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Monthly Archives: September 2012

I HAVE COMPLICATED FEELINGS about corporate philanthropy. They well up as I read this request from Jo’s teacher:

Tomorrow we are taking a school-wide picture at the grand opening of the Target Library Make-over.  We thought it would be fun to wear red for this picture.  If you see this message in time… please have your student wear something red (or close to red) for our school-wide picture.

Seen one way, this is a benign and understandable request made to show appreciation to people who made our school nicer. Urban public schools don’t have enough money for essential supplies and maintenance. Business sees an opportunity to support education (and burnish its corporate citizen rep) by stepping in. Who could object?

Whether corporations build our social infrastructure or we do it ourselves, we still pay. Tomorrow will be Target Day. Our kids will appear on the news with company volunteers in a branded library environment, and later in photos on websites and annual reports (wearing red, for fun!). [UPDATE: Jo reports students and faculty formed the shape of Target’s logo and were photographed from above]. Hereafter, every time they open a library book, they’ll see bullseyes. All these associations steadily accumulate and, it’s hoped, transmute into unconscious preference.

There’s no such thing as a Free Library. I know. I write the script for events like these.

Johanna is wide-eyed about the “sneak peek” she gets in the morning. I’m bothered. First that corporate messages take up so much air around arts, music, education, and stuff I thought was public, but also that we let private companies get the credit for making our schools “good.” Mostly with myself, though, for making Kool Aid I wouldn’t let my own family drink.

>> Bad Brains — Big Takeover