Over the last few months, I’ve earwormed people with “community care”, but I was lovingly called-in to address the impact of my silence regarding my time as a “board member” for Black Improv Alliance (BIA). By remaining silent, I’m culpable for enabling harmful behaviour and a toxic environment.
In the name of reduction, I share these harms:
- I didn’t speak up to the other board members about receiving monthly honourariums (Summer 2020) while they volunteered their ideas and labour. I didn’t speak up when corporate workshop bookings started favouring me (Fall 2020-Winter 2021) instead of being distributed across the board and network. I accepted a scarcity mindset within the organization because it mirrored my situation.
- I didn’t continue speaking up when the anti-harassment policy was shackled in favour of expediency and preference. At the time, I didn’t see the connection between the pressure to keep the policy incomplete and the exclusion of some community members.
- After I left the company, I didn’t speak up after people shared their stories of harm. In only letting others speak up for themselves, my silence felt like abandonment.
I’m sorry that I didn’t speak up or make good problems to be a better advocate for the community I attempted to serve. To prevent future harms, I will work on improving my communication skills to:
- Ask more critical questions of organizations and leaders, before joining and while engaged.
- Join and initiate community conversations. I will seek to listen more than speak, except to speak up for equity and to strengthen community bonds.
- When someone approaches me to act on an equity matter, I will work to adhere to their needs, as I can, and better communicate my own.
To facilitate repairing and deepening individual and broader community relationships, I’d cover the cost of a mediator for a group session.
Velvet Wells (they/them)
Thank you to Mary C. Parker for introducing me to Nicole Brewer’s anti-racist language in drafting this post.