Saturday, December 20, 2014

Building Community: Call to Action - what's missing?

DearREADERS,


This is only how Ol' Myrt sees the calls to action. What's missing regarding the global genealogy community's honoring the United Nations' International Decade for People of African Descent 1 Jan 2015 - 31 Dec 2024? 

We don’t need to be of African descent to accomplish these suggested action items. Ol’ Myrt’s DNA doesn’t indicate African descent, but I choose to influence my circle of friends to join me in developing understanding, and taking action. 

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BUILD COMMUNITY?

George Geder says just saying "hi" works for him.

Robin Foster suggests "Acts of service, like indexing Freedman's Bureau records."

Shelley Murphy agrees "There is a difference between having an open heart and taking a public stance -- wanting to take action."

Carol Petranek has made space at her local Family History Center for conversation to happen.




So Ol' Myrt here is willing to take a stance, take action, and provide a space for discussion here in my blog.
  • Let us step across the aisle to aid another researcher.
  • Let us raise awareness of people of African descent.
  • Let us encourage full participation as presenters and attendees at local, regional and national genealogical and historical society meetings and conferences.
  • Let us look beyond unintential bias to embrace diversity.

What have you,
your local society,
local newspaper,
regional and national organizations
decided to do to honor this
important United Nations' initiative?


 Ol' Myrt here wouldn't be so presumptuous as to suggest this list is complete. While I've tried to look at promoting the UN initiative, I can only see so far. It takes more of us to work through a good list of suggestions. And it is more than an occasional blog post about the UN's decade of commitment to honor people of African descent. It takes action. So, to open this discussion, here is my offering:

CALL TO ACTION: DearMYRTLE requests that every genealogy society board and conference program chair recognize the United Nations' International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024 as follows:
  1. Create a poster mounted on foam core for durability using the official UN logos. Display the poster on an easel at each meeting. See: http://www.un.org/en/events/africandescentdecade/logos.shtml
  2. Provide a handout with worthwhile websites and other resources with genealogical, historical and cultural information for people of African descent.
  3. Appoint a newsletter staffer or society board member to keep up with events and topics discussed at the UN website http://www.un.org/en/events/africandescentdecade/index.shtml
  4. Have staffer report new information monthly in a short subject class or blog post. (That’s 120 reports over 10 years!)
  5. Ensure announcements at each meeting include:

    “This society recognizes the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024 by providing this poster and flyer. We reach out to all regardless of race, color, creed or national origin with support for researching family and documenting cultural inheritance.”

