On Open Letter to the Samvera Community: Strike For Black Lives

To Those in Academia, Let's Look to What We Can Do

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For the last 7+ years, I’ve participated in the Samvera community.

Samvera™ is a vibrant and welcoming community of information and technology professionals who share challenges, build expertise, and create sustainable, best-in-class solutions, making the world’s digital collections accessible now and into the future.

I treasure the friendships I’ve developed with my colleagues in the Samvera community. I deeply appreciate the espoused values of those participating in the Samvera community. So I’m writing this open-letter to Samvera.

But before I get started, let’s first read @naias Twitter thread on the sources referenced below.

The first tweet from above thread starts:

A brief thread in support of #Strike4BlackLives, subtitled “saving y’all from yourselves even though probably you won’t listen”.

This thread is aimed particularly at white people. NBPOC should consider which if any of these pieces of advice are useful.

Okay, and you’re back.

Open Letter to Samvera

I have recently learned of Strike4BlackLives on June 10th. A call for the academy to strike for one day: “[The physics community] believe an academic strike is urgently needed: to hit pause, to give Black academics a break and to give others an opportunity to reflect on their own complicity in anti-Black racism in academia and their local and global communities.“ Strike for Black Lives

“We are conscious of the ways in which Black students and scholars, including two authors of this letter to the community, are expected to do the heavy lifting to advocate for and support justice and representation in academia. We know that this burden functions as an unfair and unevenly distributed barrier to their ability to thrive in academia. We call for a universal strike to give them a break and because those of us with the most privilege have the greatest responsibility to use that privilege to enact change.”

More information at https://www.particlesforjustice.org/ and https://www.shutdownstem.com/ and the Twitter hashtag https://twitter.com/hashtag/Strike4BlackLives

In particular, I recommend that we (a predominantly white group of people who espouse diversity and inclusion) read the thread that starts at https://twitter.com/niais/status/1269491961737539584

I know the mental toll the protests and police brutality has taken on me. I cannot imagine the emotional and mental toll on others who must both advocate that their lives matter AND are expected to concentrate deeply on their scholarly work. I suspect our black, indigenous, and person of color (BIPOC) colleagues on campus could use a demonstrative sign of solidarity.

What can you do to support this effort? What can you bring back to your library and organization?

One small step, which I believe is palatable to adminstrators, is to cancel all meetings on this day. Give space for everyone.

For white allies, take action, look to the strike details for inspiration. For BIPOC allies, I hope you can find time to catch your breath.

Conclusion

I’m reviewing the Strike Details for actions I can and will take. In academia our business as usual bolsters the systems of oppression. We don’t need to do everything, but we must do something.