An Autostraddle and A-Camp Apology and Action Plan

As many of you know, about a week and a half ago, Dan Owens, who attended A-Camp as talent in 2015 and 2016 and did some freelancing for Autostraddle between 2014-2016, published a blog post on Medium containing stories by several former A-Campers and staff detailing racism they experienced while at camp. A-Camp’s co-directors shared a statement in response in the comment section of the post. The statement was hidden twice by the post’s author, so A-Camp tweeted the statement and then Autostraddle retweeted it to reach a larger audience. Autostraddle has been called upon to publish the full text of the A-Camp directors’ statement, which you can read at the bottom of this post.

First, we want to sincerely apologize and take full responsibility for the fact that it has taken 12 days to publish this full statement on our website. We engaged in a lot of internal communication about the best way to take accountability and begin the healing process with those who have been harmed working at or attending A-Camp, which took time as no A-Camp staff are employed year-round in their A-Camp staff roles. This process required coordination from many people, including Black, POC, trans, and disabled staff, who have different and often less flexible schedules than editors and staff writers.

The process of responding to Medium in a way that respects the hard work countless people have devoted to camp, and the work of many marginalized staffers over the years to call leadership in and improve it, while also committing to be better for campers and staff in the future has been challenging — and has taken a toll on everyone doing that work, especially the Black A-Camp staffers who have committed truly invaluable and generous time and energy to working with leadership as well as speaking with those who have concerns or grievances with A-Camp as a space. Our Black and POC A-Camp staffers were harmed by the length of time it took us to craft the statements and to distribute them widely on our website. Many of those Black and POC staffers who have senior leadership authority at A-Camp have been disproportionately targeted, attacked, and harassed on social media and via email.

We are sincerely sorry for the stress, anxiety, and pain we caused our Black and POC writers, readers, and editors during this process and are committed to creating internal processes to ensure that all of our marginalized staff members have immediate and safe access to advocate for their needs, and to feel confident that their concerns will be acted on with immediacy by our senior editors going forward.

Although there’s a lot of overlap in promotion, staffing, and readers/attendees, A-Camp and Autostraddle are actually two separate entities with different leadership structures. A-Camp’s directors stepped down in June to make space for new leadership, specifically Black and POC leadership. Autostraddle and A-Camp founder Riese Bernard will also be stepping down from A-Camp senior staff after the process of supporting new leadership is completed to make room for POC voices. Riese is, as most of you know, also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Autostraddle. At this time, we’ve asked Riese to take a step back from her responsibilities here as well, in order for us to build out a new community culture and for her mental health.

We are in the very early stages of working with our staff, our HR manager, and other outside consulting services to dismantle our current company culture and rebuild it from the ground up with an intentional focus on and commitment to respect, balance, safety, transparency, and full inclusivity. That process will begin today and remain ongoing until our full staff is assured that Autostraddle is a place they can safely and contentedly thrive creatively.

Below you can read the A-Camp directors’ full statement in response to the Medium blog post, as well as the statement Riese posted in the comments of a recent A+ post. The A-Camp directors would also like to note that today they will be reaching out to all the parties from the Medium blog post who were harmed by racism during 2016 A-Camp. In addition to this, camp leadership will be taking immediate steps to compensate all past Speakeasy leaders, address specific harms reported by 2019 camp participants, and will be working on an actionable timeline of next steps towards A-Camp’s transition. This work will be transparently shared within A-Camp’s public website on an ongoing basis.

Autostraddle’s editors are eager to continue to learn from our mistakes and keep striving to make Autostraddle a space where everyone under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella feels seen, heard, represented, and safe. We have already begun paying out money you donated during our recent fundraiser to our longtime QTPOC writers (as well as raising our individual rates across the board, and setting aside funding specifically for longform work from our QTPOC writers). We will continue to do what we promised, including prioritizing the hire of another full-time senior editor of color. We will continue updating you on the actions we’re taking with the money you donated to our fundraiser and are excited to share new voices, new stories, new content, and our successes at overhauling our company culture with you.

We don’t always succeed, but we do strive to be honest with you about our failures and the pain we cause. You will find a renewed transparency at Autostraddle from this moment forward. Thank you to those of you who have taken on the burden of calling on us to do better, to those of you who have watched us grow from our mistakes and believe we still can, and to everyone who works with us to try to make Autostraddle a source of pride and a place of safety for the entire community.


Marni and Kristin’s Statement on the Medium Blog Post

This is Marni Kellison and Kristin Russo. Marni has been one of the directors of A-Camp since its inception in 2012 through to our 11th A-Camp this past May, and Kristin has served as co-director for the past five camps. We were the co-directors of the 2016 spring session to which this post refers, referencing experiences of racism, anti-blackness and exclusion as recalled by former staff. Many campers and staff left feeling frustrated, isolated and/or targeted. We are sorry for the ways in which our actions and inactions have impacted our Black and other POC campers and staff. What we would like to address here, alongside A-Camp founder Riese, is our awareness of the systemic racism in A-Camp’s structures of power and the harm that has resulted, much of which originated from our own whiteness and its unexamined impacts. We have often been reactive instead of proactive in addressing those harms, which is something we are continuing to try to shift.

We collect staff and camper feedback after every camp, and take that feedback seriously. After that 2016 camp we reached out to every staff member involved and spent many months processing the incident in question – a conflict that involved multiple intersecting marginalized identities – to parse out what happened and where things went wrong. Our team came together to build a better, more comprehensive and intersectional conflict resolution policy, which we continue to revisit.

After that 2016 camp, we created permanent paid senior leadership positions focused on prioritizing Black and other POC, trans women and access-related inclusion in our programming and practices, positions that have been expanded in the years since and the compensation for which has increased (though not enough). We also put in place a requirement that all talent line-ups be 50%+ Black and POC, started a BIPOC-only campership fund, and continued our policy of giving the vast majority of general campership donations to BIPOC and trans campers. We’ve continued to prioritize staff applications from Black and other POC, and reach out of the Autostraddle network to get more Black and POC staff members on our team.

While we do want to be clear that we have never paid Black and other POC Talent or staff less or differently than white people in those roles, there has often been confusion and miscommunication around how those roles are defined and we will be reaching out directly to relevant parties to diagnose and rectify those issues. We also acknowledge that we are still not where we need to be in terms of truly representational staffing and programming. We know that, we want it to be different, and we are working to change it. In the years since the camp in question, we’ve built racial justice programming and training into our camp programming, and are continuing to look for ways to build it out further and increase staff capacity around anti-racist approaches to all aspects of camp delivery. This year we both announced that we would be stepping down as camp directors in order to make space for new leadership, specifically Black and POC leadership, as noted in the all-camp email that went out last month. This is already happening.

Still, we recognize that the harms caused at 2016 camp did not end the moment that the work began and we would like to acknowledge and apologize for the harms that have continued at the camps that have followed, including most recent camp in June, the feedback from which we will be addressing with participants directly.

We are currently synthesizing staff feedback on how white supremacy and whiteness is centered in camp structures, as gathered through camper feedback surveys, the longstanding work and advocacy of Black and POC staff and community members in identifying structural inequalities and calling for changes (work that should never have been so disproportionately done by Black and POC staff), and an in-depth post-camp staff debrief this past June with white and BIPOC senior leadership. One of the primary goals of that debrief was identifying strategies for dismantling white supremacy within camp structures. As camp transitions into its next phase under new leadership, one of our commitments as outgoing directors is to ensure that the feedback and work gathered at that session is captured and actioned according to a timeline of deliverables to foster change and decenter whiteness in all aspects of camp.

This isn’t intended as a self-congratulatory comment in which we pat ourselves on the back for all the great work we’re doing; this is an acknowledgment that we have had and continue to have shortcomings and that we sit firmly in this knowledge and have been trying to do the work, because it’s important work to do. We are sorry for the ways in which we have failed our Black and POC campers and staff in the past. We have been, and remain reachable to those who advocate for inclusion and the dismantling of white supremacy in queer spaces, and have worked to increase transparency with our staff about where we’re trying to go and what we’re doing to be held accountable in getting there. We know that we’re not there yet, but we are deeply invested in changing that, and in this community.


Riese’s Statement from the July 2019 Autostraddle Insider

Our A-Camp co-directors posted a statement in response to the Medium blog post on the blog itself, to try to make sure it was part of the public record on the post, but it was hidden by the post’s author multiple times, while they made videos claiming that A-Camp had not responded — so our camp co-directors decided to post the comment directly on A-Camp’s Twitter and immediately retweeted it from Autostraddle because Autostraddle’s account has so many more followers. You can see the statement here. (We would link to the comment on the Medium blog post, but, as I said, every time we do that, it’s immediately hidden from view.)

