Why Stacey Abrams Keeps Georgia on my Mind

By Mandy Ryan

On June 9th, 2020, I stood in a long line waiting to vote in the 2020 presidential primary election  in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. My polling place was located in the heart of Sweet Auburn, a historically black neighborhood that is home to the famous Ebenezer Church, The King Center, and the final resting place of Martin Luther King, Jr. The line was so long that I couldn’t even see the building I was going to be voting in. More people were pouring in because their polling locations had closed overnight and they were told to come here at the last minute. The polling volunteer staff were short-handed and it wasn’t until after waiting two hours that many realized they weren’t standing in the right line for their temporary polling place. After three hours of waiting and three broken machines, I was finally able to cast my vote.

Five months later many would repeat this same struggle. Despite this, due to intense work by grassroots organizers, Black voter turnout increased by 25%, Latinx voter turnout by 18%, and Asian voter turnout by 12%. The increased voter turnout and mobilization of voters was due to the history of intense work by grassroots organizers, including an emerging breakout political leader, Stacey Abrams.

Who is Stacey Abrams?

Stacey Abrams has become a trailblazer as a political leader and had a huge impact on voter engagement, especially in underserved and diverse communities. Born in Wisconsin, she moved to Georgia in 1989 with her parents. Abrams earned a B.A. from Spelman College, before becoming a Texas Longhorn. She graduated from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT with her Masters in Public Affairs in 1998 and went on to receive her JD from Yale Law School. She would later receive the LBJ School’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 2019.

Abrams returned to Georgia where she held various local political appointments, including Deputy City Attorney for the city of Atlanta. She was elected a member of the Georgia State House of Representatives in 2006, representing the 89th district. She was the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly and was the first African-American to lead in the House of Representatives. She remained a representative and was the minority leader for 11 years before relinquishing her seat to run for governor. In her spare time, Abrams is also an accomplished novelist under the pen name Selena Montgomery. 

The 2018 Georgia Governor’s Race

In 2018, Abrams became the first Black woman to be nominated by a major party as a candidate for Governor in her home state of Georgia. She won the democratic primary against Stacey Evans by a landslide 75% of the vote and celebrated her historic win with a moving speech, saying, “We are writing the next chapter of Georgia’s history, where no one is unseen, no one is unheard and no one is uninspired.”

Running against her was the current Secretary of State, Brian Kemp. Kemp held the position of Secretary of State for 8 years in a state that had earned a reputation as being one of the strictest on voting laws in the country. In 2018, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights stated that “no state has done more than Georgia in recent years to make voting difficult, especially for minorities.”

Georgia policy dictated that the voter registration polls be routinely cleaned up to remove those who had died, moved away, or voters that hadn’t voted in the previous two elections. At the height of the election season, over 500,000 registered voters were removed from the list, with 107,000 due to inactivity.

Stacey Abrams lost the Governor race to Brian Kemp by 55,000 votes in a race that saw an all time record breaking voter turnout in Georgia. Over 4 million votes were counted, representing 74% of all registered voters, and broke the previous record of 3.9 million voters in 2008. The state also saw a record number of early-voting, with 2,418,550 Georgians casting their ballots in the 45 days leading up to the election.

In a speech ending her candidacy for governor, Stacey called out voting policies and restrictions in Georgia that made voting difficult and stated, “Concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede.”

She did acknowledge that Kemp would be the next governor of Georgia and the legitimacy of the election, but challenged the policies of disenfranchising voters and sought ways to improve election operations moving forward.

The Creation of Fair Fight

In her speech, Abrams introduced Fair Fight, an non-partisan initiative to fund and train voter protection teams in 20 battleground states. Fair Fight Action works to engage voter mobilizations and increase education on policies especially in underserved communities regardless of political affiliation. It also helps to combat and bring awareness to potential voter suppression in Georgia and across the nation. With Abrams’ work and support, Fair Fight and her previous organization, New Georgia Project went on to register over 800,000 new voters for the 2020 Presidential election.

Abrams’ part in engaging and mobilizing voters, increasing voter turnout in marginalized communities, and combating voter suppression in Georgia during the 2020 election season resulted in her nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize.

What’s Happening Now

Less than 6 months following the 2020 November Presidential election, Georgia State Representatives passed SB202, or “The Election Integrity Act of 2021.” The new law makes a number of changes to the current voting structure in Georgia. It makes the pandemic-era absentee or mail-in ballots permanent, but it limits the number of people who can request mail-in ballots, expands identification requirements to receive a mail-in ballot, and decreases the time to request them by half. Additionally, mail-in or absentee ballot drop boxes will be limited to just early voting days and have been moved inside government buildings.

Outside of mail-in voting, the bill also gives state-level officials the authority to take control of county election boards that have had reported issues in voting for the previous two years. It includes language that would remove the Secretary of State as chair of the State Election Board, and places decision-making in the hands of the 5 board members. Furthermore, the bill criminalizes third-parties providing water or food to those waiting in voting lines. Civil rights groups are speaking out, calling the bill voter suppression and in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

How It Affects Texas

While Georgia may be the first state to pass new voting laws, it’s probably not the last. In fact, over 41 states currently have bills on the docket that would change current voting procedure, including Texas. The Texas State Senate advanced Senate Bill 7, a bill similar to Georgia’s, imposing similar restrictions on mail-in ballots, limiting early voting periods, and prohibiting distribution of voter registration applications to those who don’t request them. The bill was widely debated in the house, with politicians adding amendments to address language that had advocates for Black, Latinx, and disabled voters concerned. The bill passed the house, but is still undergoing rewriting.

Reactions

Organizations such as ARL have signed a Statement on Voting Rights by Higher Education, stating a concern that new policies regarding student voter registration may make voting more difficult across college campuses. Texas organizations, such as AARP and the Texas League of Women Voters also raised concerns for the impact it would have on constituents.

What Can You Do?