  6. Insert a page on your society's website affirming same, and including links and suggestions from the poster and flyer.
  7. Submit articles quarterly to your local newspapers on a variety of topics, listing the International Decade for People of African Descent runs 2015-2024. It might be a recommendation of a website, spotlighting a society member’s research achievement.
  8. Observe annually 25 March the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade by hosting a multi-cultural event.
  9. Sponsor at least 2 African Descent classes at your annual conference. Larger multi-track conferences such as RootsTech, National Genealogical Society, Federation of Genealogical Societies and Who Do You Think You Are LIVE! can provide a full-day’s track.
  10. Grow your society, reaching out in your community to people of African descent by providing a SIG (Special Interest Group) with calendared meeting dates. It’s a great idea to use a free Google Calendar, and embed it in your society’s website. Provide access to all SIG leaders to modify their scheduled events with topics and contact information.
  11. Host genealogy presenters of African descent who can speak to general topics such as the GPS (Genealogical Proof Standard), migration, organization, technology and other topics of interest to a wide variety of family historians.
CALL TO ACTION: DearMYRTLE requests that every genealogy presenter, blogger, video blogger, podcaster and webinar/hangout/tweeter of African descent recognize the United Nations' International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024 as follows:
  1. Create an initial post using an official logo, explaining the United Nationals International Decade for People of African Descent, including your related blog post plans. See: http://www.un.org/en/events/africandescentdecade/logos.shtml
  2. Create a page or category for your followers to readily find all posts you'll create over the next 10 years. Two blog posts a month equals 240 over the next ten years!
  3. Submit articles quarterly to your local newspapers on a variety of topics, listing the International Decade for People of African Descent runs 2015-2024. It might be a recommendation of a website, spotlighting a society member’s research achievement.
  4. Work proactively with your local genealogical or historical society to promote understanding about people of African descent. You could be the newsletter staffer who spotlights African descent research in each issue.
  5. Broaden the base of your blog posts, hangouts, webinars, podcasts and tweets to include topics other than African descent, spreading the word of reliable resources for other ethnic, religious and cultural group studies. Just as you wish for others to respect people of African descent, so to must we all broaden our scope of understanding.
  6. Create and submit proposals for presentations honoring people of African descent mentioning in the description that elements of the GPS (Genealogical Proof Standard) and principles from Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones are employed. This helps program chairs focus on your work if you haven't presented for their organizations before.
  7. Create and submit proposals for presentations honoring principles of the GPS (Genealogical Proof Standard) using examples for the locality of the venue.
  8. Ensure your documents and citations, per Evidence Explained, include samples at least mentioning a cross-section of audience demographics. Since this changes from presentation to presentation, I've reserved specific PowerPoint slides to remind Ol' Myrt here to do this.
  9. Become aware of the “call for papers” and “presentation proposals” for local, regional and nationally-ranked genealogy conferences, sharing info with others about rules for submitting. 
  10. Join organizations such as the Association of Professional Genealogists and the Genealogical Speakers Guild to network with like-minded people with a variety of research focus points.
  11. Participate in panel discussions with a diverse group of presenters to discuss methods for community outreach that will grow the sponsoring genealogical society.
CALL TO ACTION: DearMYRTLE requests that every genealogist recognize the United Nations' International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024 as follows:
  1. Submit articles quarterly to your genealogy society newsletter about the United Nations' International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024. (That’s 40 articles!)
  2. Submit case studies as you solve lineage questions in a family of African descent.
  3. Work proactively with your local genealogical or historical society to promote understanding about people of African descent. You could be the newsletter staffer who spotlights African descent research in each issue.
  4. Participate in an African descent service project such as FamilySearch Indexing, recovery and maintenance of a local graveyard, BillionGraves, Family History Center classes, etc.


CALL TO ACTION: DearMYRTLE requests that every “webinar” organizer (using your technology platform of choice) recognize the United Nations' International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024 as follows:
  1. Advertise call for presentations through a variety of outlets including the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Genealogical Speakers Guild, and major genealogy bloggers, clearly stating submission requirements, deadline, and focus topics.
  2. Annually host a People of African Descent series to include research strategies, record group surveys, migration patterns and other topics.
  3. Be mindful that people of African descent may also have expertise in general genealogy categories of interest to your followers.
  4. Before, during or after each webinar, display a slide bearing a United Nations' International Decade for People of African Descent logo. See: http://www.un.org/en/events/africandescentdecade/logos.shtml
  5. Before each webinar state: “This organization recognizes the United Nations' International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024. We reach out to all regardless of race, color, creed or national origin with support for researching family and documenting cultural inheritance.”
  6. NOTE: The use of the term "webinar" is generic here, but is intended to include any type of audio and video meeting using a variety of platforms to impart genealogy "how to" information.

    +Cousin Russ, I hope you are taking notes!


A FEW MORE WORDS
Whew! This post took seven days to compose and is based on conversations I've had with a few people of African descent. What do others have to suggest?

Sadly, I've sat in on board meetings where specific strategies for cross-cultural outreach were never entertained. We simply couldn't see beyond our European-centric unintentional bias. Yet, with only a few glaring exceptions, I think every member of those boards would consider themselves thoughtfully avoiding any form of bigotry.
big·ot·ry
ˈbiɡətrē/
noun
noun: bigotry; plural noun: bigotries


intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.
Source: Dictionary.com
What can make the difference? The difference is taking action. That's what I hope to accomplish with this post.

FOR FURTHER READING



Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.

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14 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this! With regard to societies and individuals, I have another couple things that should be added to this list. I blogged about them here: http://www.whoisnickasmith.com/genealogy/this-started-way-before-ferguson/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DearNICKA,
      Your blog post is essential reading in my book. The truth speaks for itself, and I hope, make that pray, others are listening.

