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Middle School Monday: What We Say—and Don’t Say—Matters


Our students are listening to us. Being neutral—or quiet—is also being registered by our students. They are noticing what we say. What we do. They also notice the silence.

Every one of us is on a different spot on our journey of cultural competency.* I was thinking this weekend about what is going on in our country and I’m just going to say it: unless you are resisting human rights violations and hateful rhetoric that is coming from the current administration, you are not moving forward on your cultural competence journey. To move forward is to RESIST. Not just resisting in our heads, but with our words and actions.

*This month’s YALS journal from YALSA is centered on issues of Cultural Competency. Full disclosure: I wrote one of the articles, centered on building relationships. In addition to talking about issues like reflective literature, pushing back against the notion of color-blindness, and building a diverse PLN, I put out a call—a question: Are we on the right side of contemporary civil rights issues? Are we? Are our libraries? Are you?

It’s not about politics. It’s about human rights. It’s about caring for our students—in a meaningful way.

I came in this morning and made this display.

safe display

Is it going to change the world? No, of course not. I didn’t do it to change the world. Will it matter? I don’t know. I just know this: it’s true. It’s real. [And we have to be intentional every day making sure it’s true and real. We have to constantly improve.] And, it’s a sentiment and a reality that is necessary to make our libraries and schools safe spaces.

Otherwise, why are we here?

I’m Julie Stivers at @BespokeLib and I believe that the best school libraries = safe spaces.


  1. What are you resisting and why?

    • Hi Mike: Thanks for asking. I’m resisting hateful comments made about my students and their families. I’m resisting unlawful travel bans. I’m resisting those who makes misogynist, racist comments. Am I doing enough? No, I’m sure I’m not and am not claiming otherwise. I’m trying to learn more everyday about how to ally myself on the correct side of the social justice issues of our time.

  2. Hey Julie,

    I love this bit mostly because teachers haven’t always taken these kinds of stands. We fear being labeled as “leftys” who are “trying to brainwash children.”

    But that overlooks the fact that remaining silent in the fact of the hate being spewed at individual groups in our society is another form of brainwashing.

    I won’t let myself be bullied into ignoring the treatment of gay or transgendered students — or students who are Muslim or who are immigrants — anymore. Our job is to create a safe space for all learners — and that requires being willing to speak up for all learners.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • Hi Bill: Thank you for the reminder to ME. Especially after the events of the last several days. I honestly don’t feel like anything I say or do is political. If we stick up for the basic human rights of our students, how is that political? Thanks for reading and sharing–it means so much.

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