Some thoughts gathered while writing my personal statement (draft notes)

I enjoyed my undergraduate years as an Anthropology major, though the financial crisis of 2008 meant despite trying each semester I had to put education on hold Spring 2009 until Summer 2011 where my grades improved and I went on to graduate Cum Laude. Through my minor program I was able to study in Mexico City Fall 2007 where I greatly improved my Spanish comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing abilities and learned a great deal about the culture and history of Mexico. Through observations of and interactions with the people, I gained insight into a greater, pluralistic view of the world, especially as it pertained to the U.S. and Chicanos and Latinos within it.

My background in anthropology afforded me the ability (or curse?) to critically analyze everything I hear about libraries: written rules and policies and their actual enforcement and delivery by library staff; interactions and activities actually conducted versus the idealized vision of a library’s purpose; who decides what is a library and how does this affect that particular branch or system? Growing up black and working-class, I’ve found it easy to critique racial and economic inequality. But mine is just one perspective in a many-faceted approach to the larger study surrounding inequality in the U.S. I’m interested in the interplay of anthropological methods and concepts utilized in library settings and among librarians: critical analysis, ethnography, ethnocentrism/ “othering,” etc.

For years I’ve considered library school. As the only job where I felt I truly made an impact through applied social justice (free information for everyone!), I felt this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my days. Yet doubt kept popping up: Although ALA says aging of most librarians will mean more MLS-holders will be needed, I see there is severe competition in even getting a part-time librarian position as older librarians hold on to their jobs in an uncertain economy. Although I can make an impact, I still have to sift through bureaucratic red-tape and what if the vision of leadership and librarians in my institution don’t necessarily line up with the needs of the disadvantaged? What if, within the last bastion of democracy/ public institutions, there lies unaddressed/ unrecognized bias that limits our abilities to best serve our target communities? And what about libraries in public colleges and universities? What about community colleges? Working at Enoch Pratt Library throughout the riots here in Baltimore I like many others applauded the director’s reaching-out to the community through cleaning up the neighborhood, but wondered, What about the people who worked in that library right in front of the riot zone? They had to lock themselves in the building as they awaited instructions on how to safely get home. When we commit to serving the community, does this mean risking the safety of the workers and members of the community who happen to patronize the library?

I believe information is a powerful tool of the everyday and that it is unfortunately too often misused to further the oppression of the many by the hands of the few privileged. I aim to explore law and theory behind information access, in which I’ve worked for the past 7 years. I’d also like to gain the tools to better contextualize changing policies and conversations on information access, especially with respect to copyright, international information and sources, and how they will be affected by non-information-centered policies like the Trans Pacific Partnership.

I see myself in the next 5-10 years working in research involving U.S. relations with Latin America. Considering the tumultuous history of relations between U.S. and Latin America, I would like to study recent political changes (like the wave of socialism) and analyze U.S. and South American responses to those responses. Also, would like to analyze the relations of powerful countries like Mexico and Brazil with respect to their neighbors and the greater region. From an information perspective, I’d like to produce briefs, country/ subject guides and websites and some analysis like that found in Library of Congress’s Country Files. I will also pursue studies in Portuguese and Advanced Spanish in order to utilize resources from Latin America.

Research interests: Gentrification; migration (international and domestic); linguistics (applied and social) and languages (East Asian, Latin American: indigenous, Spanish, Portuguese, and French); critical race theory; anthropological/ qualitative research and social theory; quantitative/ statistical research methods; searching and information retrieval and storage; U.S. international relations, esp. imperialism; “minority” experience in U.S. and Latin America; travel, tourism, and international relations b/w West and non-West/ North-South/ 1st-3rd world, etc.; racism, prejudice, and popular conceptions in U.S., esp. by African Americans