Steering Share: A Reading List for Practicing Allyship in Archives

Steering Shares are an opportunity to find out more about the I&A Steering Committee. This post comes from I&A Chair Courtney Dean, Head of the Center for Primary Research and Training in UCLA Library Special Collections.

ArchivesNotNeutral

For the final Steering Share of my term as I&A Chair I was planning to provide an update on our section’s temporary labor survey which closed earlier this month. (We had 412 responses!) Instead, when I sat down to write last evening, I quickly found myself going down the wormhole of comments about a recent blog post that was shared via Library Journal’s Twitter account. I won’t go into too much detail (you can look it up yourself) but for those unfamiliar with the situation, a WOC librarian wrote a blog post about the whiteness of library collections, and as so often happens when POC speak truth about racism, the internet trolls came out en masse. (I encourage those of you on Twitter to go in and report them. It’s a quick and somewhat satisfying process.) Appalling enough as it is to have THOUSANDS of strangers leaving vitriolic, hateful, and blatantly racist comments, while also posting photos of the author and details about her workplace, it was especially reprehensible to see other librarians attacking her.

As archivists we’re sometimes inclined to think we don’t have a similar whiteness problem in our field, however one only needs to look at the numbers, or recall the backlash to Dr. Michelle Caswell’s Dismantling White Supremacy session at SAA a few years ago. For all of our talk of diversity, equity, and inclusion, we still struggle to recruit and retain archivists of color, and to acknowledge bias in our collecting practices. To this day I have colleagues who refuse to recognize that archives are not neutral.

Instead of continuing to rely on the on the intellectual and emotional labor of POC colleagues to tirelessly critique and challenge this problematic myth of neutrality, I encourage my fellow white archivists to check out the reading list below and start practicing allyship. We can all be doing better.

Below is a brief reading list in no particular order:

Issues and Advocacy: Archivists On The Issues: Answering The Call For Inclusivity, Summer Espinoza https://issuesandadvocacy.wordpress.com/2018/07/18/archivists-on-the-issues-answering-the-call-for-inclusivity/

Issues and Advocacy: Archivists on the Issues: Reflections on Privilege in the Archives, Summer Espinoza https://issuesandadvocacy.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/archivists-on-the-issues-reflections-on-privilege-in-the-archives/

Issues and Advocacy: #ARCHIVESSOWHITE In The Words Of Jarrett Drake  https://issuesandadvocacy.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/archivessowhite-in-the-words-of-jarrett-drake/

Honma, T. (2005). Trippin’ Over the Color Line: The Invisibility of Race in Library and Information Studies. InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies, 1(2). Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/4nj0w1mp

Joan M. Schwartz and Terry Cook, “Archives, records, and power: The making of modern memory” Archival Science (2002) 2: 1, https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02435628.

Lae’l Hughes-Watkins, “Moving Toward a Reparative Archive: A Roadmap for a Holistic Approach to Disrupting Homogenous Histories in Academic Repositories and Creating Inclusive Spaces for Marginalized Voices” Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies vol. 5, (2018) https://elischolar.library.yale.edu/jcas/vol5/iss1/6/

Nicole A. Cook Information Services to Diverse Populations: Developing Culturally Competent Library Professionals (California: ABC-CLIO, 2017)

Mario H. Ramirez (2015) Being Assumed Not to Be: A Critique of Whiteness as an Archival Imperative. The American Archivist: Fall/Winter 2015, Vol. 78, No. 2, pp. 339-356. https://doi.org/10.17723/0360-9081.78.2.339

Expanding #ArchivesForBlackLives to Traditional Archival Repositories, Jarrett Drake, June 27, 2016. https://medium.com/on-archivy/expanding-archivesforblacklives-to-traditional-archival-repositories-b88641e2daf6

Caswell, Michelle (2017).  Teaching to Dismantle White Supremacy in Archives.Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, 87(3) 223-235. http://www.journals.uchicago.edu.libproxy.csudh.edu/doi/pdfplus/10.1086/692299

Caswell, Michelle & Brilmyer, Gracen (2016).  Identifying & Dismantling White Supremacy in Archives: An Incomplete List of White Privileges in Archives and Action Items for Dismantling Them.  http://www.gracenbrilmyer.com/dismantling_whiteSupremacy_archives3.pdf  

Taylor, Chris (2017). Getting Our House in Order: Moving from Diversity to Inclusion. The American Archivist, 80(1), 19-29. https://doi.org/10.17723/0360-9081.80.1.19

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