Textbooks have changed considerably Research on transitional books shows more proportional relationship
Exploring Anti-racism inSchool Libraries:Contributions and GapsMiriam LarsonUniversity of Illinoisat Urbana-Champaignlarson40@illinois.eduApril 20, 2013ISLMA Mini-Conference, Bloomingdale
What interests you about the topic?Why did you come?Introductions
To recommend resources that you canuse for your own learning, report-writingor for sharingTo send you away with new ideas forhow to practice racially consciouslibrarianshipGoalsfor thisSession
If we aim to be compassionate school librarians andadvance a world in which all people have equalopportunity regardless of race, culture, class, religion,etc. . . .What scholarship exists to prepare us andto guide our practice?Guidancefrom Scholarship
Cultural competence as defined by Patricia Montiel-Overall is . . .the ability to recognize the significance of culture in one’s own life and in the lives of others; and tocome to know and respect diverse cultural backgrounds and characteristics through interaction withindividuals from diverse linguistic, cultural, and socioeconomic groups; and to fully integrate the cultureof diverse groups into services work, and institutions in order to enhance the lives of both those beingserved by the library profession and those engaged in service. (from Cultural Competence: AConceptual Framework for Library and Information Science Professionals)Domains:1. Cultural self-knowledge2. Interpersonal appreciation - an “ethic of care”3. Environment - language, space, policies, etc.Buzzword: Cultural Competence
Referring to multiculturalism, Lorna Peterson writes . . .“Differences in culture instead ofhistorical treatment become the focus,and equity issues are obscured by a "metoo" claim in victim status in whicheveryones differences are made equal.”(Library Journal, 1995)Why it’snot enough . . .
Racism Then and NowINCARCERATIONIn major cities wracked by the drug war, as many as 80 percent ofyoung African American men now have criminal records.The incarceration rate for Latino drug offenders in 2000 was more thantwenty-two times their rate of incarceration in 1983. In the same timespan rates of incarceration for white drug offenders have also increased,but they are only eight times what they were in 1983But studies show that people of all colors use and sellillegal drugs at remarkably similar rates.From Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow
Although the majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwideare white, three-fourths of all people imprisoned for drug offenseshave been black or Latino.As of September 2009, only 7.9% of federal prisoners wereconvicted of violent crimes.The U.S. incarceration rate is six to ten times greater than the ratein other industrialized nations.From The New Jim CrowRacism Then and Now (cont)
QuickTime™ and aTIFF (LZW) decompressorare needed to see this picture.If librariespromotedemocracy . . .. . . then racism isour concern.
Librarians’ ContributionsAdvocating for diverse booksProviding student-centered learningspaces“Nobody pushed me to make a fool ofmyself, to let everybody know I couldn’t yethandle all those books. I hung around herewith my friends, fooled with all thecomputers, talked a lot, and found out that Iwanted to know more” - Hispanic Studentto racially equitable educationQuickTime™ and aTIFF (Uncompressed) decompressorare needed to see this picture.Other specific benefits?Ross Todd and Carol Kulthau’s study of school libraries in Ohio found thatstudents perceptions of how the library helped them with reading scored higherfor African Americans than whites
Addressing GapsLibrary-specific examples of racism• Underrepresentation of books by and about people of color1. Need for professional recruitment and retention of librarians ofcolorSchool-wide examples of racism1. Achievement gap: Locally and nationally, test scores for Latinoand Black students are lower than scores for other racial groups.2. Disproportional disciplinary actions for students of color contributeto a “school-to-prison” pipeline
*Data about books is from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) and most accuratelydocuments books in trade book format, as well as some series non-fiction titles. Population statistics arefrom the U.S. Census.African/ AfricanAmericansAmerican IndiansAsian Pacifics/AsianPacific AmericansLatinos2012 Characters inBooks3.3%(119)6%(22)2.1%(76)1.5%(54)2012 Book Authors1.8%(68).1%(6).2%(83)1.6%(59)2011 U.S. Populationby Race13.1% 1.2% 5% 16.7%Racial Representation in Children’sand YA Lit
• High Standardsa) Cultural Competencec) Sociopolitical ConsciousnessRacially ConsciousLibrary PracticeEducation scholar Gloria Ladson-Billings proposes a framework thatincludes cultural competence called culturally relevant pedagogy“students must experience academicsuccess”“students must develop and/or maintain cultural competence”“students must develop a critical consciousness through which they challengethe current status quo”
Scenario 1: Collection DevelopmentHelpful fact: Research indicates that books that reflect the samerace and cultural background as the readers improve students’motivation and success in learning to read.Scenario: Imagine you are a middle schoollibrarian. When the “multicultural” box arrivesfrom your book fair provider you find thatalmost all of the enclosed books are picturebooks and transitional series books. How doyou explain this? What do you do?
Scenario 2: Instructional CollaborationScenario: A white school librarian works at apredominantly white elementary school. AnAsian American teacher is working with her classin the library. The librarian observes that a blackstudent is repeatedly talking out. The librarianpulls the student out into the hallway andreprimands that student. How might race besignificant in this scenario? How might thelibrarian deal with this differently? Do you haveexperience with variations on this scenario?
Scenario 3: Teaching for SociopoliticalConsciousnessScenario: “A group of African American youth, who attenda predominately white high school, are overheardcomplaining about their teachers and administratorsperceived lack of support and cultural sensitivity. Thelibrary media specialist, in collaboration with severalclassroom teachers, recognizes this as an opportunity toexplore the concept critical inquiry with students.”(Kumasi, 2007)What kinds of critical inquiry projects might conductedin the library? What are benefits to hosting such aproject in the library? What are constraints?
Discussion: Culturally Relevant Library PracticeWhat else do I need toknow?Teaching/LibrarianshipCultural differences/RacialinequityAdult-level knowledgeResearchIdeas for differentlibrarian roles?TeacherInformation SpecialistInstructional PartnerProgram AdministratorLeaderSpace DesignCommunity Programs
“Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearlyall the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against AfricanAmericans” (2).“Like Jim Crow, mass incarceration marginalizes large segments ofthe African American community, segregates them physically (inprisons, jails, and ghettos), and then authorizes discriminationagainst them in voting, employment, housing, education, publicbenefits, and jury service” (17)And in an era of colorblindness, discriminating against criminalssidesteps any need to name race or use it as a justification foroppression.Systematic Disenfranchisement