We acknowledge and will continue to acknowledge that Autostraddle has areas of oversight when it comes to race, gender, and disability; and areas informed by white supremacist structures and a mostly-white leadership team. We’ve been listening to feedback in those areas and working to address them, and will continue to do so; when we’ve received criticism or feedback about harm we’ve caused in good faith, we’ve consistently reached out to those speaking out and addressed the issues directly; we’re happy to say that many readers and staff members who have called out Autostraddle in the past are members of our community today, and we believe in working through conflict when possible and doing the work to repair those relationships. We are incredibly grateful for and indebted to the hard and often frustrating work and advocacy done by our trans and POC staff in consistently holding us accountable and pushing us for change, and many of our accomplishments are a result of that advocacy.

We do not habitually pat ourselves on the back for our accomplishments in this area because we know we have a LOT of room for improvement. But we do pay our staff and writers equitably, and in fact consistently strive to pay trans and POC writers more. Whenever there is even a smidge of extra profit, we put that towards trans and QTPOC writers first. One of many examples is paying POC contributors to Boobs on Your Tube back when nobody was getting paid for those contributions. And we have already begun paying out money you donated during our recent fundraiser to our longtime QTPOC writers (as well as raising our individual rates across the board, and setting aside funding specifically for longform work from our QTPOC writers). Since bringing on Heather in 2014, all of our hires or promotions to the senior staff team have been women of color, including a black Senior Editor, and we will continue in that spirit with future hires.

Our white camp directors stepped down in June and we have been working toward hiring new QTPOC camp leadership, and hope to do so soon!. Although my own involvement in A-Camp planning and leadership has been inconsistent over the years, I will be also officially stepping down from any association with A-Camp leadership to make room for more diverse voices at the top.

As I mentioned in this month’s A+ letter from the editor, we recognize that A-Camp and Autostraddle are very different entities to run, and formally separating the two to ensure better operation of both is in our immediate plans. Our next funding priority is bringing another POC editor on our senior staff team.

We have failed our POC, trans, and disabled writers and readers in many ways over the years. We are sincerely sorry for the harm and pain we’ve caused in all of those areas. We’re also eager to continue to learn from our mistakes and keep striving to make Autostraddle a space where everyone under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella feels seen, heard, represented, and safe. And we urge you to stick with us and watch. We’ve done what we said we’ll do with our resources in the past, and will continue to do what we promised — raise rates for writers across the board, with funds devoted specifically to paying for work from QTPOC writers, and prioritizing the hire of another full-time senior editor of color — with the money you donated to our fundraiser. We are committed to doing what’s right and to taking responsibility when we fail. We’re thankful to you for holding us accountable and for believing we can do even better. ‘Cause we believe that too!

The has written 60 articles for us.

149 Comments

  1. Glad to see this post. I am wondering if any of the Black people and other people of color involved in this situation would be interested in sharing their Venmos and PayPals? As a white Straddler, I would like to send them money directly to compensate them for their labor through this entire process and provide some reparations for the harm.

  2. Thank you. I wasn’t at that a-camp but I believe yall. Autostraddle has been a place I feel safe in as a black queer person of color, especially as I explore my not super cis gender identity. Keep on keeping on.

  3. It’s honestly been a little unfair for Autostraddle writers to have to come up with as much of the skill set an A-camp staffer needs as they can, too. Hopefully being able to focus on them separately can give us an A-camp where no one(or fewer people, anyway) is holding on by their fingernails.

    • Really sad to hear about Riese. She gave a lot to this website. Also sorry to see all the Jewish leadership leaving at a time of rising antisemitism and challenges for Jews in the community.

      (I know I had my concerns about antisemitism and Jewish issues, but to be clear, they with the community, not Riese.)

      • Are there a lot of jews leaving Autostraddle leadership? (full disclosure – i’m a white, mostly ashke, jew). Sincere question because I genuinely don’t know, and am only on the periphery of this community. Agreed that anti-semitism is an under-discussed and rising issue. But it gives me pause to see this comment here, in this way, because all too often the needs of Jews are pitted against the needs of POC as a distraction from the real fundamental issues of white supremacy. I say this as a Jew – I’ve always thought autostraddle seems to have a decent amount of Jewish content, and never felt uncomfortable as a Jew here, but I also agree that there are patterns of antisemtitism that specifically impact Jewish leaders. But am wondering if you are seeing that here, specifically, and if so in what ways? It’s so important to not accidentally falling into the trap of pitting marginalities against each other. (To say nothing of jews of color that get caught in that bind all the more so.)

        • “all too often the needs of Jews are pitted against the needs of POC as a distraction from the real fundamental issues of white supremacy”—that’s f*cked up. Jews and POC are highly at risk of white supremacy. The needs of Jews aren’t a distraction. The needs of POC aren’t a distraction.

          If you need convincing, 1/3 (13 of 39) of the people killed by white supremacists in ideology-driven murders since Charlottesville were Jewish. We are not 1/3 of the population.

          It is super super f*cked to deny that Jews are not at risk from white supremacy. That we are a distraction. That’s why we need Jewish leadership.

        • “all too often the needs of Jews are pitted against the needs of POC as a distraction from the real fundamental issues of white supremacy”

          What the f*ck is wrong with you? Multiple mass murders of Jews are distractions? I don’t care if you’re Jewish. That is some right antisemitism you’ve internalized.

          We all need to be safe. Jews, POC, Jewish POC.

  4. Thank you for a thoughtful, thorough and transparent response.

    I’m continually finding new places that racism, colonialism, racism, ableism, and every other -ism, have hidden in my brain. It’s in everything. It’s a process I’m actively working on.

    I appreciate reading about the team’s actions to address past mistakes, rectify them, and move forward differently and with intention. I learned a lot. I’m hopeful for Autostraddle and A-Camp’s future. Thank you!

    • This is what I’ve been wondering! I’m so pleased to read Autostraddle is stepping up,have sincerely apologised, and has an action plan, but potentially pushing Riese back from her own creation feels uncomfortable to me.

      • Hi! No, Riese is definitely not being pushed out of her own publication! Riese owns Autostraddle and A-Camp and has been the brains and driving force behind so much of its success. It is her life’s work. No one on this staff would ever try to take that from her. Riese has agreed completely to taking a mental health sabbatical and to being in touch with our senior staff about how long that’s viable and what the next steps will look like. If you are a longtime reader, you’ll know that Riese is in charge of everything from managing money to choosing A-Camp cabins to writing high traffic content and personal essays to collecting conversations for the A+ Insider. It’s more than any one person, or any five people really, could possibly handle and she’s been doing it for a decade.

        It was imperative that we post these statements to our website as soon as possible to address the concerns of our readers and staff and curb the harm being done to our POC staff and readers; and we wanted to be as transparent as possible about where we are and where we’re going and how we need to change and why. I do apologize for the alarm. Riese has been involved in all of these conversations and her taking a step back was a joint decision made with her.

      • Yep, that one, whose laudable existence does not remotely negate the fact that this has apparently been a known problem for three years and not at all been addressed. People, particularly black, poc, and trans people, should have known about this as factor in choosing to donate or not.

        • it was pretty shitty of dan to wait to post that until they were already doing a big fundraising push. why would dan sit on those stories for 3 years and then wait until AS asked for money in a big way to finally air it all out? it was a calculated move on dan’s behalf meant for maximum damage. that’s not cool.

          not saying what happened at A-camp was right. I am saying that dan handled this like a complete asshole.

          • I don’t think Dan is the issue here nor should they be the focus. This isn’t about Dan. This is about the QPOC that were hurt. They should be the focus. The timing of the article doesn’t really matter. AS isn’t disputing that harm was done. They are trying to take accountability so lets let them do that without all the defensiveness on their behalf. QPOC, like myself, should be able to read this post and the comments and feel like steps are being made to rectify this situation without it turning into a discussion about Dan.

          • Can’t reply directly but this is to Turkish.

            Unfortunately Dan has been the one making this about Dan since the beginning. I 100% agree that POC voices are getting drowned out here but a big part of that is because of how Dan has made their white voice the central and loudest one and riled up their followers with partly distorted information, which has had a huge influence on turning this from what should have been a reasonable wake up call and constructive demand for continued accountability into a screaming match between mostly white people.

          • It felt strange to me how much Dan’s voice was centered in that Medium post. It’s great that Autostraddle is being held accountable for past wrongs, but it feels like Dan is making it about themselves and acting on some personal vendetta. They could have elevated those QPOC voices and then stepped down but instead they’re dominating the discussion

        • The thing about the medium post and a lot of the Twitter stuff is the idea that it’s “not been addressed.” It very much has been, from 2017’s A-Camp on. What happened in 2016 is a big reason why there was such a focus on hiring Black and trans and disabled senior staff at A-Camp from 2017 on. AS failed in many ways but it’s really disingenuous to say “nothing was addressed.”

  5. As a (white) reader who’s been loving AS for years, this post saddens me. There’s no link to the Medium post, leaving readers to google around in order to access the testimonies to which this post responds. To me this omission causes the post to read (intentionally or not), as an attempt by AS to appease its more vocal critics while minimizing the reach of their narrative. I feel condescended to as a member of this community who cares DEEPLY about these testimonies and about compensating the people who have suffered and those who have worked to bring that suffering and the white supremacist culture that wrought it to light. I echo the request above that you publicize venmo or paypal info so that we as a community can begin to compensate the BIPOC and trans community members doing this (thus far thankless) work. Through inappropriate and insufficient responses to these issues, AS effectively outsourced its justice work. The money raised in the two stretch goals should be on the negotiating table for compensating the people who have ended up doing it.

