Multnomah County Library stands in solidarity and in support of our Black community, not just in this moment of crisis but as we look forward to working collectively to end inequity and systemic racism in our community and across the country. To combat the systemic racism that has perpetuated violence and inequities in our communities of color, we must act, not just feel. Multnomah County Library is taking action and we will expand those actions.
As Director, I will:
- Affirm and validate the harm that hundreds of years of racism and oppression causes and has caused Black, Indigenous, People of Color and other marginalized communities
- Lead the library’s efforts with race at the fore
- Center Black, Indigenous, People of Color and other marginalized communities in our service
- Rethink the library’s exclusionary history and redefine the library’s legacy through action
- Check my own biases and assumptions alongside those of the institution I lead
Finally and importantly, I want to honor library staff—and one member, in particular, a part of the Black Cultural Library Advocates team—who started something incredible in the past few days. This person took the brave step of emailing hundreds of their colleagues to share perspective and resources around the history of violent protest in America in an effort “...to cultivate a very different culture here at the library where we talk about anti blackness, whiteness, white supremacy, racism, and how we as an institution are working to uphold it.” It was the perfect step in that moment.
Others engaged, expressing support, gratitude, solidarity, acknowledgement, willingness to hear and learn and offered even more resources. I will list some of those below but—to me—this was especially resonant, Sam Cooke's incredible and inspiring A Change is Gonna Come.
Here’s a portion of what library staff have shared with their peers:
- @ericabuddington: a history of racial violence and oppression
- @clairewillett: on Fred Hampton and COINTELPRO
- Georgakas, Dan: Detroit, I Do Mind Dying
- Hughes, Langston: Dream Variations
- NPR: Meet The Last Surviving Witness To The Tulsa Race Riot Of 1921
- NPR: 'This Little Light Of Mine' Shines On, A Timeless Tool Of Resistance
- Paper: How to Support Protesters in Every City
- Refinery29: Black People Need Stronger White Allies — Here’s How You Can Be One
- Refinery29: Why Are The Protestors Being Framed As The Problem? White Supremacy
- The Week: 'A riot is the language of the unheard,' Martin Luther King Jr. explained 53 years ago
And here are some additional resources from the library’s website:
- Multnomah County Library: What Does It Mean to be White? How Can I Be an Ally?
- Multnomah County Library: Talking with children and teens about race and racism
This library will be part of the change that’s gonna come.