In honor of fellow Longhorn Stacey Abrams, and in light of the current state bills, I encourage you to stay informed on new voting laws and how they may affect your current voting process.  Below are a list of resources to help you stay aware and keep you prepared so that your voting will go smoothly in the next election cycle. If you’d like to know more about Stacey Abrams, local Austin bookstore, Book People, will be hosting a virtual event with her this Saturday to discuss her new novel.

Voting Resources:

Organizations Dedicated to Voter Mobilization:

  • Move Texas: “MOVE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, grassroots organization building power in underrepresented youth communities through civic education, leadership development, and issue advocacy.”
  • Common Cause – Texas: “Common Cause Texas has an innovative, pragmatic, and comprehensive pro-democracy agenda. We’re here to build a better democracy in our Lone Star State.”
  • Jolt Initiative: “Jolt initiative is a 501c3 non-profit organization that increases the civic participation of Latinos to build a stronger democracy and ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.”
  • Black Voters Matter: “Black Voters Matter goal is to increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities.”
  • Rev-up Texas: a non-partisan statewide effort to outreach and to empower persons with disabilities and our allies to get more involved in electoral politics.

Organizations Promoting Diverse Political Candidates

Books by Stacey Abrams

Arab American Heritage Month

by Andres Ramirez, Resources by Dale Correa

The celebration of April as Arab American Heritage Month is relatively recent, having previously been celebrated by some states at different times of the year.  Due to grassroots and independent advocacy from the Arab American community, the move to April has gained increasing support.  First introduced in April 2019, Michigan Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Debbie Dingell have led a Congressional resolution to recognize the contributions Arab Americans have made in the United States through the month of April.  While gaining support, this bill is still pending, and the designation has not yet recognized across the entire federal government.  This April, the US State Department also designated April as Arab American Heritage Month, highlighting the contributions Arab Americans have made throughout the country and within the agency itself.

Arab heritage includes a vast spectrum of languages, religions, traditions and experiences, representing cultures thousands of years old, and principally originating from Arabic-speaking countries in the Middle East and North African region, including Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen. Immigration by people from Arabic-speaking countries to the United States began on a large scale in the late 19th century. Since then, several periods of immigration to the US have been marked by the dynamics in countries of origin, along with changes in US immigration policies.  I encourage you to explore the resources provided by Dale Correa below, highlighting the aspects of Arab American heritage, and the contributions made by Arab Americans.

SOURCES

Alsharif, Mirna “April is Arab American Heritage Month, the State Department declares”

CNN, April 5, 2021 https://edition.cnn.com/2021/04/05/us/arab-american-heritage-month/index.html

Arab American Institute. https://www.aaiusa.org/

Arab American Museum.  “Coming to America”. Online exhibit. https://arabamericanmuseum.org/coming-to-america/

Arab American Staff. “Dingell, Tlaib introduce Arab American Heritage Month resolution in U.S. House” April 26, 2021 https://www.arabamericannews.com/2021/04/26/dingell-tlaib-introduce-arab-american-heritage-month-resolution-in-u-s-house/

U.S. State Department. “The Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Celebrates National Arab American Heritage Month”.  April 1, 2021

https://www.state.gov/the-bureau-of-european-and-eurasian-affairs-celebrates-arab-american-heritage-month/

Washingt0n Press Release, April 30, 2019

https://web.archive.org/web/20190804211819/https://debbiedingell.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=1703

 

Arab-American Faces and Voices book cover
Arab-American Faces and Voices cover

Notable UT Press publications

The Making of Arab Americans: from Syrian nationalism to U.S. citizenship by Hani J. Bawardi.

While conventional wisdom points to the Arab-Israeli War of 1967 as the gateway for the founding of the first Arab American national political organization, such advocacy in fact began with the Syrian nationalist movement, which emerged from immigration trends at the turn of the last century. Bringing this long-neglected history to life, The Making of Arab Americans overturns the notion of an Arab population that was too diverse to share common goals.

Arab American Faces and Voices: The Origins of an Immigrant Community by Elizabeth Boosahda.

As Arab Americans seek to claim their communal identity and rightful place in American society at a time of heightened tension between the United States and the Middle East, an understanding look back at more than one hundred years of the Arab-American community is especially timely. In this book, Elizabeth Boosahda, a third-generation Arab American, draws on over two hundred personal interviews, as well as photographs and historical documents that are contemporaneous with the first generation of Arab Americans (Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians), both Christians and Muslims, who immigrated to the Americas between 1880 and 1915, and their descendants.

 

Telling our Story book cover
Telling our Story book cover

Resources available from UT Libraries:

 

Literature & Art

Articulations of Resistance: Transformative Practices in Arab-American Poetry

Four Arab American Plays: works by Leila Buck, Jamil Khoury, Yussef El Guindi, and Lameece Issaq & Jacob Kader

Modern Arab American fiction: a reader’s guide

The Music of Arab Americans: a retrospective collection

Poetics of Visibility in the Contemporary Arab American Novel

 

Politics & History

Arab American News (periodical)

The Arab Americans: a history

Arab American Biography

A kid’s guide to Arab American history: more than 50 activities

Race and Arab Americans before and after 9/11: from invisible citizens to visible subjects

Telling Our Story: The Arab American National Museum

 

Other Resources:

ACC’s research guide on Arab/Middle Eastern Americans

Arab American Historical Foundation

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Professor Germine Awad, UT College of Education

 

 

GLSEN’s Day of Silence 2021: Silence & Violence in the Library Catalog

by Devon Murphy & Elizabeth Gerberich

Today thousands of students and educators nationwide are participating in GLSEN’s Day of Silence. Originally created by UVA student Maria Pulzetti in 1996 as part of a class project, GLSEN now helps organize the annual event in which participating students & educators remain silent throughout the school day to draw attention to erasure and harassment of LGBTQ students inside the classroom. Through their silence, participants intend to highlight the power of words—to show how both violent language and the failure to acknowledge existence contribute to the exclusion and dehumanization of queer and trans students.  

