ALA Unit/Subunit: ACRL
Meeting Type: Program
Cost: Included with full conference registration.
Being an Ally in a library can look very different when practiced by library staff of different racial identities. Reviewing one’s own identity in relationship to power and privilege is an important step in deciding how to communicate with patrons, peers, supervisors, and others. Our panel discusses how racial identity influences our communication styles as allies. For a white librarian, not speaking and listening can be an important way to provide space for dialogue in diverse settings. The question becomes how does one balance when to be silent and when to lend a voice and speak up? For a librarian of color, not speaking can be a byproduct of a power differential in which there is no space to speak. Asian American librarians face a unique quandary as being quiet can affirm existing notions of Asian American reticence in personal, political, and workplace behavior. Many African-American library professionals often find themselves between two vastly divergent and problematic constructs, one in which they represent the voice of a monolithic community and the alternative where they represent a voice that is oftentimes viewed as an aggrieved minority group. African-American representation is minuscule at best which creates tremendous pressure to contribute to workplace initiatives on race and diversity issues. Looking at examples of classroom teaching, one-on-one research consultations, and experiences in staff meetings we review various ways race impacts allyship and present questions to ask oneself in the effort to provide equitable spaces for communication in library work.