This Open Letter by Jonathan Korman to the author of the parody newsletter PantyCon is well worth sharing:
You have the power to fix this, and thus you have a responsibility. Now is a moment when we have an opportunity to model the Pagan culture we want. So I encourage you to do the right thing:
Confess to writing the offending passage in PantyCon. Apologize to the community of Pagans of Color for having hurt some among them. Apologize to the Pagan community at large for having made it less welcoming to some among us.
I understand that it’s counter to your instincts as an ironist to repudiate the joke, and that it’s now risky for you to expose yourself. But you have an opportunity to take a mistake that has weakened our community and turn it into an example that will make us stronger.
My pledge to you
If you make a clear apology — accepting responsibility for harming Pagans of Color without dwelling on justifications — then I will be in your corner. Social justice activists have been clear that though we must work hard to avoid them, mistakes are inevitable, and so we must recover from them gracefully. Do that, and I will turn from your critic to your advocate.
I hope that other members of the Pagan community will co-sign this letter. Co-signatories need not agree with the letter in every particular, but should at least join me in my pledge.
I support this. It seems clear to me, from what I read, and what I have heard at con, that no harm was intended to Pagans of color by this parody. On the contrary, the intent seems to have been to mock those white pagans who so spectacularly fail to actively support our black and brown brethren in their ambivalence. But intention and result do not always match. When they do not, it is our responsibility to acknowledge and pay weregild for the harm we actually caused, regardless of our intentions.
The harm was in words. The weregild should also be in words. Be honest. Apologize. That’s all we ask.