ABA Staff Previews Diversity Workshop to Premiere at Fall Shows

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    As registration continues for the American Booksellers Association’s fall workshop, “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Addressing Stereotypes and Creating a Welcoming Environment,” Ilsa Marie Govan, a cultural facilitator with Cultures Connecting, visited the ABA offices, in White Plains, New York, to lead staff in a day-long workshop focused on the important issues that will be addressed in ABA’s two fall workshops.

    Ilsa Govan of Cultures Connecting presents ABA's fall diversity workshop at the association's offices in White Plains, New York.
    Ilsa Govan of Cultures Connecting presents ABA's fall diversity workshop at the association's offices in White Plains, New York.

    The sessions will take place ahead of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance and Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association fall trade shows and be led by Govan, M.A., and Caprice D. Hollins, Psy.D., of Cultures Connecting, a consulting company that provides professional development to organizations seeking to improve their staff’s ability to promote diversity and address institutional racism.

    Following the session at the ABA offices on Monday, August 14, Govan spoke with Bookselling This Week about the skills booksellers will gain from the six-hour workshop. Participants, she said, will explore their capacity for self-awareness and will examine some of the messages they have received from society, while learning to effectively engage with all of the communities they work with, in order to create a genuinely welcoming store environment.

    “Many of us were brought up in environments where we were taught not to talk about race, gender, or sexual orientation, and then we think that somehow by not talking about it we are going to get better at engaging across cultures. This is simply not the case,” Govan told BTW. “Sessions like this address some of the fears that we have in these difficult conversations, and encourage people to take risks and engage with each other in a way that perhaps they haven’t done before.”

    “For booksellers, there is a deeper knowledge that needs to be built,” said Govan. It is important, she noted, to understand what institutional power and privilege looks like and how it influences booksellers, as well as the customers coming into their stores.

    “We really look at, how do we engage each other across those differences given the current social and political climate that we are living in, and how do we understand those factors in people’s lives,” she said. “You want your bookstores to be places that are centers for the community, places where people can discover new things about themselves or see a mirror of who they are. So this session will help you to think through how you can do that in multiple different ways.”

    The first workshop will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 14, ahead of the SIBA Discovery Show at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, and will be led by both Govan and Hollins.

    The second workshop will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 11, ahead of the MPIBA fall trade show at the Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel in Denver, and will be led by Govan.

    Registration is $75 per person. Fall show registration is not required to attend the workshops, and the workshops are open to all ABA members, regardless of regional association membership. Register for the “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Addressing Stereotypes and Creating a Welcoming Environment” workshop now.