I suppose that it was only a matter of time before our conversation about
ARSC and advocacy took a turn to personal insults and accusations. It is
very unfortunate, in my opinion, but that's how these things usually go. On
behalf of those who take these issues seriously and are interested in
learning the opinions and views of others, please turn down the volume.
Solely on the basis of the opinions Sammy has shared, no one has a right to
call Sammy Jones a racist, nor to question his credentials. Sammy's
opinions are not politically motivated, as far as I can see. (On the basis
of knowing Sammy, I find the accusations absurd.) I disagree with him that
he cannot belong to an organization that takes a stand on an issue, but I
am not an expert on the ethics of journalists, nor the guidelines his
employer follows. However, I found a useful compendium of ethics guidelines
for journalists (https://guides.lib.uw.edu/research/commstudies/ethics) and
official ethical policies of news publishers vary considerably. All of the
guidelines I read prohibit direct political action by journalists,
especially endorsement of candidates up for election. Some just urge
caution in belonging to groups that have a political agenda.
My own opinion is that ARSC has not taken a political stand. The board has
issued a statement that calls attention to some of the injustices in place,
presently, and in the history of the U.S., and makes a commitment to
diversity and to justice for all--literally. To me, it's a moral choice.
Some of those who disagree with the board's stand and statement, or who are
dedicated to manipulating potential constituencies, believe that "Black
Lives Matter" implies that the lives of others don't. I find that argument
As to whether it is appropriate for ARSC to voice a commitment to justice
and fighting racism, we live in strange times today, ones most of us never
dreamed of experiencing. I think it's perfectly appropriate for ARSC to
emphasize its recognition of the challenges faced by society today and
commit to diversity and to rectifying prejudice and misjustice. As is said,
"If you aren't part of the solution you're part of the problem."
Finally, I note that the Society of American Archivists has issued similar,
if not stronger, statements. See
Its most recent statement begins, "*UPDATED June 11, 2020*—As noted in the
Society of American Archivists’ June 2 Statement on Black Lives and Archives
the vitality of American archives depends on the safety of archives workers
and an explicit commitment to social responsibility, justice, and
anti-racism in the work that we do and the organizations we work within."
My apologies for the length of this note. I have been an ARSC member for
nearly 50 years. In days past, we did somewhat deserve the reputation as an
old boy's club. I am proud of where ARSC is going and that it is taking a