As a Librarian, I Champion Community Engagement

Submitted by CCCL_KaraS

In the wake of the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmed Aubrey, and countless others at the hands of the police, I feel the need to make plain that systemic racism and violence towards Black peopleand all people of colorgoes against the very foundation of what my work as a librarian intends to do. Equality and diversity are basic founding principles of my profession. The national library community has come together to condemn the type of violence and racism that we have seen in full display in recent weeks, and as always, I am proud to be a member of a greater organization that works every day for equal access and opportunity for every single person in our respective communities.  

A core goal of Contra Costa County Library is to champion community engagement, and as librarians we help to do that by championing literacy and reading. In that spirit, my colleagues and I have put together resources for you to stay informed and engaged during this moment of national crisis. 

First and foremost, make sure the information you are getting is accurate. Be aware of bias in the news. Check multiple sources to confirm if a news story is valid or not. These online resources can help: 

https://www.allsides.com/unbiased-balanced-news 

https://www.snopes.com/ 

To help talk with younger children about what’s happening, I recommend Something Happened in our Town, written by three psychologists. The story follows a White family and a Black family navigating the aftermath of a police shooting of a Black man. The book includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers that provides general guidance about addressing racism with children, child-friendly vocabulary definitions, conversation guides, and a link to additional online resources for parents and teachers. The National Museum of African American Culture and History has more great suggestions on how to talk about racism for parents and educators, as does this New York Times article. (Get free digital access to the NYT, daily with your library card). 

Want to know what people are taking to the streets in protest for? Take a look at the websites of Black Lives Matter, Movement for Black Lives and 8 Can’t Wait to read about the issues at hand.

Conflicted about rioting being counter-productive? Riots have long played a role in social change in the United States, and isn’t a simple matter of right or wrong actions. Consider the Boston Tea Party, then take a moment to read what Kareem Abdul Jabbar has to say about our current protests 

For those who would like to educate themselves further about the African American experience, browse our staff curated book list Black Lives Matter, and our Anti-Racist bookshelf. Being an ally takes more than reading a book, however. This article in the SF Chronicle dives deeper into the subject. 

Curious about the point of view of law enforcement? I recommend this article in National Review as a starting place. National Review is one of the magazines available to you with your library card, many of them accessible online via Flipster. It is also recommended to become familiar with the history of policing in the United States.  

What can you do to get engaged? Below is a list of suggested organizations to with which you can connect: 

Anti Police Terror Project 

Minnesota Freedom Fund 

Equal Justice Under Law 

Freedom for Immigrants 

And once you get engaged, stay civically engaged! 

Your vote is your voice. Register to vote by mail. 

Learn about local ballot issues.  

Fill out the 2020 Census 

Call your representatives: 

Governor Gavin Newsom - (916) 445-2841 

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier - (202) 225-2095 

Congressman Jerry McNerney - (202) 225-1947 

Congressman Mike Thompson - (202) 225-3311 

The American Library Association, in their response to this watershed moment, has called on all members of the library profession to join them “in working not only responsively, but also preemptively, to eradicate racism anywhere and everywhere it exists.” I know am I not alone in gladly heeding that call.  

Want more information? The library is here for you. Chat with library staff Monday through Friday 10-5. 

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