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Special Interest Group Archive: EDI SIG 12/4/2020

These are the notes from meetings dating back to 2015.


The meeting was held on Friday, December 4, 2020. Peyton Powell was the meeting convener.



Concluding notes

There’s strength and power in acknowledging that we all have biases and need to be aware of them.

We’re looking at the top/ first layer and there are many layers to this conversation. If you’re part of any marginalized group, you’ve had or given kids The Talk in order to learn how to survive in this world.

Second video: commercial by P&G on "The Talk"

This is a layer to add to this conversation; a layer that applies to the other half, the other person on the side of the stereotype.

Shared that video to give an idea of what it looks like to be on the side of the person who is experiencing the trauma that results from the effects of stereotyping and bias.

The mission of this discussion is to remind ourselves that we are all human. And to be able to shift the focus to our similarities rather than our differences to be able to see the human in us all.

But at the same time be aware that our differences mean opportunity for some but not for all. Having access doesn’t mean inclusion. There is a defined “outsider” status, and we want to create a world where we recognize our privilege and use it to help others be successful.

In those moments of awareness let us remember the importance of creating equitable opportunities. To be mindful of  who’s in the room, and whose presence is in the room is under constant threat of erasure.

To be mindful of whose ideas are the most heard and whose ideas won’t be taken seriously because they aren’t in the majority.

To remember to ask the question:  “Is this environment safe for everyone to feel like they belong, and whose safety is being sacrificed and minimized?” to allow others to be comfortable.

If anyone’s interested in being a facilitator, contact Peyton and Carolyn. Helpful to include next facilitator in planning of Peyton’s third session.

Next SIG will be Friday, February 5, 2021 1-2pm

Notes from the meeting

NOTICE: We are looking for a volunteer to train as a facilitator for the 2021 meetings. Let us know if you are interested!

Picking up from where we left off: Stereotypes, and picking up from the last meeting when we heard a story of what it was like being the only person of color in a library and the trauma associated with that experience.

Review of Community Agreements (see link on the resources tab)

Question: Been looking for something similar for other conversations on difficult subjects – something about the full group having also a commitment to helping all participants of the agreements. It can be difficult, in the moment, to remember. So suggest an addition to agreements about accepting and providing that type of support from/to each other.

All in agreement.

The theme: Stereotype Threat: Why being different in the workplace is risky

If you are a BIPOc regardless of background, you’ve likely been a victim of this. Often part of your upbringing where adults let you know that this is part of surviving and maneuvering in this world.

What do you do when you’re the only BIPOC in your workplace, at work don’t want to have to experience this, but often times we do.

Inspired by sharing from community member at last SIG. Only BIPOC in her workplace and she felt that the rules only applied to her and not to her coworkers because she is different. And this is a situation that causes immense trauma. So this is an important topic for us to converse about.

SIG facilitators aren’t and don’t have to be experts. Facilitators are sharing their own views of the world and guiding conversation.

Youtube video: title Why Being Different at Work is Risky. Women talking about what it is like to be the only person who looks like you in your workplace whether it’s as a person of color or as a woman as both of those are very common types of stereotype intimidation.

(See the video linked on the side)

Breakout rooms:

Questions for Breakout Rooms

  1. How can we protect ourselves against workplace bias?
  2. How do you claim your power at work?
  3. Are we hardwired to be biased? Are they generational?
  4. How does our bias affect the workplace?
  5. How does stereotyping lead to workplace trauma?
  6. What happens when the rules are applied to you and no one else?
  7. As a white librarian in the library, have you ever seen this stereotype applied to one of your coworkers? What was the situation? What did you do? Did you help them? Were you complicit?
  8. As a white administrator in the library it is your responsibility to make sure that stereotypes of POC do not stop them from succeeding? How can you accomplish this?

Video talked about holding stereotype bias in her own mind and link to perfectionism and under-performance. Important insight when we are considering how to retain and promote BIPOC employees. Sort of addressing question 2.

“Carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white man.” How to present self in workplace compared to personally. See in our profession – that is largely feminized – see a lot of imposter syndrome suffering among women.

Psych studies about psychological profile of people going into job interviews with equivalent qualifications. White males go into interview with assumption they are a fit for the job. Women and people of color more likely to go into it feeling need to prove to interviewer can be a good fit for the job.

Important to keep these structural implications in mind when mentoring and hiring.

How do we empower people to move beyond the sense of need perfection and the imposter syndrome. How as a community to we balance that and say no, go for it, et al. Wish there were people you could turn to for support and career coaching to ascertain fitness for positions or career paths and risks.

Talking about mentorship programs, ALA CORE has a program. Talk about options within Southeastern, within systems. One person’s system used to have a mentorship type program for non-degreed librarians, but without it now people can get stymied by trying to figure out how to navigate the system. Disappointing but maybe sign of the times. Librarians have had to evolve and no one really has the time – especially in supervisory positions – to engage in that anymore. Heard a lot of new librarians who are really disappointed. Experience and knowledge try to share but it can be very hard.

Part of challenges is that every system is different. So hard for library school to prepare you fully. Need to adjust to climate and culture of different libraries.

We have a common profession but library to library very different.

One thing really missing is official recognition of how much we need to have communication/ social work type training for interacting with public but also useful for working with coworkers and possibly as a supervisor

Group 2 share (pasted from chat)

Several members discussed how hard it was to represent as an only or 1 of a few POC on a staff. That it is challenging to take their power, feeling a lot of pressure, being concerned or surprised by reactions, but also being encouraged by some small organizational changes.         

We discussed the interaction of gender stereotypes and struggles as well.                         

Access DOES NOT EQUAL inclusion. Just because a POC is in a space doesn't mean it's welcoming or supportive. Pay scale and inequities.

Gender inequity in a female-dominated profession where women librarians often don’t put themselves forward for pay raises and promotions and salary inequities are consequence. Disrespectful and internalized pain about whether or what one deserves.

Coalition started because being isolated as only person of color in a given institution or building. So the coalition creates a supportive network.

Join as many coalitions and supportive organizations as you can.

Group 1 share

Question 1 about protection, talked about protecting those who are targets of workplace bias and also addressing one’s own biases and protecting yourself from being the problem. Talked about being aware of that and questioning yourself in order to move forward. Educate yourself to counter effects of biases on how you treat others.

Develop relationships with coworkers as part of how you increase inclusion in your workplace.

Also talked about gender bias and how because this is a female dominated profession, you see male librarians needing to work twice as hard in order to seem to measure up.

Discussed whether or not bias is hardwired. Several angles: external shaping through environmental exposures that make bias a learned behavior.

In order to survive, you have to make snap decisions but need distinction from being biased – hardwired instinct to step back is different from the learned behavior of actually being biased. How to differentiate between the two. If there’s a way to unlearn biases.

Talked about generational bias and how expectations are changing over generations.

Southeastern NY Library Resources Council
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Phone: (845) 883-9065