Like many, we at the ABAA have spent the recent weeks watching, listening, reading, learning and reflecting on the prevalence of racism in our society. As we think about the events that have brought us to this point, and the long history behind them, we consider difficult questions about what we can do to contribute to positive change. As purveyors and custodians of rare books, manuscripts, and other cultural artifacts, we pride ourselves on the encyclopedic scope of our field. But do we truly embody the core values of fairness and inclusion that we claim to embrace? Are we really doing all that we can to combat systems and structures that have kept the rare and antiquarian book trade exclusive and even exclusionary? What steps can we take to be more proactive and responsible agents of the rich, complex, and beautifully varied cultures whose physical materials we preserve, protect, and sell? How do we increase representation of people of color not only in the items we offer and the collections we help to build, but also among our customers and our own membership?
These are tough questions to face. Indeed, as an organization that is all but entirely white, it is hard to know where to start because we want to support change in a meaningful and productive way. We have felt the need to listen more than to speak. At the same time, however, we know that we must not remain silent in the face of injustice. The recent necessary upheavals and the outpouring of valuable, thoughtful commentary, remind us all that no matter how small our corner of society, and no matter how we feel about ourselves and our values, there is work for each of us to do to see that longstanding systems of racism and habits borne of prejudice are finally broken down. We must do more.
We can begin by stating plainly that at the ABAA we stand against racism and discrimination in all forms, we condemn police brutality, and we affirm the value of Black lives.
But beginning with that statement is the easy part. As an organization, we commit ourselves to doing better and not looking the other way. We must be active in promoting diversity in our ranks and ensuring that our book fairs and public programs are inclusive and welcoming to all without concern for race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, physical disability, or gender identity.
The ABAA aims to:
- Ensure that there are no barriers to the participation of Black, Indigenous, and people of color in the world of collecting
- Advance diversity in our leadership and membership through outreach and recruitment
- Educate our membership in best practices for diversity in hiring and representation
- Consistently reassess our procedures and communications to eliminate any and all instances of bias, whether conscious, unconscious, or implicit
The Board of Governors of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America