GLSEN Day of Silence Logo that features a red, monochromatic picture of an open mouth

Words are the foundation of our profession, and as library staff, it’s crucial we recognize the ways in which erasure and violence have been built—often purposefully—into our systems. Last month on the blog, Daniel Arbino & Gina Bastone highlighted how UT librarians subverted standard cataloging practices to create two collections, the Black Queer Studies Collection and the Latinx LGBTQ Collection, that challenge racist, homophobic, and transphobic library systems.  In observation of Day of Silence, we wanted to both provide some further context for the cataloging practices that Daniel & Gina mention and spotlight efforts of queer and trans librarians in developing their own descriptive vocabularies. 

Cataloging, by nature, requires categorization, and institutional classification of groups of people always reflects broader histories of power and struggle. Libraries, as institutions, are no exception. Epistemic networks connect library work to other academic, state, and professional institutions’ vocabularies, which inform the language we use in cataloging and descriptive practices today. Literary warrant, or the practice of using existing domain literature to create terms, directly links the descriptive methodologies used by varied institutions and scholars to thesauri like Library of Congress (LCSH) and the Getty Vocabularies. At LCSH, which was first formed in the 1890s, early to mid-20th century medical and psychological scholarship were employed as appropriate sources to build vocabularies for LGBTQ+ concepts, crystallizing terms meant to pathologize LGBTQ+ communities for organizing, describing, and disseminating library holdings. Other terms, like those for Indigenous gender identities, were deliberately excluded from these vocabularies in accordance with early anthropological theories and assimilationist government projects. LCSH’s dominance in cataloging standards broadened this impact with archives, academic institutions, and visual resource collections also implementing LCSH-derived content.  

Legacies of biolence and exclusion are particularly salient in the lack of appropriate transgender, queer, and nonbinary terminology in LCSH that demonstrates the full & rich diversity of gender expressions. For example, nonbinary is still a “see also” term, meaning that it is not preferred for cataloging use and does not have a persistent identifier assigned, limiting its cataloging utility further. Problematic hierarchies and knowledge organization systems also hamstring LGBTQ+ descriptive efforts, as demonstrated by the fact that materials pertaining to Two-Spirit people are still located solely under the broader “Indians of Americasubject heading. Issues abound in other vocabulary systems as well, such as the Getty Vocabularies: artist records within Getty’s Union List of Artist Names (ULAN) can only have a male, female, or N/A value for gender. While FAST, or Faceted Application of Subject Terminology, replicates some of LCSH’s terminology issues, due to its vocabulary base being built from LCSH terms.  

The cover of "Lavender Legacies," an early resource for LBGTQ + documents and vocabularies
The cover of “Lavender Legacies,” an early resource for LBGTQ + documents and vocabularies.

Wherever there are systems of power, there are always histories of resistance—changes to cataloging terms, like changes in any other institution, mirror these histories, too. Trans and queer communities have a strong tradition of self-determination: creating their own terms, vocabularies, and knowledge collectives to suit their needs, and LGBTQ+ library professionals have sought to change violent terminology for better & more inclusive knowledge sharing. In the 1970s and 80s, these efforts focused on changing terms in LCSH that classified gay and lesbian subjects as “sexual perversions,” and further sustained efforts in the following decades have led to additions of LGBTQ+ terms to reflect Trans identities, even though limited in scope. Adoption of terms like Two-Spirit/2 spirit” and Indigiqueer” in the catalog seek to reclaim Indigenous trans/queer identities violently suppressed by colonialism. Continuing in these traditions, library/archives staff and scholars have also collaborated to create resources outside of LCSH to improve LGBTQ+ description. Homosaurus is a linked data vocabulary for LGBTQ+ terms, meant to capture the linkages and complexities in LGBTQ+ identities. The Digital Transgender Archive includes rich collections on transgender history as well as a listing of transgender-related terms used throughout the world. And Histsex is a collaborative effort to create a bibliography of gender and sexuality terms and content. 

It should go without saying that the language we use to describe and categorize people in library systems matters; providing all patrons with fair & open access to credible information is an unachievable goal when cataloging practices and search terms are violent, inaccurate, or exclusionary. And, at a point when the majority of state legislatures are considering transphobic and homophobic policy projects which draw upon the same descriptors as library standards, the persistent violence in cataloging systems is especially painful. On this Day of Silence, we invite you to explore the resources in this post & think about how you might use them in your work in the future.  

Works Referenced: 

Adler, Melissa A. “”Let’s Not Homosexualize the Library Stacks”: Liberating Gays in the Library Catalog.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 24, no. 3 (2015): 478-507. Accessed April 22, 2021.  

Adler, Melissa. “Transcending Library Catalogs: A Comparative Study of Controlled Terms in Library of Congress Subject Headings and User-Generated Tags in LibraryThing for Transgender Books.” Journal of Web Librarianship 3, no. 4 (November 23, 2009): 309–31.  

Drabinski, Emily. “Queering the Catalog: Queer Theory and the Politics of Correction.” The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy 83, no. 2 (2013): 94–111. 

 Drescher, Jack. “Out of DSM: Depathologizing Homosexuality.” Behavioral Sciences 5, no. 4 (December 4, 2015): 565–75. 

Edge, Samuel J. “A Subject ‘Queer’-y: A Literature Review on Subject Access to LGBTIQ Materials.” The Serials Librarian 75, no. 1–4 (April 26, 2019): 81–90. 

Eyler, A. Evan, and Saul Levin. “Interview with Saul Levin, MD, MPA, CEO/Medical Director of the American Psychiatric Association on the 40th Anniversary of the Decision to Remove Homosexuality from the DSM.” LGBT Health 1, no. 2 (March 13, 2014): 70–74. 

Giami, Alain. “Between DSM and ICD: Paraphilias and the Transformation of Sexual Norms.” Archives of Sexual Behavior 44, no. 5 (July 1, 2015): 1127–38. 

“GLBT Controlled Vocabularies and Classification Schemes.” Text. Round Tables, December 29, 2009. http://www.ala.org/rt/rrt/popularresources/vocab  

Johnson, Matt. “Transgender Subject Access: History and Current Practice.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 48, no. 8 (September 27, 2010): 661–83. 

Murphy, Devon. “Knowledge Organization Systems and Information Ethics for Visual Resources.” Visual Resources Association Bulletin 47, no. 2 (December 20, 2020). https://online.vraweb.org/index.php/vrab/article/view/193. 

