A statement from the leadership of DSA-LA
We would like to express our apologies for the harm and mistrust that has been fueled by the events of this past week, and we acknowledge that this statement may feel long overdue. We have written this after listening to our new and longstanding members across our branches and committees and having multiple internal discussions about how to take accountability. We know we have lots of room for improvement, and this statement is both to apologize and to let you know what steps we are taking to move forward.
First: The recent decision to hold the Westside branch meeting at a cafe owned by an anti-LGBT church was not the right decision—having a DSA event at such a venue is not in line with our values. While the member was not aware of the anti-queer views of that church until the day before the event, they are taking accountability for their mistake: The member has now had conversations with leadership, apologized and sent out an explanation to Westside members about how this happened, and leadership will personally cover the cost of the event to ensure that no chapter funds go to support this institution. To ensure something like this doesn’t happen again, leadership is currently in the process of making a list of approved venues that align with our mission and values, and we will be donating chapter funds for that event to a local organization that supports our LGBT comrades.
Second: In the past week, the social media behavior of several members of chapter leadership has been unacceptable. Conflict resolution processes are underway for several of those involved. To ensure this kind of behavior doesn’t happen again, Steering is creating guidelines for social media behavior that all leaders must agree to going forward. As for members who do not hold a leadership position, we urge them to consider how what they may say or post reflects upon our organization.
Finally: One of the origins for the recent Twitter conflict was the accusation that DSA-LA is an “all white” organization. DSA-LA is proud to be represented by majority POC members, both on Steering and throughout our entire leadership. We reject false characterizations of ourselves as a “white organization” and we defend, support, and will keep working to empower our POC leaders, including our Black leaders, who work tirelessly to seek an end to capitalist oppression. We refuse to let POC and Black members and leaders be erased to fit a false narrative.
That being said, we acknowledge that we have much space for growth in many areas, specifically in recruiting, engaging, and empowering Black members, and in fighting structures and systems that reproduce anti-Blackness. We have specific plans for doing this, particularly through our ongoing work to canvass for Childcare for All and a Green New Deal in predominantly Black and Latinx working class neighborhoods, and in creating an internal organizational culture that uplifts Black and other POC members. We will do better in listening to Black communities, working in coalition, and showing up when called upon: We know genuine solidarity is the only way to liberation, and we aim to repair and grow in the short- and long-term.
DSA-LA is committed to building working class power. We (as an organization, and as individuals) have made and will make missteps as we seek to do something never done before in this country: empower working people to collectively challenge capital and its agents. We encourage anyone who shares our goals to reach out to us or to members you know directly to talk and help us all grow together. Thank you to those of you who have called us in with constructive criticism and concerns.
-DSA Los Angeles