Racism at SISC camp in Denmark
|This statement is written following racist behaviour enacted by 10 white people at week 27 of SISC camp (a BDSM camp run by the Danish BDSM organisation SMIL) in July 2022. This racist act violated a Black person at the camp. I write this statement as a white person who witnessed this racism, following failed attempts to ask the SISC board to be accountable for the structural failures that allow racism to go unchallenged. The board has made clear to me that even when aware that a Black person was violated in their space they deny this violence is racist. The board has no intention of offering support to the Black person who experienced racist violence at their camp.|
As registration for this years camp has already started, I believe participants should have the right to be informed of the risks of participating and be allowed to make an informed choice if they want to go to a space that is run in this way. I believe the decision by SISC board to remove themselves from responsibility for what happened and keep it a secret from previous and future participants is racist action; a racist choice made to cover up a racist act. I will not be complicit with that choice.
The Black person violated by this racism knows that I have written this statement and agrees to it being shared.
What follows below shares some details of the racist violence itself:
An outdoor group scene of hide and seek was scheduled for the last day of the summer camp week 27. All in all 10 people participated in this scene; over one third of the people at the camp at the time. Four of the participants in the group were part of the management team organizing week 27. Before the scene started, the Black person asked the participants where it was going to happen. He asked this because he didn't want to see a scene where people are hunted, caught and punished. I was with him when he was told that they would be out of his sight, in a separate area. He was in no way informed that the scene would end with the group moving into the area where the Black person and I were sitting; the five bottoms were tied to each other by the neck in chains and collars, while the tops made them march in a line - exactly as enslaved Black people have been forced to march by white people. The bottoms were singing and participants of the play were laughing as they marched in front of a Black person while they reenacted and mocked Black slavery.
I am sure that if the scene hadn't been witnessed, this play wouldn't have been recognized as anything out of the ordinary by this group. It took a Black person being distressed and having to approach members of the management team involved in this act for them to become aware it was wrong. His identity was violated by those people. The extent of the pain and degradation he was subjected to, and still continues to suffer from, is impossible for any white person to understand.
I´ve understood that people involved in this racist group scene have said that they didn't understand that they were playing with imagery of slavery. Regardless of if it was intended or a result of remarkable ignorance on their part, the impact of their behavior has been devastating for (to my knowledge) the only Black participant of last year’s week 27 camp.
What happened was racist abuse. It is impossible to turn away from this fact without being complicit in racism. This also goes for the SISC board members who weren't part of the actual scene. They have power and a platform in this that the Black person that was violated doesn't: they get to sit with a group of peers and decide whose experience gets listened to in this, who gets protection and if being accountable for racism is necessary or not.
The Black person who was violated has not been contacted by the SISC board. There has been no formal apology or offer of support.
This space and community was important to him and one he had invested in. Yet it hasn't cared for him. He has asked the camp manager for week 27 (who has talked about this to SISC board members) for the other participants of that camp to be made aware of what happened to him. No-one in charge is taking action.
I have written to the SISC board whose reply makes it clear that they will not acknowledge the racist violence that happened in their space. They do not see this as breaking any rules for how they run the space or see this as racism, so they see no need to take any action. To me this implies that the SISC camp is built on racist structures: It meets racist acts with a denial and inaction that enables and legitimizes more racism. This also means that the board of SISC camp think that they have the right to decide that this act wasn't racist instead of listening to the Black person who was violated, who says that it was.
For white people it is convenient to forget how our ancestors participated in and benefited from the racism of the Atlantic slave trade and how its legacy structures society and our privileges today. One of the privileges of whiteness is being able to talk about racism and move through racist environments without it touching us as white people. If we have been in a space shaped by racism, we can return to it without feeling afraid, disempowered or unsafe. We have the freedom to choose when to engage with racism and when to disengage from it. When we act in line with this privilege we normalize inequality. When we fail to step up when people or organisations are racist, we are complicit in that racism.
I have talked to the camp manager for week 27 and I have written to the SISC board but nothing has happened. This racist violence shouldn’t be ignored and allowed to repeat and harm others in the future, which is why I’m writing this statement for you to read and share in appropriate networks if you can.
I can't go on holiday and feel comfortable practicing BDSM at the SISC camp. Neither is SISC an organization I want to support. If you are planning on going to the SISC camp, I hope this helps you to consider your personal risks and/ or your privileges before deciding if you can or want to participate in a space that is run this way.
Alfie, participant of week 27 SISC camp 2022
Statement from a former participant of SISC camp, describing a racist scene at SISC camp 2022, where a Black person was violated. It also tells of the denial and inaction from the SISC board.
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