From the Editor

To our readers: I hear you, and I am deeply sorry.

To our readers:

I hear you, and I am deeply sorry.

Our choice of February cover and story was indefensible. I reaffirm my personal accountability as chief editor and pledge to do better.

The image on the cover is distressing, particularly to our Black readers. This image and the interior illustration, coupled with the timing of the content, was wrong. In short, we blew it, and understand that we must take steps to prevent such mistakes in the future.

My earlier statement failed, too. It focused too much on ourselves and not enough on our readers and the pain we caused. As we take stock of these errors in judgment, we are listening, learning, and open to your feedback, so we can tackle these important issues head-on. As we seek to do just that, we are committed to the following:

  • Engaging Black-led staff training, encompassing implicit bias
  • Reviewing our editorial and cover process and engaging advisors toward addressing bias
  • Organizing a community dialogue in the coming weeks to discuss issues regarding our work around representation
  • Establishing a focus group to explore the issues that the Black community is experiencing to inform future coverage

This is merely a starting point. As we continue to reflect on this experience and evolve our processes, we will define additional steps for improvement.  And, as always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

SLJ remains committed to the larger task of racial equity and social justice, and will build on our work in concert with you, our readers.

I promise to work to regain your trust.


Kathy Ishizuka
School Library Journal 

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Kathy Ishizuka

Kathy Ishizuka is editor in chief of School Library Journal.

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Joyce G

I am Asian American and work as an archivist, and I was disappointed to see SLJ's cover of the February 2021 issue. I was also disappointed to learn that the editor in chief behind this display of anti-blackness is also Asian American. (But don’t get me wrong -- I’m not surprised, as anti-blackness pervades our Asian American communities and families.) And on top of that, the EIC decided that the best way to acknowledge the wrongdoing was to...not acknowledge it at all, but rather explain the process through which the publication works/ed.

As Asian Americans, we are familiar with the ‘intention versus impact’ argument in our own experiences in archives, libraries, Higher Education, and/or publishing, so we know that that kind of argument or response causes further harm or distress. We also know that it is a form of gaslighting and an attempt to trivialize or erase the harm that was caused. And yet, the EIC chose to employ this tactic--one that we know is a weapon of the patriarchy and white supremacy.

Ms. Ishizuka, although you’ve issued what you believe to be an acceptable apology and have at least acknowledged that you have indeed lost the trust of many of your colleagues and readers, it might be too late. In the list of actions that SLJ will be taking, I do not see one that actually redresses the harm that has been caused. (Have I missed something?)

However, if SLJ does establish “a focus group to explore the issues that the Black community is experiencing to inform future coverage,” this requires that SLJ: 1) acknowledges that it will benefit and profit from the information that it collects; and 2) COMPENSATES Black focus group participants for their knowledge, time, and emotional labor. (And it better be significantly much, much more than a $100 gift card for each participant.)

Additionally, please remember to add to SLJ’s data collection that one of the issues that the Black community is clearly experiencing is unchecked anti-black racism by Asian Americans.

In case other Asian Americans are reading this: we have a collective responsibility to address anti-black racism in the spaces we occupy -- throughout our respective Asian American communities; our workplaces, classrooms and meetings in which we benefit from our proximity to whiteness; and among our family members, children, and friends.

Posted : Feb 06, 2021 02:37



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