The Library’s commitment to hearing and supporting Black Americans is based on its values of being open, connected, dynamic, unique, and kind. Standing for Black Lives Matter is not a political issue. Black Lives Matter is the human rights issue of our time and we must engage in the uncomfortable conversations that it will take to ensure that everything we do in our work and in our personal lives reflects our undying commitment to our Black colleagues and customers. It is not possible for us to support the Hispanic and Latino/a/x communities if we do not commit to Black Lives Matter. We cannot stand against the racism that Asian Pacific Americans continue to experience with COVID-19 without affirming that Black Lives Matter.
We know that our Black colleagues and neighbors are in pain. Let us be very clear: it is not the responsibility of our Black colleagues to teach us how to support them. As a country, we must reflect upon our own biases, conscious and unconscious, and have the humility to consider how we can better show up in every moment to stand up for what is fundamentally right. We know that allies are struggling to know what to do in order to show support that is meaningful and not just an act of performative allyship. Our Library has not been perfect in this fight, nor will we ever be. In this moment and the future, we must reflect upon how we show up in our work to ensure that justice for Black Americans is protected as a human right.
As a country, we cannot ignore or stand idly by while our Black neighbors and colleagues are targeted and oppressed. We must stand proud and support Black Americans as defenders of intellectual freedom and human rights. We reaffirm our commitment to learning from our mistakes. We are responsible for serving and embracing the diverse community of Prince George’s County, and this work starts by naming the atrocities that have befallen members of our own community and our fellow citizens like Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and (tragically) countless others. We will say their names now and forever, because if we do not we risk jeopardizing the fundamental reason for our existence as purveyors of equal access to information, the opportunity to discover oneself, and the pursuit of happiness and the American Dream.
Today would have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday. It is an unspeakable tragedy that her life was snuffed out by those sworn to protect her. We cannot remain silent and negligent. We must do everything in our power to facilitate the understanding and discourse that will be necessary in order to affect long-term change when it comes to anti-racism.
The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System vehemently denounces racism and violence against Black Americans. Anti-racism is a human rights issue that must guide all of our work if we expect to affect positive change as a community. On Tuesday, the Library will convene an open discussion (for staff) on how all of us can more effectively combat violence against Black Americans in our daily work. Renée Battle-Brooks and Kyla Hanington of the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission have generously offered to facilitate this opportunity for PGCMLS staff to come together, listen to each other, and advance our long-standing work to combat racist and violent behavior directed at our Black neighbors. This discussion is just one step on the long road that is ahead for combating racism.
Those of us who are allies have an especially important role in becoming educated in the history of oppression against Black Americans. We must hold each other accountable so that our actions to advance anti-racism are not short-lived. We cannot just jump on the bandwagon of this moment on social media. We have a duty to ensure that our work reflects the Library’s commitment to Black Lives Matter, whether in programs, social services, or online resources.
We must not become complacent. We must not allow this to be a moment of performative allyship. We must stand firm in our commitment to doing everything within our power to ensure that the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System is self-critical, supportive of our Black colleagues, and that we anticipate the ways in which we can better serve Black Americans in the days, months, and years to come.
Roberta Phillips, Chief Executive Officer
Michael Gannon, COO for Support Services
Michelle Hamiel, COO for Public Services
Nicholas A. Brown, COO for Communication and Outreach
The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) stands against all forms of racism and hatred. Recent tragedies and ongoing systemic racism must be confronted by all of us. We must listen to the voices of those who are targets of bigotry and engage in individual and collective learning together. Prince Georgians demonstrate on a daily basis how the diversity of our community is its strength. The Library is committed to creating physical and virtual environments that are welcoming to all. PGCMLS will always encourage constructive discourse in support of advancing social equity through programs, the availability of collections and resources for all ages, and opportunities to gather as a community. We are Prince George’s Proud to serve and live in a community that works together to seek a better future.
Public libraries across the country have the responsibility to advance social equity. PGCMLS stands united with the Urban Libraries Council and American Library Association in condemning racist incidents and behavior that targets individuals and communities.
Prince George’s County Memorial Library System celebrates and honors the fundamental value and dignity of all individuals. We pride ourselves in creating and maintaining a safe environment that respects and is inclusive of diverse traditions, religions, ethnicities, cultures, sexual orientation, genders, ages, heritages, abilities and experiences. The resources, services, and programs offered by the Library aim to be racially diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
PGCMLS is one of 161 libraries that have committed to the Urban Libraries Council Statement on Racial and Social Equity. In a strong act of commitment to a more equitable society, these public libraries across North America have established a baseline upon which libraries can build policies and actions that make their communities more inclusive and just. Learn more here.
As leaders of North America’s public libraries, we are committed to achieving racial and social equity by contributing to a more just society in which all community members can realize their full potential. Our libraries can help achieve true and sustained equity through an intentional, systemic and transformative library-community partnership. Our library systems are working to achieve equity in the communities we serve by:
Libraries are trusted, venerable and enduring institutions, central to their communities and an essential participant in the movement for racial and social equity.
The American Library Association (ALA) provides resources for libraries and communities to advance social equity in their communities. PGCMLS stands with ALA in condemning all racism and hatred. Learn more here.
Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, co-authors of "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You" (Little, Brown) opened School Library Journal's virtual Day of Dialog, May 27, 2020.
PBS KIDS for Parents hosted this important conversation — featuring fellow parents, educators and child development and trauma experts — about how you can talk with young children about racial injustice and violence against Black people. Explore questions such as: How can parents of Black children continue to instill confidence and pride in young kids while also explaining the racial inequity and barriers that continue today? And, how can parents of non-Black children help young kids understand their role in confronting anti-Black racism? Hear questions from fellow parents and learn tips and resources you can use to continue to have these meaningful conversations now and into the future.
I made this video for the kindergarten students at my school. I realize this might be a helpful video for non Black children to also watch. In the video I discuss what racism is and how it’s impacted the lives of Black and Brown people. I also read aloud the story Let’s Talk about Race. Finally, I encourage young people to think about what actions they can take to use their voice to speak out against injustices.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms takes questions along with CNN's Van Jones and Erica Hill about how to combat racism, and shares a message with kids about how to make a change.Source: CNN
Sesame Street's Abby Kadaby shares a story of how her fellow Sesame Street friend Big Bird was a victim of prejudice, and how she stood up for him. A college professor defines white privilege.Source: CNN
Two children from a heartwarming viral video catch up with each other over video. Former Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey shares a message to children of color.Source: CNN