Date: 3/23/21 10:52 am
From: Courtney Kelly Jett <ckjannabirds...>
Subject: [obol] Apology to BIPOC birders
*Apology to BIPOC birders*

We apologized on the Open Oregon WhatsApp on March 4. We have now been asked to apologize on OBOL.


In Caleb’s and my OBOL post of 02/22/2021, Improving Community Guidelines for Inclusivity and Nonviolence,

I made a serious, brainblip mistake.

Although we had used “people of color” throughout the email,
I made a terrible error in one sentence, which a woman alerted us to, she wrote:

>> I would like to bring to your attention something that rubbed me the wrong way in what you wrote:
"Caleb and I are willing to experimentally facilitate a similar zoom meeting in which women, colored, queer, and other underrepresented Oregon birders and allies can share our experiences and concerns and ideas, ..."
The word I have trouble with is "colored." I take it you used that to indicate People of Color. The problem I have with it is it has historically been used in the USA as a pejorative for Black people. Perhaps you know this -- colored was the word written on bathrooms, drinking fountains and so many signs to indicate where Black people were permitted to pee or drink water in public in the 30s-60s. And also on signs letting folx know where they couldn't go. So, I suggest you consider using People of Color/POC/BIPOC (Black, Indigenous People of Color) in the future. I say this with respect because it's clear you are trying to help, not harm. <<

I responded to her immediately:

>> thank you so much for catching the “colored” error ...
oh gosh we both feel terrible we let that mistake slip, we even read over our email several times proofreading, and we didn’t catch that, I think because of the comma, that the “colored” is separated by a comma and a “queer” and etc. before “birders”, so our brains just didn’t catch it that it says in effect, ‘colored people,’ which is a term I have never spoken or written and wouldn’t intentionally use.
We hope we didn’t offend you or anyone else too terribly. It was a mistake and won’t happen again, bc of you alerting us! Thank you. I hope so so much no POC feels excluded because of it.
You are right, we only wish to help, not harm, and this was a mistake we would not knowingly make! <<

(In hindsight, I think it was because I wasn’t sure if “people of color birders” worked grammatically? and that’s why my brain made the error it did, to make the sentence flow easier? Ooof ...)

Caleb and I felt uncertain what to do, re a public Correction. The heated thread on OBOL had already been closed by the moderator. And, would it be better to bring attention to it, when apparently many people, like us, had missed it, in the context of how much other support for BIPOC was in the email? (Only one person, of the several dozen responses we received from pro-women/BIPOC/LGBTQ Inclusivity birders, mentioned it to us.)

Then, we learned that at least one Black birder chose NOT to participate in the zoom discussions, largely because they felt hurt by that word in our email.

I wasn’t sensitive enough to catch my error in my email, but they definitely did, and they felt hurt.

I am so sorry.

Our intentions with our email were 100% good intentions, and yet still I made a harmful mistake, and I am very sorry for it.
I hope we can have opportunity for Repair and Connection.
Please let me or Caleb know if there is more we can do, to repair this unintentional slip up.

Again, our sincere apologies to POC birders and allies.

Inclusivity really matters to us, —
Safety and Belonging for all —
and Caleb and I are for sure going to keep practicing to learn how to do it better, continuing educating ourselves to become ever more sensitive to the feelings and needs of diverse others, and we really appreciate helpful feedback and friendship along the way.

Courtney and Caleb

Courtney Kelly Jett and Caleb Centanni

P.S. Clarification:
No organization sponsored the two Inclusivity zooms we offered to hold, or is responsible for them.
Our two volunteer zooms were intended for discussing Improving Inclusivity generally in Oregon birding, for all who are underrepresented and less safe in Oregon Birding: women, BIPOC, LGBTQ, children.
Caleb and I just offered ourselves, volunteering with good will, to hold space for those who wished to come to discuss improving Inclusivity, kindness safety and belonging, specifically in response to an event of bullying of women re sexual violence against women. Those of us who attended mostly discussed bullying, especially women’s experiences birding, and some participants are beginning plans for LGBTQ and Women’s projects/groups, and also beginning more birding opportunity for BIPOC kids.

