SCOLMA (the UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa) BLACK LIVES MATTER STATEMENT

SCOLMA (the UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa)


Agreed at the SCOLMA AGM, 8.6.20

We in SCOLMA (the UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa) wish to add our voice to those condemning the recent death of George Floyd in police custody in the US.

Systemic racism is far from being a US problem. Black people living in the UK are more likely to suffer death in police custody than white people, and they experience discrimination in education, employment, health care and the judicial system. Black children are twice as likely to live in poverty as white children. As individuals, we can all seek to understand, acknowledge and reflect on these issues, and to call out racism wherever it occurs.

SCOLMA stands in solidarity with library and archives staff and users, and the communities with whom we work, who experience discrimination based solely on their race or ethnicity. As librarians and archivists in African Studies, we are particularly aware of the past violence and racism that has led to the structural inequalities of today. Many of us are responsible for collections that have their roots in the history of British relations with Africa, including the slave trade, conquest and colonisation. We are also aware of the white-dominated nature of the library and archives professions in the UK and that the workforce lacks diversity (in 2015, 96.7% of professionals working in public, academic and commercial libraries identified as white – see SCONUL Research project BAME staff experiences of academic libraries).

As SCOLMA and as individual professionals, we regularly work with African colleagues and engage in activities to foreground African voices. We commit to building on these efforts in the following ways:

  • working to make our collections as widely available as possible;
  • seeking to engage meaningfully with the decolonisation movement;
  • supporting efforts to make the UK library and archive professions, as well as SCOLMA itself, more diverse;
  • and pointing to relevant resources on our website.

Change is long overdue, and we commit ourselves to the fight to dismantle racism in all areas of society.

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