MCPL no longer makes copies available to their patrons in print tells me something about their feelings about diversity and their African American patrons.

When I worked there African American patrons would ask for help finding popular African American Authors.  Quite often the books were not in the libraries collection or there were very limited copies that were not available due to loss or damage.  I had similar experiences when patrons wanted books in Spanish.  Of course the library has some books by African American authors and some books written in Spanish.  But if MCPL really wanted to encourage literacy among groups that fall behind in literacy they would do a lot more.

If MCPL did not think it was important to support African American or Spanish speaking authors and readers I have no reason to think that they will be any different with a bigger budget.  They will just continue to do more of what they’ve been doing.  I’m going to vote no on Proposition L.  If you’re not doing anything for my community I would rather keep my money to myself.  Let the White soccer moms pay the extra taxes.  MCPL lives for them anyway.

How Tithing Shaped My Views on Money

tithing

About ten years ago I decided to get serious about my Christian beliefs.  I wanted to be obedient to the word of God and stop picking and choosing the scriptures I would adhere to.  I wanted to submit myself to God and stop be a disciplined Christian.  I decided to fully commit to tithing %10 of my income.

Tithing is a controversial and heavily criticized practice.  I don’t understand the criticism.  Churches have bills and expenses like everyone else.  I think that if you attend a church that is ministering to people, changing lives and reaching out to the surrounding community in a charitable way you should help support the church financially.  Nothing in this world is free and I believe in putting your money where your mouth is.

You can tell where a person’s heart really is by where they consistently put their money.  If they spend money at a sporting goods store, a book store, or a store that sells designer fashions you can tell where their passion lies.  If a person spends most of their money on their child or a lover you have no doubt about how they feel about that person.  If a Christian believes in their church and trusts their pastoral staff they should financially support their mission as long as it aligns with scripture.  If they don’t trust the pastor or support the churches mission they should find a different church.

Tithing has been a great spiritual exercise for me.  It has taught me to not become too attached to money and material possessions.  I have also learned a lot about generosity, sacrifice and selflessness.  Whether you have a lot of money or a little it is very easy to exalt money in your life and make it a god.  Tithing has given me a different perspective on money.  Money is very important but it is not the end all be all.  Money is not a constant.  Money and it’s source is easy come easy go.

I have to be honest.  There have been times when I had to make a mental IOU to God because if I wrote a check for %10 of what I anticipate earning the next week the check would have bounced.  But I will also say that tithing has in no way been a detriment to me.  I’ve always gotten the bills paid.  I’ve always had money for my necessities and I’ve usually had money for things that I want (within reason).  There has always been enough.

I wish I had a story to tell you about me tithing at church and then I hit the lottery next week.  Nothing that dramatic has ever happened to me and I do not believe in prosperity Christianity at all.  However, I have always made ends meet even when money has been tight.  I have been blessed and God has always made a way for my household.  I have had several financial blessings come my way.  I believe that these blessings come from being obedient to God and the financial discipline that tithing brings.

The world we live in is absolutely consumed by greed.  People do horrible things in the pursuit of money.  The lack of money and the chase for more creates a great deal of anxiety and stress.  Tithing is a great practice because it teaches you to prioritize something ahead of your own financial gain.  Tithing teaches you to turn to God for your needs instead of your own ability to earn money.  Tithing also teaches you discipline which will help your finances in the long run.  I believe that tithing has been a blessing in my life in more ways than one.

Investment is Better Than Charity

Bill and Melinda Gates are spending their fortune to eradicate hunger and deadly diseases. George Soros is devoting hundreds of millions of dollars to building open and democratic societies. Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim wants people to learn—how to lay bricks, prepare a cocktail, appreciate European art or any of a myriad other skills and subjects…

via One of the richest men on Earth is paying for the poor to learn carpentry and art history online — Quartz

A remarkable, little-seen African film on the aspirations of a black girl still resonates 50 years later — Quartz

https://player.vimeo.com/video/165498289

Fifty years ago, Ousmane Sembène released his feature debut Black Girl. The writer and director uses a newly independent Senegal, hungry for political and social alternatives, as the backdrop for the widely acclaimed film. It’s through the film’s main character, Diouana (played by Mbissine Thérèse Diop), that Sembène makes a powerful argument about Senegal’s independence…

via A remarkable, little-seen African film on the aspirations of a black girl still resonates 50 years later — Quartz

#nomakeup – Shannon in Kansas City

There’s a new feminist movement sweeping social media.  It’s called the #nomakeup movement.  The #nomakeup movement encourages women to not wear make up.  I’m not exactly sure why we shouldn’t wear make up anymore.  I think it’s because Alicia Keys doesn’t want to wear it.  She says that she wants to challenge beauty standards and she wants the world to see her for who she really is.  Well good for Alicia Keys and her newfound independence from make up but can I live?

I’m not real big into natural beauty unless you are talking about landscapes.  Just about everything else can stand a little improvement and manipulation in order to look more appealing.  I don’t see anything wrong with that at all.  You don’t let the grass in your yard grow wild.  You take your car to the car wash once in a while.  But women are supposed to just throw ourselves to the wind to prove that we are confident, self assured women with our self esteem in tact.  Not me.  Not ever.

I enjoy makeup because I feel like it adds a little glamour to the mundane.  Putting on my makeup is sometimes the best part of my day.  I just like what a little mascara, eye liner and lipstick does for me.  I feel more put together and I know I look better.  I also feel like women look more feminine with make up.  Elegant femininity is becoming rare in these times that we live in but I’m a woman that wants to take a stand for it.

