Tag Archives: Princeton Public Library

March, call, write!


What do I do, personally, about reacting to Trump? March? Tweet? Write letters? Make calls? Many of my Trump-resisting friends will go to Washington on January 21. Many more will carry signs in Trenton.

At first I resisted resisting. I espoused the views of an Italian on the  Right Way to Resist Trump ?

“The Berlusconi parallel could offer an important lesson in how to avoid transforming a razor-thin victory into a two-decade affair. If you think presidential term limits and Mr. Trump’s age could save the country from that fate, think again. His tenure could easily turn into a Trump dynasty. (the opposition) was so rabidly obsessed with his personality that any substantive political debate disappeared; it focused only on personal attacks, the effect of which was to increase Mr. Berlusconi’s popularity.”

So, no, insults don’t work. Focus on issues, like how healthcare can be improved by patient-centered healthcare, whether under the ACA or another system.

But a good friend, a Washington insider, tells me that “the op-ed from the Italian is already outdated (we’ve learned a lot about Trump’s future government since 11/18) and shows the folly of the approach he advocates. Trump’s made  most of his cabinet picks, so we now have the benefit of actual decisions to use to evaluate whether there is really any interest in bi-partisan governing that would be consistent with his campaign promises. 

“It will easily be the most extreme cabinet ever sworn-in.  The Department of Labor nominee opposes the idea of a minimum wage and required overtime pay, not exactly economic populism.  The AG was rejected by the Republican majority senate in 1986 when he was nominated to the bench.  And the details of the infrastructure plan that he says Democrats should work with Trump on have been announced and will amount to a massive give=away to corporations and the privatization of public infrastructure. 

“The NYT has run an excellent series on the potential consequences of that policy choice.  A recent article was on the Bayonne water authority.   

Will Trump himself pay attention to the marchers? I don’t think so. But the march can put the legislators on their guard.

“I agree with you that Trump will care little about the protests nor will he care what Democrats think of him.  The key are those people and institutions that are enabling him and necessary for him to govern. NeverTrumpers who worked hard to defeat him in the primaries did the good work, the Republicans that have continued a public stance against him after the election are true heroes and that opposition is mainly from the foreign policy and national security wing of the party.  They have put country ahead of party.

“Unfortunately, the broader so-called Republican establishment, if that still exists, has decided that the opportunity to get its policy wish list through is more important to them than the dangers that will come from giving this man and his followers the keys to the country with little oversight or accountability.  The only thing that will change that will be if they believe there will be electoral consequences as a result of Trump’s unpopularity. 

“To that end, protest, including the occasional massive protest like the woman’s march, is an important action but of course cannot be the only thing. Mass protest is a piece of movement building AND people need to contact their elected officials.

“That needs to be followed up with intensive grassroots organizing in the places that Republican elected officials represent, like Pennsylvania, including reaching out with empathy towards those that are suffering economically and need help.  Help that Trump has already shown he has no interest in delivering at a systematic level. 

This article for the Guardian tells how progressives should use Tea Party tactics. Former Congressional staffers have created the Indivisible Guide for resisting the Trump agenda. “Unless you worked in congress the summer of 2009, you cannot fathom the volume of phone calls [that came in],” said a former staffer. The Tea Party “slowed federal policy making to a halt.” 

Call your own members of Congress. If you like and agree with their decisions, call  the lawmaker’s office and say so. Rally the troops behind them. Say  ‘Thank you for opposing Trump’s agenda but also speak out at every turn.’

If you need help learning to make a difference, and you live near Princeton, put this workshop on your calendar for Wednesday, February 22 at noon at Princeton Public Library: Sam Daley-Harris: Writing Checks, Signing Petitions, and Protest Marches: Is That All There Is?

Shall I march? call? write? I’m glad for the marchers –my prayers go with you! We marched in DC 25 years ago (photo above). But this year I will find other ways to ‘speak out at every turn. ‘

New Lens for Racial Literacy

firstSurely Michele Alperin’s superb October 19 cover story in U.S. 1 Newspaper on Ruha Benjamin helped to enhance awareness of the value of Racial Literacy. Benjamin’s first lecture drew an enthusiastic standing-room-only crowd at the Princeton Public Library, and on Tuesday, October 25, at 6:30 p.m. she will facilitate the discussion at the Garden Theatre’s screening of the three-part documentary “Race, the Power of an Illusion.”

This first segment, “The Differences Between Us,” examines the science -including genetics – that challenges the assumption that human beings can be bundled into three or four fundamentally different groups according to their physical traits.

