After receiving some response to our initial two letters, we want to respond with more clarity and
direction for our next steps.
We want to reiterate that our motivation in engaging in this process is to build accountability in
our community for the future. In order for us to do this, we needed to address what was
happening in our community by naming the harm experienced and those involved, including
ourselves. We also did this to honor the request of the person who experienced harm and to
work toward repair. This process seems to have been received as trying to shame Maria
Paredes, but the purpose was to report our Black colleague’s experience with Maria and with
us, to acknowledge our lack of an accountability process, and to propose steps to take to create
one for our community. Naming Maria was uncomfortable for us to do, but we have learned
through working with transformative justice consultant Michelle Nicole of Passion and Power
that when there is no apparent addressing of the concerns, there is a need to get the
information to people who might need it to avoid harm, take responsibility for our complicity with
the training to keep silent, and work toward repair and building a process of accountability going
forward. The goal is to create a community that is safer for BIPOC and queer and/or trans, fat,
disabled people and people who are in any other way marginalized, who are so much more
impacted by the consequences of more privileged peoples’ actions.
Since sharing our letters, other people with marginalized identities have shared their experience
of harm with Maria and made it clear that they don’t feel safe enough or hopeful about sharing
with our community.
When any marginalized member of our community has experienced harm from another member
of our community and there is no accountability process, it’s a community issue, not a one-on-
one issue. This is on all of us as long as we lack a process when harm is experienced. Our
question that we hope to explore here is, are you ok with the way our community is now?
It is important to acknowledge that in any instance where someone has been harmed, the person
that caused the harm can also be someone that has done much good. It is not a single person or a
single behavior that we are all affected by or benefit from. Someone can have a social justice focus,
but still cause harm because of the system of power that is white supremacy. It is not about being a
“good” or “bad” person. We can all be capable of causing harm or displaying anti Black behaviors,
even without necessarily meaning to. We believe the person that we harmed: What is important is
that we are open to learning from that, meaning that we acknowledge and apologize when we have
caused harm and as part of the apology, take steps to ensure that harm is minimized going forward.
Calling the harm done to BIPOC “hearsay” undermines the process of building a community
where harm can be named, since most peoples’ experiences of harm do not have witnesses to
In our own community, denying that harm could have happened and defending Maria
demonstrates our community’s current inability to center BIPOC and prevents us from being
able to see that harm can be caused by anyone, even if they have a positive history with others.
In order for us to establish an accountability process, we need to be a community that
acknowledges and is willing to believe those that have experienced harm when they express
their experience in whatever way they feel safe to name it. Since this person has come forward,
the response to them sharing their story has taken a toll on their mental health as well. To see
members of the community not believe their story and wanting more proof of harm is a lot. This is a
continuous source of harm and pain that isn’t over. Our community is still harming Black folks by not
believing them when they come forward. By centering the white voices in this conversation, we
have lost sight of the harm that was done to our BIPOC colleagues.
We do think it is important to reiterate that we have been in regular consultation with Michelle
Nicole, who is a transformative justice consultant and a Black woman. We have been working
with her guidance at each step, including this response, and we will continue to do so as we
take steps to build accountability within our community.
If you are someone that is ready to work toward developing accountability within our community
as a community we ask that you sign up here. We believe that having these discussions in
person will be most beneficial to this process and we will come back to you by the end of the
month to communicate our next steps. If now is not the time for you or you do not trust us or
what we are doing, we understand that and we are hopeful that as we move forward and
continue to unlearn and relearn together that it will be a space that you will one day want to
If you are Black provider or learner and would like a Black space to be able to connect with
other Black providers and learners regarding the issue of harm within our community, a free
meeting led by Michelle Nicole is coming together. You can sign up for that here.
We thank you all for the energy that you have already put into this process by reading through
these communications and we look forward to seeing those of you that have and will sign up in
the near future.
Julie Duffy Dillon, Laura Watson, and Megan Hadley