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Libraries Respond: Black Lives Matter

ODLOS and 港澳台图库have compiled these resources to inform its members and the public about Black Lives Matter and related issues and share them for informational purposes

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.听

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.听

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 ().听

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." ()

BIPOC: "Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.听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."听) 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.听

Black Lives Matter:听#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin鈥檚 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. ()

Racial Justice: "The systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all. Racial justice鈥攐r racial equity鈥攇oes beyond 鈥渁nti-racism.鈥 It is not just the absence听of discrimination and inequities, but also the presence of deliberate systems and supports to achieve and sustain racial equity through proactive and preventative measures." ()

White Supremacy:听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." ()

Plan for Action

Commit to doing everyday actions听

  • Educate yourself about anti-racism and racial equity efforts within the profession.
  • Familiarize yourself with police reform and abolition听efforts.
    • Identify grassroots abolition efforts in your community听and consider how you can get involved
  • Examine the language you use.听
    • Are Black Lives Matter groups considered 'protesters,' 'rioters,' 'looters,' or 'thugs'? The language used to describe this movement is .听
    • Do you invoke the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther, King Jr. when describing effective ways to protest? Acknowledge that .听
    • Speak about injustices done to Black people specifically. Black people and People of Color (POC) are not interchangeable as all racial identities听groups .听

Center听and Support听Black voices in LIS

  • Amplify the voices of Black library workers and support their community spaces through donations and membership.听
  • Read about and promote the historic contributions of Black LIS workers and add books to your collection.
    • (ASALH)

Staff development听

  • Train all staff on topics related to equity, diversity, and inclusion.
    • to speak to your staff about EDI.
  • Commit to hiring Black library workers, connecting paraprofessionals to scholarship opportunities, and supporting residents and interns.
  • Consider your workplace retention strategies.
    • Ground your equity, diversity and inclusion plan in anti-racism (eg: )
    • Provide support to .

Library Programming听

  • Host a book club on a book that explicitly talks about race relations in the United States and be prepared to have a frank conversation.听Incorporate lessons on race and discussions on race during storytime and promote reading lists. If you aren't equipped to facilitate these conversations, see if there is a trained facilitator in your community that would be willing to host.听
  • Host a viewing party on a documentary that highlights systemic injustices. After watching the documentary together, encourage a respectful discussion about the themes. For more on facilitation, see听.
  • . Encourage library administrators to sign the proclamation.听
  • Partner with local Black community members on projects and initiatives.听
  • Seek out Black readers for your Reader鈥檚 Advisory Group.

Evaluate policies

  • Ensure that the public knows the library鈥檚 stance. Understand that it is not a political stance to state that Black Lives Matter.
    • Be prepared to respond to
  • Be aware of the ways your library may not seem welcoming.
    • Do you highlight materials featuring Black authors and main characters throughout the year (and not just during Black History Month or MLK Day)?
    • Do you have a security guard in place? Understand that .听
    • Consider how your .
    • Rethink patron听Codes of Conduct.

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