Courtney Kelly Jett, Corvallis, Oregon

THERE FLIES THE ALBATROSS
@calebandcourtneyart

> On Feb 22, 2021, at 6:45 PM, Courtney Kelly Jett <ckjannabirds...> wrote:
>
> 
> Hi all,
>
> In light of the recent messages and behaviors regarding sexual violence against women, and the evident issues which that conversation did not fully address, we (Caleb Centanni and Courtney Kelly Jett) feel the need to help begin an OFF-list conversation in order to provide support and empathy for women and other underrepresented folks (people of color, LGBTQ, (and young birders too?)) in the birding community who have experienced fear of violence or intimidation or exclusion, to provide a safe space for discussing ways to make our birding community more inclusive and accepting, and, if necessary, make requests as a group of the Oregon Birding Association (OBA) and other local birding organizations for changes in community guidelines.
>
> We are interested in starting a conversation with underrepresented members of our community and allies.
>
> Here are some ideas that we want to gauge interest in as potential solutions to some of the unresolved community issues which recently came to the surface, which might be supported by the OBA and Oregon birding community.
>
>
> * Group Discussions of Inclusivity. *
>
> An online discussion forum could be organized to share experiences and give empathy, discuss the nature of and solutions to current community problems affecting underrepresented folks, and ultimately propose changes in community standards for the OBA, OBOL, and other Oregon birding community organizations.
>
> Option:
> Caleb and I, Courtney, practice NVC (Non-violent Communication), and during covid closures we have been attending weekly Compassion practice groups via zoom. Caleb and I are willing to experimentally facilitate a similar zoom meeting in which women, colored, queer, and other underrepresented Oregon birders and allies can share our experiences and concerns and ideas, and be seen and heard by eachother. I would want to make sure that it is the women and underrepresented who get the most screentime to speak and be heard.
>
>
> * List of Support. *
>
> A list of safe members of the birding community who are part of underrepresented groups and allies and their contact info could be provided online so members of the Oregon birding community can contact someone for support, resources, and to report any violent or aggressive behavior which has taken place in the community.
>
> Option:
> This Support list of names could be available on the OBA webpage where their statements of Inclusivity are.
>
>
> * Anti-bullying community standard. *
>
> We know many people who have been driven off OBOL or out of other parts of the birding community due to hostile messages they received from other community members, so one change we need to make and enforce is clear rules for forums such as OBOL that any member who sends bullying, name-calling, or discriminatory messages to the listserve is BANNED immediately. There is no reason any of these things should have a place on a public birding listserve. We should not be giving a platform to people who do not consistently treat other people with dignity.
>
> I, Courtney, feel angry, disgusted, and sick to my stomach, and hopelessly depressed, how the thread about violence to women dissolved this morning to listserve-silencing just after women were publicly bullied by men on OBOL.
>
> I want changes made within the OBA and OBOL and also other birding platforms that OBA promotes and supports on their webpage, including Whatsapp and field trips.
> If the OBA is releasing a statement of support of women, (and of people of color and queerness and inclusive belonging for all), I want to see real support and change begin (this week! is my vote). The OBA needs to officially ban bullying across every affiliated organization and platform.
>
> I feel sick that Jeff Gilligan and Ron Kearney are still allowed to post (moderated) on OBOL after their degrading shaming of Sarah Merkle and other women who posted.
>
> “Sheesh, what a pathetic post.”
> “Sarah I only read a few words of your email, before knowing that you are irrational,” - (and then threatened to report her to the police for harassment if she writes again).
>
> This is unacceptable and should not be tolerated, if we care about creating a Safe Welcoming platform for all. Not ensuring that there are direct consequences for this behavior is totally contrary to the message of believing and supporting women which the OBA has just adopted. OBOL is not safe for women if men who belittle them are allowed to remain on the platform.
>
> One of the national birders in the news this week for allegations of “emotional and psychological abuse” - bullying - of women, Christopher Collins, has resigned from the several birding organizations he chaired, “for the benefit of the organizations.”
>
> It is (overdue) for the benefit of the Oregon birding community, that bullying be declared no longer acceptable, and people who do it be immediately banned from participating. When we allow people who bully others to continue writing on our listservs, and acting in our organizations, or being Oregon eBird reviewers, etc., many many many other people choose to not participate in the toxic community.
>
> I want to see Oregon birders stand up against power-over control/intimidation and emotional violence, insulting and demeaning behaviour, as well as physical violence, in our community.
>
>
> We, Courtney Kelly Jett and Caleb Centanni, would like to add our names to a list of safe people to contact in Oregon birding, and we are open and happy to explore the above and/or further ideas to help provide a safe and empathetic space for all birders in this community who have been impacted by sexual violence or discrimination or feel underrepresented or excluded in it. We want to be advocates for all, and to help build a community where we all can feel safe.
>
> If you need support, or want to express support for any of the ideas in this email, please let us know.
> We request that all responses are off-list. Our OBOL moderator, Treesa, does everything she can for our community within the guidelines she has been given by the OBA. We write to this listserve because it seems the only viable way to reach a large portion of our Oregon birding community. We are interested in starting a conversation with underrepresented members of our community and allies.
> Any hostile, aggressive, or bullying messages we receive in response to this post will be deleted immediately.
>
> If you are in support of any of our ideas or have other productive suggestions, please let us know at
> <caleb...>
> If we receive enough postive responses, we plan on connecting with the OBA or other organizations about these options.
>
> Outside our window today, Pine Siskins are happily buzzing about peanuts in a mesh feeder, and a Spotted Towhee is singing in the rain. We hope that we can have the complex and empowering conversations necessary so that we can all enjoy birds together as an inclusive group, united by our love and passion for the natural world. We stand with and we believe that women and people of color and LGBTQ and all diversity deserve safety and solidarity in our birding community.
>
> Thank you.
>
> Best wishes and love to all, and happy, safe birding,
> Caleb and Courtney
> <caleb...>
>
>
> Courtney Kelly Jett, Corvallis, Oregon
>
> THERE FLIES THE ALBATROSS
> @calebandcourtneyart

 
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