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VIVA: VIVA Anti-Racist Community Framework

Virginia's Academic Library Consortium

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VIVA Anti-Racist Community Framework 



The purpose of the VIVA Anti-Racist Community Framework is to inspire anti-racist actions and community in Virginia libraries. With the goal of framing safe spaces built on inclusivity, empathy, and active listening, this resource is not exhaustive; rather it is intended to be a living document, subject to update, change, and challenge. It is hoped that it will be an evolving resource developed and refined by the VIVA community.  This “living framework" can be used to facilitate conversation and action.

  • If you have suggestions and additions to the document please email 

  • If you are interested in future facilitated discussions with the VIVA community centered on anti-racist actions please fill out this form.  

  • If you would like to anonymously contribute examples of anti-racist actions to be highlighted in this document please use this form .


Associated Events


The VIVA Anti-Racism Webinar Series covers a broad array of anti-racist topics and approaches with the goal of developing community through conversation, creating spaces where people can talk through anti-racist efforts at their institutions, and providing an avenue for VIVA members to engage with scholars.


Breakout Session Example


The following breakout session framework is an example of one way to build a conversation at your institution and is loosely based on the 15% solutions used in the Liberating Structures approach as adapted from  “Not Without My Librarian: Developing OER Advocacy & Community” by Heather Blicher, Hillary Miller, and Brenda Smith. It includes time for private rumination, sharing, and feedback. The exercise is focused on identifying one anti-racist action, small or large, that is within your power to take.  

It is very important that these discussions be safe spaces. To that end, please be respectful of one another, and know that the understanding, experience, and struggle of existing within systematic racism and white supremacy will vary widely within any group undertaking this exercise. Acknowledge that the burden of this work disproportionally lies on black, indigenous, and brown communities, and recognize that there are different levels of engagement in which people will be comfortable. Understanding there are barriers to change, think of smaller and more immediate steps you may be able to take. Taking deliberate and strategic action is the goal.

Recognizing that the topic can be overwhelming, that first steps can be difficult, and that the work is ongoing, our hope is that the breakout session supports individuals in finding a concrete action or actions that can be taken without approval or resources from others. 
The recommendation is to have no more than 3-5 people for this exercise. In the session, take three minutes at the beginning to think about a specific challenge of individual, interpersonal, institutional, or structural racism that you are facing as it relates to your role as a leader, advocate, community builder, or individual in libraries. Think through what are one or more actions that are within your power to take, share them with the group, and gather feedback. 

Introduce and explain the session and document 3 minutes
Think about a racism challenge you are facing that relates to your role as a leader, advocate, community builder, or individual in libraries. What is one action within your power to take? 3 minutes
Share one of your action ideas with the group 4 minutes
Get feedback/consultation from your colleagues 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Examples of VIVA community member actions

  • I will include “documents voices/stories of historically marginalized communities” as a factor in digital project prioritization in an effort to increase visibility of these types of collections. 

  • I will hire a local facilitator to speak with my department/library/institution about EDI.

  • I suggested and am co-leading an equity, diversity, and inclusion group in my library. We are just starting out but we hope that our work will positively impact library employees, our users, and our broader community.

  • I am participating in my campus HR's Diversity Certificate program, that focuses on anti-racism and inclusion. It requires written self-reflections and taking the time to ponder and write those has been personally impactful. As a cisgender, able, white female I want to create space in my library for BIPOC coworkers to lead and be heard.

  • Ready to "call in" a microaggression if I witness it - say to the person that their comment may not have had the impact that was intended and we might take a minute to discuss.

  • When facing an unfamiliar encounter whether it be a different culture, location, lifestyle, or personality, I will choose to look at ways in which characteristics, personalities, habits, appearances, or manners are similar. Often there are more similarities than differences.  Choose to see how much a person, culture, mindset, trait, location is similar to what you are most familiar with.  Choose to explore and discover new people, traits, cultures, and mindsets with an open mind. 



Discussion Framing Principles: Anti-Racist Values


Briefly, the following list, paraphrased from The AntiRacist Table, is one way to center discussion and action. 

  1. Education: The first step toward dismantling racism is breaking through denial, by educating oneself about the history of African Americans and the Black experience.
  2. Intention: Setting the intention to have an open heart and open mind in order to be anti-racist affects how one shows up.
  3. Courage: Reckoning with shame, blame, guilt, and anger takes courage and vulnerability.  Courage allows us to be an everyday hero and to inspire collective heroism.
  4. Individuality: Seeing another person’s individuality means noticing the details and qualities, both positive and negative, that set them apart from the group.
  5. Humanity: Supporting humanity means rehumanizing African Americans.  As denial is the heart of racism, seeing humanity in others is at the heart of anti-racism.
  6. Anti-racist work: To be anti-racist, one must actively work to create anti-racist policies. One must engage the world seeing all racial groups as equals and intentionally promote equity.
  7. Equality: To champion equality is to fight for equity. It is to understand that corrective action is needed to create equality.
  8. Empathy: “Empathy is . . . an umbrella term that describes multiple ways people respond to one another, including sharing, thinking about, and caring about others’ feelings.”  Jamil Zaki, director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Laboratory and author of The War for Kindness.
  9. Allyship: To be an ally is to take on this struggle as if it is your own. It means that you do what is uncomfortable. You are committed to taking a risk, sharing any privilege you have to center marginalized Black and brown people. 
  10. Love: Choosing love and healing over fear and oppression is a path of courageous vulnerability. Gratitude, joy, and an open heart are all components of love that enable one to do the work to be anti-racist and to bring anti-racism into daily life.


Resources (un-ordered)


Updated 11/29/22