I am, like you, once again dealing with feelings of anger and despair brought on by the acts of racist hate and violence that fill the national news. Systemic racism and disregard for Black lives must be named, even when we do not know what we can do or what words to use that are sufficient in the face of such outrage and grief. As members of the SU community and the SU Libraries I ask us all to look for additional ways to learn and educate ourselves and our University community.
We all need to look for ways to become more effective in combating racism and to model the justice and equality we want to see, through our daily behaviors and interactions, business processes, events, and language. My energy and focus will be directed to helping us do better, be better, and to name and combat racism or bigotry when we see it. We can make progress, and this work is rooted in the core values we hold as library staff. Our Libraries’ Diversity and Inclusion Team has prepared the following statement to help move us forward:
On behalf of the Syracuse University Libraries, our Diversity and Inclusion Team unequivocally condemns the systemic oppression, racism, and police brutality being perpetrated against Black people and people of color in Minneapolis and across our nation. The SU Libraries stand in solidarity with other parts of our profession, including the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), and endorse their May 28 statement condemning the historical racism and violence against our Black communities. As our nation mourns the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and David McAtee, we also recognize the many other Black people whose lives were also unjustly ended in violence. We believe that Black lives matter. We share the sorrow and anger of our communities and recognize the pain that these recent incidents have had on our University community. As evidenced by the racist incidents that occurred on our campus this past school year, we know that our institution is not immune from the bigotry, hate speech, and violence that persists in our country. We support our campus and the Syracuse community’s right to protest and to do the hard work to counter the pervasive systems of oppression that have been leveled against Black people and people of color.
Systemic inequities exist within libraries, just as they do throughout our society. Statements such as those from the Society of American Archivists (SAA) express our own shared responsibility to create inclusive and equitable spaces for Black library and archive workers and workers of color. We acknowledge the work we still must do in addressing the whiteness and systems of oppression that also exist within our own field and call upon ourselves and other libraries to take action to interrogate and dismantle them. We need to think deeply about the collections we build, the programs we create, the design of our spaces and services, the library workers we employ, support, and retain, and ultimately how we put our values of diversity and inclusion into action. It is through confronting the systems that exist in our own professional practices that we can work towards providing the inclusive and equitable spaces we strive to create for both our own workers and our diverse patron communities.
Social justice and advocacy work are an ongoing commitment and we pledge to hold ourselves accountable to practicing anti-racism and anti-oppression through our policies, procedures, and everyday work.
We encourage each other and the broader Syracuse University community to continue to educate ourselves, reflect, and act. The following evolving compilation of readings and resources, including links to local and national advocacy organizations, serves as a starting point and reminder of how to continue this work: https://researchguides.library.syr.edu/racialjustice
David Seaman, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian
Diversity and Inclusion Team
Tarida Anantachai, Lead Librarian, Learning Commons (Co-Chair)
Nicole Westerdahl, Reference and Access Services Librarian, SCRC (Co-Chair)
Kate Deibel, Inclusion and Accessibility Librarian
Sarah Duncan, Access Services Supervisor
Stephanie McReynolds, Librarian for Business, Management, and Entrepreneurship
Jessica Rice, Preservation Lab Supervisor
Daniel Sarmiento, Director of Administration