    What about a structure for folks who experienced racial and/or transphobic violence and have not yet presented these grievances to the community? What about addressing the continued closeness between AS and Esposito? It’s true that some aspects of the Medium post are troubling, but Riese’s apology in particular implies that large portions of the testimony are simply untrue. What about acknowledging that when “good faith” efforts were made to initiate an accountability process, they were met with obstinance? Finally, and I cannot stress this enough, why is this post buried in the AS launch page and not pinned on the official twitter? This is a moment of reckoning that perhaps deserves to be prioritized above a Euphoria recap.

    Generally, I can’t overstate what a disappointing response this is. I believed in the AS community and staff’s ability to do better than this. Too little, too late is a major vibe here.

    • I couldn’t agree more; this apology truly missed the mark. It openly discredits the people to whom it claims to be apologizing and refuses to call by name the overtly racist actions at a-camp. Switching the onus to Dan for not allowing it into “public record” 12 (or however many) days ago vs bringing it here at that point is cowardly. I’ve loved and contributed financially to Autostraddle for many years, and I hope y’all will do better next time you have to take ownership/apologize (and overall, obviously).

        • Dan, Autostraddle didn’t need to “act like this was your story”, you did that. Your name and voice is all over it (one sentence on “I’m white and I got paid” would have been plenty). If we’re going to be about calling out the community to do better, then it might be time to reflect on how you step back and elevate the voices of POC without repeatedly centering yourself.

    • Seeing you’re not the target audience for this apology, it doesn’t matter whether or not you think this apology hits the mark. That’s for us, the Black and POC members of this community, to decide.

  6. Y’all are demonstrating remorse, growth, plans to correct, and making structural changes to avoid similar errors in the future. There will be more mistakes in the future because this is a business run by humans, but if you continue to address those errors with the same level of thoughtfulness as you have addressed this, then I think everything will be just fine. I believe in all of you and sincerely think you will continue to do better.

  7. I appreciate this thoughtful response. Honestly, I’ve been blown away by how thoughtfully, patiently, and empathetically AS and AS leadership has responded to such a bad faith call out, because, even if the call out itself was vindictive and weird and self-righteous, and white-savior-y, the issues of white supremacy and racism in queer spaces and in publishing and in Autostraddle and in A Camp are super real.

    I really appreciate this thoughtful start of a process of accountability. I’m glad you all took time to talk through this with relevant stakeholders and impacted parties before making a post on the website even if you received some vitriol for not rushing to post.

    I also really appreciate those who are still angry, who are reacting to this post with skepticism, who are still hurt, for continuing to make sure your concerns are heard.

    • This is a typical response I’d expect from a white person. Like everything else, this site is run by a bunch of white folks who perpetuate systems of white supremacy. The tone deafness in this response is amazing – and I don’t mean that in a good way.

  8. Is this the reason why some of the twoc and tpoc writers have left and why you have trans dudes writing articles, which is odd as fuck for a site dedicated to woman on woman(and the aligned) culture?

    • Have no clue what your other comments are about but I created an account just to speak on this one. As a white non-binary person on HRT who has been reading AS since pre-transition and still does – i am Here to agree that trans dudes shouldn’t be writing articles and damn sure shouldn’t be getting paid to write for a women’s publication.

      • I agree that it makes sense to prioritize paying trans women as writers over trans men on a “girl on girl culture” website especially. Trans men still profit from the gender wage gap. And I’ve seen many instances where trans men are prioritized even in lesbian communities to the extent of violence against trans women.

        • No, it is not universally true that trans men “profit from the gender wage gap.” Far from it. In my case, for example, it’s apparent to most everyone that my sex is female. That has an impact. I won’t spell it out.

          Please explain how prioritizing trans men counts as “violence against trans women.”

    • the queer community has a huge problem with conflating the experiences of white transmasculine people and transmasculine people of color and I’m here to say it’s just not fucking okay.

      • I agree, but some trans mascs are woman/lesbian aligned, which is fine by me, but some are aligned with men, which I don’t think AS is the right place for them as AS is for women on women culture.

        • ‘Aligned with men’ and ’aligned with women/lesbian’ sounds like something you’re thrusting onto who you’re seeing contribute to autostraddle. Trans and non binary folk don’t need anyone clocking or thrusting those perceptions onto them.

    • This is not the space for you to criticize the inclusion of trans men in the Autostraddle community, and it’s harmful to derail an important conversation with unrelated and transphobic criticism.

      • As a transmasculine person – with all due respect – this is a publication for those who identify as women. So the point is – any writing slots going to trans men could and probably should be prioritized to QWOC and trans women.

        • I was still raised female in a patriarchal world. How I identify doesn’t erase that, it’s a part of my life, and people like me don’t deserve to be pushed out of this space.

          • How you identify could now be triggering to the women among us. I am Trans masc and still read autostraddle but I understand that I shouldnt be on payroll at this publication when there are trans women and QWOC who deserve to have their voices heard and compensated for in this space. I’m sorry but idk how more people here don’t understand that.

          • Perhaps you should also look into publications for trans / NB identifying folks as they still speak on the experiences of being raised female in a patriarchal world. Point is this is not primarily our space and that should be acknowledged and respected.

          • How I identify is triggering?
            What a thoughtlessly fucking cruel comment.

            Lesbian communities are a part of me. No, I will not be pushed out, or told that I’m triggering anyone just by existing. Good luck watching the new L Word. There will be trans men.

          • Using this space to push for more exclusion is deeply unkind, unhelpful, and way off the mark. You do you, Dani. Read or write for whatever publications are a good fit for you. Seek out the spaces that feel right for you. But dictating to others where they should or should not be welcomed based on your own point of view is a non-starter. We need to be working against racism and white supremacy, not each other.

          • Dear god, never did I say trans masc people should be pushed out of this space. My very first comment I explained I’m trans masc and still read autostraddle and feel comfortable here! My issue is trans men being paid to write when those slots should be prioritized for women, trans women and QWOC part of the very problem being brought to light is that there isn’t enough SPACE for them and $ to pay ten yet AS has space for men writing articles. Stop circumventing my actual point and extrapolating it into some kind of exclusionary bs that I’m not expressing.

  9. I can not imagine the incredible amount of grace required to take this public call out and respond to it with a good faith institutional call in.

    Thank you, Autostraddle, for having the courage to face the work that needs done. Thank you for understanding the ways that a space can’t really be safe for any of us if it isn’t safe for all of us. Thank you for showing us to strive to do better and be better and learn to support each other better in the process. Take the time, show your work, and I believe the community you’ve built will be right there with you on the journey.

  10. Wow. Just wow. I made an account so I could reply to this because I am so frustrated by this. Autostraddle leadership, you fucked this up in every way. You didn’t acknowledge or listen to POC or trans people or both in a space you were charged with keeping safe, you ignored them when they did speak up, and tried to push them out, and now that they’ve gotten their message out to others, you’re whining about how they deleted your comment?! Dan posted about WHY they deleted your comment! It was insincere and wouldn’t have shown up on this website, Medium, or any social media pages. Which is clearly what you wanted, probably trying to keep this story from getting big.

    Then you publish an apology in which you basically just beg people to forgive you because you’re “really working hard on it”? Maaaannn, I didn’t realize how little training/education you’ve received as leadership or even as people in things as basic as white allyship or navigating LGBTQ spaces as people of privilege or any of the things that you’d be doing if you cared. There are SO many things you’re missing or way off the mark on in this post. Jesus. I’m white and cisgender, and there are a million things I don’t know about the experiences of people of color, black people, and trans people, but I hold myself accountable by attending as many trainings as possible, giving my money to POC-owned businesses as much as possible, and most importantly, valuing black and POC leadership and spaces where that leadership is nurtured and upheld. I had to be taught all those things, but I learned them by constantly putting myself in uncomfortable situations, which I still do. I’m not saying this to claim I know any more than anyone else – I’m saying it because of how confused I am by how clear it is that Autostraddle/ACamp leadership doesn’t appear to be doing ANY of this on a regular basis – or ever?

    Finally, why the hell isn’t this article pinned so it’s the FIRST thing people see on the Autostraddle page when they open it, instead of the TV show articles currently at the top? You may as well title this “We hope this gets buried fast so people forget about it.” You also waited until your FUNDRAISING campaign was over to deal with this.

    Your whole response to this situation has shown that you clearly hope this goes away as fast as possible so you don’t have to deal with it. That’s very obvious.

    I have been reading Autostraddle since I came out, but upon learning of how cliquey and white-protective your leadership and the leadership of ACamp is, I absolutely will not be reading or contributing to you ever again.

    I expect more from one of the leading voices of the queer community, and your utter failure to protect and uphold the real lived experiences of QTPOC in your circles is unforgivable, given the fact that your attitude is so clearly one of hoping people don’t hold you accountable for too long.

