Module 25: Lifelong Learning for Equity

Go Back:
Module 24b: Transforming Library Collections, Part 2
You Are Here:
Module 25: Lifelong Learning for Equity
Next:
Module 26: Connecting in Person with Others

AFTER WORKING THROUGH THIS MODULE, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO:

  • Explain why learning about equity and inclusion is a lifelong process.
  • Develop personal learning goals related to equity and inclusion.
  • List organizations, resources, and strategies that can help you reach those goals.

Introduction

Congratulations, you have reached the third and final section of the Project READY curriculum! By now, you should have learned a lot about race and racism in the United States and what you can do in the library to help address race-based inequities. By making it this far in the curriculum, you have accomplished something real, and something important. However, your racial equity journey is not complete. In fact, learning about equity and inclusion is a lifelong task, with an undefined endpoint.

Why is this the case? For starters, we are each limited by our own experiences and cultural backgrounds, so we can never truly know what it’s like to experience the world as someone of another race, gender identity, ethnicity, or nationality. The incredible – and growing – diversity of cultural identities in our nation alone could take a lifetime to learn about. In addition, cultures are constantly shifting, such that understanding a particular culture now doesn’t guarantee continued understanding. Historical events, laws, movements, and trends that shape our collective and individual understanding of race and racism, such as the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s or the #BlackLivesMatter and Dreamers movements today, will continue to occur, and our understanding of equity issues needs to be flexible to take new developments into account.

It’s been said that learning about race and racism for the first time is like putting on a pair of glasses and suddenly realizing that your vision had been clouded your whole life without you realizing it. Once those glasses are on, you start to see the world through the lenses of equity and inclusion.

It is possible, though, for those who have put on the equity glasses to take them off again. This is easiest for people who can distance themselves from reminders of race in their day-to-day-lives – in other words, this is easiest for white people. The ability to choose not to continue learning about race and racism is a privilege that people of color do not always have. For BIPOC, lifelong learning about race and racism can literally be a life-or-death necessity. If you have worked through this curriculum up to this point as a white person, we hope you have internalized the urgency of continued learning for yourself and for other white people. The rest of this module will explore resources for lifelong learning in this area that BIPOC and white people can use to continue growing in their understanding.


Reflect

Browse the module titles you’ve completed so far in this curriculum as you reflect on what you’ve learned here. In your journal, respond to the following questions:

  1. What Project READY content did you find most challenging or surprising? Now that you’ve had a chance to put that content in the greater context of the entire curriculum, how are you feeling about it?
  2. What content did you find most inspiring or motivating, and what do you plan to do with that new knowledge?
  3. What areas do you want more information about? What do you feel you still need to learn related to racial equity and/or its implications for library work?

Act

Based on your reflections above, develop several personal learning goals that will shape your racial equity work going forward. These may be short- or long-term goals. When writing your goals, keep the following suggestions in mind:

  • Use action verbs to frame your goals. This list [PDF], based on Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, is a helpful resource.
  • Try to write goals that are specific and measurable. Writing goals in this way will make it easier for you to hold yourself accountable for progress related to these goals.
Click here to see some example learning goals.
  • Extend my knowledge of national history related to race and racism into my local community context.
  • Form a professional learning community to collaboratively assess our library’s policies and spaces.
  • Identify and participate in at least two equity-focused Twitter chats.

Resource Roundup

Throughout the curriculum, we have provided links to organizations and individuals who provide training and resources related to the topics explored here. In addition to the resources we will highlight in the next two modules, we consider each of the sources below to be exemplary places to start extending your learning beyond Project READY. For a comprehensive list of all resources we’ve shared across all modules, see our Resource Hub page.


But Wait!

In this section, we address common questions and concerns related to the material presented in each module. You may have these questions yourself, or someone you’re sharing this information with might raise them. We recommend that for each question below, you spend a few minutes thinking about your own response before clicking the arrow to the left of the question to see our response.

What if I want to facilitate racial equity training with my staff/colleagues - am I ready to do that now?
It’s great that you want to share your new understandings with your colleagues. But we would urge you to carefully consider the form that sharing may take. Especially if you are a white person, you probably do not want to jump straight from working through this curriculum to leading racial equity sessions as an “expert.” As educator and writer Shana V. White points out in her excellent blog post “Should I lead, facilitate, or get out of the way?“, both BIPOC and white people are often, and rightfully, skeptical of white people who claim to be racial equity experts. Experts, she asserts, are “those whose lived experiences and perspectives have been and are continuing to be shaped by systemic and individual racism. They also publicly and consistently take action to disrupt both systemic and individual racism that harms, dehumanizes, penalizes, and stifles people of color.”

It’s not that you can’t share your understandings of racial equity as a white person, but rather that as a white person, you should always position yourself as a learner rather than as an expert. No amount of studying can substitute for the lifetime of lived experience that a BIPOC brings to the table on this conversation. Therefore, if you are white, you need to carefully consider whether the best approach for you is to lead or to step back. “Stepping back” doesn’t mean leaving the conversation entirely. You may, for example, start a professional book club at your library centered on racial equity. Stepping back in that capacity might look like making sure that BIPOC voices are included, centered, and amplified in your discussions, inviting a BIPOC colleague to co-facilitate or take official charge of the group, stepping up to shut down expressions of white supremacy or fragility during the group’s discussions, and listening when a person of color questions your contributions. For a more detailed exploration of this topic, read the entirety of Shana White’s blog post linked above.

 

 

Go Back:
Module 24b: Transforming Library Collections, Part 2
You Are Here:
Module 25: Lifelong Learning for Equity
Next:
Module 26: Connecting in Person with Others