At the Scottish BPOC* Writers Network (SBWN), we value inclusive representation, equity and equality. We acknowledge the intersectionality of our network. We will operate a safer spaces policy during all events, projects and initiatives – including our online forums.
As per our Mission and Values statement and Constitution, we acknowledge that diversity alone will not resolve access issues within the literary sector. We recognise that colourism and anti-Blackness exist within POC (people of colour) spaces. We will not stand for either. We will welcome each other’s unique perspectives and narratives. Our Safer Spaces policy further expands on this.
Safer Spaces Policy
This document is a guideline. It draws on the policies of others, including Sisters Uncut and Lighthouse Books, and it should change as we learn and grow.
It should tell you what you can expect from SBWN and what you commit to as part of our community, whether in-person at one of our events or online within our network forum. We have high expectations of how we behave towards each other in any space we are a part of, within and outwith SBWN.
Please know, we will not wait for issues or harm to happen, but will proactively challenge oppression and hierarchy in everything we do. Our network should be an inclusive and supportive space for all, and in particular for women (trans, intersex and cis) and all nonbinary, agender and gender variant people. Self-definition is at the sole discretion of that individual. We will not tolerate verbal or physical abuse, nor microaggressions to include racism, anti-Blackness, colourism, xenophobia, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, misgendering, ableism, islamophobia, anti-Semitism, incorrectly identifying one’s ethnic origins or race, or anything tantamount to hate speech or an attempt to belittle or abuse another person or persons. Pro-occupation, pro-war, pro-colonialism, fascism, and white supremacist sentiments will not be permitted on our platforms and in our spaces.
The staff, volunteers and wider network of SBWN form a diverse group. Some of us experience different kinds of oppression & violence at the same time, including racism, xenophobia, ableism, poverty, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, islamophobia, as well as others. We understand that often these oppressions are interlinked and cannot be separated. We are all from the BPOC* community but not all of our oppressions are the same. We recognise and challenge the oppression & exploitation that some of us are harmed by and some of us benefit from. That is why we will always uplift and validate our network by recognising their multiplicities and creating spaces that make them feel welcomed and safe.
We abide by the following policy within the spaces we host or that we associate ourselves with:
- Consent; before you touch anyone or discuss sensitive topics ask if they are comfortable with that. Don’t assume your physical & emotional boundaries are the same as other people’s.
- Be aware of your privileges; including less obvious or invisible hierarchies. Think about how your words, opinions and feelings are influenced and who they might exclude or harm.
- Calling out; if you have acted or spoken harmfully, even if unintentionally, someone will bring this up with you. If this happens, listen and reflect on what they are saying even if you think they may be wrong. Don’t try to absolve yourself of responsibility.
- Learning; if you don’t understand something, just ask. You may be directed to a book, website or skillshare to learn more. We are each responsible for our own learning and if we feel able, for sharing it with others.
- Labour; please contribute whatever you can to amplifying BPOC voices; this will be different for everyone and that’s fine. It’s ok to make mistakes. Please show appreciation for the hard work of others and be considerate when you offer criticism. This is no one’s day job. We put in the work because we are committed to real change.
- Social; Like other communities we build social relationships outside of meetings, events and online spaces. We commit to this Safer Spaces policy wherever we are together. Additionally, we will endeavour to create opportunities to socialise without alcohol so members from certain communities are not put at a disadvantage from not being able to attend.
- Accessibility; we endeavour to ensure all spaces are as accessible as possible, including access provisions for physical and language needs, such as a BSL interpreter, captions, wheelchair and other disabled access needs for events and/or digital spaces, and/or low-income access provisions, such as free tickets and/or travel stipends where possible to include those with caring responsibilities.
- Security; please don’t use the names/details of people who have been involved in organising or attending our events without their explicit consent. This makes sure that journalists, Police or other unknown people don’t hold information that could put participants at risk of harm.
- Community Accountability; we expect all our members to hold each other accountable. Whether this is calling unacceptable behaviour during our workshops, events or within our offline or online spaces; or this is challenging unacceptable behaviour at external events, offline or online spaces outwith SBWN. We have a responsibility to protect and uplift each other. If you have any concerns about your safety or the safety of others at any SBWN event or in our online space, please notify one of the SBWN staff members immediately. SBWN reserves the right to monitor, moderate, limit comments, unapprove, remove or delete any posts, or remove or ban members who do not follow our Facebook group guidelines or who breach our Safer Spaces Policy.
When we work together in this radical, transformative and inclusive way, we are creating the change we wish to see in the world.
If you are a Scottish** writer or literary professional, are racialised or identify as BPOC* (examples below), and can abide by our Safer Spaces Policy, you are welcome to join our network. We are not an advocacy group for writers who identify as white.
*BPOC stands for ‘Black people, People of Colour’ and is a self-identifying term. While we use the term BPOC, we acknowledge the limitations of this terminology. At the core of our network is the aim to address and overcome systemic barriers that our members face directly or indirectly based on their ethnic or national identities, race or perceived racial identities, or the colour of their skin as per the Equality Act of 2010. This includes people who identify as Black, brown, people of colour, Global Majority, mixed-race, multiple heritage and/or are from the Global South, and/or are East and South-East Asian, West Asian, Asian, Middle Eastern, African, African-Caribbean, Caribbean, Latinx, Pacific Islander, Indigenous, or First Nations, and diasporas.
**‘Scottish BPOC writer’ includes BPOC writers based in Scotland, Scottish BPOC writers living within or outwith Scotland, and BPOC writers with strong links to Scotland, for example, if they lived in Scotland for a number of years and still maintain regular contact with people in Scotland.
- Scotland-based BPOC writers may be prioritised for the majority of activities.
- Some activities may be open to the general public or the wider literary community in Scotland or beyond, including people who identify as BPOC, or white, or another racial or ethnic identity; for example, readings, panels, book launches.
Reviewed December 2021