    I strongly suggest you reach out to Dan, Carolyn, and the others involved in the article and actually talk to them about this. That’s a good place to start.

    • Wow, this post reeks of white self-righteousness. You’re acting like Autostraddle is a white monolith that has unilaterally failed QTPOC as a whole, ignoring/flat-out erasing the QTPOC who work at Autostraddle *right now* and and who are partially responsible for drafting/editing the above that you seem so eager to tear down. Where do you get off lecturing AS QTPOC? Since you love to hold yourself accountable, what are you doing right now to the QTPOC who work for Autostraddle right now? How are you working to listen to and respect their needs and perspectives in this?

      Signed, a QPOC who attended A-Camp 2016 and remembers Esposito’s bullshit racist transphobic set, but also remembers how clique-y and exclusive the QPOC staff quoted in the Medium piece were as well. I wish that, as a community, we queer folks could stop acting like every conflict can be reduced to clear heroes and villains with no room for gray, and remember that sometimes, a lot of the time, we’re just flawed and hurting people who are trying to cope as best we can and keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

  11. Here’s a thought: how about if all those of us who are white here use our energy for listening to/ supporting poc?

    There’s a lot of amazing work that has been done and is being done here by writers such as Reneice, Kayla, Al(aina) and many many more.

    Let’s use our energy for those changes we profess to want.

    Let’s support the AS we want, and in particular all the incredible writers of color who have contributed and continue to contribute so much 💜💜💜

    • Are the privacy rights of these 2 campers being accounted for here? Both women were spoken about in the third person and, IIRC, neither is quoted about the incident. Were they warned about this story being publicized? Did either one want this story told? Are people going to chase them down for commentary, dredging up bad memories?

      It would be pretty damn awful to find out than an incident in which you were bullied/made the grave error of bullying someone else because you thought you were defending yourself/made an insensitive remark etc is now getting talked about by hundreds of people several years later.

      • The only truly worthy comment made about this tawdry melodrama. Thank you.

        The queermo gossip train is “always already” running in at full steam, and loves to gussy itself up in highfalootin’ jargon. But we all know at heart it’s usually just catty posturing. And that such a brouhaha becomes public chicken fodder by keeping the original incident in (nonconsensually amplified and phoney) whispers only proves it. It’s a bad look.

        The original antagonists can peep up or not. Everyone else is just jerking their own chains.

        • It actually seems like there was *one* antagonist, and for some reason Dan & Carolyn think it was more appalling that she was called out for her actions than that she abused a TWOC. A person who has been targeted for abuse is *not* an antagonist.

  12. Thank you AS. I’ve never seen another publication actively trying to listen, do better, and dismantle oppression while still trying to survive as a company as one of the only places left like it. Keep on keeping on. Love ya AS.

  13. I’m very disappointed to read that autostraddle was perceived as not supportive when from a reader’s perspective AS has been over-sensitive to people’s needs in a rather touchy time. Particularly after the success of the fundraiser and your high and ambitious hopes for the future. No one place can cater for everyone and I’m sorry to hear Riese has had to step back. I will also be taking a step back from AS as the mood has really soured for me knowing that as a company you can do so much so well and people will still get angry enough to tear a really good publication apart. Until next time… I hope the founding team gets some time and rest and solace.

  14. For white readers wondering how to respond, I have found adrienne maree brown’s https://sublevelmag.com/issues/the-speculative/report-recommendations-for-us-right-now-from-a-future extremely helpful for putting the pattern happening here in context. There is a pattern that has repeated in 2, now 3, organizations I have been deeply involved/invested in where white middle and/or upper class queer women use their relative access/stability to start an organization with a strong desire and concrete attempts to shift resources and power to people of color. In getting these orgs off the ground in our grueling economy, they overextend themselves a greeeeaaaaaat deal and, fall into patterns that white supremacy teaches (e.g. consolidating power, defensiveness, etc). It is never an individual failing – it is a pattern we have to hold and heal from and shift _together_ if we don’t want to splinter and punish each other the way white supremacy and patriarchy teach us to. This pattern is also the reason it is essential to, if you have financial access, move money with no strings attached to qpoc led orgs and qpoc media makers. With gratitude & love for _everyone’s_ work & efforts & hopes.

  15. I can hold these thoughts concurrently:

    -Dan’s main authorship of the Medium post centralizes Dan to this conversation in a way that is unfortunate. This makes me wonder, perhaps wrongly, whether the initial impetus for this post is due to a conflict between white people. There were alternate ways to raise up the voices of people of color and taking a seat back, including reaching out to find more POC respondents – both positive and negative – about ACamp and ceding main authorship to one of those people, if they wished. As always, when I see author or editor at the top of a multi-response post, my assumption is that I am seeing the selection of responses they have chosen for me to see. Do I want a white person to be the one, in this case, to have the power of selecting responses and perspectives? No.

    – Similarly, I had to look at the editoral page to see who The Editors currently are to have a better understanding of what humans were involved in the writing of this post, and not to my surprise, the majority are still white. May I make a suggestion? If you haven’t already, reach out the Speakeasy and former POC contributers and writers to understand the landscape and potential get a set of – positive and negative – responses on how A-Camp and Autostraddle could be improved *and make them, with, author permission, public*. Maybe they won’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole, as is their prerogative. Maybe you will introduce more even more transparency in your process.

    A few months ago I cancelled my Autostraddle subscription because I was frustrated about the lack of coverage of a particular news event, but also generally frustrated about what more needs to be done to decolonize this space. In the months since, I wondered if I was being fair. I have benefited greatly from a variety of posts over the years, and Autostraddle was started as a culture site, not a news and politics site.

    But here’s the thing: 1) Autostraddle has gotten both better and more essential to political conversations around queerness, making my expectations higher, 2) It, and A-Camp, needs to get a lot better, and quickly.

    We all do. The stakes are very fucking high right now and very real. It might seem unfair that Autostraddle, which almost always tends to mean well and often adds way more positivity than negativity, with its small staff and its own limited budget, and A-Camp, should have to deal with this now, but the truth is we all do. I have to decide every month where to put my money from my limited income and every week where to put my time because everything is under attack and struggling and peoples’ lives are at stake.

    Privilege exposes such huge blind spots in all of us. Reading the account of the comic, I cannot imagine that many of same folks I’ve read and whose work I loved from Autostraddle would have sat there without standing up and putting an end to things. Your voices come through so strongly and powerfully on this site.

    More mainstream queer culture (and yes, Autostraddle now fits in that category) must decolonize their spaces and decentralize whiteness in order to make them safer, and must repair the harms done to QPOC through white supremacy and white privilege. There is a sharp learning curve, and I look forward to seeing a better Autostraddle come out of it, as well as hearing about a better A-Camp.

  16. Back in the 70’s, in China, there was a popular game called pidou (批鬥), a kind of commie fad. Basically the idea was to put a dunce cap on someone whose face you didn’t like and use every 25 cent lefty jargon word you could think of to tear them down in public. You tried to get as many of your friends to help, starting with whisper campaigns and eventually a public shaming. It was all for “education” and “accountability”, don’tchaknow.

    The thing was, whichever faction you fell in might be the ones on the outs tomorrow, and you might be the one wearing the dunce cap and getting beaten as counterrevolutionary.

    The thing many of those who went through it today will tell you (if they can bear the PTSD flashbacks to do so), is that the gratuitous, egotistical, social terror of ostracism and shaming was as damaging as any physical violence.

    No one remembers anymore the phoney rationales over lefty interpretations of ideology. No one remembers who was “correct”. No one feels anyone was held accountable. Heck, the worst narcissistic abusers conned the mob, usually got off scot free.

    All most folks I know who went through pidou remember is the suffering, the chaos, and the waste of it all… while the country starved.

    Good thing we are past that kind of thing, eh?

  17. I’m a little disappointed (but not that surprised) by this response and the comments here. As a QPOC, I’ve read AS for years and years, but haven’t really engaged much beyond that. I’m not on twitter, so I don’t much about the drama or personal stuff that people in the comments are alluding to, I just googled the medium article (because it wasn’t linked to here) when this was posted.

    I think that even if the medium article was written from a viewpoint of a personal vendetta (and I’m not trying to speak to any intentions because I’m so out of the loop on that stuff), there was many things in there that concern me as a POC that don’t feel adequately addressed with this response.

    First, I think that starting this piece by blaming the medium author for not letting A Camp post a response in the comments is a little ridiculous. It makes it feel like you all didn’t want to post anything widely enough to actually be held accountable. And also if you tried to post a response there and it got deleted, why couldn’t this have been posted to this website (and social medias) days earlier?

    Secondly, I think if this were a sincere attempt at accountability moving forward, y’all could’ve done more to make sure this was seeable. I’m a little shocked that this isn’t pinned on the top of the website or the social medias. I came back to this article multiple times since it came out and was shocked at how many other articles were posted shortly after this one. It felt like it was trying to get this buried under others so people wouldn’t pay it much mind.

