Thoughts on “The Burn Book”

Early this morning, an anonymous post was shared to this website in an act of vigilante justice, giving five names of members of the activism community whom have committed serious wrongs, encouraging their barring from future activism efforts. The wrongs range from fraud to bullying to child endangerment, and I cannot disagree with the article’s content stating that the wrongdoers must not be allowed to “hide amongst us,” potentially damaging the youth activism community and the missions we are on.

I would like to start by making it clear that does not endorse the list, its creation, or creator.

One such accusation happened to belong to a close friend of mine, regarding a case of sexual harassment, and that’s why it hit home for me to see the name of their harasser on the list of team members I was working with on upcoming projects. I do not feel comfortable working with these members of the community, and will go out of my way to avoid it. I cannot in good conscience allow my friends to unknowingly work with these people, and hope that the indicated persons on the now vanished post have taken it upon themselves to do some introspection on the questionability of their actions.

It was not in the best interest of the author to so blatantly oust these persons, and shine a blinding light on their crimes. However, it is of the utmost importance to me as an active volunteer and leadership of organizations that our community is aware of the “snakes in our ranks.” I will be considering how I can take a more appropriate action to developing a reliable “Blacklist” of those who have risked the integrity of the organizations they work with by committing these acts. That is, after all, what has happened here: five instances of sacrificing the professionalism of the modern Youthquake for personal gain. It makes me nauseated to think that I may be in the company of more unnamed peers, getting away with who knows what. My skin crawls at the thought that in making recommendations to people I have come to love and respect, I may have put them on track to become a victim themselves. Hell, maybe I’ve only narrowly avoided being a victim myself.

And I’m supposed to sleep peacefully now? I’m supposed to let this slip under the rug as a pile of dust just because the article has been deleted? How can I ever in total certainty travel for an event again, no longer having the peace of mind that my activist allies are as “squeaky clean” as I am? I think the worst thing I’ve ever done is drink a bottled coffee while I was shopping and paid for the empty bottle on my way out of the store. What if people I’ve recruited for my own efforts are keeping horrible things in their pockets, and I’ve come to rely on them, though they are not worthy of the accreditation they will earn?

So call this a cry for help, I suppose. The initial article was harsh and brazen and now missing, though not before being viewed over 200 times in less than twelve hours. I am interested in starting a dialogue among my peers to find a more effective way to address problematic behaviors that will not be allowed to persist, or redeemed by volunteer hours. In my eyes, no amount of voter registration drives can bury lying about being a gun violence victim, horrendously bullying a sexual harassment target, the actual act of sexual harassment, endangering the minors you are responsible for, or being so blatantly racist that your own Board of Directors has to forcefully disband your organization to get away from you.

And that’s THAT on that.

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