REPORT OF THE ANTI-RACISM WORKING GROUP
We dedicate this report to three inspirational role models for the new Pacifica we seek to build: Michael Taylor was a grassroots African American news and public affairs producer who was fired by Los Angeles Pacifica station KPFK in the early 1990s because of his fierce commitment to progressive reporting, and went on to help create an activist low-power radio station. This work contributed to his murder in 1995. Samori Marksman was the visionary Afro-Caribbean Program Director at WBAI who led the racial and political transformation of that station. He died of a heart attack in the heat of the Pacifica struggle in 1999. Finally, June Jordan was the brilliant African American bisexual writer, social justice activist, founder of Poetry for the People--which provides a voice for young people of color--and supporter of the struggle to reclaim Pacifica. She died last week of breast cancer.
During the Pacifica Now! Conference from June 18-21, 2002 in Berkeley,
a racially diverse group of more than 25 listeners, activists, and present
and former staff members from four of the five Pacifica stations (all
but WPFW in Washington, DC) met for over 18 hours to discuss anti-racist
initiatives for the network. We had rich, thoughtful and frank discussions
-- the highlight of which was a fascinating "fishbowl" in which
the people of color shared experiences and proposals with each other while
the white folks listened, and then the entire group reflected together.
Throughout our dialogues, we heard countless stories of producers of color
who were rejected for jobs and programs, disrespected, harassed, fired
and banned; we heard of tokenistic gestures and pigeonholing; we heard
of nonexistent or underfunded training programs for youth of color; we
heard of insensitive white managers and narrow, white-focused programming
that excluded or minimized coverage of poor communities of color. The
strong message from this sharing was that an ongoing rigorous dialogue
is critical in promoting the necessary changes in Pacifica.
Our discussions led to the following conclusions and proposals:
1. A central part of Pacifica's mission is to foster education, understanding
and dialogue about the causes of conflict between different races and
nationalities. We appreciate the commitment expressed by this Interim
National Board and the new national and local management to work toward
a new Pacifica that more fully fulfills its mission. Nonetheless, we see
serious problems in the current performance of the stations and network
on several fronts: recruitment, training, hiring, promotions, grievance
resolution, leadership, and -- our crucial end product -- programming
addressing the issues facing people of color and immigrants, particularly
working-class and poor people. Indeed, even this Interim Board itself
lacks representation of Latinos, Asian-Pacific Islanders, Arabs and Indigenous
people. In all these areas, Pacifica can and must do better.
3. In light of the immense social, cultural and media pressures against
developing such a new practice, we hold that this can only be fully realized
through ongoing education and dialogue on these issues -- both internally,
with staffs, managements, local and national boards, and listener activists
(through trainings and workshops) and externally, with listeners at large
(through on-air programs and town-hall meetings throughout the signal
area). There must also be goals, guidelines and evaluation/implementation
mechanisms to assure the attainment of this goal.
4. Equally important as tackling issues facing people of color and immigrants,
Pacifica must fully address the needs of, and operate equitably toward,
other oppressed groups in society -- especially women; lesbians/gay men/bisexuals/
transgendered people; people with disabilities; working class and poor
people; young people; and old people. All these populations face interconnected
forms of oppression. Our deliberations addressed race and nationality
as a critical starting point. Now we strongly urge that listeners, staff,
local and national managements and boards similarly study and deliberate
-- with the aid of relevant community groups -- about the needs of these
communities, and develop steps to address their problems. Again, ongoing
discussion is a critical means to advance our thinking and practice on
5. Based on these findings, we strongly urge the Interim Pacifica National
Board (I-PNB), the Local Advisory Boards, national management, and station
managements to adopt the following proposal. Discussions and adoption
of parts of this agenda should begin in all the other decisionmaking and
administrative bodies of Pacifica.
Background on development of this document:
In March 2002, during the Interim Pacifica National Board meeting in
Los Angeles, several African American and Latino producers who had been
fired and banned in the 1990s by L.A. Pacifica station KPFK made passionate
presentations about the devastating effects of their removal on their
communities.These statements inspired an ad hoc group of listeners and
producers from New York and Los Angeles to meet and brainstorm a tentative
plan of action on racism within Pacifica. Later, the Diversity Committee
of the Local Advisory Board at Berkeley station KPFA also worked on these
issues. All of this work provided the foundation for participants in an
affirmative action workshop at the Pacifica Now! Conference in June 2002
to further develop these ideas into this document.
