Non-Zero Days, Antiracism Edition: Days 6 – 7

I had an opportunity to speak up about racism, and I did!

I want to retroactively add one item to day 5: I canceled a recurring meeting for this month, and in the cancellation note, I wrote, “Recommended use of this reclaimed hour is to read the article, The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates”.

Day 6

My employer is matching donations from employees to Black Lives Matter-focused charities, and I emailed a few friends and family members to collect donations for Campaign Zero. I emailed HR that I had been inspired to raise some additional money, and asked if they would match that as well my personal contribution. I plan to match the additional donations if they don’t.

I had a short phone call with the member of HR that I emailed last week, and she encouraged me to organize something on my team as a prototype for a more long term process. Along with a few of my co-workers from our team women’s group (I was not the only one with this idea πŸ’œ), I helped to organize a meeting to discuss what we can do on our team to address the silence that has been in our Slack channels.

Day 7

On Thursdays I lead the CSS Chat in the WordPress Core Slack. I realized that, given the most folks’ awareness of current events, this was the perfect opportunity to not be silent about racism. I messaged one of my coworkers to get a second opinion on my idea. She supported it and helped me craft a message, and I soon realized the initial one I had written sounded horrible and I am so, so glad I asked for her perspective. I added an item to our meeting agenda “Acknowledging racial injustice”, and started the meeting with this message in the Slack channel:

To start off, I don’t feel comfortable running our usual meeting without explicitly acknowledging the racial injustices that have lead to the Black Lives Matter protests in the US and around the world.

It is my personal opinion that silence around this topic is very loud. Racism is embedded in our default, global systems – to remain silent is to be complicit with racism, and I am choosing to be anti-racist. I am still learning and open to making mistakes, and I believe that it is important to create a space for support and discussion for those who need it.

I invite anyone who would like to have conversation about racial injustice to do so in a thread on this message as we continue with our usual agenda. Also, feel free to send me a DM – I am here to listen if you need more privacy to express yourself. If you choose to discuss in the thread, please be mindful that it is public, and there may be Black WordPress community members that view it.

Maybe you also host a meeting that would benefit from a message like this – feel free to copy and adapt my statement to your own purposes! It’s also okay to take some time learn more before speaking up like this. But the point is: I don’t necessarily think of myself as someone who has influence, but I am starting to realize that in small ways, maybe I do (and maybe you do, too).

Also today, we had our meeting with about 8 women from our group to discuss our team’s response to racial injustice. We came up with the idea of having an anonymous form folks can fill out with various prompts for reflection on racism, as well as a outlet to express feelings, needs, and expectations of our team and company. The idea with the anonymity of the form is so that people can read others’ responses and not feel alone. It will also give us an idea of what kinds of practices we can adopt to foster antiracism on our team.

Here is my corresponding post on the Non-Zero Days subreddit.