Racial literacy is a much-needed, often neglected skill that — in the 21st century — we all need in order to live and work successfully in a diversifying society. But conversations on race are not easy to have. But as Benjamin said in her lecture,  “Racism doesn’t belong to few bad apples; it is coded in our psyches and institutions. Pretending we don’t see it is not a cure.”

The five-part Racial Literacy series is cosponsored by Not in Our Town Princeton, Princeton Public Library, and the Garden Theatre. It continues with Benjamin’s second lecture at the library on Tuesday, November 1 and film screenings on Monday, November 7 and Tuesday, November 15, all starting at 6:30 p.m. In the coming months, Not in Our Town Princeton will continue its monthly “Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege” on first Mondays at 7 p.m. at the library. For details go to niotprinceton.org.For social media, use #Racial Lit and tag partner organizations, @PrincetonPL, #niotprinceton, and @PrincetonGarden

As quoted in Alperin’s article,  Benjamin aims to help people put on a new pair of spectacles and see that “what I’ve learned about this is actually wrong.” Who among us does not need new lenses?

Choose – to tell stories vs racism

princeton-choosePriya Vulchi and Winona Guo choose to make a difference in overcoming racism. With their cohorts at Princeton CHOOSE, they collected stories, from all over New Jersey, with the goal of inspiring harmony, and compiled them in a classroom guide. I am eager to hear the founders of Princeton CHOOSE present the Classroom Index at the Princeton Public Library on Thursday, October 6, 7 to 8 p.m.

The pair, seniors at Princeton High School, founded Princeton CHOOSE as a student-led organization aiming to overcome racism and inspire harmony through exposure, education, and empowerment. They are fellow board members with me at Not in Our Town Princeton and I am continually amazed at their energy, efficiency, and effectiveness. Deservedly, they have won prestigious awards, including NIOTPrinceton’s Unity Award and the Princeton Prize in Race Relations. 

At the library  Vulchi and Guo will talk about their mission and explain how others can participate and engage with their program, including a full introduction to their Classroom Index a guide that includes statistics, research, and personal anecdotes from people all across New Jersey.

I’m looking forward to buying my copy!

Master Juba!

juba 1848
A newspaper’s depiction of Juba performing at Vauxhall Gardens in London in 1848. Credit Illustrated London News

With Shuffle Along closing on Broadway (yes, did you hear, Audra Macdonald is pregnant and ticket sales had slumped) I assuaged my disappointment (I meant to see this reincarnation of the historic black musical, but never did) by picking up a book at the Princeton Public Library’s youth section.

The engrossing and poignant “Juba: A Novel” by Walter Dean Myers is a must-read page-turner for young people interested in dance history and anyone interested in black history. Juba was both the name of a dance and the name of a legendary dancer, William Henry Lane, known as Master Juba, the first black man to dance for white audiences. Read about Juba in the New  York Times Magazine account of Shuffle Along. 

Myers describes how Juba danced for Charles Dickens, who famously wrote about him. In Juba’s (imagined) words, “I let the music take me over and sweep me across the f51m+Xs3h2LL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_loor. I spun, I moved across the floor on one leg and back on the other, I double-stepped, slid on one leg as I moved backward, switched to a six-beat clog step. I danced faster than I had ever danced, and with more precision than I ever had before, and with more joy in my heart. When the piano player got to the last chorus, I was tired and exhausted, and as happy as I had ever been in my life.”

The dancing part is the fun part. The being black in the 19th century is the hard part, but for youthful readers, Myers makes it OK.



The Privilege of Pedigrees

17WIVES-blog427.No surprise — social status can matter when it comes to getting fabulous jobs. Now a sociologist, Lauren A. Rivera, has ‘proved’ it, in a new book, PedigreeHere is an excerpt from the publisher, Princeton University Press: “Displaying the ‘right stuff’ that elite employers are looking for entails considerable amounts of economic, social, and cultural resources on the part of applicants and their parents.” 

Those of us who have benefited from a generous amount of privilege are still curious to imagine the lives of women at the very top of the heap. To read Susan (Susie) Wilson’s memoir, Still Running, is to take a crash course in the lifelong advantages of those born wealthy. Wilson candidly acknowledges the advantages she had. And — unlike the Kardashians of this world — she put her privilege to excellent use, to advocate for many good causes, including honest sexuality education in the public schools. Wilson launches the Phyllis Marchand lectures at the Princeton Public Library on Tuesday, May 26.

Today, anthropologist Wednesday Martin scorched the pages of the New York Times with Poor Little Rich Women, a formal study of the wealthy moms of the Upper West Side, a “glittering, moneyed backwater.”

