When the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) speaks, the ALA Council listserv goes wild.
Okay, maybe not all the time, but definitely when it “condemns the American Library Association’s (ALA) decision to continue with plans to hold the ALA 2016 annual conference in Orlando, Fla. in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict and that state’s refusal to revise or repeal “Stand Your Ground” laws, which were included in jury instructions in Zimmerman’s trial for second degree murder for fatally shooting unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. in 2012.”
Whew, that’s a long one. The thread of discussion was eventually called “The Orlando Problem.”
Apparently the BCALA isn’t satisfied that Zimmerman supposedly now has post-traumatic stress disorder, is homeless, and “is unable to lead a normal life, and has to don a bulletproof vest whenever he goes out.” Hasn’t that poor guy suffered enough? All he did was get away with murder, after all.
The condemnation goes on to mention the Michael Dunn case. The BCALA seems to think that it’s now perfectly legal to shoot random black males in Florida on a whim.
Actually, come to think of it, I guess they’re right.
The question is whether that’s enough reason for the ALA to move a conference that’s scheduled a mere two years away.
The semi-official ALA line is always conservative in things like this, which must really irritate the people who think the ALA takes a bold, liberal stand on anything other than book bans that it has no control over anyway.
Getting out of the contracts would be expensive, there aren’t that many cities big enough for an ALA Annual, the notice is too short to get good rates for meeting rooms and hotels, and the cities don’t control state policy. Those are most of the objections. All very practical.
The objection to boycotting Orlando that recurred in various versions is a bit less practical. Basically, it’s the claim that things are bad all over.
Every state has something bad about it, and if every state has some bad laws or policies then we could never find an acceptable state for a conference.
That sounds like a plausible argument on the face of it. Someone mentioned that California, for example, is getting rid of school librarians left and right, which I’ve noticed before.
And yeah, if you look at it from the perspective of the average librarian – female and white – then that could almost be comparable to basically legalizing the murder of random black males, rather than thinking of it as an insult.
Lots of states have discriminatory laws, against gay marriage for instance. Then again, most of those states are in places that ALA would never have a conference because they don’t have any cities big enough to handle the conference.
The ALA won’t be moving the conference just because of the BCALA’s arguments and condemnation. They need more incentive.
How about this? ALA Annual should never have been scheduled in Orlando in the first place after the last Annual there, which was hot and awful. It’s a terrible conference city, one of those cities with no there there, much like it’s Disney twin Anaheim. What bunch of clowns chose that city anyway?
No, just being an awful location for a conference isn’t going to deter the ALA. That’s why we get Boston in January and New Orleans in June. Being an awful location or at an awful time of year is pretty much how conference sites are chosen.
On the other hand, people don’t have to go. If I recall correctly, the last Orlando conference was one of the least attended ALA Annuals in years.
It costs a lot of money to move a conference just two years away. How much will it cost to put on a conference that few people pay to attend? Perhaps we’ll find out.