Race and Social Justice Policy

Background

The Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) is the City of Seattle’s longstanding commitment to eliminate racial disparities and achieve racial equity in Seattle. This important effort recognizes that ending institutional racism involves more than simply developing programs to help people of color. The initiative works to address biases built into institutions and society, and end the underlying structural racism that perpetuates racial and social inequities.

In response to this initiative and its importance in the Library’s particular work, the Board of Trustees of The Seattle Public Library (SPL) has committed itself to addressing the Library’s role for doing the same in and through its programs, services and staff. To best serve the public and assist staff, the board has created an enhanced, Library-specific Race and Social Justice Policy to support this mission and the Library’s work.   

This policy provides guidance to Library staff to underscore the organization’s ongoing RSJI efforts, support staff understanding, guide the use of resources, and highlight the Library’s unique role in addressing this challenging issue.

Policy Statement

The Seattle Public Library actively commits its programs and resources to eliminate institutional racism by ensuring that barriers to access by staff and the public are eliminated, by supporting broader public access to Library programs and services, and providing the public and staff equitable opportunities for growth through employment and education. The key concepts of this policy include:

  • Making a system wide commitment;
  • Naming institutional racism;
  • Acknowledging that there are barriers that need elimination;
  • Affirmatively supporting programs to achieve these ends; and
  • Making sure that there is equitable access to skills training and employment opportunities for staff and the public.

Definitions

Individual/Interpersonal racism: Pre-judgement, bias, stereotypes or generalizations about an individual or group based on race. 

Institutional racism: Policies, practices, and procedures that work to the benefit of white people and the detriment of people of color, usually unintentionally or inadvertently.

Structural racism: The interplay of policies, practices and programs of differing institutions which leads to adverse outcomes and conditions, occurring within the context of racialized historical and cultural conditions, for communities of color compared to white communities.

Applicability

This policy applies to any and all Library activities.

Related laws, policies and procedures

  • Board Policy, Diversity.
  • Administrative Procedure, Diversity Action Plan.
  • Seattle City Council Resolution 31164, Affirming the City’s Race and Social Justice Work. 

History

Adopted: January 27, 2018

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