EPACA’s Statement on Potentially Harmful Content

The East Palo Alto Community Archive is a collection of historical items that illustrate the diverse history of the land currently occupied by East Palo Alto.

The EPACA collection contains some content that may be harmful or difficult to view. Our institution has collected cultural materials from the EPA community that illustrate their lived history and the development of the city over time. These artifacts reflect the experiences of many cultures and time periods, and the EPACA’s mission is to preserve and make them available for the historical record. As a result, some of the materials presented here may reflect outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent views and opinions due to pervasive systemic intolerance. In addition, some of these materials may relate to violent or graphic events which are preserved for their historical significance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What harmful or difficult content may be found in the EPACA collection?

Some items may:

  • Reflect white supremacist and American imperialist ideologies, which include racist, sexist, misogynistic/misogynoir, and xenophobic opinions and attitudes.
  • Be discriminatory towards or exclude diverse views on sexuality, gender, ableism, religion, and more.
  • Include graphic content of historical events.

Why does the EPACA make potentially harmful content available?

The EPACA collects, preserves, and presents these materials as part of the historic record, which does include depictions and records of people experiencing trauma and harm. Our community and archivists seek to balance the preservation of this history with sensitivity to how these materials are presented to and perceived by users.

How is this material described, and why are some of the terms used in the descriptions harmful?

Archivists and community members choose what language to use when describing materials. We create descriptions using language that is accepted at the time of creation, knowing that terminology and the status quo can, and should, change with time. The EPACA is committed to working with its partners to assess and update descriptions that are harmful.

We often re-use language provided by creators or former owners of the material. This can provide important context, but can also reflect historic biases and prejudices.

Communities with less access to and privilege within cultural institutions and archives have historically had less control over how they are represented and described. The EPACA’s collection works to correct misrepresentation and misconceptions of the BIPOC and other historically oppressed communities.

Sometimes people make mistakes or use poor judgement, so please let us know if you find an item or description that needs to be updated, edited, or removed.

How can I report harmful content?

You can help us understand this issue and find solutions by reporting harmful content. We will weigh potential harm against considerations such as accurate preservation of the historical record, professional best practices, and allocation of scarce resources. The EPACA will use all reports of harmful content to better understand the issue and educate.

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