Safer Spaces

At the Scottish BAME 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 – to include our online forums. 

As per our values, we acknowledge that diversity alone will not resolve access issues within the literary sector. We recognise that colourism and anti-Blackness exist within BAME* and BIPOC* spaces. We will not stand for either. We will uplift, give space, encourage and validate each other’s unique perspectives and narratives. Our Safer Spaces policy further expands on this. 

OUR SAFER SPACES POLICY

This document is a guideline, it draws on the policies of others, including Sisters Uncut and the Lighthouse bookshop, 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. 

Please know, we will not wait for issues or harm to happen but will proactively challenge oppression & hierarchy in everything we do. Our network should be an inclusive and supportive space for all, and in particular 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 or assuming one’s ethnic origins or race, or anything tantamount to hate speech or an attempt to belittle or abuse another person or persons. 

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 BAME 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:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Labour; please contribute whatever you can to amplifying BAME 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. 

6. 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. 

7. 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. 

8. 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.

9. 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 online spaces, or this is challenging unacceptable behaviour at external events. 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. 

When we work together in this radical, transformative and inclusive way, we are creating the change we wish to see in the world.