ONE Archives Foundation. “Uncovering the History of LGBTQ Archives and Libraries.” Accessed April 22, 2021. https://www.onearchives.org/uncovering-history-lgbtq-archives-libraries/   

Picq, Manuela L, Bosia, Michael J ; McEvoy, Sandra M ; Rahman, Momin “Decolonizing Indigenous Sexualities: Between Erasure and Resurgence” The Oxford Handbook of Global LGBT and Sexual Diversity Politics (May 7, 2020) 

University of Alberta Library. “Subject Guides: Equity, Diversity, & Inclusivity: Library Resources: Two-Spirit.” Accessed April 22, 2021. https://guides.library.ualberta.ca/edi/2s   

UT Libraries LGBTQ+ Resources:
Further reading from the DAC blog: 

Trans Day of Visibility 2021

Since 2010, March 31 has been marked as Transgender Day of Visibility. Historically, this day is meant to be a celebration of trans and non-binary lives, unlike the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, which dates back to 1999 and is observed annually on November 20 to memorialize lives taken by violence against trans people.

Trans Day of Visibility arrives this year with a couple notable moves forward, but significant–and glaring–steps backward for trans rights embitter a day meant for trans celebration.

President Biden this year became the first U.S. president to issue a proclamation to formally recognize Trans Day of Visibility in the United States. The Biden administration has also overturned the Trump administration’s ban on trans people serving in the military, and named Dr. Rachel Levine as the first openly transgender person to hold federal office.

While these are victories to be sure, it’s difficult celebrate these small moves toward trans visibility while 2021 has already set a record for anti-trans legislation. Trans Day of Visibility is especially fraught today by the passage of HB 1507 in Arkansas, which yesterday further trampled the civil rights of arguably the most vulnerable people in the state, trans youth.

Texas is not far behind with Senate Bill 1311 aimed at prohibiting trans youth from receiving essential health care related to their gender identities.

While Trans Visibility is important every year, it feels especially critical this year. The onslaught of anti-trans legislations from so many states, and the murders of 12 trans people already reported, this year demands not just the recognition of trans lives, but their protection. It is more critical than ever for allies to act.

We ask that you join us both today and moving forward as we work to increase trans visibility and protect trans rights and lives.

What you can do

Stay informed

  • Follow the Twitter #TransRightsAreHumanRights
  • Know what legislation is being considered in your state
  • Find out which of your local and federal officials support anti-trans legislation and contact their offices to voice your disapproval
  • Be aware of how others (including family, friends, coworkers, and news sources) speak about the trans community and speak up when you hear or read someone perpetuate harmful rhetoric (including misgendering)  about trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people

Educate yourself and those around you

Subverting Library Practice through Groundbreaking Collections

By Daniel Arbino & Gina Bastone

Rarely do we take on projects that exist within a vacuum. On the contrary, we build on the work of those before us. If we are lucky, that work contributes to something vaguely described as “the greater good,” and in some cases, that work can even subvert the status quo. The UT Libraries’ Black Queer Studies Collection and the Latinx LGBTQ Collection are quite subversive. We don’t use that term lightly – these collections disrupt standard library practice while also bringing marginalized works to the forefront. 

By standard library practice, we refer to cataloging practices that employ standardized vocabulary created by the Library of Congress, such as subject headings. However, this vocabulary often includes problematic, outdated, and offensive language regarding books and films about LGBTQ+ experiences. When describing books about intersectional identity, especially those centered on queer and trans BIPOC people, the problematic subject headings take agency away from the authors and communities they represent by imposing rigid naming and classification. This entrenched system reflects the white supremacist, homophobic, and transphobic structures that dominate American institutions. Yes, this includes libraries. 

Eleven years ago, a group of UT librarians, faculty, and graduate students came together to create the Black Queer Studies Collection as a response to these problematic subject headings in the library catalog. Led by Kristen Hogan in collaboration with professor Matt Richardson and librarian Lindsey Schell, the project sought to make the intersectionality between sexuality, gender, and Blackness more discoverable in the library catalog. (Read more about its origins in this great article by Kristen in the journal Progress Librarian.) To get around the issue of problematic subject headings, they came up with the simple, but elegant solution to use a “local note” in the library catalog record to digitally unite the books, films, and other materials in the collection. 

Following the success of the Black Queer Studies Collection, UT Libraries introduced the Latinx LGBTQ Collection in 2017 to consider the intersectionality of gender, sexuality, and U.S. Latinx identity. The Latinx LGBTQ Collection follows the trajectory of its predecessor and features the same functionality with the use of the local catalog note. Together, the collections are collective intended to enable making hidden voices easier to find for patrons. Both continue to be updated on a regular basis to reflect UT Libraries’ commitment to collecting diverse subject matter. 

Below, we’ve highlighted some books that intersect both collections. We invite you to explore – check out a book, download an ebook, or watch a streaming film! You can find these collections in their entirety by performing an advanced search in the UT library catalog using the search terms “Latinx LGBTQ” or “Black Queer Studies Collection” (in quotation marks).  

Is there a book or film that we’re missing? Let us know by using the Libraries’ purchase request form, and adding in the notes that it’s for the Black Queer Studies Collection and/or the Latinx LGBTQ Collection. In the meantime, check out the following books that intersect both collections! 

Image of Book Cover for Virgins, Guerillas, and Locas

 

Cortez, Jaime. Virgins, Guerrillas & Locas: Gay Latinos Writing on Love. San Francisco: Cleis Press, 1999. Read the ebook! (in HathiTrust)

Image of book cover for Legendary Inside the House Ballroom Scene

 

Gaskin, Gerard H., Deborah Willis, and Frank Roberts. Legendary : Inside the House Ballroom Scene / Photographs by Gerard H. Gaskin Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press in association with the Center for Documentary Studies, 2013. Check out the print book!

Image of book cover for Blacktino Queer Performance

 

Johnson, Rivera-Servera. Blacktino Queer Performance. North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2016. Read the ebook!

Image of book cover for Disidentifications

 

Muñoz, José Esteban. Disidentifications : Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics / José Esteban Muñoz. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999. Read the ebook! (in HathiTrust)

Image of book cover for Nepantla

 

Soto, Christopher. Nepantla : an Anthology for Queer Poets of Color / Edited by Christopher Soto. New York: Nightboat Books, 2019. Check out the print book!

Image of book cover for Christ-like

 

Xavier, Emanuel. Christ-like. New York: Painted Leaf Press, 1999. Read the ebook! (in HathiTrust)

 

 

This article is (no longer) a stub: help us expand the record!

Poster with blue & purple background, featuring a solidarity fist holding a paintbrush in front of the trans symbol, promoting UTL's 2-in-1 Wikipedia virtual edit-a-thon

The “sum of all human knowledge”?

We’ve all seen it: “This article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.” Though it is the largest encyclopedia in existencea project for which a stated goal is to “compile the sum of all human knowledge”information gaps abound on Wikipedia. And, after twenty years of providing the world with open-source information, Wikipedia’s representation problem, in both contributors and content, has been well documented.

Most recent estimates place the proportion of contributors who are cis men at or above 80%. As of this February, the gender demographics of the site’s biographies is roughly the same: only 18.7% of the English language entries are about women. The racial demographics of editors is more opaque: it’s widely accepted that editors are overwhelmingly white, however few studies propose any numerical estimates as to how white contributors skew. At 65 references, the entry for the history of Maine is over four times longer than that of the entire country of Botswanajust one example among millions of the site’s racial and geographic bias.

In response, many angered at their communities’ exclusion from the “sum of human knowledge” have recognized that dedicating time & space (whether cyber or physical) to demystifying the Wikipedia editing process is critical in reaching what Wikimedia Foundation CEO Katherine Maher calls “knowledge equity.” Groups like Women in Red, Black Lunch Table, Art+Feminism, and AfroCROWD help users navigate editing standards that require verification from sources that have historically favored white men as well as provide space for editors from marginalized communities to connect with one another through meet-ups and edit-a-thons. Museums, libraries, schools, and other community groups worldwide now host dozens of edit-a-thons per week focused on improving existing articles and creating new ones to fill Wikipedia’s content gaps.

Edit-a-thons at UT Libraries

For the past few years, UT Libraries has hosted two edit-a-thonsQueering the Record and Art+Feminismboth aiming to expand the information available on Wikipedia related to queer, trans, and feminist topics. Though Art+Feminism is part of a worldwide series of edit-a-thons, Queering the Record is a homegrown effort. What started as a collaboration between the hosts (Kathy Tu & Tobin Low) of WNYC’s podcast Nancy, UT Humanities Librarian Gina Bastone, and UT’s iSchool Pride as a lead-up to Nancy’s 2018 SXSW even now approaches its fourth year as a UTL staple event.

With the COVID-induced shift to virtual learning, this year’s events will look a little different: instead of two separate (and in person) edit-a-thons, we’ve decided to combine them into a one-day virtual event. We know the UTL community is pretty Zoomed out, so we’ll be hosting on Discord. Join us for one or both edit-a-thons anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Thursday March 11th! No previous Wikipedia editing experience is necessarylibrarians will be there to guide through each step of the process.

Hold up! Don’t all librarians hate Wikipedia?

In short, no! In fact, many librarians recognize that libraries and Wikipedia share a similar goal: to provide open access to diverse range of knowledge. We’ve likely all heard the phrase “just anyone can edit it” to caution against using the site as a source for a research paper. However, if “just anyone” can edit, that means students, professors, and librariansall for whom research is a professioncan edit articles, too. As #1Lib1Ref (a campaign encouraging librarians to add citations to Wikipedia entries) says, “in a digital environment that spreads #fakenews, and allows major languages and cultural voices to dominate, building a more diverse, more dynamic knowledge commons for the future requires the collaboration of librarians, Wikimedians and knowledge seekers around the world.” At UT Libraries, we know that with both access to millions of credible sources and a solid research skill sets, our community is distinctively positioned to create, edit, and improve articles in the effort to work towards a Wikipedia that reflects us all.

Rosie the Riveter poster with the phrase "We Can [edit]!" replacing "We Can Do It!"
We Can Edit! Public domain image, modified by Tom Morris, via Wikimedia Commons

Join us!

UT Libraries’ 4th annual Queering the Record and 3rd annual Art+Feminism 2-in-1 Virtual Edit-a-thon

Thursday March 11th, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., via our Discord server: http://bit.ly/UTLWEaTh

No previous experience necessary to participate in one or both edit-a-thons.

Follow #UTLWEaTH21 to connect with librarians and other editors on social media!

Further Reading from UT Collections

 

–by Elizabeth Gerberich, with contributions from Gina Bastone and Elle Covington

Reading Recommendations: International Women’s Day

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. This day was set aside by the United Nations in 1977, but the honoring of this day stretches back to 1911 with origins in the socialist working women’s movement (Johnman, Sim & Mackie, 2016) . Learn more about the importance of this day from the resources below.

Gender Inequity in the COVID era

Gender inequity has been made especially clear throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  UN Women has declared the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day to be “Women in leadership: Achieving and equal future in a COVID-19 world.” The intention of this theme is to not only highlight the disparate impact that this pandemic is having on women globally, but also to celebrate the women at the forefront of the fight to end it.

Academic Sources

News & Popular Sources

Documentaries

Women’s Own Words

United Nations International Women’s Day Virtual Event

The JMLA Experience and Anti-Black Practices in Library Publishing

by Mandy Ryan

As library professionals, we often feel that we are working diligently to include and amplify the voices of our BIPOC colleagues. Many major libraries, such as UT and Emory, have incorporated DEI efforts in their hiring practices and Yale Libraries recently posted a position for a Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Organizational Excellence. Publications in the library profession, such as Theological Librarianship and the Journal of the Medical Library Association, made calls for submissions by diverse voices. However, librarians of color often bear the greatest burden in these calls for diversity, which can come with an expectation that they will be the ones to do the work of changing institutionalized practices and management styles built by white supremacy. The lack of effort to examine current processes and prepare staff on how to navigate works addressing diversity, equity and inclusion was most recently highlighted by the editorial decisions at the Journal of the Medical Library Association.

