Being a better ally and reflecting on yesterday’s actions

TLDR; Yesterday I was insensitive towards Anne McCarthy and for that I deeply apologize and recognize the need to improve.

As a person who belongs to a demographic that historically holds privilege, I’ve made it a personal commitment to advocate for empathy and support towards those whose experiences differ from mine.  In both my personal and professional lives, particularly within the open web community, I strive to exemplify allyship by fostering an inclusive and supportive environment.  It’s crucial that people like me call out behaviors that don’t align with these values, aiming to ensure that everyone feels welcome and valued in our community so that it can be a place where the principle of “welcoming contributions from anyone” is more than just a slogan but a lived reality that I want all to experience.

Yesterday I failed to meet these expectations and, in doing so, created a negative experience for Anne McCarthy, who was facilitating the weekly devchat meeting for WordPress core.

In the heat of the moment, I overlooked crucial contextual cues from Anne and others in devchat, reacting impulsively to a topic that struck a nerve with me. The specifics of what triggered my reaction are inconsequential compared to the impact my actions had on Anne.  Having served as a WordPress core Team Rep for over three years, I understand firsthand the challenges of managing an online forum and maintaining the collective focus during hour-long discussions.  I’ve witnessed how certain individuals can dominate conversations, stifling diverse viewpoints and limiting the exploration of other topics.  Yesterday I regrettably embodied the very behavior I wish to mitigate.  I must do better.

I deeply admire and respect Anne’s incredible work with the Full Site Editing Outreach Program and their tireless efforts to enhance communication within the WordPress project and foster connections with the community. Anne’s dedication to inclusivity and collaboration serves as an inspiration to me and many others.  The impact of Anne’s work on the project and the broader open web community is immeasurable. I aim to be someone who not only supports such invaluable efforts but also works to amplify them.

Anne deserves a sincere apology, and our community deserves leaders who are empathetic, supportive, and inclusive.  While I aspire to be one of those leaders, it’s evident that I have room for growth.

Anne, I am genuinely sorry.





2 responses to “Being a better ally and reflecting on yesterday’s actions”

  1. Anne McCarthy Avatar

    Jeff! Thank you for this. On my end, we’re all good and I do see all of the numerous ways you support folks like me. This doesn’t change that. I really look up to those of you who have done so much for the WordPress community long before I came around and this post hits on why I do. How a community responds to and learns from these situations matters a ton. Thanks for making us all better for it by being public in accountability. The fact that I could speak up, be heard, and we can now collectively learn from it is a great sign of a healthy space where we will all not be our best at some point. I know I’ve had my moments already. Onwards.

    1. jeffpaul Avatar

      Sorry there needed to be a teachable moment to take advantage of, but hopefully the example of what not to do and it being pointed out will help. Onwards indeed.

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