Stay Woke: With Victory Comes Struggle

Picture 113The people have spoken! That’s right, folks — I am thrilled to announce that the Pennsylvania State Senate finally passed bill 1828 by a vote of 32 to 17. (Sidebar: who are these 17 nay sayers and how do they rationalize voting for the mandatory closing of ALL libraries? Get your mind right!). Nevertheless, this marks an unquestionable (and imperative) victory for Philadelphia and confirms the faith I already have in communities to mobilize in moments of crisis. Of course, it does not erase the imminent threat posed to the people of Philadelphia and we must continue to fight for our public institutions to stay open! It is still beyond me how close the State Senate came to opting for “Doomsday” Plan C budget scenario, which would have resulted in the layoff of 3,000 city employees and forced the closing of all libraries. As we celebrate this victory (by supporting our local library), we can only expect more battles on the horizon. This is not to encourage cynicism (I promise you my skepticism is rooted in real life experiences and historical patterns that suggest education and literacy are conceived more so as threats than rights in this country), it is simply to acknowledge the long (and unending) war over a just allocation of state funds that rages on. Indeed, it extends far beyond the state of Pennsylvania. Today, thousands of UC students throughout the Bay Area mobilized a successful systemwide walk out as part of a demonstration against cuts to the university budget and proposed fee increases. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “the walkout is intended to reflect widespread frustration and anger as UC lays off hundreds of workers, imposes unpaid furloughs on nonunion employees and reduces courses to close a budget gap of more than $750 million – the result of dramatically reduced funding from the cash-poor state and higher operating costs.” I encourage everyone to follow the coverage of these rallies and continue to discuss the social, political and economic implications of drastically diminishing funds for public higher education in the state of CA. There is much work to be done. In the words of Sa-Ra “STAY WOKE!”

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