The Interim Pacifica National Board, acknowledging the long history of
racial and nationality inequities in U.S. society at large and within
this radio network, commits the Foundation to a policy of equity and inclusion
of populations historically and currently disenfranchised based on race
and nationality. Throughout Pacifica, we must create breakthroughs that
will stimulate dialogue, consciousness-raising and action on these issues.
In addition, the Board will set goals, guidelines and implementation/evaluation
mechanisms to achieve racially and nationally inclusive staffing, operations
and programming throughout the network.
1. Training and workshops. At all five stations and the national
office, paid and unpaid staffs and their unions, management personnel,
and Local Advisory Boards (LABs) should cooperatively plan and implement
trainings and workshops focusing on issues of race and nationality and
their intersection with other forms of oppression such as class, gender,
sexuality and disability. These trainings and workshops should be offered
to paid and unpaid staff, management personnel, volunteers, listener activists,
LAB and National Board members at least once a year, and preferably at
least every six months.
2. Programming on internal Pacifica issues. Each station program
director should work with the Program Council, local producers and community
organizations to air ongoing programs -- including panel discussions,
town hall meetings, other community forums, and documentaries -- aimed
at advancing anti-racist awareness, knowledge and practice within Pacifica.
Such programming and forums should relate not only to psycho-cultural
dynamics in society at large but also specifically to Pacificas
internal dynamics as they are determined by its structure, by-laws and
policies. In addition, the Executive Director will designate a national
staff person to coordinate local station personnel in collaborating on
national and locally produced programming on these issues.
3. Staff composition. The Foundation will establish as a minimum
standard/goal a composition of paid and unpaid staff in each department
(i.e., public affairs, arts, operations, etc.) and management personnel
that reflects at least the percentage of people of color and immigrants
in the population of each signal area (for local stations) and of the
country (for the national office). To this end, the Foundation commits
to the energetic practice of affirmative action in its staff search, recruitment,
hiring and promotion policies, as well as with contracted and subcontracted
work, by actively seeking out individuals from those disenfranchised groups
who are committed to Pacifica's mission.
4. Resources for staff diversity. At the station and national
levels, resources should be targeted to increase the involvement of members
of racially and nationally disenfranchised groups in Pacifica programming
and operations. That means the establishment and funding of apprenticeships,
training programs, internships (all three of these particularly for youth
of color), and subsidies for transportation and child care for trainees
and paid and unpaid staff who need them.
5. Committee composition. All committees at all levels of the
Foundation, particularly hiring/search and programming committees, must
strive to incorporate from their inception -- including at the leadership
level -- at least 50% people of color and immigrants from varied communities
who are committed to Pacifica's mission. If this goal cannot be reached
at the outset, the committee must adopt a plan and timetable to meet it.
6. Local programming on external issues. Local program schedules
and national Pacifica programs must include major coverage -- including
during prime time -- of the underreported political issues, empowerment
efforts and artistic expressions of working-class and poor people of color
and immigrants from varied racial/national groups. Among the offerings
should be segments on cross-racial dialogue -- both between whites and
people of color, and between different groups of people of color and immigrants.
To the maximum extent possible, programs on these issues should be produced
by individuals and collectives from the disenfranchised communities themselves.
These guidelines should be applied to existing as well as new programs.
Local schedules should include some bilingual programming in the major
languages spoken in the signal area.
7. National programming on external issues. Given the particular
urgency of racism and xenophobia in this country today, the national office
will facilitate the creation of a racially/nationally diverse collective
of producers from various community radio stations to develop ongoing
nationally broadcast programs aimed at promoting education and dialogue
on: 1) issues of race and nationality and their intersection with class
and gender, both nationally and internationally; and 2) empowerment efforts/campaigns
by communities fighting these and related forms of oppression. This may
include national airing of extraordinary local radio programs.
8. Implementation/evaluation. Subject to union agreement, each
station's paid and unpaid staff and their unions, management and Local
Advisory Board will jointly choose a paid multicultural coordinator (who
could already be a paid staff member) as soon as feasible. This coordinator
will monitor implementation of these and other nondiscrimination and inclusion
policies, perform necessary staff surveys, compile statistical data, and
offer a supplementary channel to any existing mechanism for grievances
on the basis of race, nationality and other areas of discrimination. A
similar participatory process should occur to choose such a coordinator
for the national office. Each multicultural coordinator will work with
diversity or inclusion committees of the staff and Local Advisory Board,
along with management, to periodically evaluate the station's (or the
national office's, as applicable) overall implementation of these policies,
and to make recommendations for specific policies to address systemic
The Anti-Racism Working Group will evaluate progress on implementation of these points by the time of the next meeting of the Interim Pacifica National Board in September.