    Thirdly, this response doesn’t even address certain things like the Cameron Esposito set, or the way AS has continued to promote her work unabashedly throughout the years.

    I think what will help me decide whether or not to give up reading AS is how the concrete steps they mentioned in the article go moving forward. For example “camp leadership will be taking immediate steps to compensate all past Speakeasy leaders, address specific harms reported by 2019 camp participants, and will be working on an actionable timeline of next steps towards A-Camp’s transition. This work will be transparently shared within A-Camp’s public website on an ongoing basis.” I know it was mentioned that A-Camp is run separately from AS, but I’m wondering if it could also be shared here (along with this post getting on the A-Camp website soon-from looking at it quickly, I didn’t see anything about it easily available).

    Finally, I’m a little disappointed in the way the comment section has been handled. On the comments where white people have criticisms (some similar to mine), they are responded to with stuff like “hey no one cares if white readers think this missed the mark please work harder to decentralize your feelings” or “Wow, this post reeks of white self-righteousness,” but when white commenters wrote stuff supporting the AS response, they were simply upvoted, not told that nobody cares what they think. It just seems like a way to try to silence people who disagree with AS and makes me feel unsupported in this space (I’m assuming that I won’t be upvoted either lol).

    Anyway, I’m just posting this here in the hopes that some of my concrete questions/concerns will be responded to (like if this post gets pinned to the top of the website or any response about hold Esposito accountable for her racism would be great).

    • I’ve been reading AS for years and as a black lesbian I feel the exact way as Mar posted. The white commenters have been shut down and excluded although they align with the abused group. The apology seems immature and self-congratulatory and it should absolutely be pinned to the top of the homepage. Not pinning it seems like you all would like to hide the incident which is further infuriating on so many levels. Not linking to the original article on Medium is also not cool.

      Also, why are so many commenters more focused on how good of an apology was given over what actually happened? There is SO much work to be done to get people up to speed on the intersectionality they think they are exuding. Here is an excerpt from the original paper outlining the idea of intersectionality for those of us who have never read it. We need to expand upon it, not forget or ignore:

      Kimberlé Crenshaw, 1989, Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics

      “These problems of exclusion cannot be solved simply by including Black women within an already established analytical structure. Because the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism, any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner in which Black women are subordinated. Thus, for feminist theory and antiracist policy discourse to embrace the experiences and concerns of Black women, the entire framework that has been used as a basis for translating “women’s experience” or “the Black experience” into concrete policy demands must be rethought and recast.”

      • I agree that if this post is a true effort towards increasing transparency and accountability and to create a more intersectional platform, the article needs to be pinned and/or featured. And perhaps it should be updated every few weeks/every month with progress made, instead of buried under new articles.

        • Please re-post with updates if pinning this post to the top isn’t possible! In fact, I’m a little surprised the regular publications have continued — it’s jarring to see new articles of such different tone appear on top of this one, as if this difficult conversation isn’t more important than the TV and other media updates being posted. If the posts are scheduled, consider holding them back for a while just out of respect for the queer POC who are trying to come to grips with what’s transpired over the last almost-fortnight, and let us have this conversation as a community properly.

    • Thank you for writing this, Mar. I really agree. As a black, queer woman, I have loved reading AS over the years and just upgraded my A+ membership during the recent fundraising drive. Finding out about this dispute in this way is…disappointing to say the least. Having to google to find the original Medium article that spurred this response isn’t something I should have to do to better understand the context. Finding out from that article rather than from AS itself about this incident happened as part of Cameron Esposito’s set is a bummer. I haven’t been able to make it to A-Camp, but this feels like an important thing to have debriefed with the broader community, and I might have missed something but I don’t recall seeing any A-Camp recap posts about anything but fun, fun, fun.

      I agree with some other commenters here that “cancel culture” isn’t aligned with our shared values around inclusion – letting people make mistakes and not immediately ostracizing them/cutting off contact is part of a shared growth curve for our justice movements. AND at the same time, that doesn’t mean we get to sweep things under the rug/pretend like they never happened. I do feel sad that I didn’t have this information to take into account when I was deciding how much/when to donate. I might have still donated and felt great about my choice given fuller information, but now I feel like I didn’t make my choice to donate with a true picture and can’t look back on the decision fully positively. I have been just getting into Cameron Esposito’s Queery podcast and have been recommending it to all my QTPOC friends because of the amazing QTPOC guests she brings on. I would have liked to be making a more informed recommendation to all of them – NOT to say “don’t listen,” but to make sure they’re walking into it knowing whether to have their guard up or not. It would have been nice to know whether to have my own guard up.

      I’ve noticed her style of interviewing means she interrupts sometimes and sometimes makes guest’s stories more about her own experience as a white cis lesbian. Before, seeing the Philly pride flag as part of the podcast’s logo, and the QTPOC representation of her guest list, I made some assumptions about Cameron’s level of accountability to/right relationship with communities of color. I’m not saying that I will stop listening/supporting her full stop. But I would hope to see some sort of response/addressing of this situation from her in order to feel 100% good about it – are Cameron and AS actually “doing the work”? Or just performing wokeness?

      Because what “doing the work” looks like is striving to live into the nuance and the grey areas, being generous with your assumptions about the intentions of those with less power raising complaints and scrupulously and thoroughly examining your own reactions and what impact they might have on others. “Doing the work” means understanding that we are all human and a response like “writing a letter” can be influenced by many natural, normal feelings/reactions to a complaint that can lead to conflicting underlying motives: we genuinely feel bad and want to repair relationship with the impacted party, and we also feel scared and want to control damage to our reputation; we know our initial actions weren’t in line with the values we want to represent in the world, and we also feel treated unfairly and want that bad-mean-accuser to stop.

      “Doing the work” means doing the deep soul-searching to find & identify ALL of those things that are going on underneath the surface for us, taking space from those feelings, and then DECIDING from a place of more emotional remove WHICH of those places we want to respond from (because if you aren’t doing that it means you’re putting the emotional labor onto us to work out your inner conflict for you). For me, what that would have looked like is what Mar said – linking to the original complaint post, not assuming that the original author hiding AS’s response was in bad faith (seems like it was an effective strategy to give Carolyn more of a platform after several years of what sounds like non-responsiveness), etc.

      Sending much love and appreciation for the time the AS team is spending to work through this, particularly to folks of color on the team and more broadly (former team members, A-Camp staffers, etc) who have had to take on extra burden to deal with this. I want to acknowledge that labor, and to acknowledge that there ARE probably many nuances and details behind the scenes that we are not aware of.

      And, appreciating Mar for this comment to say, this response is something, but it is not 100% there.

  18. Hi. White-queer person here, not voicing an opinion because what’s needed right now is to listen to QPOC, but am commenting to ask a technical question. I was wondering if Autostraddle’s wireframe included the capability of pinning posts? Pinning posts on Autostraddle may totally be a thing, but I haven’t noticed it in the past. The fundraiser wasn’t even pinned, so I am wondering if this is even a possibility within the current design. If Autostradle is unable to pin posts, then there’s an argument that the development costs for the new feature is less valuable then giving limited budget to the Speakeasy leaders, QPOC Editors, etc etc.

    If pinned is not an option, then the featured post widget that’s on the sidebar of all pages is another way to keep this post in eyes view for a longer period of time and ultimately creating more accountability. We know featured posts is a technical capability of the website and, based on the responses here, this would be a good way to use it.

    • I don’t know about the website, but you can definitely pin posts on Facebook and Twitter, which they have not. And as someone else pointed out, if they can’t pin, they could repost with updates. Also, they could have chosen to pause other articles so this would be the first/latest post out there for at least a day or two, but instead they posted it and then immediately posted many other articles so it feels like it was intentionally being buried.

  19. I haven’t been on Autostraddle in years due to their lack of inclusivity and tone deafness. Way back in the day, I even corresponded with Riese over issues I had with the place. Never resolved. I cannot say I am surprised. I found this post through another QWOC forum I belong to. Bigotry rarely rears its ugly head in just once direction, so I am sadly unsurprised to see the complaints regarding A-Camp and the site regarding racism. It was anti-lesbian bias that I complained about back then, now this. They also had issues regarding the expression of sentiments against certain kinds of pain caused by religion…so, yeah. Nobody should be surprised that this place still hasn’t gotten its shit together. This is a piss poor response, too.

  20. QTPOC reader for 10 years, went to A Camp 2013. I’m pretty upset about the way AS handled this–I have contributed to every single one of your previous fundraisers including this past one, have renewed my A+ membership, and sent the most recent donations link to a bunch of straight friends who donated. I think it’s pretty shitty that this post is not pinned up and that you waited until after the fundraising drive to announce it, and have since buried it under a bunch of articles. From the fundraising drive it’s pretty clear you can pin up messages up top (e.g. follow our fundraising). Having been off of most social media, the events of 2016 A Camp were not known to me, though that’s not to say I’ve not experienced some of the microaggressions referenced. I sincerely hope you can do better.

