April Hathcock, the Scholarly Communications Librarian at NYU, advocates for fuller recruitment and inclusion of librarians from non-dominant backgrounds in this article. She defines “whiteness” as any kind of hegemony, whether it be based on race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other category. And then she states that this kind of whiteness underlies our current diversity efforts in LIS. Consequently, we are not keeping diverse librarians in the profession, and those who do stay are under too much pressure to represent groups to which they belong, while also fixing the diversity “problem.” This article is a continuation of the work done by Galvan’s 2015 article entitled “Soliciting Performance, Hiding Bias: Whiteness and Librarianship.” The two solutions put forward are changing our diversity programs to accept more applicants of non-dominant experiences and providing mentoring opportunities for new librarians of these experiences.
Tags: Structural Racism; Diversity; Inclusion
This scholarly, historiographical article highlights the lack of race-based scholarship in the field of Library and Information Studies and the resulting myopic and destructive view. The author asserts that the canon of library literature incorrectly places the study of race beyond its boundaries. According to Michael Harris who is quoted in the article, since Library and Information Studies is a “mediating profession concerned with knowledge derived from all other disciplines,” scholarship in Library and Information Studies would benefit from a review of the scholarship of those associated disciplines e.g. social sciences.
In order to unravel the fundamental epistemology, the author investigates the establishment of the public library and the ways in which research and reporting on this foundation have failed to recognize the racial and racist motives and the clear lack of purported neutrality. The author criticizes library historians and theoreticians for a lack of investigation of white hegemony and highlights the role of public libraries in the assimilation of immigrants as an example of this shortsightedness. Additionally, the author characterizes the emphasis on multiculturalism as an emphasis that omits critical analysis of race and racism.
Although the majority of the examples in this article are derived from public librarianship, the extensive research and analysis of foundational concepts in the field of Library and Information Studies encourages wider applicability; and as a result, this article deserves a more expansive audience.
Tags: Theoretical; Structural Racism
Cultural Competence: A Primer for Educators is an excellent resource and it should be read by all types and levels of educators, including librarians. Chapter 4, “Understanding Privilege and Racial Consciousness among Whites,” is a challenging and powerful article. The chapter examines the concept of White privilege, including the ways that European Americans are afforded certain benefits and rights based solely on the color of their skin. The author also points out how it is difficult for Whites to acknowledge the existence of such privilege. Throughout the chapter, the concepts of racial consciousness and how Whites think about race and racial differences are explored. For example, “White” and “American” has become synonymous in many people’s minds. Numerous examples are provided that demonstrate how White privilege is infused into the very fabric of American Society. In order to acknowledge white privilege, Whites need to take personal responsibility to change and grow, including becoming aware of and working through unconscious feelings and beliefs about one’s connections to race and ethnicity. The author also includes a description of identity development in the college classroom. Educators need to be aware of the existence of white privilege and its influence on teacher-student behavior. If white educators can acknowledge the centrality of race to a non-white student and grasp the nature of their own attitudes and about racial differences, the cultural distance between them can be reduced. One of the best attributes of this chapter is the inclusion of two reflection exercises, “Becoming Aware of Race” and “Costs of Racism to White People.” Librarians will greatly benefit from completing the exercises and reflecting upon them. Highly recommended.
Tags: Practical; Theoretical; Foundational Work; Structural Racism; Microaggressions
Melissa Kalpin Prescott, as an advocate for antiracist pedagogy, posits that we are all racialized, and we are continuously having our privilege or oppression reinforced. Prescott suggests that librarians look at their intersectionality, especially focusing on the race aspects, in order to be practitioners of antiracist pedagogy. She provides questions to help librarians to prepare to teach and to reflect upon that teaching when it is finished. There are definitions in this chapter that may prove to be helpful.
Tags: Structural Racism; Critical Information Literacy
In this opinion piece, Richards, an associate professor of sociology at University of Richmond, laments the institutional racism that is pervasive throughout American academia, or what she terms historically white institutions (HWI). While racism is most often viewed as behavior by individuals based on prejudicial attitudes towards people of color, Richards suggests that institutions also perpetuate attitudes and behaviors that reflect racial prejudice. To identify institutional racism, Richards proposes that administrators, faculty, and staff look at five questions designed to reveal the state of real inclusivity at institutions of higher education. These questions concern 1. Belonging. 2. Dominant norms, values & perspectives. 3. Power holders. 4. Institutional policies. 5. Institutional Interests. Additionally, she suggests that institutions could develop workshops and mandatory racism awareness programs, along with changing institutional policies to include establishing real consequences for behavior that demonstrates racism. Library administrators could benefit from looking at these same issues to investigate latent institutional racism in library services.
Tags: Theoretical; Structural Racism