This is the fifth post in a series documenting my experience as a new FCIL librarian. I started as Foreign & International Law Librarian at Fordham University School of Law in February 2019.
This is my final installment of the New FCIL Librarian column, and it is perhaps the most meaningful to me. Let’s talk about a critical piece of continuing education: learning how to combat systemic racism and the power structures of white supremacy in our work as FCIL librarians and as humans inhabiting the same space on the planet. This is on all of our minds right now and frankly, as I’m continuing to learn, should be on our minds all the time.
Like the other continuing education we do, it is incumbent upon each of us to create a plan to actively learn and not rely solely on others to provide us education. How do we do it? It is not harder than other types of continuing education and should be a part of our normal process: look for webinars on the topic; add books to your lists; have discussions with coworkers and colleagues; involve yourself in volunteer work that exposes you and challenges you.
I’m working on my plan. My first step is continuing to educate myself (for example, reading How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi) and identifying ways to combat systemic racism and social justice more generally within my courses and my research. I am at the very beginning stages of this effort – currently reading Teaching Race: Pedagogy and Practice. This is relevant in our courses no matter the subject, even when the room is full of future big law corporate associates. (And maybe it’s even more important when this is the audience given the systemic disparities in big law!) As for research, whether for myself or a faculty member, we must recognize that the structures of systemic racism and white supremacy actively affect where members of academia are educated, who is published, where they are published, and what is ultimately cited to in subsequent scholarship – all critical indicators of success in the legal academy. The choices we make in our research matter.
What I have learned so far in this process is that, for me, it is not enough to recognize the issues and be upset by them. Reading is just the first part – the real work is taking those ideas and concepts and actually implementing them in a meaningful way. I do not know what that looks like for me yet, but I know it needs to be done. What steps are you taking for your continuing education?
Resources & References (a very, very small drop in the bucket of resources):
- Antiracism Project Resources, https://www.antiracismproject.org/resources
- Daina Ramey Berry & Kali Nicole Gross, A Black Women’s History of the United States (2020), http://www.drdainarameyberry.com/books
- Paula Chakravartty et al., #CommunicationSoWhite, 68 Journal of Communication 254 (2018), https://doi.org/10.1093/joc/jqy003
- Robert S. Chang, Richard Delgado and the Politics of Citation, 11 Berkeley J. Afr.-Am. L. & Pol’y 28 (2009), https://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/faculty/268/
- Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist (2020), https://www.ibramxkendi.com/how-to-be-an-antiracist-1
- Nine Books to Help You Understand Race and Dismantle Racism, https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2020/june/racism-black-lives-matter-antiracist-reading-list-books.html
- Amie Thurber, M. Brielle Harbin, & Joe Bandy, Teaching Race: Pedagogy and Practice, Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching (2019), https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/teaching-race/