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Library Journal suggests libraries are too white

“Libraries filled with mostly white collections indicates that we don’t care about what POC [People of Colour] think, we don’t care to hear from POC themselves, we don’t consider POC to be scholars, we don’t think POC are as valuable, knowledgeable, or as important as white people.”

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be accurate.

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal, QC

Perhaps Library Journal was intending to be provocative when they tweeted out a blog post by Sofia Leung, a librarian from “unceded Wampanoag land” (Massachusetts) about how libraries perpetrate whiteness through their collections. The concept is one of critical race theory. Which by the way, it has always been interesting to me that intellectuals and those associated with academia will argue that race doesn’t exist, yet filter their entire world view through the power dynamics of race relations.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what Leung had to say about whiteness in libraries: “Library collections continue to promote and proliferate whiteness with their very existence and the fact that they are physically taking up space in our libraries,” says Leung. “They are paid for using money that was usually ill-gotten and at the cost of black and brown lives via the prison industrial complex, the spoils of war, etc.”

That’s a lot to unpack. But let’s continue.

“Libraries filled with mostly white collections indicates that we don’t care about what POC [People of Colour] think, we don’t care to hear from POC themselves, we don’t consider POC to be scholars, we don’t think POC are as valuable, knowledgeable, or as important as white people.”

You have to be an academic to have ideas this stupid. Thankfully, it’s not just me who thought this post was ludicrous. At the time of writing this, the original Tweet is getting ratioed pretty hard. At only 500 retweets, the post itself has garnered tonnes of negative attention and is currently at 6,000 mostly furious replies.

Let the record show that United States as a country takes more immigrants per year than the rest of the world. And those immigrants are from all backgrounds and religions. It is not a perfect system, but you’d be hard pressed to find one that is.

As far as treating minorities goes, the U.S. doing a much better job than a country like, say, China, that is currently holding their Uyghur Muslim population concentration camps, forcing them to eat pork and drink alcohol.

And yes, I can already hear the retorts about the United States’ insanely high prison population. And I agree with you. But how many of those people are imprisoned for something they said, or something they believe? Not many, I’d assume.

I am generally hesitant to call someone racist. It’s a nasty title, and one that should be applied cautiously. But with just about everyone you can think of being labeled a white supremacist, or a neo-Nazi, It’s becoming harder and harder not to name-call.

In this case, I don’t believe I’m name-calling or talking out of turn when I say I believe that Sofia Leung is a racist. Do not judge a book by its cover, and don’t judge its content by the skin colour of the author. Ideas are ideas, and should be judged by their quality, not by its “racial background.” Dissecting the power structures surrounding race creates a very menacing and convenient boogeyman, but what good does that do?

Attacking “whiteness” is not progressive. It’s reckless and short sighted.

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Roberto Wakerell-Cruz
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