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A recognition of shortcoming, harm and need for structural change regarding anti-racist action: an apology from the board of rabble.ca.

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Like many organizations, rabble is on a journey of reflection and change. This is an apology that reflects one aspect of that journey. It is part of a larger process we are undertaking and further public comment is likely as we learn, reflect, and act. 

rabble.ca is an organization with an explicit grounding in social justice, and a commitment to embodying and actively engaging in anti-oppression and de-colonialization work, feminist principles, confronting anti-Black racism and battling all forms of racism, racists and discrimination. For 19 years, those who have been involved in rabble.ca have understood rabble.ca’s mandate and purpose to be upholding these social justice principles and fighting alongside communities and individuals directly battling these forms of oppression. 

While we believe we have much to be proud of in the last two decades, we also know that there are ways and times that we have failed to live up to our values and therefore failed communities, particularly communities of colour.

We want to specifically name two areas where the rabble.ca leadership and organization have failed. After acknowledging these two areas, we will then outline specific commitments we are making to address anti-Black racism and workers’ rights in our organization.

Firstly, we want to explicitly apologize for failures of leadership regarding anti-Black racism over the last 19 years. 

This summer, the Publisher conducted a May-June 2020 scan of some of rabble.ca’s editorial activities and documented and quantified the racial make-up of contributors' output. Staff members at rabble also raised important and urgent issues with the Publisher and the Board about rabble’s history and practices in regards to systemic racism, editorial representation and rabble staff composition. 

It is disturbing how much of rabble.ca’s work and writing was shown to be done by white people. This is a failure of the organization at all levels. The under-representation of Black, Indigenous and other contributors of colour is unacceptable. We recognize this and are committing to challenging systemic racism within our organization and in the news coverage we produce or, more often, fail to produce. 

Secondly, we want to explicitly apologize for the harm caused by rabble.ca’s failure to fully implement effective anti-oppression policies and practices. This failure belies a lack of evaluation (and re-evaluation) of our commitment to anti-oppression work. As a result, rabble has contributed to the further marginalization of communities and individuals through both our actions and inactions.

In recent months, the activism and resistance sparked by the death of George Floyd in the U.S. and numerous Black deaths in Canada at the hands of police has awakened a recognition and urgency that organizations throughout society must embark on a rigorous examination of their operations, personnel and actions to uncover and challenge anti-Black racism in all its forms.

Any organization that understands itself and its purpose to be rooted in social justice and anti-oppression principles and actions, must not just state its commitment, but must continually evaluate and demonstrate that its actions are living up to its words. 

In this spirit, we the Board of Directors of rabble.ca, would like to outline the concrete steps that we are taking to address anti-Black racism in our organization:

  1. In early July, the Publisher and the Board committed to issuing a statement in support of the Canadian Association of Black Journalists  and Canadian Journalists of Colour in their call to action on anti-racism, knowing we have lots of work to do. 

  2. We explicitly commit to meeting the seven calls to action outlined by Canadian Association of Black Journalists and Canadian Journalists of Colour.

  3. We commit to living up to and further developing fair labour practices within our organization with an anti-racist and intersectional lens. This means a continual review of our human resources activities and policies, as well as the organization’s workers and volunteers.

  4. We commit to conducting an examination of the organization as a whole in terms of its anti-racist work, objectives and practices, its culture, and environment.

The Board of Directors of rabble.ca acknowledge and apologize for systemic failings at rabble and will work with underrepresented writers and communities as we implement changes that live up to the principles to which we believe. That is the ongoing process we are currently engaged in and to which we are fully committed. This apology is a beginning, not an end.

In solidarity,

The rabble.ca Board of Directors

 

Thank you for reading this story…

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