Racism and Anti-racism at BiCon
BiCon is racist.
We have been told this for a long time, and we are, belatedly, learning that we need to say it out loud without buts and maybes. We have made racist mistakes, we have failed to be welcoming to People of Colour and we haven’t dealt well enough with racist incidents. We apologise and are determined to do better.
People of Colour have already done a lot to point out racism at BiCon and to try to fix our community, but we haven’t listened or acted well enough on this. It’s now long past time for white organisers and attendees to work on our own racism, listen to criticism when we get it wrong, and keep trying until we get better.
To People of Colour: you are part of our community, and we want to build a BiCon that many more of you feel able to attend and take part in at all levels, including as organisers, but we recognise that we are not yet a safe enough space for this to happen. We have let you down before and we know it’s going to take work before we are worthy of your trust.
This statement will only mean something if we follow through on it. Below are some of the ways that we are starting to do that. There are more ideas in the pipeline, but we know we haven’t thought of everything, and we will keep listening to People of Colour to make sure we get them right.
- If it hurts you to admit that BiCon is racist, or you feel that “surely it can’t be that bad” please read this article by a white attendee.
- Educating ourselves about racism – we want all white BiCon attendees, including organisers, to educate ourselves about racism. We will have a list of resources which should help with this and we want everyone to look at at least one of them before attending BiCon. We will also have anti-racism sessions at BiCon, but it will be much better if people have done at least a little learning first.
- We will specifically make sure that all white contributors and team members have done some anti-racism learning before this year’s BiCon.
- We are proposing to take this anti-racism work and use it as a pilot for possible mandatory anti-racism learning for before people attend future BiCons. We’ll be trying out to see how this can work and ensuring it’s accessible/intersectional.
- Dealing better with complaints. BiCon has a Code of Conduct and a complaints procedure to deal with conduct issues, but it’s clear this hasn’t been working for complaints about racism. We are looking at ways to strengthen this. We will be clear and accountable for how racism is dealt with. Accidental racism will be corrected and complaints from attendees will be taken seriously, anonymous complaints will also be dealt with. Severe or repeat incidents may result in banning from BiCon.
- Programme content: we want to ensure there are safe space sessions for People of Colour, and separately sessions about race and racism at different levels for all attendees to go to.
- Prioritising People of Colour. We will make every effort to centre and enable People of Colour to contribute to and attend BiCon. This includes paying for their work and at future events could include free or cheap tickets to BiCon if appropriate.