As of August 1st 2022 we are using a new logo and brand identity that better represents Urban Librarians Unite as an organization and does not draw from the culture of an ethnic group that we do not belong to.
Why we changed the Logo
Since 2011, we have been culturally appropriating the image of the Inuit knife called an ulu as our logo. None of us are Inuit, and the use of this imagery as our logo has been harmful and inappropriate. While the ulu is a practical implement it also holds a spiritual meaning, as an Inuit woman’s spirit and knowledge is considered to live on in her ulu as they are passed down through the generations. While we did not intend to disrespect the Inuit community through the use of the ulu as a symbol, the fact that we have done so is not mitigated by our ignorance. We are deeply sorry for the harm this has caused to the Inuit community, and want to hold ourselves accountable for that harm. We have changed our logo to an image that does not draw from any historically oppressed cultures and moving forward we will no longer be using the ulu in any new promotional material, printed or otherwise. To help hold ourselves accountable, we will leave this page on our website up in perpetuity to help other library workers understand the harms of cultural appropriation and the culture of the Inuit people more deeply.
What is Cultural Appropriation and why is it wrong?
Cultural appropriation causes real harm to indigenous communities, while we were able to use the ulu as a logo and be the “cool activist librarians with a knife for a logo”, Inuit woman are frequently told that their traditional facial tattoos are unprofessional, and Inuit families are told that their traditional practice of seal hunting is hurting the environment (it’s not). By using the imagery of the ulu without belonging to the community it comes from, we participate in creating a double standard where settler colonial culture can pick and choose which parts of indigenous culture it thinks are “worth using” even when the indigenous people are told that it isn’t. In short, cultural appropriation is a taking of something that isn’t yours, and perpetuates the societal oppression of native peoples and people of color.
Further Reading & Resources
A Guide to Understanding and Avoiding Cultural Appropriation – Nadra Kareem Nittle
Appropriate Cultural Appropriation – Nisi Shawl
What is Cultural Appropriation? – Pegi Eyers
The Cultural Appropriation Primer – K. Tempest Bradford