Letter to the editor 1, April 22, 2021
Calling out appropriation and racism
Let me start by saying I support the cause to save Sandy Beach. I support the fight to preserve and protect the environment and fight climate change. I moved to Hudson not long ago and was refreshed by the sense of community and universal want from the people to preserve nature and all things local. After seeing the ‘Green Leaves Matter’ sign held by a townsperson on your front page, I am questioning the progressiveness of our town. Was my feeling of welcomeness reserved only for me because I am white? How did our BIPOC citizens feel about this sign? Belittled? Mocked?
I think we, as privileged white people, have a duty to call out appropriation and racism and try and fight daily to be an ally of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of colour) community. The fact that someone created this sign and thought it was appropriate is disheartening. Maybe people found it clever? It definitely is not. What is even worse is your publication decided it was worthy of featuring with pride as your front page article. I think you missed a great opportunity to report factually and ethically. The photo could have been a conversation about the lack of inter-sectionalism in the cause. It could have been a think piece addressing the issue of ignorance towards race and lack of representation. But it wasn’t and the way the photo is portrayed glorifies our privilege, ignorance, and appropriation. How can you think that this cause is in the same realm as the Black Lives Matter movement? Are you comparing Sandy Beach to the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and seemingly countless other lives that have ended by the hands of the public and police? Can you see how it could be taken as that?
Caring and fighting for the climate – and not your daily safety and life – is a privilege. Environmentalists must start taking intersectionality seriously. We all must. This is also the perfect example of how Quebec (and all of Canada) hides behind the headlines of the US and tirelessly cries “We aren’t as bad as them.” The reality is – it isn’t unique to the US and it's not any better here. This is partly because of this kind of seemingly innocent ignorance. It is not enough to think you are not racist. You have to actively act to be anti-racist. If you take offence to this letter, I can assure you that you are part of the problem. But you can also be part of the solution – be open to being called out, take it to heart and learn. Check your ego at the door. My ego doesn’t matter and neither does yours.
I am reaching out, not to create negativity, but to hopefully open the discourse to allow us as a community to listen, learn and grow. I urge you to apologize to the BIPOC community for this and the lack of representation in your paper. You should also write a letter to Black Lives Matter explaining your mistake, apologize and include ways you will grow as a person and publication. An apology isn’t enough. I believe a diverse and aware board would and should have recognized the veiled undermining of the Black Lives Matter movement and created an appropriate conversation around it.
It is your journalistic duty to actively be searching for contributors that represent and discuss issues that concern the entire community. These topics need to be actively written and spoken about from a diverse perspective. Let's all do better; we owe it to our BIPOC citizens.