Solidarity Statement – Black Lives Matter

Dear WGPO Members,

Black Lives Matter! This phrase calls on our communities to acknowledge the reality of pervasive structural and individual racism and to combat it in all its forms. These turbulent times demand that we reflect on our biases, have difficult conversations, and take action to root out prejudice, bigotry, and injustice in our world.

Support Change: Although WGPO is simply an organization of gaming enthusiasts, we cannot ignore our moral responsibility to address injustice and, if necessary, make appropriate structural changes in our own organization. The WGPO Executive Committee (EC) and Board of Player Representatives (BPR) stand in solidarity with members of the Black Lives Matter movement in their efforts to eliminate racism in North America. To support these efforts, we have made individual donations to various local and national groups doing this important work. If you feel called to join us, plenty of great organizations could use your financial support or volunteer efforts. As individuals we can support this movement.

WGPO Expectations: As a member-run gaming organization, our mission is to foster an open, safe, and welcoming environment where players can expect to be treated with consideration and respect regardless of race, religion, age, disability, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression. We take this part of our Tournament Expectations seriously, and ask players to report any issues of bias, harassment, or discrimination at a WGPO event to a tournament director or a member of the BPR or EC as soon as possible. Find a list of BPR and EC members at http://wordgameplayers.org/about/contact-us/

Your Input Wanted: However, we recognize that there is still work we can do to meet our commitment to eliminate racism and other types or bigotry in our organization. To this end, we have developed a short survey to solicit feedback. It will include open-ended questions asking you to share your experiences with WGPO and the broader Scrabble community; and to recommend specific actions the WGPO community can take to meet these goals. It is especially important to hear from persons of color, and members of other traditionally underrepresented groups. Your responses are anonymous. You can fill out the WGPO Survey on Inclusion here by July 10th, 2020. An executive summary that removes any personally identifying details will be shared with the BPR, EC, and membership. Suggestions are always welcome by email at ec@wordgameplayers.org or on our Facebook page.

Finally, we want to acknowledge and support the recent statement by John Chew, CEO of the North American Scrabble Players Association (NASPA) on the Black Lives Matter movement. Following his statement, he also included a proposal to remove certain slurs from the list of acceptable words used in NASPA tournament play. Members of NASPA’s leadership have invited feedback from those interested in Scrabble, regardless of organizational membership. Here is a link to their survey: NASPA Survey on Removing Slurs. Members of the WGPO leadership are following this discussion, and encourage our membership to add their voice to this discussion if they haven’t already.

The Executive Committee (Deborah Baggett, Mike Johnson, and Steve Pellinen)
The Board of Player Representatives (Laurie Cohen, Helen Flores, Bennett Jacobstein, Maurice Ross, Susi Tiekert)