As your public library, we’re committed to dismantling the systems of oppression that have created, and that fuel, racist conditions. We know we have work to do, both as individuals and as a community organization serving all of Oak Park. 

And as a key part of our continuing anti-racism journey, we’ve kicked off a yearlong Anti-Racism Resource Challenge that we’re inviting you to join us in. Adults and high schoolers can participate — no Oak Park library card required.

To join the challenge, go to oppl.org/arrc. From there, you can register in Beanstack, a digital platform we’re using to track our progress. We first used Beanstack last summer with our all-virtual kids summer reading program, and it’s available via both web browser and app.

This is a self-guided challenge that’s broken up into four themes for the year. Each theme offers specially selected books, media, articles, and websites. It also offers opportunities to participate in library-led programs and conversations, and encourages ways to take everyday actions to help dismantle systems of white supremacy.

The challenge launched on Feb. 1, at the start of Black History Month. To get the most out of the experience and take advantage of related library programming, we encourage you to begin with Theme 1, but you can start anytime. Here are the themes for the year:

Theme 1: How We Got Here – Historical Context, Structural Racism, White Supremacy. We must learn the true history and extent of racism in our country before we can understand how we got here and be capable of creating lasting change.

Theme 2: Policing, Mass Incarceration, Protests, Black Lives Matter. We affirm that state-sanctioned violence against Black communities must end, and that racial disparities and biases heavily impact our criminal justice system.

Theme 3: Contemporary Black Life in America. We appreciate the humanity of Black lives, the contributions of Black communities, and the richness of Black experiences.

Theme 4: Intersecting Identities. We commit to an inclusive movement, recognizing the value of all Black lives, and striving to fight oppression in all of its forms.

While recognizing the complexity of an anti-racism journey, and that different people are at different points in their learning, we believe following four sequential themes will help us all get the most out of the challenge. The themes also help capture the many different facets of our journey, moving us through learning about white supremacy to celebrating Black joy. 

And speaking of Black joy, join us for “Celebrating Black Futures: Live Performance, Art, and Conversation” on Friday, Feb. 26, 5 p.m. Learn more and register at oppl.org/calendar.

Both the challenge itself and the materials featured in it were curated with intention, passion, and library-wide representation by the library’s Anti-Racism Resources Guide Team. 

There are special selections from two larger comprehensive anti-racism resource guides: Anti-Racism: A Starter’s Guide, and Countering Anti-Black Sentiments. Both guides, and the challenge, are at oppl.org/anti-racism. 

We hope you’ll join us!

The Oak Park Public Library Anti-Racism Resource Guide Team is made up of committed library staff across departments.

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