Daily Archives: June 6, 2020

About Racism

The Women’s March
The March against Gun Violence
The MeToo Movement
The Climate Change Movement
Corona Virus Pandemic
Black Lives Matter

All of this has been brought to the forefront of our collective consciousness in the last three and a half years. And always, betwixt and between, acts of racism, the images of brutality by both police and civilians interspersed with all these other subjects of community concern. But this racism, by far, is the ugliest; the violence we see against Black and Brown people on our news casts and news feeds is the result of systemic, inherent racism that has been a part of the American experiment for over 400 years.

On the American Public Health Association’s website, racism is defined as such: “ (r)acism is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks (which is what we call “race”), that unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources.” — APHA Past-President Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, MPH, PhD


‘Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, like we do!’

Admonishments that imply laziness and idleness – what if you have no bootstraps? What if your bootstraps were removed long before your birth? Your parents have none, and they are rare in your community. Equal opportunity becomes a myth.

Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz

Betty Before X
by Ilyasah Shabazz

 According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, we must recognize that children raised in African American,  Hispanic, and American Indian homes face higher risks of  parental unemployment and to reside in families with  significantly lower household net income relative to white  children in the United States, which create barriers to equal opportunities and services designed for health and vocational results . “The social environment in which children are raised shapes child and adolescent development, and pediatricians are poised to prevent and respond to environmental circumstances that undermine child health.”

“Racism is a public health issue. The AAP condemns violence, especially when perpetrated by authorities, and calls for a deep examination of how to improve the role of policing. Systemic violence requires systemic response.”


Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj

Count Me In
by Varsha Bajaj

From Timothy Peoples at Baptist News:

“I had a flashback to first grade, to the first time my mother gave me The Talk. Every black mother has given this talk to her son; it’s pretty much universal in black households in the United States. It begins – at least in my experience and in that of others in my family – with the mother discerning whether her son is ready for this news because she knows this just might shatter his world.

“My mother got down on my level, kissed me on the cheek and with tears in her eyes said, “Baby, you are a black boy in a white man’s world.” She was very intentional about her choice of words: boy versus man.”


There is a stressor inherent in living with Black or Brown skin that is unique; just living with the stressor causes health inequities – no matter if the exposure to police violence was personal or not. Just waiting for that hammer to drop, anywhere, anytime.

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices
edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson

From the American Medical Association:

“Research demonstrates that racially marginalized communities are disproportionally subject to police force, and there is a correlation between policing and adverse health outcomes.”

The higher frequency of police encounters is linked to elevated stress and anxiety levels, along with increased rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, and asthma—and their fatal complications.

It is widely understood in medicine and public health that structural racism manifests in unequal access to opportunities, resources, conditions, and power within their respective systems.

“AMA policy recognizes that physical or verbal violence between law enforcement officers and the public, particularly among Black and Brown communities where these incidents are more prevalent and pervasive, is a critical determinant of health and supports research into the public health consequences of these violent interactions.”


Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Menendez

Where Are You From?
by Yamile Saied Menendez

In an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes, in part:

“Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.”


How do we all care, support, and work with each other and our community to disrupt the racism in our culture eliminating health and wealth disparities, institutional racism, and inherent racial bias?  What role can our libraries play to help our communities heal, grow, and develop? We ensure information and enhance learning, for all. We stand with the members of our communities that face prejudice, violence, and death, based on their race/ethnicity or gender. These acts degrade our institutions and destroys our communities.

The American Library Association unequivocally condemns racism and endorses recent statements by the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (PDF).


President Barack Obama writes on Medium and published on his own website:

Not My Idea: a book about whiteness by Anastasia Higgenbotham

Not My Idea: a book about whiteness
by Anastasia Higgenbotham

How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change

“Let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it.  If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves,” former President Barack Obama wrote.

“The bottom line is this: if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform.”


New Era of Public Safety: An Advocacy Toolkit for Fair, Safe, and Effective Community Policing

An initiative of the Policing Campaign at the Leadership Conference Education Fund, the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.


The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point
by Malcolm Gladwell

In Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point (a very appropriate read at this time, on so many levels), he borrows the phrase Tipping Point from epidemiology (the study of epidemics) to describe the moment an idea or a social movement has reached critical mass – the right number of people, with the right message, in the right context.  He writes that we intuitively think that the transactions going into relationships or systems are linear, a product of cause and effect (one for one, two for two, etc.), “(t)o appreciate the power of [social] epidemics, we have to abandon this expectation of proportionality. We need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that sometimes big changes follow from small events, and changes can happen quickly.”

We can only hope so.

Put The Tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell on hold here, and keep an eye on our recommended summer reading lists for more inclusive and educational literature selections.

Gladwell, Malcolm. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Abacus, 2015.

For further reading, see our books addressing racism and discrimination in our Children’s Collection at Williamson County Public Library:

Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz ; with Renée Watson

Count Me In: A Novel by Varsha Bajaj

Not My Idea : A Book About Whiteness written and illustrated by Anastasia Higginbotham

Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Méndez ; illustrated by Jaime Kim

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson

~DD, Reference


%d bloggers like this: