Rethinking the Role of Police in Mysteries via CrimeReads and a Teaser About New Anti-Racist Training Programs
As libraries begin to work more seriously on their EDI training and come to terms with the part we all play in upholding systemic racism, the role of the police is being questioned, especially in how they deal with minority communities.
But, at the same time, one of our most popular genres is Mystery, and if we expand to include "Crime Fiction," this reading area eclipses even Romance. However, this genre is also bolstered by the presence of police.Novelist Nicole Glover, a Black woman, wanted to write a mystery series where nobody felt comfortable calling the police because this is something she has experienced. The result of that idea is her debut, the first book in her historical fantasy, mystery hybrid series set in post Civil War Philadelphia, The Conductors.
She wrote about the concept of rethinking the genre's reliance on the stock police character even as we as a society are beginning to have honest and necessary discussions about the problematic nature of police interactions with marginalized communities. Here is a link to that thoughtful and important essay in CrimeReads entitled, "WHO ARE YOU GOING TO CALL: RETHINKING THE ROLE OF POLICE IN MYSTERIES."
This is an issue of importance to any library where mysteries are popular, so that means all of you. Please read it and think seriously about what she says when she writes:
In many communities in the US, the police not arriving can be seen as a good thing. Police bring guns, they bring tempers, they bring biases and prejudices that increase the danger of certain situations. The police are called on as a one size fit all solution, for any kind of trouble from domestic violence, to truancy, to mental health episodes, all things, quite frankly, the police are not trained to handle when many reach for guns and tasers as their only answer. Police presence only adds danger instead of lessening it, particularly in Black households, Latino households, Muslim households, and any group excessively policed due to a deep history of the police abusing the powers of the badge.
Our majority white profession may not think about these implications, but they are always there to all of our non-white readers.
I am not saying to throw all of the books with police out. Of course not. And Ms. Glovers' essay is very nuanced beyond the quote I pulled out. What I am saying is that we all need to listen to people of color and hear their concerns. We need to be aware of these extremely valid and important opinions and consider this as we look to suggest and promote books.
Please take a moment to read the essay and think about yourself. I for one have not thought of these issues with the depth they deserve, ever. I think I have recently begun to, but honestly, as a white, suburban lady, this is not something I spend much time thinking about. That's on me. But, Ms. Glover's voice is one I appreciate and know I can learn from.
Listening to marginalize voices, giving them space to speak, and seriously working to understand their long silenced voices is key to being a citizen of our world.
In the coming weeks, I will be announcing a change to my standard EDI training. I am including a new partner and we are moving the training from why you should be thinking about EDI to HOW you implement an anti-racist agenda. From thinking about it to doing it. Details soon, but we already have our new training model set to run in three places over the coming months.
The time to talk about the issues of systemic racism is over. Action is now the goal. More soon. But for now, read Ms Glover's essay. She is part of the "action."