BOYCOTT SHIFT: Letter in Support
The violence that SHIFT and Christian Beckwith continue to enact is horrifying to witness. The fact that a team, a “nonprofit” team no less, of people can absorb the knowledge that 17+ people have been violated and traumatized by their own organization’s actions, and particularly by the hands of their own Executive Director, and STILL double, triple, quadruple down on their efforts to uphold white supremacy and protect this toxic person with too much power is a testament to how deeply rooted systems of oppression truly are in our society. As a neurotypical, able-bodied, upper middle class, cis white woman, I know I benefit from these systems of oppression and that my voice is heard, believed, and uplifted at the expense of Black, Indigenous, Womxn of Color, and Queer Black, Indigenous, folx of color. Because of this, racism and white supremacy is a white people problem.
I came to this conclusion not on my own, but with the help of anti-racist educators like L. Glenise Pike of Where Change Started, Ericka Hart, and Rachel Cargle, as well as Kenya Budd, Kalissa Scopes, and Sally Eck, all three incredible equity and inclusion consultants in Portland, Oregon, as well as reading iconic and incomparable scholars and activists like bell hooks, Angela Davis, and Audre Lorde, to name only a few who have helped me on my path to unlearn, and practice anti-racism (which does not negate that I am always racist, never not going to be. This process is ongoing, never-ending — something that is hard to wrap my head around as a white person who is conditioned to think in linear ways).
The violence experienced at SHIFT is for white people to take action against, and yet, over and over again, it’s BIWOC and Queer BIPOC that are on the front lines. I want to give immense gratitude and praise to the 17 individuals who came forward to stand up for themselves and to not take shit any longer. Yes, it’s true, any movement we support should have BIWOC at the helm, but in this case, the people harmed were forced to take action when it could have been prevented. It gets to this point because white people don’t listen and believe BIWOC and Queer BIPOC in the FIRST place. Taking action should mean, first and foremost, preventative harm. It is crucial that an organization incorporates preventative measures to mitigate racial violence. One key way to do this is by embedding anti-racism practices into the foundation of an organization’s structure and values, and hiring BIWOC equity consultants. These are not my own ideas. It’s all been said before by BIWOC anti-racist educators that I follow and listen to like L. Glenise Pike of @WhereChangeStarted, Rachel Cargle @Rachel.Cargle, and Ericka Hart @IHartEricka on Instagram.
I know that I have much to learn and unlearn, and I am letting what has transpired over the course of the #WontTakeShiftAnymore campaign as yet another wake-up call as to how all of us white folx, individually and collectively, need to dismantle white supremacy in our words, actions, behaviors, habits, at work, at home, at the grocery store, in our schools, in every crevice of our society.
We cannot turn a blind eye. We cannot say there are “two sides to every story.” There are no two sides to racism. Ever. We cannot be silent while our siblings in this industry experience violence and re-trauamatization over and over again. We cannot hide behind our white fragility and center our discomfort, while our BIPOC siblings put not only their careers on the line, but their bodies and lives on the line. In honor of co-liberation we all need to demand justice alongside those who have been targeted and most impacted by Christian Beckwith’s violent actions.
In order to stop this heinous, deadly cycle we need to take public action. I’m specifically talking to fellow white womxn in powerful positions. I am asking that we all use every social media outlet we have access to in order to raise awareness about this campaign and join in the coalition’s demand that Christian Beckwith leaves SHIFT, and I also stand behind the coalition’s demand that we all boycott of SHIFT.
In care and solidarity,
Co-Conspirator, Terra Incognita Media