This past Monday, June 30, 2014, The ALA Special Presidential Task Force on Equity, Diversity & Inclusion had its first, albeit informal, gathering. The Task Force (TF) was convened as one means of responding to BCALA’s statement denouncing the American Library Association’s decision to hold the 2016 Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.
The meeting consisted mainly of each member of the TF getting to know the others in a casual, self-directed atmosphere, creating a safe space for talking about differences and the issues we are meant to address, and figuring out what our immediate first steps are supposed to be. This approach goes a long way toward building consensus, which we will definitely need later on.
I personally find the issue before us very daunting. I shrink before it. The decision of the TF co-chairs to establish our first meeting as a conversation, intent on honoring and acknowledging each member’s humanness and good intentions, made my anxiety subside some. The charge, “we will change the world,” became exciting and not so scary. I feel I can trust the process, my co-members, or, at least, the co-chairs of the TF.
When we parted, one of the co-chairs mentioned that the hotel where we had our meeting–the Las Vegas Hotel, formerly known as the Las Vegas Hilton–was home to Star Trek: The Experience for the entire 10 years it existed. How appropriate. IDIC should be our TF motto.
Fast forward to this past Friday, July 4, 2014. The birthday of the United States of America. I have complicated feelings about this holiday, the American patriotism and nationalism on display, and my living in this nation. When I became a naturalized citizen over 10 years ago, I swore to defend the Constitution of the United States, its laws, and defend its existence as a nation, “without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”
What wasn’t part of that oath is what people like me are getting in return for our allegiance. There are still moments when I feel like I am not so loved or wanted by my adopted nation. Even though I am obliged to defend it with everything I hold dear, including my life, I feel I can not, should not, expect anything more in return. It’s enough that I got this nifty plastic-and-polyester flag, an ornate certificate, and a passport that will pretty much grant me entry into a lot of ports. Right?
I’m with Uncle George. The things I got during the Naturalization Ceremony are mere tokens. The true prize is the responsibility of being an American citizen.
American democracy is vitally dependent on good people who cherish the ideals of our system and actively engage in the process of making our democracy work.
I say the same goes for the work we need to do within ALA. As I became, and remain, a librarian because of the ideals of the profession, I am vitally concerned about its living up to its founding ideals. Let’s work together to make this so. Live long and prosper.