Black lives matter. The board of the Northwest Editors Guild mourns the violent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others—including, here in the Northwest, Manuel Ellis. We are appalled at the violence committed by those entrusted with law enforcement. Yet as representatives of an overwhelmingly White professional association, we must also recognize the racial inequality in our own organization and in our profession.
In her classic book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? Beverly Tatum, PhD, writes of racism as a moving walkway. “Active racist behavior is equivalent to walking fast on the conveyor belt,” she writes. “Passive racist behavior is equivalent to standing still on [it].” Unless an individual or an organization makes an effort to walk in the opposite direction—to intentionally and repeatedly take anti-racist actions—they are carried along with everyone else.
In recent years, the Northwest Editors Guild has recognized this phenomenon and taken preliminary steps toward walking in the opposite direction. We’ve included goals to increase diversity (in both membership and leadership) in our strategic plan, and we recently launched the second year of a writer mentorship program designed to provide paid publishing opportunities to Black and other underrepresented voices.
Of course, this is not enough.
Diversifying a profession mocked by the hashtag #publishingsowhite will not happen overnight. Nor will we immediately diversify the many other fields in which our members work. If we are to truly stand with this movement for social justice, we must exercise the profound empathy and discernment that are hallmarks of our profession and take actions every day, every week, and every year to not just walk against the people mover but help grind it to a halt.
We stand with the protests against racism and violent policing, and we promise to continue working toward a just and equitable society that honors and values Black lives. We encourage Seattle-area members (if they are able) to join the silent march on Friday, June 12, a day on which Black Lives Matter Seattle–King County has called for a statewide general strike, and we encourage members everywhere to participate in local actions and/or contribute to anti-racist movements and programs in other ways.
We also invite members to join a conversation on the Northwest Editors Guild listserv (with the tag “OT/BLM” in the subject line), sharing feelings, ideas, and experiences during this momentous and challenging time.
Northwest Editors Guild Board of Directors
Erin Cusick, President
Alicia Ramos, Vice President of Board Development
MariLou Harveland, Vice President of Member Services
Jesi Vega, Secretary
Michael Schuler, Treasurer
Alison Cantrell, Volunteer Coordinator, Member at Large
Brendan McLaughlin, Chair of the Communications Committee, Member at Large
Kris Ashley, Member at Large
Laura Shaw, Member at Large
Laura Whittemore, Chair of the Outreach Committee, Member at Large
Matt Bennett, Coordinator of the Writer Mentorship Program, Member at Large