  21. I applaud you, Autostraddle. I cannot think of one single company or media outlet that would have had the balls to issue this apology and to a larger audience than the complaint. Not in this political climate. I am baffled by the people who think it is odd that it was first posted on the Medium article. Because you think that AS shouldn’t be going straight to the source of the complaint? Instead, they publicized this on their website (after multiple people asked) and allowed the issue to be seen by people who were unaware of the Medium article. That is how committed they are to backing up their commitment to creating a more inclusive community.

    To the people who have expressed this was not enough without offering a single solution, congratulations. You are part of the rampant racism not only in the queer community but also in America. Change comes from within, which is what Autostraddle is attempting to do by hiring more QPOC. It comes from the people who roll up their sleeves and do the work to make it happen. Not from people who post anonymous comments on websites and expect a tiny company to publically flagellate itself.

    If you are white and you walk away from AS over this because you feel that this apology lacked sincerity, that is just a display of your white privilege.

    I can’t speak for the events at A-Camp in 2016 or what Cameron Esposito’s comments were at that time. But I am a huge fan of hers and listen to Queery regularly. She has always come across to me as incredibly inclusive. If not one of the most inclusive people in the queer community. If this is because of evolution on her part, then even better. I realize that this is a personal belief but I feel the sincerity behind AS and Cameron Esposito and the world that they are trying to help build. They make me want to be a better person and help build a better community.

    The Queer community has so much pain in it. It is hard not to feel included and safe in a space that is filled with other people who also have had to justify the right to exist. But it never will be inclusive if no one takes responsibility and attempts to make a change. If no one has the courage to speak up when things aren’t right. If places like AS are not made aware of the areas that they need to fix. And people are not willing to help guide solutions.

    I have met more self-righteous people in this community than I have ever met in any other space in my life. This comment section has driven that home for me. Don’t allow your feelings of hurt to overcome your ability to help make this community (And this world) a better place.

  22. Will you hire Carmen Esposito back?

    There is no mention about that in that whole article. The article came way too late and really does feel hidden behind all those unimportant ones posted so fast afterwards. The answer on the medium page itself definitely feels like a try to not let this blow up.

    Autostraddle has always felt extremely cliquey to me. I’ve never been to A-Camp but even in the commentary sections it often feels like the staff are the cool kids and everybody wants to impress them and criticism of the writers will be shut down quickly ( I remember that article about “unnecessary” baby stuff and how the staff reacted to the criticism that many people brought up) . So I can only imagine the situation at A-Camp.

    One thing I believe no one has mentioned so far is something I see as part of the problem: It seems like a lot of the talents you hire and promote on this website are the writers friends. I get it, of course you support them and also it might be cheaper and easier to hire them as talents than anybody you do not know. But I believe this makes it so much harder to call them out on racist oder transphobic behavior. Yet, you should have. Apparently belonging to the cool kids saved Carmen Esposito til this day. The A-Campers on the medium page mentioned that you did react very rapidly and appropriately after some outside facilitators brought in worksheets with transphobic language. But these were outsiders, not part of the clique.

    Another problem that comes with white people hiring their friends is that their friends are probably mostly white too.

    It’s good you want to do better now, but this article and the described actions will not be enough. It needs to be pinned, updated and you need to really talk about the allegations that were made by former campers in the medium article.

    • You think they should cut ties with someone based on what a former employee waits three years to make public? And does it during a major fundraiser? You honestly feel comfortable ignoring a pretty obvious agenda?

      • Dan actually talked about this months, maybe even years ago. I don’t remember when exactly, but I believe it was on twitter.

        I don’t care about “agendas”, I care about facts. And several people who were there that camp confirmed the incident with Esposito. I believe in in listening to their voices.

    • “I’ve never been to A-Camp but even in the commentary sections it often feels like the staff are the cool kids and everybody wants to impress them and criticism of the writers will be shut down quickly…So I can only imagine the situation at A-Camp.”

      It’s this exactly.

      The first camp was just a celebration of the founders and their friends with light bullying of anyone unfortunate enough to be on the outside (fat, POC, uncool, rural, etc.) It was exactly the kind of event you’d expect if a group of privileged, young-ish, mostly white friends and their fans decided to create a camp.

      I’m not surprised that, years later, there are serious issues that the AS and A Camp leaders can’t adequately address. It’s hard to tell your friend they were wrong or that they’re not funny, especially if the majority of the feedback you receive is excessively positive and you and your fans shout down criticism. (There are tons of genuinely funny queer comedians; they just aren’t friends with the AS or A Camp leaders, apparently.)

      There’s room in the world for a quality, collaborative site (and camp) for all queer women.
      This ain’t it.

  23. I found the timeframe involved in AS’s response (and the critique that it took too long and the wait-time harmed POC) interesting. Interesting is the wrong word, maybe though-provoking? In “Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture” by Jones and Okun, they list “Sense of Urgency” as one of the symptoms of internalized white supremacy culture, and point out that a “continued sense of urgency that makes it difficult to take time to be inclusive, encourage democratic and/or thoughtful decision-making, to think long-term, to consider consequences.”

    I don’t mean to say we shouldn’t have a sense of urgency around the problems in our communities and world because things really are bad… just something I’ve been thinking about.

    One more thought from someone who isn’t directly involved with any of this. Is it currently possible for something like A-Camp to be completely safe for POC as long as it includes white people? Is there a different goal that isn’t an absolute “safe space” to strive for in multiracial spaces given how deep internalized white supremacy goes?

    • To add to my thoughts about internalized white supremacy, I just read this AMAZING piece about our communities’ inability to move through conflict and heal/learn/grow is rooted in the trauma response wired into our brains, which seems really connected to other ways that white supremacy gets internalized in different (or similar) ways by people with various levels of privilege and marginalization, related to a sense of urgency but going way beyond that to how we interact with each other on a daily basis!

      https://threader.app/thread/1154764229909442560 . (From Kai Cheng, @razorfemme on twitter)

      “marginal communities, ie queer/trans & social justice communities, are locked into patterns of punitive & carceral logic as a result of the psychological & neurobiological impact of trauma…

      Our individual & collective neural networks have been structured around fight/flight/submit/collapse: surges of cortisol and adrenaline at tiny hints of threat shrink our range of imagination & capacity for mindfulness. Small conflicts & horrific violence become indistinguishable.

      Repeatedly abandoned, rejected & endangered by our families of origin, marginalized communities default to disrupted attachment: we are fearful of the other, but even more fearful of those we love, who have the capacity to wound our most vulnerable parts…

      Bc when we think from the place of trauma – rooted in short-term, individual survival above all else – we lose our capacity for relationship. The function of trauma (and systemic capitalism, colonization) is to tear us away from the network of loving & secure relationship…

      Similarly, trauma thinking dictates that in order to retain unity & safety in community, we must root out the “evil ones”: abusers, ppl with “contaminated” ie problematic thinking, and so on – rather than adopting the perspective that we are interdependent & indispensable…

      How can shift our thinking, open our minds? Are we ready to decentre the ideology of safety for the ideology of connected loving? Disposability for indispensability? Carcerality for transformative justice?”

      That bit about decentering safety and centering connected loving and indispensability really struck me in light of my questions about whether A-space can ever truly be safe. And the whole piece’s focus on personal/collective transformation got me thinking about what kind of training/healing support Autostraddle staff etc. could benefit from as they embark on this complicated process of uprooting racism and other oppressions in our community. I see some people reminding us that autostraddle’s community isn’t about “cancel culture/carceral logic”* but obviously none of us has a fool proof model for what that looks like in practice.

      *I was interested to see folks that they were cancelling their memberships, never going to A-space again, etc. And of course people should make their own choices about what want to engage with and what spaces they don’t have the emotional capacity to try to change. But I also realized that as far as I can tell the POC who were harmed by A-space and autostraddle haven’t collectively called for an Autostraddle boycott! They are asking the staff and organizers to be better, not give up and quit altogether. I especially see a segment of white people who (like me) have this white fragility impulse to automatically panic and leave anything remotely problematic so that we can feel morally pure, and no longer “part of the problem.” But white people are always going to be part of the problem whether we stay home or get to work stumbling toward a better world.

  24. Would it be possible for someone from the AS staff to respond with why the posts aren’t pinned on Facebook and Twitter? It seems like most of us are asking for it, it’s not happening, and some transparency about that would be in line with what you say you’re promoting here.

    • I am trusting that they are working through that request. I’m keeping in mind that Al(aina) has usually carried a great deal (if not all) moderation work on comments, which is a lot; Carmen is frontline on A+ comment box which probably is getting all flavours of responses about this coming in; meanwhile Natalie, Carmen, and Kayla have been getting new (incredible)writing up, which is what they are here for (not cleaning up white staff’s messes from the past). I agree with you that responding to the pin request is important and in line with transparency. I don’t think a sense of urgency (which you may not have) is going to serve black and poc Autostraddle staff here. They’ve been burning the candle on both ends leading up this post. I am strongly hoping that white staff members are handling this question about pinning and making some space for bipoc staff to rest and write (but it will still take some time, they are also handling Riese taking leave, which is part of the plan here). With gratitude member-to-member <3

  25. A couple of logistical suggestions/questions – re: Venmo linkage.

    1) The way new responses to old comments populate on the sidebar makes the appearance of a new response brief, and then, very difficult to find. At least on my browser, I have to expand every comment to look at responses and I might have missed Carmen’s latest update with Venmo links on that top post had I not done so. Can the Venmos be added to the original post somehow? Can they be *pinned* somehow (along with the article)?

