“Sometimes we have to do the work even though we don’t yet see a glimmer on the horizon that it’s actually going to be possible.”Angela Davis
Here I am in my #InFormation shirt that I was so happy and proud to purchase in support of #BlackLivesMatter in LIS.
So the question that I will attempt to answer in this blog post is what have I learned after 2 years of being a librarian? More specifically what have I learned from being a Black Librarian who works in academia? My journey started with joy, gratitude, and concern and now I am a bit jaded but optimistic. I started with joy because I went back to school to get my graduate degree with 2 children under the age of 2 years old. Also, I was a new wife, a bonus mom, a guardian, and a new homeowner. Everything new was happening to me at once and somehow I made it through to the other side with a new profession. My husband and kids were what motivated me to continue. I knew that I could not work 3 to 4 jobs to make ends meet anymore and that I needed one well paying job. And I wanted to work one job that I would love doing. Anyway, I am getting sidetracked. I am here to reflect on some of the things that I have learned in my 2 years of being a librarian. I can not tell you all of my innermost feelings since I want to keep working in this profession. But one day I will be free to do so. So let me talk about the many things that I have learned during these two years.
“If you don’t understand yourself you don’t understand anybody else.”Nikki Giovanni
I will be honest I did not know that Black, Indigenous, People of Color(BIPOC) solidarity was possible. It is so good to see BIPOC librarians coming together to dismantle white supremacy and to interrupt whiteness together. Many of my librarian friends are BIPOC which makes me smile. If only their colleagues and institutions would see the greatness that they exhibit, librarianship would be a different type of profession. Sometimes I daydream that we all work at the same library.
Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, & Accessibility
Before coming into librarianship I knew about accessibility but I did not have a great understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Even when it comes to accessibility, I am still learning new concepts, theories, and ideas. In an interview that I did with Dr. Ray Pun on our podcast LibVoices, he brought up the concept of information privilege. This concept expanded the idea of accessibility like who has access to the information that we have at the library and who are we leaving out?
Critical Race Theory
I was able to be apart of the first WeHere‘s class, Critical Race Theory in librarianship. This class was an amazing experience and it taught me so much about whiteness, white supremacy, and critical race theory. In addition, it came with a compass which includes the research that will help me in my journey of understanding how race plays a part in every aspect of my life.
“So many of us have gotten ourselves at the table, but we’re still too grateful to be at the table to really shake it up. ”Michelle Obama
Committee work I have learned is one of the cornerstones of librarianship. This is where I have an opportunity to meet other librarians, work on library initiatives, and grow my leadership skills.
Twitter is lit! Using the hashtags #librarytwitter #librarylife #medlibs #critlib #bipocinlis has brought me to many important conversations, webinars, presentations, to other dope librarians, and so much more. I am glad that I created my @librarianjamia account which I mostly use to discuss library topics but I use to discuss other things like one of my favorite shows Insecure. My Instagram account has led me to other great librarians as well. It is great seeing pictures of how other librarians are living their lives.
The definition of an affinity group is a group of people having a common interest or goal or acting together for a specific purpose(Merriam-Webster.com) The groups that I have found during my time of being a librarian that has helped me in many ways are listed below:
I have learned so much about racism and specifically about anti-Black racism while being a librarian. By being so active on many EDIA committees I had to learn and unlearn so many things that were normalized. Just trying to survive I did not have the time to verbalize and reflect on the anti-Black racism that I experienced when I was in many predominantly white spaces. Some of these concepts I had a narrow understanding of and some of these concepts were new to me. Here is what I learned:
- White supremacy culture
- Listening to understand
- Mindfulness: I get great tips by following Amanda Leftwich’s page mindfulinlis
- Vocational Awe
- Low Morale
My BIPOC Squad
I am grateful for the friendships that I developed. Many of my relationships started out as colleagues of mine then it turned into many beautiful and vulnerable relationships. To my friends, I appreciate all the time that you spend with me pouring into me and believing in me. Librarianship has allowed me to come into contact with some amazing people that get it. I don’t have to explain things to you. Also, I don’t get the confused look or side-eye when I tell them that I am a librarian. Shout out to my mentor Twanna Hodge who was the connection to many of these awesome people.
Lastly, I am proud of myself for stepping out to make new bonds. I can truly say that I love what I do which I am grateful for. Thanks for reading some of my thoughts about these last 2 years. Cheers to the journey!
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”Angela Davis