[Libs-Or] Editorial Response to most recent OLA Quarterly

Candise Branum cbranum at ocom.edu
Tue Nov 5 09:23:58 PST 2019

There is a big difference between showcasing different viewpoints in a
collegial way and what this work actually is, which is a person airing
their discomfort with EDI in a non-constructive way. The author claims that
the authors of *Reading While White* are divisive, and then goes on to make
generalized assumptions about the intent of the authors, which has more to
do with their own feelings about being White than it does with the actual
contents of the blog. They argue that people who are advocating for
diversity in collections don't understand how awards voting works (Dr.
Reese) or that their intent is to make white people feel guilty (*Reading
While White*). Anna is absolutely right -- this is not a difference of
opinion, but a case study of white fragility playing out in a public forum.

I also think it's really dangerous to make the assertion that a white
librarian who has doubts about collecting for diverse audiences is now the
minority. Even though McNeil may be the vocal minority in this particular
forum, that doesn't change the historical or current power structures that
validate viewpoints like the one in this article. I agree that we *should *be
talking about race, but we also need to take accountability for our words;
the impact of racism happens regardless of intent.

*Candise Branum*
Director of Library Services
Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM)
503-253-3443 x134 <(503)%20253-3443>   |   75 NW Couch Street, Portland, OR
|   library.ocom.edu

*Pronouns: She, her, hers**Want to donate? Check out our book wishlist

On Tue, Nov 5, 2019 at 7:18 AM Anna Skinner <factwrangler at gmail.com> wrote:

> One of the works Heather McNeil cites in her essay is Robin DiAngelo's
> book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism
> (Beacon Press, 2018). And this is interesting because the essay is pretty
> much an example of that phenomenon in action.
> DiAngelo writes
> <https://libjournal.uncg.edu/ijcp/article/viewFile/249/116>: "If and when
> an educational program does directly address racism and the privileging of
> whites, common white responses include anger, withdrawal, emotional
> incapacitation, guilt, argumentation, and cognitive dissonance. ... Whites
> have not had to build tolerance for racial discomfort and thus when racial
> discomfort arises, whites typically respond as if something is 'wrong,' and
> blame the person or event that triggered the discomfort (usually a person
> of color). ... White insistence on racial comfort ensures that racism will
> not be faced. This insistence also functions to punish those who break
> white codes of comfort. **Whites often confuse comfort with safety and
> state that we don’t feel safe when what we really mean is that we don’t
> feel comfortable.** ... Because we don’t think complexly about racism, we
> don’t ask ourselves what safety means from a position of societal
> dominance, or the impact on people of color, given our history, for whites
> to complain about our safety when we are merely *talking* about racism."
> People are certainly free to express their contrary opinions on complex
> topics. The question is whether the particular opinion was appropriate for
> inclusion in the context of the quarterly.
> DiAngelo's book is a pretty great resource. Folks who are feeling
> uncomfortable with this conversation, and with questions about the essay's
> inclusion in the quarterly, might want to dig into DiAngelo and consider
> seeing the issue in a bigger context than "Us vs. them."
> Anna
> On Mon, Nov 4, 2019 at 8:06 PM Tony Greiner <tony_greiner at hotmail.com>
> wrote:
>> I want to offer a contrary view to the concerns of Macias and Farkas.  I
>> thought McNeil's essay provided a good balance to the issue (it was hardly
>> anti-inclusion) but it did recognize the complexity of this topic, and how
>> it all-to-often leads to "us versus them" thinking.  I do not want opinions
>> that challenge the current orthodoxy silenced, and McNeil should be free to
>> criticize Debbie Reese or anyone else with whom she has a differing opinion.
>> The point to  diversity is hearing different opinions-not silencing them.
>> Tony Greiner
>> **tony_greiner at hotmail.com**
>> ------------------------------
>> rmail/libs-or/ <http://listsmart.osl.state.or.us/pipermail/libs-or/>
>> Today's Topics:
>> Message: 2
>> Date: Mon, 4 Nov 2019 07:59:15 -0800
>> From: OLA President <olapresident at olaweb.org>
>> To: libs-or <libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us>
>> Subject: [Libs-Or] Editorial Response to OLAQ 25(2)
>> Message-ID:
>>         <CAFJr5GjHL1E7pmJ7-5yw74xe5r7P6TsJqeke=
>> ry2KhyDMhMbfQ at mail.gmail.com>
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>> Dear OLA Colleagues,
>> I am writing in response to the conversation surrounding the Oregon
>> Library
>> Association Quarterly (OLAQ) Summer issue, 25(2).  I understand the
>> concerns Max Macias, Meredith Farkas, and others have expressed about the
>> final article in the issue, ?Yes, but ? One Librarian?s Thoughts About
>> Doing It Right? and agree with the valid criticism that the OLAQ editorial
>> standards need to be strengthened.
>> As the guest editor of this issue, I take responsibility for choosing the
>> theme, reviewing proposals, selecting contributors, and reading the first
>> draft of the authors' submissions before passing them on to the editorial
>> team.  My goal is to provide a forum for a variety of voices on the topic
>> of equity, diversity and inclusion in Oregon libraries, including library
>> type, career experience, and geographic location within the state. I
>> missed
>> my responsibility to more critically reflect on the article by Heather
>> McNeil and engage the author in an editorial conversation, particularly in
>> relation to her commentary on Dr. Debbie Reese?s 2018 May Hill Arbuthnot
>> Lecture, An Indigenous Critique of Whiteness in Children?s Literature.  I
>> am sorry for the impact and distress it has caused.
>> I want to thank Meredith Farkas for her letter to the OLAQ editorial
>> board,
>> which has provided an opportunity for critical reflection which will
>> strengthen the OLAQ, one of OLA?s most important venues for professional
>> discourse.  Yes, the editorial team of the OLAQ needs to better develop
>> the
>> journal?s editorial standards and are already beginning to address them.
>> The conversations we are having surrounding equity, diversity, and
>> inclusion are challenging and necessary. The Oregon Library Association
>> has
>> much to learn as an organization and understands open dialogue and
>> constructive criticism help OLA grow as an association.  I look forward to
>> our continuing dialogue on equity, diversity, and inclusion.
>> Sincerely,
>> Elaine Hirsch
>> OLAQ 25(2) Guest Editor
>> OLA President, 2019-2020
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