    2) I don’t know about the full financial implications of this, so feel free to explain it to me, but I wonder about making the ability to Venmo people extra for articles or labor, permanent. Sort of like a tip jar. I’m South Asian, so whenever I see an article about South Asian queer stuff I get really excited and I would tip for that. There’s also a lot of really cool QTPOC personal essay stuff that I would tip for, anything about QTPOC in media, etc. I’m about to go send Carmen some money because on top of managing this mess and being an Editor of color and being humble about it above, she wrote what I am assuming was an impromptu, really fucking beautiful personal essay about Toni Morrison yesterday (no, seriously, if you are a person who just came here to rubberneck at the drama, I do highly recommend you also go and check it out to understand what Autostraddle does at its best). It wouldn’t be something to do instead of Autostraddle using their funds to pay and hire QTPOC fairly, but could be a way for those of us who care to continue to directly support QTPOC writers and voices on top of that.

    • I love this idea because I want to support writers of color and in general support good writing!

      At the same time I’m conflicted because in practice, tipped industries replicate many more social ills than they decrease them. (For example, servers who follow certain standards of white cis/straight-feminine beauty make better tips, and people doing unseen work like dishwashing make very little money).

      Would “tipping” autostraddle authors incentive folks to write the kinds of articles that got lots of clicks and tips instead of allowing everyone to write good, important articles that might not get as much attention? (And given that white readers of autostraddle are statistically more likely to have more resources, would it end up that POC writers benefitted financially from writing pieces that made their white readers feel good instead of the ones that challenged us?) I mean these are all questions rooted in the fact that we live in a fucked up capitalist society where wealth is unequally distributed in intensely racialized and gendered ways and there’s no way for Autostraddle to overcome this entirely while still functioning in the world!

      What about a fundraising effort that compensated the POC within autostraddle for the emotional and intellectual labor overtime they have been putting in to address the problems? That way the folks doing the work could all be fairly compensated in a way that they agree makes sense from a collective pot of money. And perhaps Autostraddle could in the future keep a part of the budget for compensating this overtime work?

      • “Would “tipping” autostraddle authors incentive folks to write the kinds of articles that got lots of clicks and tips instead of allowing everyone to write good, important articles that might not get as much attention? (And given that white readers of autostraddle are statistically more likely to have more resources, would it end up that POC writers benefitted financially from writing pieces that made their white readers feel good instead of the ones that challenged us?) I mean these are all questions rooted in the fact that we live in a fucked up capitalist society where wealth is unequally distributed in intensely racialized and gendered ways and there’s no way for Autostraddle to overcome this entirely while still functioning in the world!”

        This is a great comment, and highlights a lot of good concerns about an article tipping system, especially since a lot of POC folks do a lot of labor behind the scenes, as we saw this week.

        Perhaps a collective pot would be better.

        I do think this response also does a good job of (gently) showing how issues can be more complex than they initially seem and that (my) good intentions could still result in some bad consequences.

  26. The best apologies I’ve ever received were structured something like this:

    1. I’m sorry for … (description of what you did)
    2. This was wrong because… (description of boundaries crossed)
    3. I can see that it hurt you, because … (description of harm done)
    4. I will change by … (sensible plan of action).
    5. Again, I’m very sorry.

    Guys, your apology is missing Step 1 and 2, and that makes the rest of it empty. Unless I know that *you know* exactly what you did, how it went wrong, and how you’re going to fix it, I have no reason to trust you. You’ve written a very, very long article around the fact that someone did something racist at A-Camp. Then you’ve buried this article under as much content as possible! Can you see why this looks dodgy?

    I’m writing this as a black British queer person who no longer wants to save up to go to A-Camp, and as someone who has messed up often enough to give adequate apologies, most of the time.

    TLDR: When it comes to apologies, aim for clarity. Or you’ll look like you don’t know what you’re apologising for, or like you never wanted to say sorry in the first place.

  27. Wow…..this is sorry ass excuse for an “apology.”

    Where can I request to have the hard earned money that my queer, Latina, and disabled ass worked for and then decided to donate to your “fundraiser” refunded? I don’t want my money going to your racist and transphobic platforms.

  28. So I’ve been following this mostly via Twitter, sharing my own story – mainly that I have really mixed feelings about my experience writing for AS, mainly in relation to being one of the very few non-Americans and feeling somewhat excluded on that basis, and trying to balance that with recognising that I did have some really good experiences too. I haven’t quite known how to respond to this apology beyond appreciating that it exists but wishing it had been sooner and also more clearly linked to the Medium article that sparked this. And yes, this should be kept more prominent – it’s already falling off the front page. Stick it to the sidebar, if pinning it isn’t an option.

    I am frustrated by comments that insinuate that people are just “gossiping” or trying to demean Autostraddle because they brought up grievances. From what I can tell, nobody is bringing up these grievances to try and take Autostraddle down or cause discord. They’ve had bad experiences that they feel need addressing on a structural level. Dismissing it as gossip just makes it harder for people who do have grievances or even mixed feelings to get that processed at all, let alone resolved in a way that leaves everyone content and satisfied.

    I’d be interested in knowing what happens next, especially in terms of the organisational structure being rethought from the ground up. There have been a lot of discussions amongst the arts world here in Australia about diversifying leadership, to the point of calls for cishet/white/abled/male leaders to step down to make way for marginalised people. I don’t know if Autostraddle needs something that drastic, but maybe? Time will tell – apologies are just the first step.

  29. I will not refered to the apology itself because I don’t think it’s my place; the people and the community affected should be the ones to tell you if they accept or not your apology or if that is enough.

    My problem with this is timing, if I take some quotes from Marni and Kristin’s statement, like:

    “We collect staff and camper feedback after every camp, and take that feedback seriously. After that 2016 camp we reached out to every staff member involved and spent many months processing the incident in question – a conflict that involved multiple intersecting marginalized identities – to parse out what happened and where things went wrong.”
    “Still, we recognize that the harms caused at 2016 camp did not end the moment that the work began and we would like to acknowledge and apologize for the harms that have continued at the camps that have followed, including most recent camp in June, the feedback from which we will be addressing with participants directly.”

    So you all knew that some shit had happened on 2016 but you never really came out publicly with it. I don’t mean naming the people involved, just the situation.

    Then you have a big fundraising and this comes up again and weirdly enough you have a bunch of commenters telling you about how conspiratorial Dan Owens’ post seems (people, welcome to the real world, where everything is always kinda like a political campaign; if you don’t believe me think of every single work promotion you have ever had to fight).

    So once again, the problem is timing; you waited for the foundraising to be over to post this. And I think you waited because you know how this community works: probably you wouldn’t get all that money in so little time if the people really knew about all this.

    PIN THIS FUCKING SHIT ALREADY. YOU HAVE A BUNCH OF PEOPLE ASKING YOU FOR THIS.

    • Yes to this.

      And after every A-Camp we read about how great it was, best experience ever. Why did we never hear about those incidents or at least that there were issues that have to be dealt with to make the experience better for everyone? This would have been fair to everyone thinking about applying and spending a lot of money on A-Camp.

  30. It’s unfortunate that this is now, only four days later, buried in the second page of the site without being featured or pinned in any way. This article wasn’t even featured on the AS Instagram account. Clearly many people still have issues with the apology and with the initial incidents that have not been addressed and there has been little public response from any editors. I thought maybe there would be something in the comment awards but nope.

  31. hello AS team — I love you dearly and believe in you, and I also really, really need you all to acknowledge this beyond a one-off post that gets buried almost as soon as it goes up. There has been a resounding desire for this to be pinned, linked in the banner, or noted on social media or in the weekly newsletter — and none of those requests have even been acknowledged here in the comments. I also can’t find any mention of this on the A-Camp website. AS has become my internet home, especially since I got off social media, and my real-life home at two past camps (runagayhearts forevs 🖤) but I just can’t log onto this website in good faith

  32. For those of us that have been reading AS for a long time, this is another step in the best direction. I’m glad these Acamp incident/s are beginning to being addressed by staff, and it looks like more work will need to be done.

    Also, for those of us reading AS for a long time, one thing that I find strange is that there is no mention of the fact that Dan Owens (Medium article author) and Kristin Russo (Acamp director) were former partners. I would be hard pressed to believe that there wasn’t something more deep about this. Not that this fact erases the mistakes on AS/Acamp’s part, but it is one of those small facts that make a person wonder how much more deeply this goes into the personal.

    Hang in there everybody.

