WILMINGTON — Racial inequality and justice has been a significant part of the narrative of 2020, with protests and Black Lives Matter movements sparking worldwide, calling for reform and justice for those of color killed by police brutality.
However, change can start from local areas, as the Wilmington Memorial Library begins its WML Working Towards Anti Racism Initiative, aimed at educating on diversity and racial equality. The Initiative has been planning online Zoom events that will be happening over the course of the next few months, and beyond.
Teen Services Librarian Brittany Tuttle was kind enough to share information about the planning of the upcoming events of the Initiative.
Tuttle provided a list of all the events that will be happening over the next two months.
Events planned for August-October are listed as: (all anticipated to be on Zoom)
• Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Panel, Part 1, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Panel, Part 2 (“The date will change because of a conflict with another program we're partnering on,” Tuttle said; “unfortunately, I don't have the list of all of these shared events yet.”), AntiRacism Author Talk: Dolores Johnson, Antiracism Doc Talk — “I Am Not Your Negro,” Read Aloud Book Club Books for a Better World (Four different meetings: Sept. 15, Oct. 20, Nov. 17, Dec. 15), Phillis Wheatley Lecture with Vincent Carretta, Antiracism Doc Talk — Freedom Riders, AntiRacism Book Group: “So You Want to Talk About Race,” Environmental Racism in Massachusetts, AntiRacism Book Group: “Me and White Supremacy,” and the Antiracism Doc Talk — White Like Me.
According to Tuttle, the overarching goal of the initiative is as follows”
“The WML Working Towards Anti Racism initiative aims to educate our community about antiracism, raise awareness of racial and social inequities, and foster discussions through programs, resources, and community reads. We hope you will join us in reading, learning, and listening as we strive to educate ourselves and make our beliefs and values actionable for needed change.”
Tuttle also noted that this quote was an excerpt from the Wilmington Memorial Library Working Towards Anti Racism web page.
There were some challenges that came with organizing these online events, as Tuttle explains.
“One of the challenges was getting permission from publishers to allow us to offer simultaneous use of these titles as ebooks and audiobooks to our patrons. We had to change the book titles we wanted to offer a few times before we were able to come up with this final list due to these restrictions.
“We thank E. Dolores Johnson and her publisher Lawrence Hill Books, especially for allowing us to offer ebook and audiobook titles of her book, ‘Say I'm Dead,’ with no wait time in anticipation of her upcoming author visit this Wednesday at 7 p.m.
“Another challenge was that many antiracism titles were sold out and backordered — we're still waiting for print copies of some titles from our distributor because of shortages. This was a challenge that affirmed we needed to offer this initiative. Luckily, our consortium MVLC (Merrimack Valley Library Consortium), worked with us to get permission from publishers as to what books we can offer.”
When asked about inspiration for these events, Tuttle remarked on what she has seen in Wilmington, and the different events planned by community members all serving to call for justice and reform.
“We were inspired to plan these events after witnessing Wilmington come together for the Community Walk for Justice in June, as well as the Wilmington Shows Solidarity teen-led event.”
Tuttle also said that the Wilmington Memorial Library plans to do more events focused on racial equality.
“Because dedication to antiracism is a lifelong commitment, we will continue to offer these programs regularly. However, I hope we can move away from events that are teaching and raising awareness of antiracism in favor of offering programs that are at their core inherently anti racist.”
Residents of Wilmington and beyond are encouraged to register online.
“Please register using our online events calendar, (the link can be found on their website). The events are open to all, not just Wilmington residents.”
Tuttle has already seen high numbers of registration for these events.
“Though virtual programming has had some registration challenges, the events in the Antiracism series have had comparatively higher registrations and high anticipated attendance, and because of partnering with other libraries, we have had to get a Zoom account that allows a much larger audience.”
And there is still an opportunity for people to register.
“There's still plenty of time to register for upcoming events, and we hope they will max out on attendance!”
Finally, Tuttle described what she, herself, is most looking forward to regarding the upcoming events.
“As the Teen Services Librarian, I am most looking forward to working with Dr. Raul Fernandez and WHS students to offer an anti racism dialogue for teens this fall. Teens in the Wilmington community are leading the antiracism work we as a community are embarking on, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of their efforts.
“I'm also looking forward to learning about Phillis Wheatley's life and legacy with Vin Carretta, as there's some evidence that Phillis and her husband lived in Wilmington in the late 1700s.”
Education can change lives, as it helps set the foundation for morals, skills, and values that are instilled in students, whether they are entering preschool or graduate school. It is truly remarkable to see a library understand the power that education holds, and use its resources, as an institution dedicated to learning, to help bring about racial equality, by giving those who choose to attend and learn the inspiration, knowledge and tools to be a force for justice and equality in their communities and country.
Those who are interested in registering for upcoming events can do so using the Wilmington Memorial Library’s Online Events Calendar.