In April 2021, I gushed about my guest post reviewing Welcome to the Wayne for the ALA’s side publication, I Love Libraries, to the then-Content Strategy Manager at the ALA, Lindsey Simon, saying it was amazing “how many times libraries appear in this series” and described the article as “really exciting and fun to write about.” Simon called the series “awesome.” It would be the last post I would ever write while she was there. And while I did, later, publish posts about Milo Murphy’s Law and The Owl House, it would not be the same. Since that time, I considered that I had closed a chapter after finishing Welcome to the Wayne and didn’t consider re-watching it, especially with all the anime I began watching. However, for this last post of Black History Month in 2023, I took a deep dive into the series once more. This post will connect Clara Rhone (voiced by Harriet D. Foy), the chief librarian of the secret (and magical) library, The Stanza, in the series, to issues that Black people, especially Black women, experience as librarians.
In my post earlier this month, I described her as an “oft supporting character who runs the Stanza,” which is hidden within the Wayne apartment building. I further noted that she doesn’t do the library work all by herself but is helped by non-human library workers and that she becomes a central part of the story. There’s a lot more going on than that. She is fundamentally different from the other Black librarians I have highlighted on this blog. She is not a historian like George and Lance in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Nor is she a sorcerer like Cagliostro in an episode of What If…?
All in all, there is no doubt that her character, as I described it in July of last year, steals the show. This is amazing considering that Clara’s voice actor, Foy, is well-known for film, TV, Broadway, and musical roles, but this is her first animated role! She does a great job in that respect. However, her character is likely “drawn and conceptualized by White people” as I theorized in a previous post. Even so, the library she manages is a place of knowledge, and is meticulously organized. She is more than a librarian too, meaning that her portrayal passes the Librarian Portrayal Test or LPT, and has a daughter, Goodness, who helps her, while she remains the chief librarian. She gets plaudits from me for not being a scary woman, which is too common in Western animation, sad to say. Her role gives me “hope yet for Western animation series” as I put it in March 2021.
This brings me to what I wrote about in April 2021. I noted that Clara is shown shelving books, encouraging the protagonist, Ansi, to become a member of the library, and giving them vital information for their adventures, all in the first episode! Then, in a later episode, episode 12, she even sends a library ninja, Goodness, to try and drive the protagonists from the library, with the role of role of librarians as gatekeepers is emphasized when she warns them that if the leave with the vampire they can never return. This threat is never fulfilled because in a later episode, episode 19, Goodness and Saraline break into the library, catch a creature, and spot Clara shelving books. Then, in the finale of season one, she offers her help to the protagonists.
She reappears in the seventh episode of the show’s second season, shushing her granddaughter, Goodness, telling her to use her “Stanza voice.” Although this corresponds to the stereotype of librarians shushing patrons, she makes up for it by showing the a book that shows them all that ever happened in the Wayne. Later, in the show’s final episode, she is briefly possessed by a weird gas and is shown, in the episode’s ending, doing exercises on her room’s balcony. She has all the time in the world, because the library is outside of time.
Her fandom page, of a fandom site for the show that is barely updated, doesn’t provide much more information. It notes her appearance, wearing a pearl necklace, a brown blouse, and light red scarf, and describes her as “gentle and soothing, and is very kind to those who stumble upon the Stanza.” She only appears in one fan fic, where she doesn’t even appear to be mentioned by name! Even worse is the fact that in the reviews, apart from my own, she isn’t even mentioned, despite the fact that some mention the Stanza or just call her “the librarian”.  These reviewers and others erased her from existence, deeming her non-important. It is disgusting and disturbing, although not surprising considering that the show remains a bit obscure, despite the fact that it aired on Nickeloedon from 2017 to 2019 and was nominated for two Daytime Emmys in 2018 and 2019.
This erasure is nothing new. There has been a long-standing erasure of Black history, including art history, and culture, in favor of White narratives. It is something, as Brittany Spranos, now a staff writer for Rolling Stone, described as something which oppression and systemic racism feed off, saying it is everywhere from the (in)justice system to “art and popular culture” where being a Black creator has meant you are “only valuable if appetizing to a white consumer market, and…able to be reimagined as a form of art without non-white origins.” 
When it comes to Black librarians, they face more challenges than just erasure. Across work environments, Black people engage in code-switching, meaning that they can’t be “themselves or express themselves freely without suffering severe repercussions,” keeping their personal and work lives separate. They further have to deal with the norm of the white dominant culture with silly questions about people’s weekends, not sharing anything too personal, and with the idea that any time a Black woman objects they are manifesting the angry Black woman stereotype, with their thoughts ignored.  Clara does not experience any of this in Welcome to the Wayne, as she is the head librarian and manager of the library. She doesn’t have to experience discrimination, microaggressions (either microassaults, microinsults, or microinvalidations), or stereotypical thoughts directed toward her. She just can do her job without being disturbed. All the show’s characters respect her for that, even if they have their own ideas for how librarians are “supposed” to behave. Sadly, due to the characters who come into the library, she doesn’t have the opportunity to connect to other Black people. That is something real-life Black librarians experience, even if they are not valued for their work and contributions, despite the fact they should be, but continue to keep trying no matter what. 
Due to the fact that she is the head of the Stanza, she likely has the power to collecting materials for and by Black people, like many other librarians out there. But, how many of her patrons are Black? If we base it on the characters in the show, very few of them would be Black, with Ansi Molina as mixed-race or the Arcsine. This is reflected in Ansi’s voice actor, Alanna Ubach, who is part Mexican and Puerto Rican, while Katie DiCicco, who voices the Arcsine appears to be a person of color and this is one of her only roles over the years. Even so, for Clara the job may be a “calling” to her, a form of vocational awe, like with some librarians, or realize what a vital role she plays as a librarian, like other Black people in the library profession. Clara may even know about other Black librarians in the past, who have paved the way for her to be in her role.  That’s all up to speculation at this point, unfortunately, due to a lack of reviews of the show.
