On September 22, 2020, President Donald Trump issued Executive Order (13950) on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping. The Executive Order (EO) seeks to “combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating” and to end so-called “divisive concepts” such as “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” “intersectionality,” “systemic racism,” and “unconscious bias” covered in workplace trainings used by institutions receiving federal funding. The EO further establishes requirements aimed at “promoting unity in the Federal workforce,” by prohibiting messages in workplace trainings that imply “an individual, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
The Society of Southwest Archivists (SSA) views this EO as a brazen effort to silence diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives in the workplaces of our membership. Libraries and archives should not deny the lived experience of Black/Brown, Indigenous, and other people of color, nor cast aside scholarship and research into the history of race relations in the United States in order to receive critical federal funding. The archival records held by repositories across the American Southwest are frequently accessed to provide evidence of the formation and spread of institutionalized racism. This EO requires SSA archivists to ignore this reality and silence the past, thereby calling into question the relevance of maintaining historical records.
SSA is committed to the long-term work of dismantling structural racism through the continued processes of education, listening, and action. We cannot remain neutral regarding EO13950 and its toxic and ahistorical approach to our country’s past and the complexities of its culture. We are dedicated to an inclusive archival profession that respects our BIPOC colleagues and supports the care of diverse archival holdings. We oppose EO 13950 and its efforts to divide archival workplaces.