A librarian at New York University suffered “serious race fatigue” at Chicago’s American Library Association (ALA) last month, experiencing “mounting anger and frustration” after having hit her limit of dealing with white people.
April Hathcock, scholarly communication librarian at NYU, summed up her experience at the ALA in her blog as nothing short of a sea of excruciating whiteness.
“Five straight days of being tone-policed and condescended to and ‘splained to” by an “88 percent white” profession, she wrote. “Five days of mounting anger and frustration that you struggle to keep below the surface because you can’t be the ‘angry and emotional person of color’ yet again.”
“Race fatigue,” she describes as, “a real physical, mental, and emotional condition that people of color experience after spending a considerable amount of time dealing with the micro- and macro-aggressions that inevitably occur when in the presence of white people. The more white people, the longer the time period, the more intense the race fatigue.”
She went on to complain about white men holding higher positions with higher pay and not understanding “the basics of systemic oppression.” Then she took a shot, saying, “They’re librarians. You’d think they’d know how to find and read a sociology reference, but whatever.”
The “nice white ladies” also gave her race fatigue, reminding her to be “civil and professional” when speaking about “the importance of acknowledging oppression and our profession’s roll in it.”
All was not lost in self-induced racial animosity, however, as she also “caught up with friends and colleagues of color and met new ones” and described those as the moments that kept her going.
Hathcock presented along with two other panelists on “Intellectual Freedom and Open Access: Working Toward a Common Goal?”
Although her position as a librarian at NYU revolves around issues of ownership, access and rights in the research lifecycle, her research interests are more racial in nature and include, diversity and inclusion in librarianship, cultural creation and exchange, and the ways in which social and legal infrastructures benefit the works of certain groups over others.