The Librarians’ Guild releases this statement condemning violence and hatred toward Asian and Pacific Islander communities, on the heels of the mass killing of eight individuals, six of whom were Asian women, in Atlanta, Georgia. Our hearts go out to the affected families for their devastating loss. Since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, the U.S. has seen an 1,900% increase anti-Asian language, hate speech, and physical assaults on streets across the country, in media reports, in statements by politicians, and on social media related to the origins of COVID-19. The recent spate of attacks against elderly members of Asian and Pacific Islander communities has been particularly heart-breaking and difficult to take. In the era of COVID-19, anti-Asian racism further exacerbates pre-existing violence, racism, sexism, and racial tensions, culminating in tragedies such as these.
As an organization committed to equity and social justice, the Librarians’ Guild stands against all forms of racism, sexism, discrimination, and social injustice. We come together to advocate for community-centered ways to end xenophobic, Anti-Asian, anti-Black, anti-Latinx, anti-indigenous, sexist, and transphobic violence and also importantly, we acknowledge the intersectionality of these traumatic experiences. We must ensure that our diverse communities see themselves represented in the materials on our shelves, at our events, and among our ranks by promoting diversity in our collections, programming, policies, continuing education, training and hiring practices. These are critical first steps towards creating the long term change necessary in combating implicit and cultural bias and bigotry in our libraries and communities.
The Librarians’ Guild is committed to doing the long term work and will commit to creating spaces and advocating for culturally competent services, critical dialogues, and transformative practices that battle misinformation, sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, sexism and white supremacy. We pledge our support by donating $3,000 to the Los Angeles chapter of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an organization that has been advocating for victims and tracking stories of hate via https://www.standagainsthatred.org/. We urge library staff and citizens to participate in bystander intervention training, offered freely on a regular basis by Hollaback!, to acquire tools for responding to xenophobic harassment: https://www.ihollaback.org/bystanderintervention/
If you are a victim or a witness to a hate crime, please call 211 to file a report; staff and translators are available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We also urge community members to share the grassroots “How to report a hate crime” booklet created by Esther Lim, which has been translated into Spanish and multiple Asian languages: www.hatecrimebook.com/work
The increase of assaults, harassments, and hate crimes directed at the Asian Pacific Islander community, especially to elders and to women, is unacceptable. Interpersonal violence is an outcome of and enables systemic violence against all of our diverse communities. We support survivors of all forms of violence, and call on our City leaders to recognize hate crimes for what they are, and to explore restorative justice approaches instead of relying on a legal criminal system that has historically targeted and disproportionately punished Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, and poor communities, by finding alternatives to incarceration and dismantling root causes of violence. As Shauntee Burns-Simpson, President of the Black Caucus American Library Association says, “White supremacy can no longer have a place in our libraries, institutions, our community, or in the world. Let’s proudly work together to combat the hate and ignorance that have impacted our communities for far too long.”
At this time, feelings of stress and anxiety may be compounded for our members, colleagues, and communities by the social isolation and other challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge you to stay safe, and practice even more inclusiveness, understanding, and kindness. Please continue to care for yourselves and each other.