As a collective, our goal is to welcome members of the community who are interested in growing their small businesses. We don’t discriminate against our members for any reason. We understand that in the United States many communities are oppressed by systematic racism and discrimination. Some communities have been oppressed for hundreds of years since the onset of genocidal colonialism. This oppression has been generational for many communities and people currently residing in the United States, which has created an inequity to wealth and opportunities.
Throughout 2020, membership to the Rebel Artists of Whatcom collective has been open to all who wish to join and has been free to all members. Members have had a choice to vend in person at the Commercial Street location if they wish. No one has been turned down from vending, and there are commonly open spots for those to join in vending even if they are not doing so regularly.
Specifically regarding BIPOC and racial diversity within the membership, we would like to say that we recognize that some members of the collective have experienced a generational inequity to resources. We strongly wish for everyone in the collective to have an equal opportunity to succeed and an equal access to resources provided by the collective to small businesses, like in-person vending and placement on the website. When fees are initiated in 2021, we will also be providing scholarships to cover the costs of membership fees to disadvantaged businesses as often as we are able to.
Something we will not be doing, is asking the BIPOC members of the collective to take on additional responsibilities to increase the appearance of diversity within the membership. The BIPOC members have agency to make their own choices on their level of involvement within the collective. To intentionally increase the visibility of BIPOC for the gain of the collective is tokenizing at least and racist at most. We treat all members of the collective equally and will not be alienating anyone for the color of their skin.
Additionally, diversity is not always something that can be determined by looking at a group of people. Some members may not look diverse to some, but the generational trauma and historical unequal access to resources still shape their lives. Diversity is determined and defined by those who experience oppression and not by those in our society who experience the most privilege.
We hope that the Rebel Artists of Whatcom collective is a powerful resource for its members to grow their small businesses in our community and online. We will never discriminate against our members based on their race or ethnicity, sex or gender, disability, age, orentation or socioeconomic status. We strive to be 100% inclusive with our membership. We also recognize that nobody is ever done learning how to be more inclusive or more of an advocate, and we welcome any thoughts regarding ways we can continue to grow and improve in our inclusiveness.