Friday, August 21, 2015

Silent No More

Posted November 14, 2015

“Your silence will not protect you.” Audre Lorde

Does the world need another blog? Why add another voice to the multitude of voices that already speak through the cloud?

For an untenured faculty member, these are both especially valid questions, as it is doubtful that anything I write publicly will “count” toward tenure. My time, it will no doubt be said, could be better spent on my research. But, now in my fourth year of the tenure process, writing about race and sexuality (among other things) in a discipline that on most days seems to want to silence me, I find myself unable to remain quiet anymore.

I claim my voice in a space where I cannot be censored by a discipline that purports to embrace “diversity” while moving at a monumentally (unforgivably) glacial pace to do anything actionable to change the status quo.

I offer this space to other faculty members, doctoral and MLS/MLIS students, and practitioners who need/want a space for sharing their thoughts, stories, and (counter)narratives, narratives that continue to be silenced in our work spaces, our conferences, our professional and research journals, and our books (with a few notable exceptions). Some of these posts will be signed, while I will post others for those who feel revealing their identities would jeopardize their professional lives.

Too many of us have been silenced for too long, perpetuating a status quo in libraries that privileges the White, straight, cisgender, Christian patriarchy throughout collections, services, and programs. For the most part, our curriculum teaches library students to maintain this status quo while tokenizing difference, relegating anyone outside of its boundaries to special sections, months, and celebrations. We can continue to talk about diversity and inclusion for the next 50 years, can continue creating initiative after initiative and taskforce after taskforce, but as long as we continue to ignore or disregard the societal and institutional systems that create and support oppression, nothing will really change.

I used to believe that the leaders in the field, those in the upper echelons of LIS institutions, organizations, and educational programs, would finally start making some of the changes they had been talking about since I entered the field in 2001. I used to believe that some of the statements and the committees and the action teams would actually start fulfilling their promises in some meaningful way.  I used to believe a lot of things I don’t believe anymore. And I know that I am not alone in being tired of waiting for others to make these changes.

Mine is a single voice, but together we are multitudes.

1 comment:

  1. Though I kind of knew what-to-expect when I started my own MLIS a few years ago, it was still a kick in the gut to see just how much institutional racism there is, in ALA and in the textbooks used for LIS courses. I'm glad for this blog and that you're offering a way for librarians to speak up about the many problems in librarianship.