Anti-Racism Resources

Black Lives Matter. Why is that such a controversial statement? Why do black men disproportionately get arrested and sentenced to prison time? Why do black people–and other people of color–die at the hands of police when walking down the street, sitting in their home, sitting in their car?

I don’t have some enlightened response. I’m on this journey, like so many white people. I’ve been learning and confronting my own racism. There are things I’ve said as a kid, as a teen, as an adult, that I regret. I’ve committed microaggressions. I was That White Kid who said she didn’t see color, that the only race was the human race, in a lofty way like I was the most enlightened kid in the world. I was That White Teen who had a lengthy argument with a black teen about why affirmative action was wrong because I thought it made it harder for me to get into an elite college. I was That White Young Woman in college who said “all lives matter” more regularly than I would like to remember.

Before, after, and meanwhile, BIPOC continued to die and struggle, while educated white people, like myself, pranced around feeling enlightened. We had a black president after all. Surely racism was over.

Libraries and librarians taught me better. Taught me to do better.

Libraries let me leave my box of like-minded people. When I had thought about race before, it had always been external–those racist old people. Those white supremacists. Those weird protesters claiming God was on their side and no one else’s. I’m not like them, so I’m not racist.

At library conferences, I met people from around the country. Around the world. I made friends, and I must have said or done some decent things, because they liked me and invited me to go to dinner with them. And I did something that I wasn’t always very good at. I listened. And while the words and conversations I heard were about other people’s words and other people’s actions, I saw myself reflected there. And it wasn’t pretty.

So I started reading. And learning. White Fragility spent three weeks staring at me on my nightstand before I finally decided to just do it already, read it. I delayed because part of my brain knew what I would find and knew I wouldn’t be “comfortable” with it. I read it without stopping once. The emotional whiplash didn’t leave for a much longer time.

I’ve kept digging. Kept learning. Kept growing. But I’ve made a mistake again, right here–this post is focusing on me. My white lady story. And sorry Facebook, we don’t need another white lady story. Or another white lady post showcasing protest selfies. Protest. Speak out. Inform. Donate. But please stop bragging while you do it.

George Floyd is dead. Breonna Taylor is dead. Thousands of others are dead. Millions more live in fear, knowing that they or their friends, siblings, parents, children could be next.

There are a lot of anti-racism book lists out there for all ages. In the time it would take me to review all of the book lists or even compile my own list below, I could have actually read a bunch of new titles.

We, Michala and I, decided to go a slightly different route with this post, focusing on anti-racism learning tools, resources, and articles that had a particular impact on us. Things that have helped us recently and helped us on our own personal journeys.

Maybe one of them will help someone else out too.

Anti-Racism Resources

Project READY: Reimagining Equity & Access for Diverse Youth

Project Ready: Our library’s youth department has been working through this training since January. For people who already have a background in anti-racism efforts and the struggles of BIPOC, much of this may be review, but for the average white librarian or educator, this is an excellent dive into race and racism. This is not a one day, one week, one month, or even one year training–our department is most likely looking at spreading this content over 2-3 years. Includes many suggested resources that allow users to dig even deeper into these issues.

Scaffolding Anti-Racism Resources: An excellent breakdown of resources for white people based on where they currently are on their anti-racism journey with thought pieces, articles, and teaching tools for all stages of learning. See all of the resources from this excellent toolkit here.

What Is an Anti-Racist Reading List For? by Lauren Michele Jackson: This piece made me rethink the reading lists that so many, including myself, have been so eager to help create and distribute. Beyond making my white lady self feel good, what is their impact? So much more to unpack–read the article, not me summarizing it. Also take a look at this Twitter feed.

A Plan for Movement Worksheets: There aren’t always protests or marches to be a part of. These worksheets help us keep ourselves accountable when this specific moment has passed.

Storytime Underground: I started librarianship after the reign of Storytime Underground’s website, so I have only ever been more familiar with their often scattered Facebook Group, containing random posts from participants mostly about storytime books and self-bragging about programs and decorations. In the last few days, the group admins have taken the group back, shifting its focus to what I was always told was part of their initial effort. Their new exploration started with this thoughtful apology from one of the co-founders and has continued with many of their posts this week, which are restricted to posts focusing on racism, black lives matter, and the like.

Examining Police in the Library: Two thought pieces that I read recently (even though neither is new) on examining how police are depicted in children’s books and their presence in libraries:

Embrace Race: This website sometimes feels more directed at parents than educators, but there are plenty of resources for both. Explore their resource page for webinars, articles, and more focusing on specific aspects of working with kids and talking about race.

Student Voice: A student from our community wrote and performed this piece about her experiences. It is worth a listen. <3

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