Harsha Walia’s recent resignation as executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association has sparked a lot of buzz on Twitter.
One of the challenges for those who are disappointed in the organization is that it is being characterized as a “resignation.”
Therefore, it is difficult to condemn Walia’s separation from the organization in a single tweet as a “dismissal” or “dismissal.”
But the reality is that Board of Directors He did not defend Walia for using a phrase – “burn it all down” – that has been used many times in the past as a metaphor to dismantle structures of oppression against marginalized people.
Reminds me of something of a veteran journalist Zuhair Kashmeri he told me shortly before his death in 2019.
He asserted that when most white organizations hire people from other cultural backgrounds who have experienced the negative aspects of colonialism directly, these organizations must make space for these employees to express this part of themselves.
Kashmeri added that too often they don’t do this, causing these employees to leave or self-censor.
That, in turn, reinforces the dominant cultural narrative within these mostly white organizations.
Kashmeri was making these comments in relation to the redactions.
In his view, creating a diverse newsroom meant accommodating employees whose views clash head-on with those of managers who have benefited from colonialism.
But it could be argued that it applies equally to nonprofits committed to trying to bring about positive change in society.
Walia was born in Bahrain, where, as in Canada (thanks in part to her efforts), abuse of migrant workers has been extensively documented. His 2013 book, Undoing border imperialism, offered a cross-national analysis of how neoliberalism and globalization come together to exploit workers around the world.
Below you can read recent tweets from some of Walia’s supporters, including some who believe she was fired.
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