February 2, 2019
We at the Social Responsibilities Round Table condemn strongly the incidents of racist behavior that have been reported at the most recent American Library Association Midwinter Meeting, the best known of which is the verbal attack on Councilor-at-Large April Hathcock at a Council Forum on Monday evening, January 28, 2019. Other attendees have reported acts of aggression, exclusion, and racial profiling at this and previous conferences. This ongoing pattern of exclusionary behavior is absolutely unacceptable and completely contrary to our values as both a profession and an organization.
We fully support the action steps outlined by April Hathcock1. We note that in a statement issued on Thursday, January 31st, the ALA Executive Board has made at least some steps towards each of these requests. We urge the ALA Council and the ALA Executive Board to continue to move forward in addressing the concerns of its members. Further, we request that, in the interest of transparency and accountability, the ALA Conference Services Office give regular accounts of incidents of racism, homophobia, and other bigotry reported at conferences.
The change we must see goes beyond simple "diversity": we must take a truly progressive approach to championing anti-racism in our actions. If we are to live up to the directive in the ALA mission statement to "enhance learning and ensure access to information for all,"2 we must do better. We must protect each other, we must respect each other, and we must value each other. If we will not do these things for each other, we cannot do them for our communities.
Charles E. Kratz,
SRRT Action Council Coordinator
Weinberg Memorial Library
The University of Scranton
Scranton, PA 18510