As news of police shootings of African American men proliferate, and at the shootings in Dallas of police officers, my heart is heavy. I've been trying unsuccessfully to write a blog post about it for several days. I have some things to say about it related to libraries, but it is hard to put the words together. Here goes my best try for now.
It turns out that living in mostly white communities doesn't give us a bye to really examine issues of race, think about them, and then act. As youth services librarians, we are helping to raise the police officers, teachers, policy-makers, and citizens of the future. If we don't spend some time thinking ourselves about race, privilege, systemic racism, and bias, we are missing an opportunity to make the world a better place. It might seem like a small thing, or inconsequential, but actually thinking and talking about these issues are an important first step for all of us, especially if we're white. So is collecting, promoting, and using books that show a wide range of human experience. Kids are hearing news and trying to make sense of it. They might come to you looking for someone to help them process it. They might come to your library looking for materials to help them learn more. Or they might not. Either way, we need to be thinking and collecting and promoting and using. And perhaps most importantly, listening to the voices of people who are oppressed with as open a heart and mind as we can, even when we are uncomfortable.
Here are some resources for you to use:
Interview with Newbery Award-winning author Kwame Alexander, reflecting on recent news of shootings.
Black Lives Matter Booklist for teens, created by Hennepin County Librarian Chelsea Couillard-Smith
We Need Diverse Books End-of-Year Booklists
An article about why it can be difficult for white people to talk about race and racism
These books by Vernā Myers are very accessible, quick reads (available on MORE):
- What If I Say the Wrong Thing? 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People
- Moving Diversity Forward: How to Go from Well-Meaning to Well-Doing
This interview with Matt Lewis, a conservative blogger who has been re-thinking the way race is a factor in police interactions.
There's more, but that's all I can pull together this time around or I will go on forever! I'd be happy to talk to any of you more about this.
As Adrienne Maree Brown posted on Instagram (and I saw on Facebook):
Things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered. We must continue to hold each other tight and pull back the veil.