The NYU Division of Libraries Senior Leadership Team and our Inclusion, Diversity, Belonging, and Equity Steering Committee join our voices with the millions of others in New York City, across the country, and around the world who are expressing grief, horror, and outrage over the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other victims of racist violence. While these grotesque crimes have captured the world’s attention now, we know that they are only the most recent examples of the continuous, centuries-long, shameful history of systemic racism and oppression of Black people and people of color in this country, fed by an endemic culture of white supremacy and manifested in the inhumanity of police brutality. The current violent suppression of people of conscience during peaceful protests and demonstrations—forms of speech and assembly vital to democracy—are also not new or unique to these times.
In this context, it is not enough for the NYU Division of Libraries simply to reaffirm our aspirational values of inclusion, diversity, belonging, and equity. We must speak up to condemn white supremacy, systemic racism in all its forms, racial hatred, police brutality, and the ongoing structural oppression of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) lives. We give our unequivocal support to the Black Lives Matter movement, which rises up to force those who benefit from white privilege to acknowledge, examine, and work to dismantle that privilege, as well as the complicity of silence surrounding it.
As a Division, we will take active steps to contribute to positive change. Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be An Anti-Racist, exhorts us to courageously build spaces and communities that are explicitly anti-racist. Thus, we want to ensure that anyone who enters our Libraries’ physical and virtual spaces feels safe, confident, supported, and reassured that they are a cherished and fundamental part of who we are. It is not enough for our Libraries’ community to know that this good intent guides us in making decisions: we all need to hear it, see it, and feel it.
Therefore, we commit ourselves to active engagement, reflection, and listening. We will create supportive, healing spaces where Black and/or BIPOC colleagues and users can engage in community healing among themselves. We will hold ourselves accountable for the shape and inclusiveness of our workforce and our leadership. We will analyze and adjust collecting policies and library practices to ensure that all of our diverse community members can find themselves and their histories represented in our stacks, on our online presence, at our reference desks, and in our classrooms. We will develop and assemble programs and resources to promote awareness of this work. Most important, it will not fall to colleagues from Black and other oppressed communities to provide solutions. Instead, as a community, we take responsibility collectively and individually to open our eyes and minds to the urgent work of anti-racism by reading, learning, listening, and developing concrete plans for action.
Updated: June 2020