The following message was sent to SAA Members today by email.
Dear SAA Member:
The SAA Council was outraged to learn on Saturday afternoon, August 6, that someone placed an anti-transgender and gender nonconforming flyer by the #I’llGoWithYou ribbon and flyer on the ribbon table in the conference registration area at the Hilton Atlanta.[i] The language and tenor of the unapproved flyer were disrespectful and vile. This behavior is repulsive and inexcusable and will not be tolerated by the SAA leadership.
If the hate flyer was left by an SAA member, this is a violation of SAA’s Code of Conduct and a threatening act directed toward members of SAA’s community in what should be a safe space for all of our members and attendees.
The location – a public space near the conference registration desk that was not monitored in off-conference hours – and the anonymity of the culprit is important because we can never know if the hateful message came from within our community or from an ill-willed person who had access to the hotel space. Unfortunately the hotel security office did not capture the act on security camera.
Incidents like these are terrorizing – intended to intimidate and diminish. In his keynote address during Plenary 1 on August 4, Chris Taylor referred in a compelling way to the levels of understanding and response from individual to marketplace. If we frame our responses as individual (all of us), group (any SAA group), association (SAA), and the broader (archival) community, these are examples of what we can and are doing to respond:
- We can each continue to work at being a diverse and inclusive community, even when we experience fear and even when it’s difficult.
- We can be active bystanders. (This program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology describes what we can do when we are not directly involved.)
- If you see something, say something. Let someone in SAA know.
- Reach out to members and visitors who may feel threatened, who may need encouragement, or who may just want to talk, share, and understand.
- Reach out to members to discuss, inform, and/or identify things your group can do. Plan sessions. Collaborate with other groups on shared priorities.
- Refer to SAA’s Core Values and Code of Ethics and Diversity and Inclusion Statement, which reflect our expectations for how members and visitors will interact with each other, and our Code of Conduct, which guides how we respond to incidents and behaviors that break our norms.
- The core of our mission statement clearly states: “SAA promotes the value and diversity of archives and archivists.”
- We have revised our Diversity and Inclusion Statement.
- We created a page for the Council Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion, and developed a resource page on recent and current SAA Diversity and Inclusion groups (e.g., the Diversity Committee, Lesbian and Gay Archives Roundtable, and others) and activities that we hope will grow as we do. These will help you identify possible groups to contribute to or join (if you haven’t already).
- We can share what we’re doing on diversity and inclusion, including lessons learned from challenging events.
- Engage other communities, learn from what they are doing, and share what we learn.
Throughout the Joint Annual Meeting, attendees heard that SAA is continuing to work toward its strategic priority of being more diverse and inclusive. We can’t prevent hate incidents. What we can do is call out incidents if they happen, inform members and others about ways to respond, raise awareness, and discuss issues even when that’s challenging. And we can include.
We hope you’ll join us in discussing these issues and sharing ideas about what we all can do at #SAAincludes.
If you have concerns, questions, or suggestions, share them with SAA President Nance McGovern (firstname.lastname@example.org), any member of the Council, your component group leader, or Executive Director Nancy Beaumont (email@example.com). We’re working on this together and we’re going to make progress.
The SAA Council