Beyond this, I’d hope that Clara has used her clear dedication and persistence to make contributions to her library, and librarianship as a whole. If she did so, she would be following in the footsteps of many Black librarians before her. This includes those like librarian Dorothy B. Porter who smashes the racist and sexist Dewey Decimal System (DDC) to pieces and built her own cataloging system which actually helped people find what they were looking for rather than maintaining the White status quo that DDC keeps in place. She may even have the time to create research collections documenting people in the Wayne itself, like Miriam Matthews in Los Angeles where she began as a librarian in 1927, or the first Black librarian employed by New York City, Nella Larson Imes, among many others. 
Much of what I am saying is supposition, however. In the series itself, Clara only appears in eight episodes, seven of which she is voiced by Foy, who lists Clara in her resume along with other characters, and elsewhere as “Miss Clara.”  Some day, I’d love to interview her about the role, and if that comes to pass, then I’ll be sure to post about it here. That’s all for this post. Until next week!
© 2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.
 See, for example, Walden, Jennifer. “Audio: Nick.com’s ‘Welcome to the Wayne’.” Post Magazine, Apr. 1, 2015; Ashby, Emily. “Welcome to the Wayne TV Review.” Common Sense Media, Apr. 1, 2022; Damon Cap. “Welcome To The Wayne Review.” BSCKids, Jun. 30, 2017; “Show of the week: Welcome to the Wayne.” Television Business International, accessed May 29, 2022; Jurado, Peter. “Why We Love Welcome To The Wayne.” ComicsVerse, Aug. 7, 2017.
 Wabi-Sabi, Mirna and Fabio Teixeira, “Erasure of Black History in Favor of White Narratives Isn’t Limited to the US.” Truthout, Aug. 23, 2020; Eye Candy. “addressing black erasure in the arts: artists fight back.” AfroPunk, Aug. 16, 2018; “Taking a Look at the Erasure of Black History.” PantherNow, Feb. 16, 2021; Saulson, Sumiko. “Diversity talk highlights anti-Blackness and Black erasure within the LGBTQIA+ community.” San Francisco Bay View, Nov. 7, 2019; Kelly, Kayla. “Black allyship or Black erasure?” The Eagle, Feb. 9, 2022; Sehgal, Parul. “Fighting ‘Erasure’.” New York Times Magazine, Feb. 7, 2016; Spanos, Brittney. “The Year in Black Erasure.” Pitchfork, Dec. 22, 2014.
 Konata, La Loria. “Looking Through a Colored Lens: A Black Librarian’s Narrative,” Georgia State University, 2017, pp. 116-121
 Ibid, 123-4, 126.
 Patrick, Diane. “Developing Collections ‘By Any Means Necessary’“. Publisher’s Weekly, Jun. 30, 2013; Parker, Haillie and Allie Barton. “Invisible Chapters: Writing Tucson’s Black community into the stories of libraries, bookstores and publishing.” Tuscon Weekly, Dec. 14, 2020, Keeton, kYmberly. “A Personal Assessment: The African-American Librarian in the 21st Century“. University of Houston African American Studies, accessed May 29, 2022; Cooke, Nicole A. “Black Librarians Project.” LHRT News and Notes, accessed May 29, 2022; “Augusta Baker, Librarian, and Educator born,” AAREG, 1993.
 Dawson, Alma. “Celebrating African-Americans and Librarianship.” Library Trends Vol. 49, No. 1, Summer 2000, pp. 49-87; Hunt, Rebecca D. “African American Leaders in the Library Profession: Little Known History.” Black History Bulletin Vol. 76, No. 1, pp. 14-19; Helton, Laura. “On Decimals, Catalogs, and Racial Imaginaries of Reading.” Humanities Commons, 2019; Kindig, Jessie. “Miriam Matthews (1905–2003).” BlackPast, Dec. 16, 2007; “Minnie Fisher (1896-1990), Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Interviewed by: Dorothy R. Robinson, December 29, 1979.” HOLLIS for Archival Discovery, Harvard University. Dec. 29, 1979; Johnson, Doris Richardson. “Nella Larsen (1891-1963).” BlackPast, Jan. 19, 2007; “Black Women Oral History Project Interviews, 1976–1981,” Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, accessed May 29, 2022; Reft, Ryan. “Fighting for Leisure: African Americans, Beaches, and Civil Rights in Early 20th Century L.A.” KCET, May 16, 2014; Hochman, Rebecca. “Investing in Literature: Ernestine Rose and the Harlem Branch Public Library of the 1920s“. Legacy, Vol. 31, No. 1 (2014), pp. 93.
 Foy, Harriet D. “Resume.” Accessed May 29, 2022; Foy, Harriet D. “Bio.” Accessed May 29, 2022. Foy’s IMDB page lists her as voicing Rhone in seven episodes: “Rise and Shine Sleepyhead” (s1ep1); “Like a Happy, Happy Bird” (s1ep2); “Wall-to-Wall Ping-Pong Ball” (s1ep12), “Keep an Eye on the Nose” (s1ep19), “So This is Glamsterdam” (s1ep20), “Wiles Styles Your Over” (s2ep7); “Some Sort of Bad Luck Curse” (s2ep9). She also appears briefly in “Whoever Controls the Wayne, Controls the World” (s2ep10) but is not voiced.