In May of 2020, the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police garnered national attention, generating renewed focus to the Black Lives Matter movement and increased public support for their efforts. On June 1, 2020, the African American Medical Librarians Alliance (AAMLA) Caucus of the Medical Library Association (MLA) released a statement stating that they were “tired of not being seen, heard, included, or appreciated for the value that our unique voices, experiences, and perspectives bring to the narrative” and a commitment to “using our collective voices in bringing about change in the profession and the association.”

In response, the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) also released a statement of support to both the AAMLA Caucus and Black Lives Matter, stating that they could and will “do more to amplify the voices, experiences, and perspectives of individuals who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).” Part of their statement was a call for manuscript submissions that addressed social injustices, diverse voices, and critical perspectives on health sciences librarianship. They also specifically asked for the contribution of any BIPOC-authored manuscripts, so long as they fell within the scope of the journal.

Five prominent Black librarians, Peace Ossom-Williamson, Jamia Williams, Xan Goodman, Christian I.J. Minter, and Ayaba Logan, submitted a proposed editorial on anti-Blackness in libraries. The editorial was accepted and scheduled for publication in January 2021. What happened next became an example of how calls for inclusion can lead to exclusionary and microaggressive practices in editing and publishing. On December 11th, 2020, Christian Minter tweeted about their decision to pull the editorial from publication, with an appropriately titled blog post, “A Case Study in Anti-Black Publishing Practices.”

Tweet by Christian Minter dated December 11, 2020 at 4?32 PM

In the blog, Minter describes how the editing process took a turn when they received a print-ready proof that had significant changes that had not been previously addressed with the authors. Some of the more significant changes she detailed included the decision to capitalize all instances of “white” and “white supremacy,” adding modifiers to “white supremacy” and changing instances to include “white supremacist thinking” or “white supremacist structures,” and changing multiple pronouns from “you” or “they” to “we” and “us.” Originally, the authors had intentionally only capitalized “Black” throughout the piece, but the editor argued that the MLA was in the process of changing their guidelines and that eventually the piece would capitalize “white.” When adding modifiers to “white supremacy,” the editor offered feedback that there was an issue with the literal reading of the original phrase. The editor offered no explanation on why they had changed the pronouns.

The authors attempted to explain to the editor why they had purposely and intentionally made the choices they did for the piece. According to Minter the editor responded by doubling down on her statements and providing a conditional apology if “wording and meaning has been changed that much” and that in her editing for typos, grammar, and clarity, “sometimes it appears the meaning can change.” During the course of the conversation, the editor-in-chief was cc’d on the email exchange, as was an associate editor, but both decided not to intervene.

Minter’s tweet and blog post were immediately followed by a tweet from Peace Ossom-Williamson and a blog post from Jamia Williams, “When Publishing Goes Wrong,” on December 12th. Both authors supported Minter’s account and stated that they stood strong on their decision to withdraw the piece from publication.

The author’s accounts about the events with JMLA began to trend on Twitter, with a call for JMLA to support Black colleagues quickly circulating under hashtags #medlibs, #librarytwitter, and #POCinLIS. Following the backlash, JMLA issued an apology on December 16th, written by editor-in-chief Katherine Akers. In the statement she recognized that she had been cc’d on the emails, but had assumed “that the two parties would come to resolution on their own or that I would be directly contacted by one of the parties if my intervention was needed or desired.” She also acknowledged that the journal was not prepared to edit or publish pieces on diversity, equity, or inclusion and made a promise to make JMLA “a more diverse and inclusive journal with more equitable opportunities for BIPOC authors, reviewers, and editorial board members.”

Tweet by Peace Ossom-Williamson dated December 12, 2020

The original article written by the five authors, “Starting with I: Combating Anti-Blackness in Libraries,” was successfully published by the University of Nebraska Medical Center under the Leon S. McGoogan Health Sciences Library in December of 2020.

The withdrawal and the subsequent apology from JMLA sparked deep conversations about how these calls for diversity and inclusion are often made without the systemic support and structuring needed to actually support BIPOC voices. As part of the discussion, Jasmine L. Clark, Digital Scholarship Librarian at Temple University, wrote a thought-provoking piece, “On JMLA, Conflict, and Failed Diversity Efforts in LIS,” which details organizational justice and cultural competence as they relate to the article and the breakdown of the editing process by JMLA.

There were many points in which the editor-in-chief or the associate editor could have engaged with the authors and ensured that their intentions and voices were protected. The decision to not engage can be representative of a larger, systemic problem of neutrality in libraries where we avoid conflict and confrontation in the workplace, often leading to the harm of our colleagues.

In their responses, all of the authors and Clark found that there was a lack of ownership by Akers of her responsibility to initiate mediation before the situation had reached the point of withdrawing the piece. They point to her role as editor-in-chief and the accompanying responsibility to create an equitable environment that would identify and address challenges that BIPOC might encounter when writing about social justice.

Tweet Thread by Jasmine Lelis Clark dated December 17, 2020

Moving forward, Clark recommends that within the LIS profession “a blend of ongoing DEIA education, organizational/personal assessment, and practiced social skills are required.” She states that concepts of organizational justice and assessment of power structures are often reserved for those in leadership positions, instead of being open to all levels of LIS professionals. She points out that the development of social skills is centered on public service and patrons, instead of how to engage with the colleagues we work with every day.

The events with JMLA are an opportunity to evaluate our own practices and to better equip ourselves in conflict mediation and organizational justice. As a white woman in a field where only 5.3 percent of librarians identified as Black or African American, I hold myself accountable and ask that my fellow white colleagues join me in enacting changes that will allow for diversity and equity, instead of just calling for it and placing that labor on those who respond. Below are some resources and articles that delve into the experience of Black librarians, microaggression in our field, and how we can do better, but I would like to personally recommend reading the original article of the authors in this post as it provides a detailed overview of the history of anti-Blackness in libraries and concrete steps for how to move forward.

Resource Highlights

Books

Articles

Podcast

  • LibVoices – podcast co-created and co-hosted by Jamia Williams which amplifies the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who work in archives and libraries.

Professional Development and Trainings

  • We Here – “We Here™️ seeks to provide a safe and supportive community for Black and Indigenous folks, and People of Color (BIPOC) in library and information science (LIS) professions and educational programs, and to recognize, discuss, and intervene in systemic social issues that have plagued these professions both currently and historically.”
  • Active Bystander Orientation – “Have you ever witnessed bullying, harassment, or an uncomfortable encounter in a professional context and wished you knew how to intervene? The 2019 DLF Committee on Equity and Inclusion recently put together an Active Bystander Orientation session to help address these questions”
  • Conflict Mediation Guidelines – Stanford’s conflict training for the following situations: when you have been asked to mediate a conflict between two people or two groups or when a conflict breaks out between different sub-groups in a discussion.

Disability Studies: An Introduction

By Elizabeth Gerberich

As we approach a year since COVID-19 reached Texas, I set out to write a post about the pandemic, disability/chronic illness, disability justice, and collective care. However, while researching, the DAC blog team realized that the blog hadn’t yet featured a post focused on disability studies or disability justice. In light of this, we hope to provide a brief overview of the discipline and related resources in our collections. It is impossible to honor all of the nuances of both a discipline and the struggle for justice in one blog post; however we invite you to take a look at these resources and hope they provide a starting point for further exploration and knowledge-making.  

Disability studies arose in the late twentieth century from the first wave of the disability rights movement. It is an interdisciplinary field incorporating a broad range of disciplines and professions—architecture, art, sociology, law, social work, health professions, radio/television/film, urban studies and education, just to name a few. At its heart is the interrogation of who and what we deem “normal,” whether through designing accessible public transit, crafting inclusive education policy, or examining tropes of disability representation in film. 

A sign showing a person in a wheelchair holding a sign with text reading "You Gave Your Dimes, Now We Want Our Rights"
“You Gave Us Your Dimes” poster: Markley Morris, 1987, courtesy of the Center on Human Policy at Syracuse University.

Like all fields, conceptual approaches in disability studies have shifted and continue to shift over time, especially as our cultural understandings and definitions of disability change. Much of the initial writing in the field centered on a “medical model” of disability, which identifies certain physical or mental impairments or conditions in individual bodies. Later scholarship turned to a “social model,” which contends that society at large disables individuals as it fails to acknowledge the full range of diverse bodies and minds. Influenced by the disability justice movement, more recent scholarship calls both models into question, as many writers seek to deconstruct and reimagine boundaries between the physical and the social. 

Disability studies scholars and disability justice activists alike recognize the importance of understanding disability as a distinct facet of identity, similar to how we understand race, gender, sexuality, and class. As such, the discipline is intertwined—though not convergent––with critical race studies, gender studies, queer studies, and other schools of critical thought. You will find that the resources listed below often combine one or more of these fields. 

Differing definitions of disability across both disciplines and time may present challenges for those doing research in disability studies. A legal definition of disability, for example, may not conform with a cultural understanding of it, and terms found in sources may be outdated, inaccurate, or even hurtful and triggering for contemporary readers. Given the relative recency of disability studies’ formalization as a discipline in higher education, some older or historical resources may not be cataloged with appropriate subject headings. 

A picture of the front page of a 1977 edition of the newspaper The Black Panther with text reading "Handicapped Win Demands End H.E.W. Occupation"
Black Panther/504: front page of the Black Panther Party Intercommunal News Service from May 7, 1977 – the day after disabled activists, with the support of the Panthers, ended a 26-day sit-in at the California Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) office in San Francisco

Amidst a pandemic that has exacerbated divides in access to education and healthcare, reinforced policies and narratives of disposability based on disability, and expanded the number of people living with disabilities and chronic illness, it can seem that disability studies is especially relevant now, more than ever. However, as disability justice activists have noted, for those of us who are disabled or chronically ill (as many are and have always been) COVID-19 has only highlighted long persistent struggles for inclusion, equity, and access.

In compiling these resources, we hope to provide a starting point for both understanding the context of these struggles and for continuing to work towards a more accessible & equitable future. For more information on disability studies at UT, check out the Texas Center for Disability Studies’ website, and for information about campus resources for students with disabilities, check out the SSD

Resources:

Books

Bell, Christopher M. Blackness and Disability : Critical Examinations and Cultural Interventions / Edited by Christopher M. Bell. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2011. Print.

Charlton, James I. Nothing About Us Without Us : Disability Oppression and Empowerment / James I. Charlton. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press,, 1999.

Davis, Lennard J. Enforcing Normalcy : Disability, Deafness, and the Body / Lennard J. Davis. London ;: Verso, 1995.

Davis, Lennard J. The Disability Studies Reader. 4th ed., Taylor and Francis, 2013.

Goodley, Dan. Dis/ability Studies : Theorising Disablism and Ableism / Dan Goodley. Abingdon, Oxon ;: Routledge, 2014.

Kafer, Alison. Feminist, Queer, Crip / Alison Kafer. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2013.

Longmore, Paul K., and Lauri Umansky. The New Disability History : American Perspectives / Edited by Paul K. Longmore and Lauri Umansky. New York: New York University Press, 2001.

Lorde, Audre. The Cancer Journals / Audre Lorde. Special ed. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1997.

McRuer, Robert. Crip Theory : Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability / Robert McRuer ; Foreword by Michael Bérubé. New York: New York University Press, 2006.

Nielsen, Kim E. A Disability History of the United States / Kim E. Nielsen. Boston: Beacon Press, 2012.

Schlund-Vials, Gill. Disability, Human Rights and the Limits of Humanitarianism. Taylor and Francis, 2016. Web.

Serlin, David, Benjamin Reiss, and Rachel Adams. Keywords for Disability Studies Edited by Rachel Adams, Benjamin Reiss, and David Serlin. [Enhanced Credo edition]. Boston, Massachusetts: Credo Reference, 2020.

