Leaders of AACR, LACCHA, LAGAR on Orlando & Archivists’ Role in Creating a More Diverse Society

Archivists on the Issues is a forum for archivists to discuss the issues we are facing today. Below is a post from leaders of the Archivists and Archives of Color Roundtable, the Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives Roundtable, and the Lesbian and Gay Archives Roundtable.  If you have an issue you would like to write about for this blog series or a previous post that you would like to respond to, please email archivesissues@gmail.com.

49 individuals were killed and 53 injured at the gay nightclub, The Pulse. The majority of those killed or injured were Latinx and members or allies of the Orlando LGBTQIA community.  It was an act of violence so painful that our hearts ache from the pain of it, and our minds are reeling from the fear of it.  The act now joins the countless others etched in our individual and communal memories.

In addition to processing our emotional response on an individual, local community, and organizational level, we are now asked to respond on behalf of SAA AACR, LACCHA, and LAGAR membership. How can a few speak for so many intersections of cultural and personal understanding? It’s not possible—but we can respond from our professional experience as archivists.

As archivists, we  know that recording and preserving the contexts surrounding acts of violence and oppression can provide those who come after us examples of the intersections of communities and relationships. Thus, the histories, hardships and accomplishments of the marginalized and underrepresented must be understood and reflected in the archives. Additionally, archives must document the ability of these groups to resist the systematic cultural erasure that occurs on a global level.

We ask that you, fellow archivists, take a moment to be aware of how your personal biases and privilege might be reflected in what and how you collect, to accept that, and work to change the ones that hinder the progress and inclusion of others. To quote the May 2011 SAA Core Values of Archivists, “Archivists embrace the importance of identifying, preserving, and working with communities to actively document those whose voices have been overlooked or marginalized.” But you cannot document those who are overlooked and marginalized if you cannot see us, or cannot confront your own biases.

As archivists, we cannot accept invisibility. As a profession, we cannot continue to accept historical erasure and whitewashing through binary historical practices.

Aaisha Haykal, Senior Chair, Archivists and Archives of Color Roundtable
Harrison Inefuku, Vice Chair, Archivists and Archives of Color Roundtable

George Apodaca, Co-Chair, Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives Roundtable
Margarita Vargas-Betancourt, Co-Chair, Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives Roundtable

Lisa Calahan, Co-Chair, Lesbian and Gay Archives Roundtable
Daniel DiLandro, Co-Chair, Lesbian and Gay Archives Roundtable