In the article “Expanding #ArchivesForBlackLives to Traditional Archive Repositories by Jarrett M. Drake we find the concept of archives viewed through the lens of community based work and the Black Lives Matter movement. This article reflects briefly on Drake’s experiences with helping to implement a community based archive in Cleveland on the subject of police violence before moving on to the subject of traditional archive repositories and the Black Lives Matter movement. Drake explores what archives need to keep in mind before engaging in work centered around community activism and social justice movements, and he highlights the Black Lives Matter movement as a central point of the article.
First, Drake notes that two preconditions must be met before he thinks traditional archives should begin to take on work related to the Black Lives Matter movement. Drake tells his audience that they must confront their own institutions complicity in structural inequality and to build trust through allyship. This was something that I found interesting in that this is exactly what archives are now trying to do for all collections, and is part of the larger idea towards understanding how historians have been complicit in structural inequalities most often associated with the “academics in ivory towers”. It also points to problems that digital archives are currently facing when it comes to working with communities. I thought that one thing that was most interesting is that Drake is saying that these are things to consider for archives that are going to work with movements and communities such as Black Lives Matter, but he believes that independent community archives should take precedent over more centralized institutions. This brings up one question that I had on my mind as I read this: What does everyone think of the idea of limiting who can do what when it comes to archives?
Finally, I wanted to explore Drakes idea of building trust through allyship and how this may relate to digital archives. Before going into this it would be useful to define what exactly an ally is so that we can see how traditional and digital archives may start working towards this process. Drake offers an definition by the Anti-Oppression Network which states that allyship is, “an active, consistent, and arduous practice of unlearning and re-evaluating, in which a person of privilege seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group of people…allyship is not an identity [but] a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust…allyship is not self-defined [but] must be recognized by the people we seek to ally ourselves with.“(Drake 2016). To this end, Drake insists that building these relationships and maintaining them is the only way that traditional archives can accurately and critically share material related to Black Lives Matter and in a certain sense the Black community at large. This made me think of how digital archives and how they might try and build these relationships with people and communities that they work with.