Titchkosky, Tanya. The Question of Access : Disability, Space, Meaning / Tanya Titchkosky. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011.

Wong, Alice. Disability Visibility. Vintage, 2020.

 

Articles

Invalid, Sins. “Skin, Tooth, and Bone – The Basis of Movement Is Our People: A Disability Justice Primer.Reproductive health matters 25, no. 50 (June 12, 2017): 149–150.

Kudlick, Catherine. “Disability History: Why We Need Another ‘Other.’” The American historical review 108, no. 3 (June 2003): 763–793.

Wendell, Susan. “Unhealthy Disabled: Treating Chronic Illnesses as Disabilities.” Hypatia 16, no. 4 (October 1, 2001): 17–33.

Rituals of Remembrance

Across time and cultures people have developed an astounding diversity of practices to remember the passing of others.  Nearly every cultural and religious tradition have their own practices of mourning and remembrance.  This is necessary as the death of a loved one creates the paradoxical impulses of both wanting to hold on to someone and the need to let them go. One common feature of many of these traditions is they are a public ceremonial method for processing private grief; the transferring of private grieving into a shared community activity.  The following post provides a very brief sampling of remembrance practices from a variety of cultures with links to resources in the UT Catalog electronic resources for further exploration.

Famously from antiquity, pharaoh rulers from ancient Egyptian cultures had enormous monuments built, including the pyramids that have withstood millennia, to house their remains as well as their earthly possessions, to ensure their legacy and a prosperous afterlife.

The tombs of early Chinese rulers also displayed immense funerary dedication for the dead. The tomb of Qin Shi Huang from the late 3rd century BCE contained the Terracotta Army of roughly 9,000 terracotta sculptures, buried to protect the first Emperor of China in the next life.

Ancient Roman mausoleums were monumental memorials intended as public records of a prosperous individual’s life.  Some funeral monuments were situated publicly, such as on a well-traveled road, with inscriptions admonishing those passing by to remember the deceased, allowing a manner of momentary survival as their name lived on.

In Judaism, the first stage of avelut is shiva (“sitting”), a seven-day period of mourning following burial. For this week, mourners remain at home, refraining from work and receiving visitors.  Visitors may offer prayers and condolences and bring food so mourners need not need cook during their time of grief.

The annual Chinese Qingming Festival is a traditional observance for paying respect to ancestors through visiting, sweeping, cleaning and repairing their gravesites.  Half cooked food is offered at the graves, firecrackers are used to chase off evil spirits, while incense is burned to entice the ancestor spirits to partake in the offerings.

Some African funeral traditions have a social and performative aspect to funerals, which are intended to provide a catharsis for grief over loss of a loved one.

In England in the mid-1800s, as photography became more affordable, and epidemics took their toll on the country, memento mori (“remember you must die”) photography of deceased family members became popular as a way of preserving their memory.

In contemporary North American Judeo-Christian traditions, we are most familiar with funerals with attendance by families and friends of the departed.  Contemporary practices such as including sentimental tokens to include in internment such as photographs or wedding rings can be seen to reflect ancient practices of including goods such as arrowheads, pottery and shell jewelry in ancient burials.

Another tradition found to be adopted contemporarily are funeral processions. Many may be familiar with processions of mourners or cars, even for heads of state, such as Abraham Lincoln’s Funeral Procession in April 1865, or the funeral procession for President John F. Kennedy in 1963.  Funeral processions have remained a powerful metaphor for enabling the transport of the departed from one world to the next.

In the Remembrance Project members of UT Libraries staff have developed an interactive exhibit for the UT community to honor loved ones and colleagues, and to acknowledge the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the UT community and worldwide.  We invite members of the UT Community to share remembrances of colleagues, friends and loved ones as a way to honor and share their memory.  Remembrance offerings are meant to be personal and individual, and may be inspired by your personal or cultural traditions or of those you are honoring.

https://scalar.usc.edu/works/the-remembrance-project/index

Through acknowledging our losses and sharing we hope to provide a communal space during this challenging time for working through the difficulty of grief and loss.  We invite you to explore further about various traditions of mourning and remembrance. We have collected some resources from the UT Library collection as a starting point.

SOURCES

Do funerals matter? the purposes and practices of death rituals in global perspective / William G. Hoy. https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/be14ds/alma991058080349106011

Ancient Egyptian tombs the culture of life and death / Steven Snape.

https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/be14ds/alma991057957240006011

Roman Funerary Practices and Monuments

https://go.gale.com/ps/retrieve.do?tabID=T003&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchResultsType=SingleTab&hitCount=3&searchType=BasicSearchForm&currentPosition=1&docId=GALE%7CCX2458800905&docType=Topic+overview&sort=Relevance&contentSegment=&prodId=GVRL&pageNum=1&contentSet=GALE%7CCX2458800905&searchId=R1&userGroupName=txshracd2598&inPS=true

Challis, Debbie. “Memento Mori: Grief, Remembering, and Living.” Lancet Psychiatry, The 3.3 (2016): 210–212. Web.

https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/1jebi5l/cdi_crossref_primary_10_1016_S2215_0366_16_00060_2

Terracotta army : legacy of the first emperor of China / Li Jian and Hou-mei Sung ; with an essay by Zhang Weixing and contributions by William Neer.

DS 747.9 Q254 L5 2017 Fine Arts Library

https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/be14ds/alma991046548279706011

Hindu Ancestor Rituals Knipe, David Encyclopedia of India, 2006, Vol.2, p.183-184

https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/1jebi5l/cdi_gale_vrl_3446500266

Qingming. Shu-min, Huang. Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, 2002, Vol.5, p.34-34

https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/1jebi5l/cdi_gale_vrl_3403702442

Shiva. Encyclopedia of World Religions: Encyclopedia of Judaism, 2016

https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/1jebi5l/cdi_credo_entries_27433443

Ukaegbu, Victor. “African Funeral Rites: Sites for Performing, Participating and Witnessing of Trauma.” Performance research 16.1 (2011): 131–141. Web.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13528165.2011.562037