NPA director accuses me of "institutional racism" and "white privilege"

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      The secretary of the NPA—and a recently elected board member—has written a two-page rebuttal to articles that I've written regarding SOGI 123 and Coun. Rebecca Bligh's resignation from the party. 

      Ray Goldenchild, a former park board candidate with Vancouver 1st, accused me and a radio reporter of, among other things, white privilege and exercising a form of institutional racism. (You can skip what I've written and go straight to the tweet below to read his statement.)

      He made this declaration because I didn't call him before posting a photo on a website of a man of African ancestry with his back turned to the camera. 

      The man was at a meeting of social conservatives in Surrey and I mistakenly identified him as Goldenchild. 

      As soon as I learned of the error, the photo was deleted and a clarification was posted at the bottom of two articles, one of which had the photo for a short period of time.

      Goldenchild stated that this was "defamatory and humiliating" and had damaging effects on his family, his involvement in the community, and the people he serves as secretary of the NPA.

      But that wasn't Goldenchild's only concern.

      "I have been labelled as 'traditional' or 'conservative' with a negative undertone in the article, again, without supporting this statement with facts, or even having taken the time to ask me," Goldenchild wrote in his statement. "As a person of colour, should my views be silenced? Is it fair to skip reaching out and contacting me for an opinion?"

      It makes me wonder if I would be accused of discrimination for putting the wrong name under a person of another ethnicity.

      Regardless, the mistake was made and readers are free to draw their own conclusions.

      I prefer to go by what Jay Smooth has pointed out: it's best to judge people by their actions and hold them accountable for that.

      It's worth noting that I didn't contact white directors of the NPA, including Christopher Wilson and Ryan Warawa, before writing about them in the same series of articles. 

      Yet in his statement, Goldenchild focused only on himself and another NPA director, Phyllis Tang, rather than mentioning this point.

      "The reason I put my name forward was to be part of meaningful change in the way youth sports programs are delivered in Vancouver," Goldenchild wrote. "The context is necessary to point out because Ms. Phyllis Tang and I are both visible minorities that have achieved high positions within the NPA. Both of us have been labelled and defamed negatively (I google my name and it is wrongly being associated with being anti-SOGI, for the world to see). There has been structural change within the NPA with greater ethnic representation, has this shift constituted a threat to the current establishment?"

      He also claimed that his identity of being anti-SOGI was constructed "solely based on an unfounded allegation that I was one of the attendees at an event where anti-SOGI candidates are present". He called that "dangerous journalism".

      Note the word "solely" in his statement. I take exception to that.

      Here's my reality: I didn't even know Ray Goldenchild was of African ancestry when I first started researching the new NPA directors. I first learned he had been endorsed by social conservatives and later came across his photo.

      In the past, I've written articles about other candidates being endorsed by social conservatives.

      Secondly, Goldenchild ran as a candidate with Vancouver 1st, which is identified as an anti-SOGI 123 party on Wikipedia.

      Thirdly, Vancouver 1st's mayoral candidate in 2018, Fred Harding, appeared in a video using the pronoun "we" to describe his party's problems with SOGI 123. That's the provincial initiative intended to make schools and school districts welcoming for LGBTQ2S+ students and staff.

      Vancouver 1st posted this statement on Wechat during the 2018 election campaign.

      Fourthly, Vancouver 1st has been described in the past as a "conservative" party on the civic scene. Its founder, Jesse Johl, was once a federal Conservative candidate. The party's Twitter account used to carry messages of support for Donald Trump.

      Fifthly, the headline on my story said that there are NPA directors with ties to social conservatives and the anti-SOGI movement. As a former Vancouver 1st candidate, Goldenchild has ties to Johl and Harding, who were both on his slate. Johl even signed Goldenchild's nomination papers.

      Moreover, the NPA has had people of colour on its executive before. The recently deceased B.C. Lee is a former party president.

      Goldenchild did not mention in his statement that a Vancouver 1st candidate of colour, Tony Dong, quit the party after Harding issued his statement criticizing the rollout of SOGI 123. Goldenchild chose not to resign from the slate at that time.

      I've left a phone message with him today, so perhaps he will call and clarify where he stands on political issues beyond what he's written in his statement.

      Finally, I never explicitly stated that Goldenchild was anti-SOGI, only that he had been endorsed by a socially conservative group, which had also recommended anti-SOGI 123 candidates, such as Heather Leung in Burnaby and Barry Neufeld in Chilliwack.

      In addition, Goldenchild raised the issue of white privilege in his statement.

      I don't dispute that I am the beneficiary of white privilege. I've received jobs in the past on the basis of networks and because I'm a reasonably articulate white male.

      Anyone who doesn't believe in the existence of white privilege hasn't taken the time to learn about this.

      Anyone who doesn't believe that males of African ancestry face unbelievable economic and social discrimination is simply delusional.

      At the same time, I've tried to leverage my white privilege by bringing diverse voices to this website.

      In that spirit, you can read Ray Goldenchild's statement in the tweet below.