Here’s the letter I wrote to ALA’s Executive Board and Administration, sent Monday, November 21, 2016:
Dear members of ALA Leadership and Administration,
I write to you with great disappointment, anger, and a deep sense of shame. After reading the press releases “ALA offers expertise, resources to incoming administration and Congress” and “Libraries bolster opportunity — new briefs show how libraries support policy priorities of new Administration,” I am struck by the insensitivity and callous opportunism expressed by ALA, the professional association for which I have worked very hard and had proudly assumed leadership roles and an elected position.
I have long labored on behalf of ALA’s efforts in equity, diversity, and inclusion, thinking that the work I do is worth my time, effort, attention, and passion. Moreover, I was under the impression that such work was wanted and cherished. I had also known that ALA as an organization has had problems centering diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially the needs of its most marginalized members. I believed that ALA wanted to change its organizational culture to be more welcoming and inclusive. However, the press releases I had mentioned sent a strong message to those of us who have immense reasons to fear and resist the incoming U. S. administration–that ALA prizes colluding with our oppressors more than acting on behalf of the core professional values
it states it has. The collaboration proposed by the ALA press releases normalizes the intolerance and bigotry fomented by the U.S. President-elect. I think the dissonance is self-evident.
As a Councilor-at-Large and an advocate for intersectional equity, diversity, and inclusion in professional library circles, I voice my strong dissent and vehement disagreement to the trajectory ALA leadership and the ALA Washington Office is taking us, its dues-paying members and volunteers. Though ALA President Todaro apologized and acknowledged
the concerns and protests voiced by many of ALA’s members, the damage has been done. The potential public good outlined by the three briefs from ALA OITP is overwhelmingly eclipsed by the message of complicity. The voices of ALA members, through individual expressions, ALA division structures, or through ALA Council governance, have been supplanted by the ALA Washington Office. Though this morning’s message
from President Todaro and the ALA Executive Board is reassuring, the sense of betrayal I feel still remains. As do my feelings of anxiety and fear as a woman of color, an immigrant, and a person with a chronic illness and an invisible disability. I find this entire situation to be extremely unfortunate and deplorable. ALA is no longer the haven it once was for me.
In my expression of grave disappointment and fervent disapproval, I also make a strong commitment to resist capitulation and to continue to emphatically uphold the values of equity, social responsibility and social justice, diversity, and inclusion by word and deed. I join my fellow ALA members in expressing staunch objection to positions that normalize the further marginalization and systemic oppression of many.
Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow
ALA Member, 2004-Present
Co-chair, ALA Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Implementation Working Group, 2016-2019
ALA Councilor-at-Large, 2016-2019
Source: ALA’s releases on collaboration with the incoming Trump administration