Apology for Silence regarding the Black Improv Alliance

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. 

Published by thedukers

Velvet Duke is a Black autistic queer entertainer from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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