I don’t even know where to begin, so I’ll just come right out and say it. There is an element of racism and bigotry that exists in Hamilton and it needs to stop. This is not a joke. It is something I have witnessed first-hand on multiple occasions, and I’ve only been here since January.
Twice in the last month, white supremacist propaganda has been left in our entryway, which up until recently had been a place for the community to share flyers and information. Another time, a patron complained to us about our book display celebrating the Jewish holiday of Passover. Last week, it was reported that Colgate had a problem with racist and discriminatory graffiti.
So what can we do about it? After the first incident on I tweeted “To the unnamed patron who dropped off white supremacy material in our community flyer area: Thanks, we’ve been meaning to clear out some of those outdated community resources anyway…” After the second incident we converted the community flyer space into a book sale room. And now, with what happened at Colgate still fresh in everyone’s memory, I’m using this column to bring this to everyone’s attention. Ignoring the situation will do nothing to prevent it from happening again.
Other than these few incidents, the community has been very welcoming to me and a pleasure to work with. I mean no offense to anyone I have dealt with personally.
While those who left racist propaganda may be hiding behind the First Amendment, this isn’t about free speech, it’s about hate speech. Hateful rhetoric prevents others from being comfortable within our walls and has no place in a community center.
Libraries are for everyone, and we intend to keep it that way. How? Talking about it is a great start. If you have any other ideas, I’m all ears.
Connect with Travis L. Olivera at the Hamilton Public Library by phone at (315) 824-3060 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.