The Oklahoma Archivists Association would like to take this opportunity to make a public statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and to condemn racism and violence. We support and stand with the protestors and their families who are speaking out to government officials and law enforcement agencies. The emotional and psychological impact of national and local events cannot be ignored—the killing of Black Americans by law enforcement must stop.
Our state has a unique history that includes many diverse communities of people and as archivists it is our ethical duty to ensure archives reflect this diversity. The archival profession is culpable in upholding white supremacy and white privilege in this country, but by challenging ideas, processes, and language that perpetuate a long history of exploitation and racial divides, we can make changes that ensure archives represent and are accessible to everyone. We can always do more to amplify marginalized voices, to educate ourselves on implicit bias and privilege, and to share historical examples of cultural change to provide perspective on current events.
OAA suggests the following actions archivists can take to contribute to the preservation of history and historical interpretation of the current moment:
- Use evidence from your archive to challenge the mainstream narrative, giving a voice to silenced and underrepresented groups
- Make a purposeful effort to collect materials that reflect our diverse country and state
- Change processing priorities to reflect the urgent need for multicultural resources
- Build relationships with under-documented communities and support their records through community-led initiatives (acquisition, preservation, access, community-based archives)
- Speak out against racism
To preserve history is to listen and watch, but it is also to act. Archivists cannot remain neutral in a time when voices are being silenced.
A statement released by the Society of Southwest Archivists includes links to the statements of other organizations and resources for archivists.