      I relate most to these two things:

      WE ARE MORE ALIKE THAN WE THINK
      Regarding those who refuse to accept they look European but are also of African descent, and those who look solely of African descent but are also of European descent, you wrote:

      "My Solution: Slavery is hard topic. I get that. But guess what? There is no way that we who are living now know the reasons, motivations, etc. of why a slavecestor (either male or female) engaged in sexual contact with our ancestor of African descent. Yes, it could have been rape. It could have been a legitimate love affair. They could have been “cut buddies” or even, a perhaps a Alfre Woodard situation from 12 Years a Slave. Regardless, none of us chose our ancestors or the DNA they left us. The best thing we can do with the situation is to be real about it, help each other as research buddies, and decide from there what we want to do. The information is ALREADY coming out and as DNA testing gets more popular and it’s going to get even more crucial we move past this."

      SOLUTION
      You said: "My Solution: While adding new record sets is fabulous, if a society, library, or repository calls itself progressive or inclusive, their board or governing body should consider allocating a certain amount of funds towards a diversity expansion budget or line item. This budget would be used to update their older exclusionary records OR to obtain record sets that are specific to minority groups that exist in the U.S. Not only will it appear as though they care about being inclusive (which would likely help to increase membership), but it would also send a message to other similar groups that they need to get on the bandwagon."

      Thank-you, Nicka...

      Delete
  2. You could also look for ways to give business to people of African descent. E.g. Have an event catered by a restaurant that specializes in African food, e.g. Moroccan or Ethiopian.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DearEMILY,
      Wouldn't the 25 March multi-cultural event be a good way to support your idea? Thank-you, Emily...

      Delete
    2. In other words, the event is "International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade" AND it honors all people.

      Maybe remembering the pain of the past is best healed by outreach?

      In my own family, I can relate somewhat with ancestors in the 17th century and the 19th century who suffered tarring and feathering, wrongful imprisonment; loss of home, property, and life - all because of religious belief.

      For others, it is the memory of sitting on a grandmother's lap, and seeing where the number inked on her forearm isn't quite covered by the lace trim on her dress. As that child grows older, he studies the Holocaust and recognizes many other ancestors who didn't survive.

      For others it was false imprisonment during WWII for having Japanese heritage.

      For others, it is facing prejudice for the native language one speaks.

      How powerful it would be to see the people of color host the 25 March as a multi-cultural event so that we may bind up each other's wounds. Remembering the past, but looking toward the future building bridges today.

      Delete
  3. Thank you thank you for this series of blog posts. Such important stuff. Of course each of us will have a special interest in talks, articles, presentations, etc about our own heritage but we all benefit from those that focus on ones we don't match. Not just because of the historical interest but to learn new techniques, share genealogical struggles, and connect.

    My heritage is Jewish from the Hungarian Empire and the Pale of Settlement. So to me, presentations about Wales or Colonial America are just as foreign as those on Cameroon or Nepal.

    Let's break the self-defeating circle where we pretend that the focus is on certain areas because that's where the interest of the attendees lie. Expand the focus and people will come.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DearCYNDI,
      Your comment really strikes a cord: "Let's break the self-defeating circle where we pretend that the focus is on certain areas because that's where the interest of the attendees lie. Expand the focus and people will come."

      And the crux of the matter is we have different ancestral ties, where the studies you put forth are foreign to me. That doesn't preclude our sharing research techniques, software insights, organizing tips and tricks.

      It helps if the conference we're attending has a class or two for each of us. How we can collaborate over lunch, sharing what we've learned and applying what the others talk about to our own research.

      And there is nothing like sitting in the Family History Library hearing another genealogist inadvertently break the silence with an excited "FINALLY!"

      A break-through is something we all can appreciate.

      Delete
  4. Thank you Dear Myrtle! This was Welcomed! I accept the Challenge of doing better and doing as much as I can. So many suggestions and things to do! I look forward to 2015 having a Wonderful Landscape for All the Genealogy Community. Reaching Out and Talking to one another and not AT each other is the 1st step. Along with acknowledgement. Thanks again for this Blog Piece.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DearTRUE,
      Ol' Myrt is sitting here applauding your enthusiasm. I can hardly wait to see how this unfolds in the genealogy community.

      Delete
  5. Myrt:

    Make a point of contacting Sistas in Zion about this (@SISTASinZION on twitter) as I'm sure they'll be interested and will publicize this.

    Louis

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for this call to action. with so many practical doable suggestions. I accept the challenge and will communcate with my society.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Margaret,
      Let me know how it goes with your society! I'm hoping at the very least they will read at the beginning of each meeting:

      “This organization recognizes the United Nations' International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024. We reach out to all regardless of race, color, creed or national origin with support for researching family and documenting cultural inheritance.”

      Delete