While it is scary to contemplate such thorny issues like racism and privilege, it is necessary if we wish to not only grow as librarians, but as people. How can we best support our young patrons if we do not understand the lives they lead, and the forces that are against them? How can we be experts on children’s literature (and media) if we ignore the way whiteness and other constructed identities dominate most narratives?
Through this project, I have been able to apply my previous academic experience in political science (critical race theory and feminist theory) to my chosen field of librarianship. Sometimes these two backgrounds conflict. Should books that negatively portray certain groups be wholly removed from circulation if there is otherwise merit, in the name of intellectual freedom? What about figures like Sherman Alexie, who have added to the canon, but are otherwise problematic figures? Furthermore, how does our field’s emphasis on neutrality affect the way marginalized groups are perceived and treated in the library? Is there even a way to be neutral in our professions while continuing to fight for social justice?
There are no easy answers, but these questions are worth exploring. On this blog, white privilege, diversity, and inclusivity have been discussed, and research on these topics and how they apply to librarianship has been explored. Examples of white privilege in children’s books have been shared, as have been excellent, inclusive books that feature a variety of experiences.
An important takeaway from this project has been to remember that:
Children and their families should be the focus of what we do
Anything hard is worth doing; the more uncomfortable, the more impactful the outcome
With every generation, more and more people continue to fight for justice. This fight must continue, and as librarians, we play an important role in helping to dismantle white supremacy and its connected power structures