White men and their ideas take up too much space in libraries, a social justice-obsessed librarian has declared, stopping just short of suggesting we burn all those oppressive white men’s books to make way for diversity.
“White dudes writing about white ideas, white things, or idea, people and things they stole from POC [people of color] and then claimed as white property” are hogging all the space in American libraries, and it’s perpetuating centuries of racial inequity, Massachusetts Institute of Technology librarian Sofia Leung has claimed in a post that tiptoes around the question of what is to be done with this “so-called ‘knowledge.’” Her outburst was retweeted by the Library Journal – a publication normally devoted to discussing the preservation of knowledge rather than the rejection of entire categories of it.
Library collections continue to promote and proliferate whiteness with their very existence and the fact that they are physically taking up space in our libraries. Via @sofiayleunghttps://t.co/iKEk0462Mhpic.twitter.com/ov8hZ5Zt2J
— Library Journal (@LibraryJournal) April 16, 2019
“Libraries filled with mostly white collections indicates that we don’t care about what POC think, we don’t care to hear from POC themselves, we don’t consider POC to be scholars, we don’t think POC are as valuable, knowledgeable, or as important as white people,” she writes. While she conspicuously avoids finishing the thought – squirming out of the obvious conclusion with the excuse that “I still have some thinking to do around this topic” – it’s pretty obvious where she’s leading, especially when she mentions “Swedish death cleaning,” the practice of getting rid of one’s possessions upon realizing one is near death, so as not to leave a mess for loved-ones to clean up.
Leung also brings in Marie Kondo – a celebrity “personal organizer” who preaches that mental clarity comes from throwing away one’s possessions. While libraries ever since Alexandria have focused, to the point of obsession, on accumulating as much knowledge as possible within their walls, Leung seems to think librarians have been doing it wrong all these centuries, suggesting it’s time to start getting all that white clutter under control, lest they become complicit in centuries of white male oppression.'
Read more: Why stop at burning books, when libraries themselves are 'sites of whiteness,' librarian suggests