This week, an author on Elephant posted something about how all of us should just get along. Many folks saw it as racist. Maybe not overtly, but along the lines of “all lives matter.” Of bypassing.
One reader, a woman of color, started a Boycott Elephant campaign and asked others to share it.
Now, we have 1000s of articles go up a month. Our editors look at most of them, but some are “instant” posts–ie, when you post on Instagram or Facebook or Next Door, you can post instantly without working with an editor.
This was one such article. The author, a white woman, promptly got all kinds of angry messages and took her article down, and even took down her Instagram.
I reached out to the woman of color, who I’ll call K, and we proceeded to trade messages for 3 hours that day. It was exhausting for her, and to some extent myself, but I deeply appreciated her anger, and her talking with me. I listened. I replied. I didn’t deny or defend what had happened on our end, but I did try to explain it was a live post over which we had no control initially (once we see it, we can edit it or remove it. It was deleted before we did so, I believe). And I tried to find out what had happened on our end, exactly. It was a good, real, helpful conversation. I offered to pay her for her time, and asked if she’s be inspired to train our editors in anti-racism some time. I offered to pay for that too.
Most of all, I regarded this not as a PR threat, but as an opportunity to learn and improve. We care. I care. We must care. We must make real change.
Reminder: the goals of these protests are clear.