I was a pretty intense mother myself, entering the full-time work force only in my ’40s. But Martin spares little sympathy as she describes the mostly 30-somethings with advanced degrees from prestigious universities and business schools. They were married to rich, powerful men. . . exhaustively enriching their children’s lives by virtually every measure, then advocating for them anxiously and sometimes ruthlessly in the linked high-stakes games of social jockeying and school admissions.

Though Martin claims to have informed these women that she was studying them, I hope she moves out of the neighborhood before her book, Primates of Park Avenue, gets published.

(New York Times illustration by Malika Favre)

Guest Post: Karen L. Johnson

This Saturday, April 25th 12-4  Princeton Public Library. REVIVE is the theme of  


Come to be inspired by local successes, perspectives, and visions with impact beyond our corner of the globe

REVIVE Volunteerism
REVIVE Science Education
REVIVE Oneself
REVIVE Local Businesses
REVIVE Homeland
REVIVE Global Climate
REVIVE Brilliance
REVIVE Athletes
REVIVE Advocacy
REVIVE with Performances

What questions are we not asking, or what questions could we ask differently

to trigger a different response and to make a change to issues in the world?

Come this Saturday, April 25th – noon to 4 – at Princeton Public Library.

Here’s the link  www.tedxcarnegielake.com to reserve your spot and join in

exploration and inspiration.

Hope to see you there!

Karen L. Johnson

Freedom Summer: November 16 @ 2

three in freedom summer

Michael Schwerner, James Cheney, and Andrew Goodman,  young men murdered in 1964 during Freedom Summer, have just received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


A wonderful exhibit on Freedom Summer opens at the John Witherspoon Middle School in Princeton on Sunday, November 16, at 2 p.m. with a talk by civil rights activist Bob Moses.

Try to come and bring your teenage- children. To appreciate the rights we enjoy, we need to remember how they were earned.

Surveillance Knights: Doctorow and Felten

doctorow hermann felten

Liberation can turn into surveillance, they warned. Two anti-surveillance knights of the internet, science fiction author Cory Doctorow and Princeton University tech guru Ed Felten, spoke at Labyrinth Bookstore today, co-sponsored by the Princeton Public Library.

The Internet is the nervous system of the 21st century, said Felten. Just as language helped cave men collaborate, the Internet helps us organize at lower costs. It transcends what a single person can do. It is a mistake to try to control the Internet and fit it into something small, said Felten. “It was architected to let people try things and discover what worked.” If over controlled and regulated, we will lose that freedom.

YouTube needs to be free from regulation. Every minute, 96 hours of video are uploaded onto YouTube, most of it personal, says Doctorow, and that’s OK. Each of the seemingly banal interactions  — like the ubiquitous cute cat videos — is important. “Relationships are built up on these little moments,” said Doctorow.

What these like-minded experts said can be found in their writings, but Felten used a homey example to explain his objection. When the Keurig coffee maker patent expired, you could buy private label pods. Then Keurig engineered its new coffee makers so only its own pods worked. “That’s like patenting shoelaces, so you need European rights to tie your shoelaces in Germany.”

Doctorow cited software that can deactivate engines if the car is stolen. It might be sold to vendors of subprime car loans. Wireless pacemakers can be hijacked. For instance, one demo showed a pacemaker hooked up to a strip of bacon — and it fried the bacon.

As efficient and valuable as the Internet is, the Doctorow/Felten meeting demonstrates that nothing beats personal networking. PPL’s Janie Hermann (between Doctorow, on the left, and Felten) encountered Doctorow at a library convention over two years ago and learned that he was a buddy of Felten’s. Since that meeting several attempts were made to bring the two together for a conversation in Princeton, but schedules never matched. Three weeks ago Hermann learned that not only did Doctorow have a new book coming out but that he would be in the area for New York City Comic Con. She zoomed in on the rare opportunity and with very little notice was able to connect Doctorow and Felten at last, but the library’s community room was not available. Dorothea von Moltke from Labyrinth Books stepped in to offer her space for what turned out to be a standing room only event.


An article in this week’s U.S. 1 Newspaper, by Dan Aubrey, alerts us to a reception at the Princeton Public Library today (Saturday, January 18) from 3 to 6 p.m. it is for “Concentric Circles of Influence: the Queenston Press, The Woman Portfolio,” an exhibition that was inspired by the United Nation designations of 1975 as International Women’s Year.

Aubrey’s cover story, Defending the Arts Amid a Culture of Fear, has a much different tone. It tells about his ‘bridge closing moment,” on March 25, 2011, and if that sounds familiar, yes, it is about his battle with the Christie administration. Writes Aubrey.

While the current revelations about the Christie administration waging retribution on Fort Lee may be an eye opener for some, it is something I have lived through.

His 4,000 word account is an eye opener. Read it in hard copy or read it here.