On March 3, 2021, the Asian/Pacific American Librarian Association issued a statement condemning the attacks against Asian Americans due to racist misconceptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Young Adult Library Services Association wishes to join their sister organization in condemning these horrid attacks, and if you have civically-minded teenagers at your library, offer resources for them to take action themselves.
YALSA recognizes and strongly condemns the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes that have grown in intensity over the past year due to hate speech directed at the Asian community. Here at YALSA, we believe no one should be discriminated against due to their race, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
How can teen librarians support their patrons, and encourage teens of all races to stand up for each other? One of the most important issues can be recognizing racism, and figuring out what to do about it in the moment. Hollaback, a non-profit organization, has been offering free online trainings for how to disrupt and intervene when someone witnesses racism. This can be the first resource librarians hand out. While that training touches on the troubled history American has with Chinese immigrants, this article also provides a brief history, beginning with the way Chinese immigrants were painted as dirty and infectious to stir up anti-immigrant feelings and eventually exclude Chinese immigrants from voting or owning land.
Librarians can also host programs on racism. While her upcoming program isn’t specifically geared towards anti-AAPI racism, teen librarian Kim Iacucci from Fort Lee Library expects that it will come up naturally. She has scheduled a program titled Changing The World One Click At A Time: Teens And Activism In The Social Media Age. Fort Lee is a heavily Asian-American city right outside New York City, and held a Stop Asian Hate rally that drew a large crowd. She’s also working on a program for the library that’s about anti-Asian racism for all ages.
Every teen should be able to come to the library and feel safe and protected. Being able to intervene, or even say that we see their struggle could mean the world to a teen struggling through the strangest year of their lives.
Posted by Stacey Shapiro, YALSA Board Advocacy.