  33. I am surprised that I found out about this article almost by accident, clicking on a featured comment in the “latest comments” box that I could not understand. I am also taken aback that there is no link to the article this one refers to.
    I am hopeful this will change the sooner rather than the later. I will be checking the top of the front change so I can be relieved to see it happen.

  34. The choice not to pin the post to the sidebar or make more prominent *or* to at least respond with a “we’re working on it” or “this is why we have chosen not to go that route”, after many many people have asked for it, is pretty disappointing.

    The post above talks about transparency several times above, about being thankful for a community which holds Autostraddle and A-Camp accountable and pushes it to do better. How you respond to reasonable concerns in comments here is a part of that same community watching that post move into action. Pinning the post is not even close to the most important action to take but does underline the commitment to transparency and hearing that community’s concerns.

    I can imagine that there is a a fair amount of processing happening behind the scenes, and I sincerely hope that everyone on staff is practicing the self-care they need. My hope is that there can be also an acknowledgement soon that concerns are being heard by staff, whether it is by pinning the post or an update to the post (“We hear you. We are working on another response, through words and action. We will have a more thorough update by this date: ________”).

  35. I have a genuine question. What is the purpose for requesting that this post be pinned to the main page?

    I ask because I have seen this push coming from two groups: people who are here because of Dan, and now terfs probably from After Ellen as some of you may have seen before their comments got deleted. These sources did not come from a desire to help this community.

    If you are here for this community, are you picking up their line because you believe you’re supporting valid concerns? Can we talk about that?

    Is it about accountability? AS has already outlined what they plan to do and said that they plan to keep us informed of progress. My guess is that will be done through updates in future posts. Why don’t we step back and let them show whether they can be accountable without our constant pushing? If you believe they’re the kind of organization that will only live up to their promises under scrutiny and duress, I wonder why you would bother?

    Is it about transparency? The folks harmed in the medium article were all contacted individually. And this post showed up on the front page here, and on AS’s social media accounts, for enough time that anyone following the issue closely could see it.

    So if not for accountability or for transparency to the affected people, then what? The only other reason I can think of is punishment. How is that going to work out for a small struggling publication in a day and age when media is shutting down every day? How is that going to work out for the QTPOC who work here who have already suffered a great deal of harm themselves? Is their harm less important?

    If you don’t care if AS shuts down, that’s fine, you’re allowed to have that opinion. But then you’re not here for accountability or transparency, you’re here to do maximum damage to a community that’s still important to a lot of people, including people of color.

    If you do care to see this community continue, please reflect on why it matters where these calls are coming from. No good will come to any of our spaces if we let our outrage be used against us.

    • If you believe that this apology is a good one, that it outlines a plan that will set up beneficial changes for Autostraddle and A-Camp, including increasing transparency and accountability and doing better by their QTPOC staff and community, then it should be pinned because it represents how at the core, Autostraddle listens to feedback and changes to decentralize whiteness and overcome white privilege — that this is not a bug, but something Autostraddle wishes to make a feature (both literally and figuratively). While this is an apology, it also contains action steps that can be part of a new mission statement.

      If you believe that this apology is a bad one, that it does not address the concerns brought up sufficiently or provide a detailed enough action plan, it should be pinned so that community members who are not frequent visitors to the site can contribute the conversation with the intention of improving it.

      That it should be considered punishment for an organization to keep their apology and plan for growth easily accessible and visible to a community to discuss for more than *5 days* is a larger societal problem about how apologies are written and received, I think.

      Personally, I asked for a pin/update for a few reasons:
      Accessibility/transparency: People are still stumbling on this post late, as written in the comments above and it can be confusing what is going on. Assuming that having a post up for *5 days* is enough to reach the majority of your community is a poor one. Additionally, I had asked for the Venmo links to be added to the original post because, again, unless you open all the comments you cannot see the Venmo links to contribute to POC staff.
      Accountability: There is huge power in Autostraddle saying they fucked up and they’re trying to do better and they’re not just going to let this go away. Most people are not asking for staff to immediately make the changes outlined “under duress”, but instead to just continue to keep visible their plan. Also if you look at the comments of people asking for pinning, many of them are QPOC and are part of the same community that Autostraddle is saying they will hold themselves more accountable to.

      Maybe there are valid reasons for not pinning, but with lack of communication we’re kind of left to guess why and the guesses on my side are not good ones. “My guess is that they’ll keep us informed in future updates” – so why not say that, with a reasonable update deadline? That’s how good action plans work. “And this post showed up on the front page here, and on AS’s social media accounts, for enough time that anyone following the issue closely could see it” – but it shouldn’t be just open for anyone following the issue closely.

      At the end of the day, this is about the work to make structures and spaces stronger and better, and that should not be done in the dark. I think there could be an opportunity here for Autostraddle to show clearly how an organization combats incidents of systemic white supremacy and privilege, and I think they are missing it.

    • Just to give more context to my comment above: I am an A+ suscriber since 2015. Last year, I took a two-year silver membership because I had money at the time and wanted to put it where it mattered. I was disappointed that I am broke AF now and could not participate to the fundraising, I spammed my friends about it instead. I care about Autostraddle, which is why I bothered to write.
      So when I found out about this post by accident, because I had not been online for 2 days, I did find it surprising that it was not featured a bit more obviously.

  36. I’m here to speak for myself only (but also, for transparency as the moderator (A JOB I CHOSE BECAUSE I WANTED IT BECAUSE I HAVE AGENCY) because i have to read all of these comments) but seeing white people demand that this gets pinned to the front page and demand that our venmo etc links are posted in the post feels performative and based in guilt, and honestly seeing it every fucking day has made my stress level go through the fucking ROOF. Demanding it become easier for you to pay people of color who you think aren’t being paid enough is fucking WEIRD. if you really wanted to, you’d do the work to be able to pay them.

    I just want to put this into the air here, since this post doesn’t seem to be getting any less popular (fine, whatever) that white allies really need to check and see if their allyship is actually in the work of the people they say they’re allied to or if it’s causing people of color to do more work than we already are. And *I* have been working very hard lately because white allies have demanded that of me.

    once again, this is just my opinion. I speak for MYSELF. periodt.

    ok and as THE moderator please remember that if your comment is not directly related to the post at hand, I have the right to delete it according to Autostraddle’s Comment Policy which you can read at your leisure.

    • Why is the assumption that all the people asking for this to be pinned are white? There are quite of few POC who explicitly identified themselves as such (like me) who have asked for it and quite a few people who didn’t state if they are POC or white who have asked for it. Why assume that they are all white? I don’t I should have to state that I am a QPOC in every single post I make in order to not get dismissed for being white.

      And again, as I said in my comment above, if this is really about prioritizing POC voices and not about deflecting criticism, why are white people who criticize AS called out like this, but white ppl who just praise AS’s response and speak over POC who are continuing to feel uncomfy about this situation aren’t called out?

      Honestly, I’m still waiting for an Autostraddle response to some of the stuff that I (and others) brought up. Pinning this (and/or posting an update) would be a step to show that AS is serious about accountability moving forward. Continuing to post regular articles to the point where this has gotten buried indicates to me that AS isn’t serious about it and doesn’t care about POC like me who want more answers. I’m not into “cancel culture” or whatever, so I’d really prefer for AS to come together with a better response than for me to have to stop reading because I’ve lost trust in this space to be one that is safe for me and people like me.

  37. Listen, I don’t know any of you, I never went to A-Camp, and I knew nothing about any of this before reading this article. But, as a QPOC (which I feel awkward about needing to point out at all), I just wanted to say it seems to me like you folks, whether those stepping up or stepping back, are trying to do the right thing. And doing the right thing is hard and just because you don’t get it perfectly right all the time, or just because I might define Doing The Right Thing a little differently, or just because there were/are lapses sometimes, or whatever else doesn’t mean you failed it means you’re people. And I appreciate you, I appreciate the work, I’m glad I gave you my money during the fundraiser, and will continue to.

    I love that my community has high standards, but I hate when it loses perspective. The goal should be to be better, not to be perfect.

  38. I found and read the article – which should have been linked from this one. 80% detailed some truly egregious actions which absolutely warrant a strong response. However I was completely baffled by the continued defence of the masculine of centre woman who allegedly abused a trans woman of colour.

    Why is she Carolyn’s sister who deserves defence and the other woman of colour she abused is not? Why is the alleged victim being painted as a perpetrator? Especially given that while Carolyn rightly pointed out that everyone *assumed* the MOC woman must be the aggressor, in a tone of high dudgeon, she also never once said she *wasn’t* in fact, the aggressive party.

    It smacked *really nastily* of the TERF trope that calling cis women on bigotry is as bad or worse than cis women being bigoted in the first place.

  39. As a QPOC who has recently been a little lax with keeping up with autostraddle posts, I had to diggg for this article. People need to be in the know about what is going on, this is huge. After reading this article something seemed off to me and I went searching for the post on Medium and I am so glad I did. This apology will never be enough and I hope you all realize this. I have been a member since I came out in 2014 and just canceled my membership. I cannot outline all that needs to be done here, but i need time to heal and process. You can start by pinning this article so that more users can be aware as to what is happening..

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