This message was distributed via email to the WAML membership after its endorsement by the executive board on June 4, 2020.
Dear WAML members,
I am writing to you today to share a statement that the WAML Executive Board has drafted in response to the recent highly visible (but not uncommon) murders of Black people by police in the US and the anger it is has provoked. This anger is set against the context of a pandemic that has affected each of our lives, but which disproportionately affects people of color in the US.
We also recognize that statements do not go far enough and so are committing to working with you, our community, to develop specific actions that we can take as individuals and as an organization to address the current and systemic racial injustices in our society, which also have shaped and continue to shape our organization. We will have more concrete actions and steps to share in the coming weeks, but please reach out to any of us with your ideas and suggestions.
These conversations and actions will not be easy, but they are necessary if we want to build a better future. I look forward to doing that work with you.
Statement to the WAML Membership from the Executive Board:
We as an organization cannot stand for police brutality. Black Lives Matter and George Floyd should not have died. The anger we feel and see in this moment comes not just from this one cruel act; it comes from a long history of structural and institutional racism and oppression.
The Western Association of Map Libraries’ leadership is sending out this statement to our members as a message of solidarity and support. WAML is first and foremost a community, and, while it is a relatively small community, it is vital that we support each other and work together to strengthen the larger communities of which we are a part. In order to truly thrive in our shared mission of preserving and educating about maps and geospatial data we must also acknowledge the context in which we live and work. It is important to affirm that Black Lives Matter. We commit to working towards making our WAML community and larger communities more equitable and safe for all, including our colleagues, students, patrons, and each other.
This commitment includes planning actions that will, in our own small way, help change things for the better in ways that directly and positively impact the members (and future members) of this group of colleagues. We invite input from WAML members on ideas for concrete actions that our organization can take to support social equity and WAML’s mission and goals, such as increasing our scholarship opportunities for colleagues from underrepresented groups, establishing a stronger mentorship program, or creating workshops to help harness the power of mapping to support social justice causes.
Endorsed June 4, 2020 by the WAML Executive Board:
Tom Brittnacher, Past President
Bruce Godfrey, Treasurer
Susan Powell, President
Louise Ratliff, Secretary
Matthew Toro, Vice-President/President Elect