Race Matters: Libraries, Racism, and Antiracism
(call for submissions has passed)
Critical Race Theory holds “that race is central, not peripheral, to American thought and life” and “that racism is common and ordinary rather than rare and episodic” (The Oxford Companion to American Law). From hashtags (#BlackLivesMatter, #CharlestonSyllabus, #BlackOnCampus) to podcasts (About Race, Intersection with Jamil Smith, Real Talk with Nekima Levy-Pounds), from city streets to college campuses, these are some of the spaces and places where dialogues about race and racism are happening. This is where the theme for the 2016 LACUNY Institute begins, where it seeks to join the national conversation on race.
In addressing this theme, we are interested in amplifying and extending recent important conversations and scholarship in the library profession which have interrogated the role of libraries in systemic racism, the collusion of library neutrality in oppression, and white privilege and fragility in the profession, among other issues. Libraries attract professionals with “good” and “noble” intentions, but as Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in Between the World and Me, “‘Good intention’ is a hall pass through history.”
How can we move the dialogue beyond good intention, where it has been mired in well-meaning diversity and multiculturalism initiatives? How do we move the profession from racial liberalism, as articulated by Lani Guinier, to racial literacy, which “requires us to rethink race as an instrument of social, geographic, and economic control of both whites and blacks”? How can and do libraries contribute to the national conversation on race, racism, and anti-racism? What are the foundations that librarianship can use to address racism both within the profession and society at large?
The LACUNY Institute Committee seeks proposals that address race in libraries, archives, and the information studies, across myriad roles (staff, faculty, students, patrons, etc.) and functions (technical services, public services, instruction, etc.).
Example topics include but are not limited to:
- Race and critical information literacy and pedagogy
- Race and racism in information organization
- Libraries, race, and access
- What is and is not collected
The Institute will have three tracks: panel presentations, facilitated dialogues, and alt-sessions.
- Panel papers (15 minutes/presenter): Moderated panel presentations with time for questions and discussion.
- Facilitated dialogues (45 minutes): Teams of two lead a discussion on topic of their choice related to the theme, with one person presenting context and the other facilitating conversation.
- Alt-sessions (15-30 minutes): An opportunity for exploring topics through multiple ways of knowing (e.g., short documentary, spoken word, performance art).
The goal of this event is to create a space for respectful dialogue and debate about these critical issues. We will be publishing a formal code of conduct, but the event organizers will actively strive to create a public space in which multiple perspectives can be heard and no one voice dominates.