On April 4, 2018, a group of U-M Library staff attended the White Privilege Conference 19 (WPC) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This included staff, librarians from various departments, and even an AUL.
But apart from being provocatively titled, what exactly is WPC and how can it inform the work we do?
WPC examines and challenges privilege and oppression in society. It brings together high school and college students, teachers, university faculty and higher educational professionals, nonprofit staff, activists, social workers, healthcare professionals, and members of the spiritual community. More than 1,500 people from all over the world attend this conference annually. WPC offers individual and team building strategies and tools to help work towards brining systemic change and creating a more equitable world.
The conference challenged me to rethink the way I incorporate social justice principles into the work I do. I learned new strategies to combat macroaggressions and biases and practical advice on how to create a more inclusive classroom. Many of the workshops focused around issues related to accessibility, equality in higher education, cross cultural communication, and free speech.
It is important that we as information professionals continue to evaluate how the work we do and the community partnerships we build help to reflect the values we espouse. I’m proud to be a librarian and appreciative of the University of Michigan’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility but I realize that there is still a great deal of work to be done. It is my hope that some of the things I learned at WPC will better prepare me to continue to champion for a more just community.
Want to learn more about WPC?
Visit the WPC conference page and do join us next month when the Library Diversity Council (LDC) will host a share event where attendees from across the Library will share what they learned and how they will incorporate that into the work they do.