Hello WSRID Members,
I am WSRID Board member Claudia Kienholz (CK). In June, the RID board members announced their resignations one after the other. We, your WSRID board members were rocked by this. It’s taken us some time to over the past month to gather our thoughts and prepare our message to you all about this situation and our ongoing commitment to our work. We have prepared two letters, both of which can be found online at WSRID.com.
The first letter below is an open letter to the board of RID, and the second is a letter to you, our WSRID and community members. The letters are available to read or to watch in ASL. The videos aren’t short, but we felt it important to convey our message fully and clearly. You’ll notice a round robin between some of the board members. We tried to keep it brief, but that felt superficial and audist. So instead, we give you our heart.
We hope you’ll read and/or watch if you have the time. We also hope that you will work with us and join us in reaffirming our commitments to the future of WSRID.
July 15, 2021
To the current RID Board, we send our heartfelt gratitude, our sincerest apologies, and our commitment to do better.
We know that serving in these roles is not easy. We know that doing this work requires sacrifice, courage, and perseverance. So first, let us say thank you. Thank you for your willingness to take on such hard work. Thank you for representing the people in our profession and in our communities, many of whom have been marginalized by society and our field for far too long. Thank you for leading fearlessly and showing us what we are all capable of. Thank you for donating countless hours, often giving up paid assignments or time with your loved ones, to do this work. Thank you for being vulnerable, for having hard conversations, and for being willing to unpack bias and call out oppression.
To those of you who have endured personal attacks, bullying and harassment, and who have been the targets of ugly racist agendas, we recognize that as a member driven organization, we have failed you. We did not do enough to support you in your time on the board, and we did not do enough to interrupt these attacks when they began. Although we know this comes too late, we want you to know that we have always been rooting for you. You gave us hope and you inspired us in our work as affiliate chapter members.
We commend you for the work you have done, and although we are devastated to see you go, we support your decision to resign. We hope that you will be able to prioritize your health and safety moving forward.
Our affiliate chapter will continue our anti-racism, anti-audism, and anti-ableism work, and it is our sincere hope that all of the members of RID will work harder to embrace diversity and recognize the talents and positive transformations that come with it. WSRID will continue pushing to raise the bar and to hold ourselves accountable. We are on a path of change and although we may continue to slip or falter, we won’t stop.
Washington State RID Board of Directors
Anna Mansell Karagiannis
As you are all by now aware, last month marked the resignation of the entire RID Board of Directors. One by one, these announcements came after months of personal attacks, racist comments, public harassment, bullying, and more. August 31st will mark the end of their terms.
Although we know this sentiment may be too late, we wish to express our deep gratitude to the individuals willing to volunteer their time and energy to take on the work of representing us at the national level, and while it pains us to see them go, we fully support their decisions to resign.
This group brought with them diverse backgrounds, talents, and experiences. They gave us hope for our profession. They inspired us in our work as affiliate chapter leaders, yet as an organization of 14,000 people, we collectively failed to support them in their roles as volunteer leaders of our parent organization. To say we weren’t paying attention is merely a reflection of our own privileges. To those who stood up, who called out what was happening, we thank you, and to those who didn’t, we hope this serves as a wake up call. Sadly, it comes at a great cost.
As a profession, as individuals, and as an organization, we have so much work to do. We will not be beholden to a racist, audist, ableist past. We do not and will not tolerate the perpetual -isms that infect our field and our society, and we will hold each other accountable when we fail. WE are all called to action to ensure that our profession and our communities thrive in a more just world. This call to action is not new, and it is not just necessary today. It is necessary everyday.
Last spring, the Board members of WSRID made a commitment to you. Today, we ask you to join us in reaffirming our commitments to all current and future members of WSRID and to the diverse communities we serve as sign language interpreters. WSRID will continue to prioritize anti-racism, anti-audism, and anti-ableism goals through our actions as individuals and in the functions of this organization. We ask each of you to consider how you can help impact change, and how we can work together to ensure that this profession is not beholden to its history of oppressive behaviors.
Our April 2020 Pledge:
We are committed to action that will promote and ensure equity of all diverse people, and we know this is not possible until we can ensure racism has no presence in our organization. We strive to work in partnership with organizations and individuals who share these same priorities, and we welcome the participation of all members in this process.
Our 2021 Pledge:
We commit to being agents of change, to hold ourselves accountable for our failures and shortsightedness, and to constantly work to create a world without white supremacy, racism, audism, and other systems of oppression. We strive to work in partnership with organizations and individuals who share these same priorities. We ask for the participation of our members in this work.
Below are a few of the ways we have begun our work. We don’t pretend to be perfect, but we know this work has to start somewhere.
If you would like to learn more about our efforts, have feedback, or want to get involved, please email any one of us through the Board Contact Us page.
In 2020, the board members of WSRID committed to the following actions:
We ask for your involvement, input, criticism, and support as we continue in this work.
Anna Mansell Karagiannis, WSRID President
And your 2021 WSRID Board of Directors
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