RCRD Anti-Racism Actions

RCRD Anti-Racism Actions

RCRD Anti-Racism Commitment blog header

By Punchy O’Guts
June 5, 2020

Following the murder of George Floyd and the protests for him and against police brutality and white supremacy, many businesses and organizations have been publicly posting messages of solidarity and messages that state Black Lives Matter. What is often missing with these messages is information about how that organization has been taking or will take action to dismantle white supremacy within their organization. Rat City recognizes there is an immediate need for anti-racism in our society and within our derby committee and wishes to share how we have been taking steps to create a safe space for nonwhite people within our league and what we need to do in order to continue this work. 

What We Have Done & Are Doing
In January of 2018, we created a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to identify ways that our league can implement anti-racism and address discriminatory practices. We determined that this committee should be comprised of league members and league volunteers who are members of a marginalized community, preferably that they are a person of color and/or not a cis person. We determined that one DEI Committee member should always be present at team drafts in order to ensure no discrimination occurs when drafting skaters to our home teams. We ask the DEI Committee to review our marketing efforts (social media or event planning) that involve marginalized communities. 

In September of 2018, the league voted to pass an updated version of our Code of Conduct that addressed racial bias and discrimination. This included educational information about implicit bias and colorblind racism and examples of culturally appropriated language, racial stereotypes, and microaggressions. This document also addressed the issue with officials referring to a skater of color by the color of their skin rather than the color of their jersey. 

In April of 2019, the league voted to pass a Hardship Policy to address socioeconomic inequities. This allowed a reduced or no dues option for skaters experiencing financial hardships. We specified that if someone requested either option they would never be asked to show proof of income or their financial situation. 

In April of 2019, we began revising our Grievance Policy and Disciplinary Policies. This revision includes a requirement for trauma-informed care and professional intervention when managing racial discrimination and racial bias. It also includes language to show an awareness that Black and Brown folks are unfairly punished at higher rates than white folks and that should be considered as a mitigating factor when managing a claim against Black and Brown folks. This revision process is still ongoing and needs to be passed by a league vote. This committee has been researching ways to educate the league about implicit bias and anti-racism in an effort to diminish the possibility for POC community members to experience racism, bias, and microaggressions and therefore need to file complaints or grievances. 

In February of 2020, the league voted to pass an updated version of our Code of Conduct that more specifically address racial bias and discrimination. We added more educational links and examples of racial bias, racial microaggressions, and cultural appropriation.  We offer this Code of Conduct template for leagues who would like to update their documents.  

What We Need To Do
We need to continually recognize that we are a league composed mostly of white folks who hold privileges and power which, if goes unchecked, creates a harmful, unsafe environment for people of color, especially Black and Brown folks.  

We need to provide mandatory, ongoing education in racial justice and power dynamics for folks who are in leadership roles and take on new roles. This includes our board of directors, committee head leaders, officials, coaches, and anyone who holds a leadership role. We need to provide mandatory, ongoing education in racial justice and power dynamics for new and current league members and volunteers. We will not expect BIPoC to provide this education, but we will prioritize their voices, experiences, and resources for educational materials. We have formed an Anti-Racism Education Committee, which is responsible for creating and implementing the ongoing education in racial justice and power dynamics. This committee must report weekly to the league on their progress, and we intend to implement this training immediately. We have also created a Slack channel with racial justice resources (which will be continually updated), so our members can locate educational information while we develop this training.

We need to prioritize the experiences and voices of BIPoC. We need to listen when they address issues within our community, be grateful for their courage and emotional labor, and take immediate action in whatever way is asked or demanded. We have created an anonymous survey for BIPoC to share their lived experiences, thoughts, and feelings as BIPoC at Rat City, in the roller derby community, and the world at large. During league meetings, team meetings, or any group conversation, we will give BIPoC the opportunity to speak before allowing white folks to speak. This is not to rely on people of color to educate white folks, but rather to prioritize their voices if they are able and willing to share.     

We need to continually assess our policies, practices, and decision-making and how they might be harmful toward BIPoC members and volunteers. We have formed a committee to analyze all our policies, procedures, and leadership decisions. The committee will analyze how our current ways of operating reinforce white supremacy and systemic racism and make changes to ensure that BIPoC members and volunteers are included and feel safe and valued. This committee will specifically analyze all current policies, how we assess folks to join the league, how we draft people to home teams, how we assess for all-star tryouts, how people are chosen for rosters and playing time, how we elect and appoint people to positions of leadership, how we train skaters and officials, and how officials are chosen for game positions.

We need to invest in BIPoC businesses and BIPoC artists by hiring them over white-owned businesses and white artists. We have formed a committee to research and create a list of BIPoC businesses and individuals we can hire, and this committee will research ways we can support them.

We are looking for ways to build and empower our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee by adding more members and determining more defined roles and responsibilities for the committee. The committee has the authority to oversee our racial justice work and any issues that arise regarding racism.

We as individuals and we as a league will be open and grateful if/when we are called out/in for any actions, decision-making, or communication that is viewed as harmful, racially insensitive, or discriminatory. We will not respond with defensiveness, tone policing, or white fragility. We will sit in our discomfort, acknowledge how we have been harmful, immediately address the issue, and make changes.