Northwest Archivists Statement on Anti-racism
Northwest Archivists stands with our Black community members and grieves for the social burden, pain, and ongoing oppression of Black people and groups not defined as white in the Pacific Northwest, throughout the nation, and around the world. We believe that Black lives matter and Black histories matter.
As archivists, curators, and records managers, we recognize the relevance of our work and where our collections and work fall short. Our collective values state that archives "serve as evidence against which individual and social memory can be tested." We can and must commit to preserve primary sources that are inclusive, to better serve future generations. We commit to reach out, listen, and be a resource when asked.
We understand that confronting racism and social injustice is not a passing phase. Educating ourselves and reforming our practices will require ongoing work and reflection. We must look to each other and to resources offered in our field and in our communities to begin to live up to the shared values of our profession. We must act where we can.
In 2020, we continue to lean on the wisdom of civil rights leaders from earlier generations. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 1967 speech at Riverside church in New York City spoke of the “fierce urgency of now,” stating, “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late.”
It is time to act.
We adopt the NWA 2021 Conference theme “The Fierce Urgency of Now:”Archives Responding in Times of Upheaval. This action encourages members to come together in a virtual forum to collectively explore and present work related to anti-racism as the country reckons with its history of white supremacy, a deadly pandemic, economic strife, and increasing threats from climate change.
Resources to consider:
Documenting the Now https://www.docnow.io/
Archivists Supporting Activists https://www.docnow.io/archivists-supporting-activists/index.html
DocNow: Ethical Considerations for Archiving Social Media Content Generated by Contemporary Social Movements: Challenges, Opportunities, and Recommendations https://www.docnow.io/docs/docnow-whitepaper-2018.pdf
Documenting in Times of Crisis: A Resource Kit (https://www2.archivists.org/advocacy/documenting-in-times-of-crisis-a-resource-kit) produced by the Society of American Archivists Tragedy Response Initiative Task Force.
SAA Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion https://www2.archivists.org/statements/saa-statement-on-diversity-equity-and-inclusion
Archives for Black Lives in Philly (A4BLiP), Statement of Principles https://github.com/rappel110/A4BLiP and Anti-Racist Description Resources https://archivesforblacklives.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/ardr_final.pdf
WITNESS: Community-Based Approaches to Archives From the Black Lives Matter Movement https://blog.witness.org/2015/09/community-based-approaches-to-archives-from-the-black-lives-matter-movement/
A People’s Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland https://www.archivingpoliceviolence.org/
Archiving Student Activism Toolkit https://standarchives.com/project-stand-toolkit/
The statement was prepared by the Board of Northwest Archivists, Summer/Fall 2020.