We thought we didn’t have a problem.
One of the myths that white people like myself tell each other is that racism is something only perpetuated by racists, and that these racists are easily identified by their dress, manner and hate speech. Since that doesn’t describe us, we declare ourselves free of racism and continue with our privileged lives, feeling secure in the knowledge that the evil of racism is something completely separate from ourselves. It’s a story designed to give us everything we want: freedom from guilt, because it’s not our fault but someone else’s, and freedom from responsibility to do anything about it. The myth doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, but then, believing it means you don’t need to scrutinize it, either.
In the aftermath of Westercon 69, we failed to follow up strongly to a complaint of a racially charged nature. In doing so, we gave the impression that we didn’t care about who was hurt. In our public statements, we left so much unsaid that members of the public were left to make their own conclusions.
The reaction to our tepid response was a wake up call. Our actions did not match up with the words in our own Code of Conduct. Since then we have had many conversations. We need to make sure our Code is not just empty words. We need to educate ourselves to see the things we have been blind to, in order to change our culture to meet our stated ideals.
This is just the start of a continuing journey. I want our events to be more inclusive, more welcoming, more diverse. We are going to move forward, and on the way we will make mistakes, and fail in ways we do not expect. But we will keep learning.
Thank you for listening.