Antiracist Library or Racist Library--There is no Middle Ground
Antiracist libraries acknowledge the fallacy of being neutral in the face of racism. Libraries are racist or antiracist. Just like individuals—libraries cannot just say they are ‘not racist.’ Being an antiracist library means that they are actively working to dismantle racism and white supremacy in their libraries and communities. Being antiracist also means they are working to dismantle the oppression of marginalized people.
Allowing bigots to perpetuate fear in the community is antithetical to the antiracist library. The antiracist library is an enemy to bigotry. The antiracist library is constantly reflecting on ‘neutral’ stances when it comes to ALL library policies. Collection development, meeting room policies, website design, user satisfaction analysis, usage metrics and all other library policies need to be antiracist, or they are racist. There is no in between.
So, when the library community says, “Libraries are for all!” We are really saying that they are also open for racists and other bigots. Bigots are NOT welcome in the antiracist library—ever.
Allowing racists, homophobes, and other bigots to meet at the library, or to even distribute ‘information’ by leaving material in the library creates a hostile environment for patrons and workers.
Antiracist libraries say, “Racists and other bigots are not welcome.” This makes clear that the library is not neutral—it is antiracist and it reinforces that the library sides with library workers and patrons who are marginalized by racism and other forms of bigotry.
Library patrons and worker rights to safety and not having to be terrorized by bigots are more important by the claims that hate speech and intimidation are forms of free speech. Antiracist libraries recognize this and are clear about it with their communities.
Libraries must decide if they are racist or antiracist. This disjunction is one of the most important questions of our time and impact ALL areas of the library world. If a library chooses to be antiracist, then it must live up to this ideal make it known that the library is the enemy of bigotry. It is your choice to make. Please choose wisely my Oregon library friends.
*Also published on #LowriderLibrarian on 11/4/2020