Preserving the Heritage of the African Diaspora
This week, the George Padmore Institute is interviewing to select an Assistant Archivist. I wrote this below in relation to the GPI advert.
Both these Archives are supported by public funding and make a significant contribution to the body of archival material available on the history and struggles, including political and cultural resistance, of people of African heritage in Britain. Given the importance of these appointments, the material and communities with which the successful applicants will be working and the qualifications those applicants must have to meet the selection criteria, it would be instructive to have both these Archives tell us:
a) where they advertised those vacancies
b) whether they did any ethnic monitoring of the process and if so
c) how many white British, African and Asian heritage applications they received
d) Of those, how many in each ethnic group were shortlisted
e) The ethnicity of the successful applicant
Also read: Why No Black Archivists?
Answers to those key questions could clearly be obtained via Freedom of Information requests. However, insofar as they are not meant to challenge the technical competence and professional qualifications of white archivists, but rather to raise structural and systemic questions about the relative absence of eligible black archivists, we would expect GPI, BCA and London Metropolitan Archives to collect and publish such data and so help to reveal the ethnic imbalance in that profession and work jointly with communities to do something about it.
I have absolutely no doubt that all three organisations will do their best to cooperate and collaborate in supplying us with this recruitment and selection data.