Discursive Perpendicularity: Intersections of Black Print Culture Studies and Bibliography

Jesse R. Erickson


The summer of 2020 was a watershed moment in the United States. The brutal murder of George Floyd sparked a national conversation on racial politics that penetrated all aspects of American society. Both the private and the public sectors were forced to grapple with the impact that anti-Black racism has had on Black Americans; and many businesses and institutions were compelled not only to affirm a stated commitment to antiracist practice but also to bring about constructive change within their own organizational operations. In keeping with this broader national trend, libraries, museums, and archives temporarily shelved much of their “vocational awe”—a term introduced in 2018 by Fobazi Ettarh to describe “the set of ideas, values, and assumptions librarians have about themselves and the profession that result in beliefs that libraries as institutions are inherently good and sacred, and therefore beyond critique.” Leaders in these professions instead sought out to contend with how the racist and colonial legacies of these institutions have shaped current policies and workflows as well as their internal institutional cultures. The field was undoubtedly moving along this trajectory prior to the “racial reckoning” of 2020, but the upsurge of support for the Black Lives Matter movement ushered in an unprecedented amount of attention to these issues in all its facets.

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