Antiracism Transformation Team
“Diversity across all aspects of organizational life” —A Kalamazoo Public Library Core Value
Kalamazoo Public Library envisions itself as an institution that will consider antiracism in all of its decision-making and actions, and has made the commitment to long-term antiracism work through the formation of an Antiracism Transformation Team (ARTT).
Antiracism Transformation Team Mandate
To fully live into the mission and values of Kalamazoo Public Library and American Library Association and to promote the freedom of information in our community now and into the future.
By the authority of the Kalamazoo Public Library Board of Trustees, the team will provide leadership, direction and coordination to the work of dismantling racist systems by investigating and recommending revision to external and internal policies and procedures, addressing internal commitment and supporting and engaging staff and the community in building an antiracist identity and culture.
With this mandate from the board, the ARTT will focus on structural and programmatic transformation, inclusive of but not limited to the delivery of services to the public, such as collection development, programming and employment practices.
This focus is imperative to ensure we meet the needs of and are accountable to the diverse constituencies of the library.
20 Year Vision Statement
The Kalamazoo Public Library is a multicultural institution dedicated to dismantling racism and other systemic oppressions. The library intentionally develops and sustains a multicultural staff, management team, and board of trustees that resembles the community it serves. It provides diverse and inclusive programming, materials and outreach services to meet the needs of everyone in the community. The library collaborates with other antiracist organizations and models transformative antiracism practices in Kalamazoo, the surrounding community, and in the wider library system. As an antiracist institution built on intentionally antiracist structures, the Kalamazoo Public Library exists to serve all the people and as such is accountable to everyone.
History of Kalamazoo Public Library’s Antiracism Efforts
In 2002, under the guidance of then director Saul Amdursky, a Diversity Taskforce was formed to explore and promote issues of diversity within KPL. The taskforce sponsored staff events (such as potlucks), represented the library in community events and offered scholarships to hourly staff. In 2003, the Diversity Taskforce (later referred to as the Diversity Committee) recommended that the library send staff to an antiracism workshop in Grand Rapids called Healing Racism. Many staff members attended the workshop during 2004–05. Beginning in 2006, KPL sent employees to workshops sponsored by ERAC/CE and presented by Crossroads Antiracism Organizing & Training. In the subsequent years, over 65 staff members attended the Understanding & Analyzing Systemic Racism Workshop.
It was through the library’s continued relationship with ERAC/CE and Crossroads that the committee decided to explore the possibility of more defined antiracism work, forming a Planning and Design Taskforce to investigate the creation of an Antiracism Transformation Team. The library’s Antiracism Transformation Team was formed with Board of Trustees approval in April 2013, and with initial funding provided by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and the Fetzer Institute. The Antiracism Transformation Team is composed of library staff members and community members.
Racial Prejudice + Misuse of Power by Systems and Institutions = RACISM
Europeans and Euro-Americans originally, intentionally, and legally structured every one of their U.S. institutions to serve white society exclusively or advantageously. Institutional racism is the result of institutions structured to function without accountability to people of color.
Dismantling Institutional Racism
Dismantling racism is a process of developing and institutionalizing accountability to antiracist people and communities of color. It is building structures of authority and accountability within institutions that have never been there before.
About the Team
Members of the Team possess a combination of skills, qualities, cultural backgrounds, and experiences that ensure the team is successfully contributing to this process. Members dedicate themselves to continuing progress in antiracism work within the institution for at least a three-year period.
This journey is a long one and demands that team members clearly communicate objectives and maintain trust and confidence among all members.
The following are essential requirements for the team:
- Diversity. The team will be composed of approximately 12 to 15 members of diverse cultural, racial, gender, and age groups. The membership comprises both KPL staff and community members who are not affiliated with KPL. In 2017, the team will add approximately 3 to 5 new members.
- Definitions. Ability to understand the concept of institutional racism as defined by the Crossroads model, apply the definition to the inner workings of KPL as it functions, and analyze and confront racism within the organization.
- Self-Reflection. Ability to address one’s own personal prejudices and participation in perpetuating racism.
- Strategy. Ability to create, analyze, and evaluate strategies to determine the most effective methods for combating racism within the institution.
- Skills. Possess skills to help move antiracism planning forward, such as grant writing, time management, communication, empathy, and other necessary qualities.
- Teamwork. Ability to lead groups, understand group dynamics, and work as a member of a team.
- Listening. Ability to listen actively, creatively, and reflectively. In order to work together and promote a sense of trust and camaraderie, this ability is necessary so that members can share personal experiences and feel heard and supported.
- Commitment. Willingness to dedicate significant time to the cause for at least an initial three-year commitment.
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