On being apolitical as a conference organisor

For the past 24 hours I have been told that, as a conference organisor:

  • I should be careful about getting involved in US politics
  • I am supposed to stay out of politics
  • I shouldn’t try to be “politically correct”
  • I should remain apolitical
  • etc…

I am tired of hearing that over and over again. So here is my answer:

  • When I show compassion for my speakers, is seen as me being political,
  • When I want to invite a wide range of speakers with different backgrounds, is me trying to be “politically correct”,
  • When I say ‘Black Lives Matter’ and people think I am making a political statement,
  • When I want to support a good cause such as @BlackGirlsCode by asking to donate, is viewed as me “not being apolitical”,

then there is something wrong with people thinking I am being political, not with me.

Being apolitical means: not interested or involved in politics.

  • How am I supposed to stay out of politics, when my speakers are affected by the protests in the United States?
  • How am I supposed to ignore United States politics, when Belgian politicians started using their tactics, such as ‘The war on drugs’ to get votes?
  • How am I supposed to say apolitical things, when they have abused the language I speak for their political agenda?
  • How am I supposed to stay apolitical, when politicians tap into my hopes and dreams?
  • How am I supposed to be apolitical when they try to tap into my fears?

If I have to stay away from politics, then politics has to stay away from me. Politics abuses my emotions, my values, my language, my gender, my culture, my identity for its own gain. There is no boundary it is not willing to cross, so I don’t know how or where to draw a line anymore.

Politics is about us, our community, our lives. I am making a stand. Why aren’t you?