Project Information Literacy logo

PIL Provocations: Tell me sweet little lies: Racism as a form of persistent malinformation

The CILIP Information Literacy Group (ILG) and the LILAC Conference are delighted to have been enlisted as Champions of the Project Information Literacy initiative, “The PIL Provocation Series”.

As a valued Champion of the “PIL Provocation Series,” I’m delighted to send our latest essay, “Tell Me Sweet Little Lies: Racism as a Form of Persistent Malinformation,” by Dr. Nicole A. Cooke, the Augusta Baker Endowed Chair and an Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina’s School of Information Science. This fourth essay in our Series officially launched 11 August on Twitter @projectinfolit and the PIL Provocation Series site.

In this important essay, Dr. Nicole Cooke illuminates the close connection between critical information literacy and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Racism is, essentially, a long-term disinformation campaign that wields harmful stereotypes, falsified history, and malicious lies to preserve existing hierarchies and defend white supremacy. Dr. Cooke argues that learning how to identify mis- and disinformation is insufficient for countering the racist narratives that distort our society. The missing piece is critical cultural literacy (CCL), which adds context to information in order to close the gap between merely identifying falsehoods and actively promoting justice.
As Dr. Cooke writes, “CCL requires critical self-reflection and the desire for equitable information and non-racist perceptions of others. We have to reexamine and reimagine everything we’ve been taught and ask ourselves ‘What perspectives and voices are missing from what I think I know? How can I do better and learn more?’ When we examine our own identities, privileges, and disadvantages, we are better positioned to have empathy for others and do the work of dismantling racist malinformation with CCL.”

I hope you find this ground-breaking essay useful and that you share the link to the OA text freely with your larger network.

Building on a solid decade of original research into students’ information practices in the digital age, each essay in the PIL Provocation Series makes an argument grounded in research, posing  questions for the future: What haven’t we considered as the information landscape grows more complex? What new directions in information literacy and higher education should we be exploring as societal changes demand more response from higher education? What fundamental aspects of student experiences with navigating information spaces have we overlooked and urgently need to address?

As with all PIL publications, the essays in this series are open access to encourage sharing and discussion. Ultimately, the goal is to improve teaching and learning while suggesting new avenues for inquiry and experimentation.

Margy MacMillan
Associate Editor | PIL Provocation Series
Senior Researcher | Project Information Literacy (PIL)

Visit the Project Information Literacy website for further information, or contact Alison Head, Director, Project Information Literacy,

Useful links:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *