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CBC union members demand action on systemic racism
By  CMG  •  Posted on  July 14, 2020

On July 7, 2020, the CMG members of the Joint Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion delivered the following letter to the CBC senior management team, urging them to take action to dismantle structural racism in the corporation. It was written collaboratively by a group of BIPOC and allied employees, and signed by 494 current and former CBC employees from across Canada. 

If you agree with this letter and the calls to action below, please add your name to the list by filling out the form at the bottom of this page. We will continue to share this list with CBC senior management only.

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Addressing systemic racism at CBC/Radio-Canada

We write to you as employees of the CBC. Some of us are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, and some are white allies; some of us are people with disabilities, some of us are queer, and some are straight; some of us are staff, and some of us are temps. We all believe in the importance of our public broadcaster.

We are appalled by the police killings of Black, Indigenous and other racialized people across Canada and the U.S., which come as a result of structural white supremacy in our society. We condemn anti-Black racism in all its forms, unequivocally.

We are deeply concerned by the CBC’s coverage of and response to these events. Many Black, Indigenous and POC employees are dealing with a great deal of anger, anguish and anxiety — and management has failed in its response.

The journalistic failures in the CBC’s coverage of this historic moment are the direct result of whose voices and experiences drive decision-making at the CBC. The problem lies with white editors who dismiss pitches from non-white journalists as ‘biased’ or ‘unimportant’ because they might not appeal to a white audience. It’s with white managers who treat their POC subordinates as adversarial by default, leading them to feel that in order to succeed at the CBC, they must leave their humanity at the door. It’s in the countless unacceptable comments about appearances, accents and culture. It’s in the way that BIPOC are disproportionately targeted for perceived violations of the JSP. It’s the JSP itself, which requires employees to adopt a white, middle-class worldview in order to be considered “objective.”

Furthermore, 25 percent of CBC workers are precariously employed. Those temporary workers are disproportionately young and racialized — in other words, the very people the CBC must retain and promote if it is to reach its stated goals for diversity and inclusion. But far too often, smart, talented employees of colour leave the CBC in disgust and frustration after years spent spinning their wheels, waiting for job security that rarely materializes. Any attempts to eliminate systemic racism within the CBC are doomed to fail without fundamental reforms to the temp system.

In order to take meaningful action to right these wrongs, we call on the CBC to take the following steps:

1.  Establish an internal ombudsperson to whom employees can make anonymous complaints about racist editorial decisions without fear of reprisal

2.  Ensure BIPOC employees have decision-making authority at all levels of the corporation, from editorial to management

3.  Reduce the proportion of the workforce comprised of temporary workers from 25 per cent to 10 per cent or less by converting temporary workers to permanent status.

4.  Every department must have a manager dedicated to the professional development and support of temporary employees.

5.  We appreciate that the CBC has already announced a review of the JSP, and urge that the following reforms be considered:

–  Stop treating police sources as more believable than the people being policed.

 –  Update the CBC’s social media policy to allow employees to speak freely about their identities and lived experiences.

 –  Do not discipline employees for publicly defending their humanity or that of others. Just as an LGBTQ employee should never be told they can’t attend Pride, a Black employee should never be told they can’t publicly support Black Lives Matter, and an Indigenous employee should never be told they can’t attend a MMIWG rally.

We urge you to take these concerns seriously and ask that you respond to these requests for all employees to hear at an all-staff meeting.

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