The National Archives Rotunda, where visitors can view historic documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the U.S Constitution, is an example of structural racism in the agency that needs to be dismantled.
That is one of the conclusions of a 105-page “task force on racism” report to the National Archivist that was commissioned after the death of George Floyd last year, an incident which ignited nationwide protests, and resulted ex-Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction.
According to the report, which contains a lot to unpack, structural racism “permeates all aspects of work and workplace culture” at D.C.-based National Archives and Records Administration, where scholars, students, and ordinary people often conduct important historical research in person or online.
The report sets the table with three examples of purported structural racism at the vast federal library:
● preponderance of [Black, Indigenous People of Color] in lower-paying, lower-status jobs and the preponderance of White people in higher-paying, higher-status jobs; and
● legacy descriptions that use racial slurs and harmful language to describe BIPOC communities;
● a Rotunda in our flagship building that lauds wealthy White men in the nation’s founding while marginalizing BIPOC, women, and other communities.
Much of the report calls for diversity- and equity-related reforms in NARA hiring and promotion practices, which is interesting in that the federal government has traditionally been on the forefront of various equal opportunity and affirmative action programs and where most of the employees are Democrats.
It also seems to recommending trigger warnings or the equivalent for “sensitive” material in its vast collection and to flag and correct “harmful language and images” therein.
One of the immediate/short-term action items includes adding “a banner to the Catalog with a general warning about harmful language — both in digitized records and legacy descriptions” and creating “a webpage on Archives.gov about NARA’s commitment to addressing harmful legacy descriptions.”
The report also suggests a makeover of the Rotunda that “explores the roles of women, enslaved Africans, and indigenous Americans in the founding of the United States along with contemporary views on the men who framed the founding documents and their participation in and positions on slavery.”
The report, among other things, also advocates for safe spaces where staff can discuss their experiences with racial discrimination.
No sensible person ever claimed that the founders were perfect, but the brilliant documents that they crafted led to the most free and prosperous society ever known. So much so that people from all over the world want to come here, legally and illegally, and stay permanently, despite structural or systemic racism that the identity-politics-left claims is rampant.
Nor is the country perfect by any means, however, otherwise the populist MAGA movement would never have gained traction. Similar to the debate over critical race theory, moreover, most Americans want history preserved and taught in all of its dimensions, good and bad, but without indoctrination filters or “Year Zero” implications.
Reacting to the report, America Rising executive director Cassie Smedile told Fox News that it is an example of “the radical Left’s latest attempt to sow division and rewrite our history. With Democrats controlling every lever of our government, these efforts have only become more flagrant and pervasive. No institution, agency or classroom is off limits.”
It’s not clear how much of this report (which you can review in its entirety and draw your own conclusions) will actually go into bureaucratic implementation, but the trendline of the Biden administration perhaps answers that question.
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