Thanks to a large campaign of activists and authors, a plan to close up to twenty-five libraries in Essex has come to an end.
A conservative-led council proposed budget cuts that would lead to the closure of 25 of Essex’s 74 libraries, as well as another 34 being handed off to private companies. This led to several protest marches in Galleywood and Chelmsford as well as several petitions gathering almost 60,000 signatures.
This biggest movement was during the council’s public consultation, which received 21,000 responses criticizing the council for the decision. Several authors also lent their support, such as Michael Rosen, AL Kennedy and David Baddiel.
Council leader David Finch announced the reversal along with a 3 million pound investment in libraries over the next five years.
Council members applauded the protestors on their effort to save their libraries:
“Our future libraries strategy has changed drastically due to what the people of Essex told us. I am delighted that the consultation ignited such passion for keeping the service alive. We assured everyone that their feedback would be taken into account, and it has – all our libraries now have a future.”
It’s great to see a group of people so passionate about reading to save their beloved bookstores.
A white nationalist group called American Identity Movement chose a Washington bookstore, Politics and Prose, as the site for its latest “peaceful disruption.” This continues a current trend of bookstores as the latest destinations for such nationalist demonstrations.
“Many lower- and middle-class white Americans are drawn to politicians who pledge to make their lives great again. But as Dying of Whiteness shows, the policies that result actually place white Americans at ever-greater risk of sickness and death…White Americans, Metzl argues, must reject the racial hierarchies that promise to aid them but in fact lead our nation to demise”
AIM founder and president, Patrick Casey, disagrees with the message of the book, which he says “fails to discuss the real reasons why leftism has been killing America’s heartland… America’s road to restoration is nationalism, identitarianism, non-interventionism, protectionism, and populism.”
IMAGE VIA UNICORN RIOT
He and other members of his organization arrived en masse at the bookstore and interrupted the author event, holding megaphones and chanting, “This land is our land,” as shown in the footage tweeted by Catherine Wigginton:
AIM has been linked to another white national organization, Identity Evropa, which was involved in planning the infamous and tragic Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, VA. This is due to the fact that AIM’s president previously served as Executive Director for Identity Evropa.
Casey denies that AIM is a rebranding of IE—the organization’s site insists that “these former actions… do not reflect upon Mr. Casey or the membership he had developed under his tenure as leader of Identity Evropa.” Nevertheless, the two organizations share similar goals and values, and AIM is made up of many members who transferred over from IE.
Before the demonstration at Politics and Prose, AIM interrupted a “story hour” for kids led by drag queens in New Orleans, where they “disrupted the event before being asked to leave.”
This is not the first time books and libraries have become targets for white nationalists in recent times. Berkleyside reports that a “far-left bookstore” called Revolution Books has “found itself under attack from far-right activists” as many as “ten times in six months” according to an article written on March 4th, 2018. The protestors wore MAGA hats and were not seemingly affiliated with AIM.
You may already know all about David Morrell, the legendary bestselling author of First Blood(the 1972 novel that the entire Rambofranchise is based on.) What you may not know, however, is that Rambo actually had a pretty big part in dissolving the USSR.
David Morrell and Sylvester Stallone | Image via IMDB
Now, Morrell (AKA: Rambo’s Father) hadn’t actually set-out to achieve something so historic; he never could’ve known the power his words might hold while he was putting them on the page. And he didn’t actually learn about Rambo’s involvement in the dismantling of the Soviet Union until about fifteen-or-so-years after the initial Rambo adaptation was released.
At Thrillerfest this past weekend, Morrell recounted the story of how Rambo‘s influence in Poland came to his attention.
During the early 2000’s, Morrell was visiting Poland on a book tour and noticed straight away that he was being treated, well, differently…
Image Via davidmorrell.net
The flag that maybe things weren’t exactly as they seemed was that Morrell was visiting Poland at the same time as then-President Bill Clinton, and they happened to be staying in the same hotel. Despite the fact that the literal President of the United States was currently staying there, David Morrell was the one the hotel staff decided to place inside the Presidential Suite; Bill Clinton stayed in the second-best room, the suite usually left for authors.
Morrell thought that this was strange, but assumed that maybe there was a glitch in the system or something, so he didn’t really think too much about it…that is, until things got even stranger…
The next clue was that, like clockwork, journalists were lining up to interview and speak with him, just one after the other in a seemingly-never-ending cycle:
It seemed like fifteen minutes would go by before a new journalist approached me…it got to the point where, eventually, I was being interviewed by this nice Polish woman, about thirty-five years old or so…and I just asked her, ‘what’s going on? why is everyone so excited to meet me?’
The woman informed Morrell that, during the late eighties and early nineties, while Poland was struggling to cut-ties with Russia, the Soviet Union had banned the Rambo film from entering the country. So, the people did what any citizens trapped within the confines of a fascist-ruled state would do; they smuggled copies of the film into the country, hosted illegal viewings, and soaked up every bit of activism, justice, and rebellion they could, before taking to the streets.
In fact, demonstrators speaking out against the USSR found Rambo so inspiring that they drew from his speeches, wardrobe, and the entire energy he encompassed to make their protests that much more powerful.
The journalist looked at Morrell and stated,
So, you see, people love you here because Rambo helped dissolve the USSR.
It’s incredible just how powerful books and films can be, and the influence art can have on us; people have used music, novels, artwork, poetry, and more to protest injustices since the beginning of time.
So, let’s all take a piece of advice from David Morrell by creating the things we feel compelled to create, fearlessly and without a second-thought; we never know just how important they may turn out to be.
