On Friday, Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the National Football League, responded to the demands of Black NFL players and finally spoke out against racism: “We the National Football League admit we were wrong…” On today’s news, the Boston Red Sox acknowledged and spoke out against racist comments by Fenway Park attendees against Black players. NASCAR banned the display of the Confederate Flag. Other symbols that have been the source of racial pain for generations, confederate statues, statues of Christopher Columbus, etc. are being removed. Both Former President Barack Obama and the Rev. Al Sharpton have noted things feel different this time around. White people seem more willing to acknowledge there is racism in America. White people are less likely to question that there is police brutality against Blacks. People of all colors and across many different identities are participating in anti-racism protests and these protests are taking place not just in the big cities but in small towns, and throughout the world. This is the moment to make things different this time.
What specific actions can Countway Library and we as individuals take to make things different?
Thus far, we have published a list of resources that we can consult to educate ourselves. We are working on arranging a book talk series for the fall that will encourage discussion on the topic of white fragility. CHOM has worked on Guidelines for Inclusive & Conscientious Description and on Wednesday, Countway staff stood in solidarity against racism by participating in a silent reflection via Zoom, in support of #ShutDownAcademia. These are great first steps, but we can and will do more.
In last week’s message, I asked for your thoughts. I heard from some of you. In addition to the items messaged above, staff suggested additional training, highlighting collections that focus on hidden voices, examining hiring and recruitment practices, and diversifying the workforce. There was acknowledgement that given the current financial crises some of these actions may be more difficult than others. While that may be true, we cannot be deterred, and frankly, anti-racist actions are not a one and done thing. We need an ongoing commitment to doing better over the long haul. I am committed to doing better, to walk in this journey and I ask you to join me.