Statement on Anti-Racism
The staff of the Fineman and Pappas Law Libraries at Boston University states its unequivocal support for the Black Lives Matter movement and dedicates itself to antiracism. Over the last few months, we have seen a continuation of the centuries of violence against Black people in the United States. This is not new but it is no less devastating to see the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many others added to the long list of Black victims of systemic racist violence.
The protest movement that emerged in cities and small towns in every part of this country let us hope that this could be a turning point in our country’s long history. However, the failure of the Louisville grand jury to return any charges related to the death of Breonna Taylor is yet another heartbreak brought on by an unjust system.
As the staff of a library serving a law school, we ask ourselves how we may be of service in changing this unjust system. Boston University School of Law has a proud history of educating all regardless of race, gender or religion starting in the 1870’s. This history informs and buttresses our commitment to advance our goals of antiracism, but history will not do the work for us. We know that historic firsts mean little if the students attending BU today do not feel welcomed, supported, and celebrated by the entire law school community, including ALL administrators, faculty, staff, and students. Ignorance, as well as overt and systematic racism have no place at our institution.
Additionally, we must look at the composition of our own profession. Libraries are not immune from systemic inequity. The field of librarianship itself is overwhelmingly white. But, in spite of this, we believe that libraries can be powerful tools for antiracism. Every decision we make either enhances or impedes the work of destroying systemic inequities.
We must purchase books by authors whose diversity enhances and enriches their scholarship, ensure access to our materials enhancing the learning and scholarship of all in our community, and teach students how to research so that they may graduate from this institution with all the tools they need to make the kind of systemic change the law so badly requires.
Racism is systemic. It’s in every facet of our daily lives from where we live, what food we have access to, the water we drink, the air we breathe, our educational opportunities, funding for our communities, and so much more. There is no segment of our world, including our university, law school, or library that is immune from this system. The only way we can combat it is by dedicating ourselves to the work of antiracism every single day in everything we do.
We commit to taking concrete steps to advance this mission including, but not limited to:
- Continuing to educate ourselves and dismantle systems that disadvantage any of the members of our community.
- Soliciting feedback from the law community regarding library services
- Inviting recommendations for materials that will enhance the diversity of our collection
- Supporting more diverse library programming
- Keeping systemic inequality and racism in mind when meeting with students about their research topics.
- Promoting opportunities in law librarianship and serving as a resource for those interested
The staff of the Fineman and Pappas Law Libraries are so committed. While the system of injustice is vast, so are the tools we have to dismantle it. We accept this challenge and commit to using our position within this Law School to change it.