Foreward from Teletha Brown, Head of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives
The murder of George Floyd and the resulting protests have had a global influence, which has strengthened the Black Lives Matter Movement and resulted in a renewed call to action. As a global organization that prides itself on the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, CRL is dedicated to helping the stories of marginalized people be told and their voices be heard, while supporting the ideals of the Black Lives Matter movement. The impact of the recent uprisings have been profoundly felt, first-hand, within the CRL community. We feel compelled to share these experiences as a means to shine a light on the systemic and social racism that continues to permeate our society.
We are heartened by the outpouring of support for these ideals by our member libraries and instituions and we offer our support for their public statements. We are CRL and we stand with you.
A Letter from Greg Eow, CRL President
To the CRL Staff and the CRL Community,
For the last several months, we have all been navigating the profound challenge of the COVID-19 global pandemic, a risk that threatens our health and well-being and forced us to temporarily close our facilities, including the CRL headquarters in Chicago. It was in this existing context of crisis that we mourn, individually, and as a community, the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The impact of COVID-19 and the ongoing, systemic violence visited upon people of color are interrelated and reinforcing. It cannot, and must not, be lost on any of us that the threats we have been facing fall disproportionately hard on our colleagues of color, and in particular our Black colleagues.
Black lives matter, absolutely and unambiguously.
In moments of crisis, we look to our first principles and values, and use them for action and rely on them as sources for resolve. For me, as a person and a professional, my first principles and values are rooted in my bedrock commitment to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I came to CRL last summer because I have long been inspirited by CRL’s work to ensure that voices and stories that are too-often marginalized, hidden, or erased in the scholarly record are reflected in our collections and our services. Diversity, equity and inclusion centers my vision for CRL and research libraries, and since my arrival at CRL last August, we have been steadily increasing our capacity to amplify this vision.
The disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has been having on our communities of color, and the latest tragic reminder that the Black community faces systemic violence, intimidation and indignity, makes us more resolved than ever to continue our mission, with equal passion and renewed resolve. CRL will continue to foreground and celebrate our explicit commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in all of our services, collections, partnerships and programming, including our longstanding and ongoing commitment to champion global human rights. We will continue to intentionally highlight, and make visible our connections with our local community, the Woodlawn neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, which is over 90% Black, and celebrate our diverse, dedicated, and resilient CRL staff, which is nearly 50% people of color.
When I began working at CRL, I talked with a librarian whom I greatly admire and asked her for her view of what CRL is and what CRL should do. She responded that CRL’s mission is to, “be a place to help us see a more diverse future as something to be welcomed and actively worked towards, rather than as something to fear or fight against. ” Now more than ever, we work together to further this mission.
In solidarity, resilience, and hope,