Wednesday, February 06, 2019

American Indian Library Association's Statement Against Racism and Harassment

During and after the 2019 ALA Midwinter meeting in Seattle, several people shared negative experiences of harassment that took place at the Midwinter meeting. Most widely shared was April Hathcock's account (shared at her blog on January 30, 2019) of a meeting of ALA's Council Forum.

In response to the reports, the American Indian Library Association released this statement on Feb. 1, 2019:
The American Indian Library Association stands with the individuals who experienced racism and discrimination at the 2019 ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Seattle, WA. We stand with those who preserve and celebrate all cultures. Racism and discrimination dishonor every culture.
As an ethnic affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA), AILA is a membership action group that addresses the library-related needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives. AILA is committed to promoting true representations of American Indian cultures, languages, and values. As AILA reaches its 40th anniversary, we strongly support librarians of color. We urge the American Library Association to address racism and discrimination in the profession at the institutional level and at all professional development meetings. 
The American Indian Library Association joins our fellow ethnic affiliates, APALA, BCALA, CALA, and REFORMA, and offers our support to the American Library Association in order to realize ALA's future. AILA appreciates the work of Jody Gray, Director of the Office for Diversity, Literacy & Outreach Services for American Library Association and is committed to working with ALA to address racism, bias, and discrimination in our communities.

I support AILA's statement, April Hathcock, and those who have spoken up about their experiences. Efforts by some to cast those of us who speak up as "uncivil" or "unprofessional" are disingenuous. That same charge has been leveled at me (Debbie), as well. After being named to give the prestigious Arbuthnot lecture, people wrote letters to say I am unprofessional and undeserving of the honor. I will, however, give that lecture in April.

On January 31, issued a statement about Midwinter:
The ALA Executive Board has released the following statement regarding a recent incident during Council Forum at the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Seattle.
"We should not – and do not – accept harassment, bullying or discrimination of any kind in our profession or the work of our Association. These behaviors go against our values. Violations to our code of conduct will not be tolerated.   
"We established a code of conduct because we take the responsibility of being respectful to each other very seriously. 
"We send our sincere apologies to Councilor April Hathcock for what she went through at Council Forum, which is unacceptable and doesn’t align with our core values.  
"The ALA attorney and President-Elect met with April Hathcock in the Council meeting room shortly before Council III to share some nonpublic information about events after the incident in question. ALA leaders deeply regrets any distress this caused; it was not intent of the attorney or ALA to threaten Ms Hathcock in any way.      
"The Councilor who instigated the incident has resigned and the Executive Board has accepted his resignation. 
"We also offer our sincere apologies to members who also experienced violations of the code of conduct at the Midwinter meeting. 
"We want to recognize that this incident has caused a lot of hurt and we are working diligently to ensure that at all ALA events participants are - and feel - respected.   
"The Executive Board will form a working group to look at Council Forum and ways to make it a safer space up to its continued viability. 
"We will review the current code of conduct complaint process to make it stronger and more effective. 
"We will work on facilitated racial equity training for Annual Conference during Council 1; that training and the code of conduct will be built into Council Orientation moving forward. 
"In collaboration with the Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services, we will coordinate online and in-person resources on equity, diversity and inclusion for all members and for ALA staff members. 
"ALA and its Divisions have developed resources to embed principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in the work library workers do; see specifics for 2018 here. Last October during the 2018 Fall Executive Board Meeting, the Executive Board voted to affirm that ALA will apply a social justice framework to the ALA Strategic Directions for the next three-to-five years in the areas of Advocacy, Information Policy, Professional and Leadership Development, and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. We are building on the 2019 President’s Program about “White Fragility.”  
"This work can be messy, it takes time, but the Executive Board strives to create a better association every day. We ask for your collaboration to help us break through the systems of oppression and do the right thing at the right time, each time, as it should be done."
My own thoughts are that the US is in an intense period of change. Those who characterize our work as "unprofessional" are, perhaps, defending their position and power as our voices and collective actions push at their power and influence. Many are using their power and influence to keep the status quo in place. We're pushing and will continue to push for equity and justice, in the many places we do that work. 

No comments:

Post a Comment


In our efforts to have meaningful conversations with people who read AICL and to reduce trolling, we are no longer accepting unsigned comments.

Please include your name (not a pseudonym) and the nature of your interest (like parent, teacher, professor, reviewer, librarian, etc.). If you prefer to withhold identifying information because it may result in backlash to you in your workplace or elsewhere, please write to us directly.