Now is the time for freedom, celebration, liberation, and love! The LGBTQ+ community has fought hard (and is still fighting) against societal and systemic oppression every single day (especially the Transgender community; here’s a list of all the lives that have been lost in 2018 alone).
This month is a time to celebrate how far we’ve come, to acknowledge the oppressions and inequalities that are still so prevalent, and to keep marching toward and fighting for the revolution we need.
It is also a time to recognize and remember the activists who got us here. We wouldn’t have rights, Pride, or any of the freedoms we get to experience day-by-day if it weren’t for their bravery, selflessness, and perseverance.
Here are seventeen quotes from incredible activists who paved the way!
Now they got two little nice statues in Chariot Park to remember the gay movement. How many people have died for these two little statues to be put in the park for them to recognize gay people? How many years has it taken people to realize that we are all brothers and sisters and human beings in the human race? I mean how many years does it take people to see that? We’re all in this rat race together!
Everybody’s journey is individual. If you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality.
As a teenager, I had to struggle alone to learn about myself and what it meant to be gay. Now for  years I’ve had the satisfaction of working with other gay people all across the country to get the bigots off our backs, to oil the closet door hinges, to change prejudiced hearts and minds, and to show that gay love is good for us and for the rest of the world too. It’s hard work—but it’s vital, and it’s gratifying, and it’s often fun!
Immigrant trans women are 12 times more likely to face discrimination because of our gender identity. If we add our immigration status to the equation, the discrimination increases. Transgender immigrants make up one out of every 500 people in detention, but we account for one out of five confirmed sexual abuse cases in ICE custody. The violence my trans sisters face in detention centers is one of torture and abuse. The torture and abuse come from ICE officials and other detainees in these detention centers. I have spoken with my trans immigrant sisters who were recently released from detention centers. With a lot of emotional pain and heavy tears in their eyes, they opened up about the horrendous treatment they all experienced. Often seeking asylum to escape threats of violence because of their gender identity and sexuality, this is how they’re greeted in this country. At times misgendered, exposed to assault, and put in detention centers with men.
I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.
I was a radical, a revolutionist. I am still a revolutionist…I am glad I was in the Stonewall riot. I remember when someone threw a Molotov cocktail, I thought, “My god, the revolution is here. The revolution is finally here!
I never felt I had anything to hide. I never felt being gay was anything to be ashamed of, so I never felt apologetic. I didn’t have issues with it, didn’t grow up with any religion, so I didn’t have any religious, you know, issues to deal with as far as homosexuality is concerned. So, I accepted it very easily. For me, it wasn’t that big a deal.
I, Mabel Hampton, have been a lesbian all my life, for 82 years, and I am proud of myself and my people. I would like all my people to be free in this country and all over the world, my gay people and my black people.
Self-definition and self-determination is about the many varied decisions that we make to compose and journey toward ourselves…It’s okay if your personal definition is in a constant state of flux as you navigate the world.
Teachers need our appreciation now more than ever. All across the globe teachers today are struggling with painfully low budgets, making it nearly impossible to supply their classrooms with the materials they need, give their students the attention they deserve, and create a safe and steady learning environment.
Last Friday, teachers in Arizona returned to work after a six-day strike protesting the state’s budget cuts. The strike ended because legislative lawmakers agreed to give the teachers a 20% pay raise, along with a budget increase. The only catch, however, is that the new budget will be coming from a tax raise for those living in low-income school districts. Meaning, these tax raises will only really affect working-class and middle-class households and will not affect the wealthier households directly.
A strike against a decrease in school budgets also took place last month in Oklahoma City, where tens of thousands of teachers gathered in protest. They were fighting a system that has decreased their schooling budget by more than 30% over the last decade, leaving their school infrastructures in such a bad state indoor volleyball games are often cancelled due to rain that pours down from the ceiling and their textbooks are crumbling to pieces.
Image Via The Daily Dot
Teachers aren’t just struggling with unrealistically low budgets in the United States, however; In England, a survey was released today showing that 90% of teachers claim to have taken money from their “pupil premium” funds in order to fill in the holes of the budget. The pupil premium funding is a resource meant to help students from low-income households strive in school. Teachers are frustrated they’ve had to dip into these funds on multiple occasions in order to afford the supplies they need; worried about how this will negatively affect the students relying on these sources.
Statistically speaking, school budgets began to decline in 2009, immediately following the recession. Since then, there’s been a steady decline in budgeting for schools. In 2017 alone, schools cut budgets by more than 7%. These budget declines have led to curriculums and after-school programs being cut, teachers and other faculty being laid off, and classrooms being overpacked with students.
Image via Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Budget cuts don’t just negatively affect teachers; the entire school faculty is being negatively affected. Librarians have been fighting hard to keep their positions within schools; as have coaches, band directors, theatre directors, and more.
Last September, this listdetailing the ways schools can help fight budget cuts was released. Still, despite their best efforts, it’s impossible for anyone to do their job correctly if they aren’t given the means to do so.
So today, make sure the teachers in your life know just how much you appreciate their endless compassion, selflessness, and support. Stand beside them in the fight. Teachers are a necessity. So much of our future as a society depends upon the quality of our schools. Without steady schooling, children aren’t being given the opportunity for a fair and proper education. We need to listen to our teachers; they know what they need.
“Listen to one another like you know you are scholars. Artists. Scientists. Athletes. Musicians. Like you know you will be the ones to shape this world. Show me how many colors you know how to draw with. Show me how proud you are of what you have learned. And I promise I will do the same.”