When tragedies unfold, like the one we recently witnessed in Atlanta, it’s difficult to find the right words to say. Words seem insufficient. That’s especially ironic since libraries are filled with millions of words. But we must not let our fear of saying the wrong thing stop us from speaking up and taking action.
Let me say in the plainest of all terms, the Anne Arundel County Public Library condemns any and all hatred and violence directed toward Asian Americans. We grieve with those who have lost loved ones and we stand united with all facing oppression, discrimination and attacks.
Sadly, the Asian and Pacific Islander community continues to endure hateful words and deadly violence with increasing frequency. Hate speech and racially motivated crime have become part of daily life for many of our friends and neighbors.
Our libraries are full of words. The one million books and other materials we own feature profound, silly, angry and romantic words. They challenge our thinking, they make us laugh, lead us to tears and bring a smile to our faces. Collectively, these words create a space where everyone is heard and valued. Words matter because they lead us to action.
In 2017, our Board of Trustees adopted the Urban Libraries Council’s Statement on Race and Social Equity. Along with hundreds of other libraries across North America, we recommitted ourselves to “achieving racial and social equity by contributing to a more just society in which all community members can realize their full potential.”
We recognize the important role that libraries play in the social justice movement and in leveling the playing field for all. As trusted members in the community, we must be central players in the important work of identifying racism, breaking down barriers to access, providing a voice for the voiceless and facilitating conversations on tough issues.
In that spirit, we invite you to check out a title from a special booklist that honors Asian American voices, cultures and experiences. There are selections for all ages. Additionally, consider trying a title from one of our other Combating Racism booklists to educate yourself on the injustices so many of our friends and neighbors face every day. Read these important words and join us in the fight to create a community built on mutual respect and inclusion.
We also encourage you to attend two upcoming library programs that are part of our Asian/ Pacific American Heritage Month celebration. The first event is geared towards young children while the latter is appropriate for all ages.
Asian Americans are an integral part of the rich fabric of this county, our state, our nation and our community. They and their accomplishments should be celebrated. Everyone deserves to live without fear of violence anywhere, no matter their profession.
The Anne Arundel County Public Library remains committed to speaking out on injustice and doing its part to build a welcoming, resilient community where all can realize life to its fullest potential. We invite you to join us.