Libraries Respond: Black Lives Matter

 

In late spring 2020, amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, people across the world gathered in large and small demonstrations to protest the murder of George Floyd and draw attention to the ongoing systemic issue of police violence. The protests calling for justice give voice to trauma and justified anger in Black communities terrorized by centuries of police violence and anti-Black racism. 

Although the pandemic-induced threat of layoffs and high unemployment, lack of health resources, challenges in education, and insecure housing are new to many, Black and Brown communities across the nation have had to contend with these challenges as daily facts of life. 

The librarian profession suffers from a persistent lack of racial and ethnic diversity that shows few signs of improving. In 2018, just 6.8 percent of librarians identified as Black or African American (Department for Professional Employees). 

Many people are feeling helpless, but there are many ways we can center the voices and experiences of Black library workers, the Black community, support the broader Black Lives Matter movement, fight against police violence, and help the cause of racial justice.

Terminology

Anti-Racism: Anti-racism is "the work of actively opposing racism by advocating for changes in political, economic, and social life. Anti-racism tends to be an individualized approach, and set up in opposition to individual racist behaviors and impacts." (National Education Association - Racial Justice in Education)

BIPOC: "Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. The term BIPOC is used to highlight the unique relationship to whiteness that Indigenous and Black (African Americans) people have, which shapes the experiences of and relationship to white supremacy for all people of color within a U.S. context." (BIPOC Project) We use the term BIPOC in this resource to identify opportunities that are not specifically for Black people, but Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. 

Black Lives Matter: #BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, they are winning immediate improvements in their lives. (Black Lives Matter)

Racial Justice: "The systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all. Racial justice—or racial equity—goes beyond “anti-racism.” It is not just the absence of discrimination and inequities, but also the presence of deliberate systems and supports to achieve and sustain racial equity through proactive and preventative measures." (Race Forward)

White Supremacy: White supremacy is "the belief system that rationalizes and reproduces white advantage in the political, social, and cultural institutions of society. This belief system holds that white people, white culture, and things associated with whiteness are superior to those of other racial groups." (Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, page 138)

Plan for Action

Commit to doing everyday actions 

 

Center and Support Black voices in LIS

 

Staff development 

 

Library Programming 

 

Evaluate policies

 

ALA Statements

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