When I put on make up I don’t feel like I’m trying to look like someone else or live up to anyone else’s beauty standards.  I think that I am presenting the best version of myself.  I’m not hiding low self esteem under make up.  I am spending time on something that I care about.  I care about myself and the impression that I make on others.

I think that there is too much “keeping it real” in the world.  I want to break it to you all.  The world doesn’t really care about your authentic self.  There is a precious circle of folks that you can “keep it real” around.  Everyone else would like a polite, attractive representative until we choose to get to know you a bit better.  No one owes it to you to appreciate the most tore up version of yourself.

Alicia Keys’ #nomakeup campaign is really a bit arrogant.  The pictures that she posted on Instagram with no make were taken in a professional photo shoot.  The photos still look like they belong in a fashion magazine.  Alicia already has the mate and career she wants.  She is wealthy and probably doesn’t have to work another day in her life.  I think it’s kind of easy for her to say that she wants to abstain from cosmetics.  It’s really easy to not care what anyone thinks of you when you are a thirty five year old multi millionaire.

But Alicia can do what she wants and if she feels liberated going make up free good for her.  I applaud any woman for choosing not to wear make up if she doesn’t see the value in it.  I doubt that there is any real pressure for these women to wear make up but go ahead and rebel against the oppression of the cosmetics industry.

I just ask that you don’t make assumptions about those of us that enjoy our daily maquillage.  We all don’t suffer from low self esteem and self hatred.  Most of us just like to look our best and put a little polish on what God blessed us with.

 

 

 

 

 

Give Her a Break

Can we please give the Cincinnati Zoo mom a break.  I’m really tired of hearing about this incident.  It’s a shame Harambe was killed but the boy is alive so I would call that a happy ending.  I think the Cincinnati Zoo mom is a first class space cadet.  I don’t know what the heck she was doing while her child approached the fence to the gorilla habitat, climbed over it ran over a patch of grass and the jumped into a moat.  She definitely needed to be paying more attention to her child.

I don’t have children and haven’t spent a great deal of time with them so I don’t have any stories about losing children or having them destroy things while I’m not looking.  But I was a child myself once and I have memories of my own childhood mischief.  I guess all of these people that want the Cincinnati Zoo mom prosecuted have ideal parents and were ideal or non ambulatory children themselves.

I remember as a child going grocery shopping with my mother.  I got lost in the grocery store every week.  I would walk around crying until a store employee saw me and then they would walk with me to the register and announce that Shannon was looking for her mom.  I also got lost at an amusement park once.  I was much older but I still walked around aimlessly crying and amusement park employees had to come to my aid.

I was a fairly mild mannered child and I would consider my parents to be reasonably responsible people but I started my fair share of drama.  I remember smoking cigarette butts at my older cousin’s house when I was around seven.  I drank Bacardi rum at my dad’s house when I was around ten.  I found a gun under my dad’s bed when I was around thirteen.  I nearly electrocuted myself when I was three or so by sticking tweezers in a light socket.  I had wet hair at the time.  Instead of frying myself I blew a fuse in the house and the lights all went dark.

I also remember nearly setting the house on fire with a Christmas angel when I was around the same age.  I put the cardboard angel on a lamp lightbulb which was hidden with a lamp shade.  My parents and I left the house for the evening and when we came back our little angel was smoking because the lamp was left on.  I also chewed on a glass thermometer once and nearly ingested mercury.

So please stop with all the self righteous criticism.  Your parents were not perfect and your younger self was probably just as naughty as the child that ended up eye to eye with Harambe.

People That Love Animals

People that really, really, really, love animals have always freaked me out a bit.  People that have more love in their heart for animals than human beings are creepy and weird.  I’m talking about the type of people that talk about their pets constantly but you know them for months before you find out they have a spouse and children.  I’ve read Facebook memes about people that prefer animal company to human company.  If this is you than you have a problem.  If you are unable to maintain satisfying relationships with human beings on any level then you my friend are lacking something.  If you value the lives of animals more than you value humans you need a nice, tight hug from another human being.

This has been on my mind because of the recent events in Cincinnati, OH.  I’m talking about the boy that got in the gorilla cage and lived to tell the tale because the gorilla was shot to death.  I’ll admit that when I heard the story about the incident the first thing I thought to myself was that it was a shame that the animal was killed.  Then I wondered what the boy was doing in the gorilla enclosure.

Shamefully, my afterthought was about the boy and his well being.  I’m not even that into animals but I was briefly caught up in the frenzy too.  The zookeepers had no other choice but to kill the animal.  Regardless if the boy was ill behaved or if his mom is a space cadet they couldn’t have just let the boy be manhandled by a gorilla.

I am bothered at the way the media reported the story.  The story was about the animal not the child.  The headlines read something like “Gorilla Shot at Zoo” not “Child Falls into Gorilla Exhibit and Lives” or “Zoo Officials Save Child’s Life”.  Supposedly there is controversy over the decision that zoo keepers made to shoot the gorilla in order to spare the child any harm.  But we live in a country where children, even toddlers and infants are shot to death regularly.  Why isn’t there an outpouring of grief for them?  We seem to be complacent with the amount of violence in this country that is perpetuated against humans even the very young ones.

I really do feel bad for the likes of Harambe the Gorilla and Cecil the Lion but animals are not more important of valuable than people.  Infants that are killed in inner city drive by shootings don’t receive the same type of recognition.  Mankind was made in God’s image and God gave us dominion over animals.  There is something so disconcerting about people that love animals like they are human and view humans like they are disposable.  I think it’s great to have a soft spot in your heart for animals.  But there should be a bigger, softer spot for human beings.