In the past two weeks following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, with all of the gripping imagery in the media of his death and others, and the protests that have followed, there is one particular moment that stuck with me. Of all the unforgettable coverage, when six-year old Gianna Floyd balanced on the shoulder of a family friend and proudly proclaimed, “My dad changed the world,” it struck an emotional chord in me. This world has changed a lot in the past weeks, and we can’t help but contemplate our personal and professional role in shaping what’s next. We all have a stake in eliminating racism, and using our capacity to fight for justice and equity.
However, the attention brought to light by recent events doesn’t fully illuminate the depth and breadth of the challenges we face as nation. In order to better understand the historical struggles for black and brown Americans, and to gain a greater knowledge about systemic racism, the Library is here to help. Essential to our mission is to share resources and provide a platform for increased knowledge, allowing you to explore and learn in your own ways.
As you read below, you’ll find suggested reading lists for children and adults alike, as well as information on movies and databases that offer a variety of perspectives. There are also links to initiatives and events taking place from many worthwhile organizations in our region.
To further demonstrate the Library’s commitment to anti-racism, justice and equity, we are re-introducing a special version of The Big Read, a community-wide reading event, to encourage all of us to focus on one topic, one title, together.
For those seeking more ways to understand racism, we have secured access rights to both the downloadable eBook and eAudiobook of the bestselling book Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad. This highly-regarded title offers a self-guided journey that invites readers to explore their own thoughts, and perhaps empower them to have a few uncomfortable self-conversations, and then engage meaningfully with others. The unlimited simultaneous user license means all of Dayton could read and discuss this book to contribute to the community conversation about racism.
We are also so fortunate to announce a Panel Discussion about this title, which will take place via live stream the evening of July 8, at 5:00 p.m. Moderated by Amelia Robinson, Community Impact Editor of the Dayton Daily News, with panelists Debbie Feldman, Shannon Isom, Kevin Kelly and Brian Martin, we have no doubt that hearing from these respected community leaders will help all of us better understand racism locally, and feel more knowledgeable and confident discussing ways we can move our community forward as a result.
This past December, Dayton Metro Library adopted a new strategic plan. Our work aligns with other partners to help achieve many community aspirations in the coming years that coincide with our mission to Inform, Inspire, and Empower our Community. Our new plan has five pillars: 1. Enhance the community quality of life 2. Expand youth horizons for learning 3. Strengthen human, physical and financial assets 4. Multiply our potential through relationships, engagement, and communication; and 5. Build equity in the community.
Our strategic plan recognizes the important role that our Library can - and should - play toward achieving equity. We believe our community cannot reach its full potential until all of our citizens are successful. As such, your DML will remain focused for impact, investing time, energy and resources in our most challenged communities and neighborhoods.
There are paths each of us can follow to build strength and capacity. To build your cultural competency, to increase your understanding, please set aside time this summer to participate in at least one activity to demonstrate to yourself and others YOUR unlimited capacity to change the world.
Timothy G. Kambitsch