August 20, 2017

Aspiration to Action | Diversity 2016

ljx161201webdiversityslugbig2What can we do? This has to be one of the most commonly asked questions in America—even before the recent presidential election brought a wave of hate crimes more pervasive than the one that followed the September 11 attacks. The ongoing impact of bigotry in America is, perhaps, the quintessential “wicked problem.” A legacy of housing discrimination continues to shape neighborhoods—and how they are served by schools, police, and, yes, libraries—to this day. Studies continue to show implicit bias along lines of race and gender that impacts hiring, promotion, compensation, and retention—and explicit bias is still with us. All of these factors feed one another, eluding simple solutions to any that leave the others out of the equation.

We don’t claim that the initiatives that follow will allow the libraries that invented them, or their replicators, to solve racism, or transform what Alden E. Habacon calls “bento box diversity”—(mostly) peaceful coexistence of groups side by side but not a lot of interaction—into a truly equitable society.

Still, each example is an answer to the question, “What can we do that will make a difference?” They have in common a determination to grapple with the challenge in a truly concrete way, to take on one part of a problem and move the needle in their own communities with not just aspiration but action.

Of course, these are far from the only projects that fit those criteria, among them the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Social Justice Symposium for teens, covered by our sister publication School Library Journal, and programming that tackles opening dialog on gentrification in Brooklyn and Seattle. If your library is taking on these issues, please share your approach with us.

This article was published in Library Journal's December 1, 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Executive Editor of Library Journal.

Share
Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  4. Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media, per our Terms of Use.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind

*