Dear GDIRDU community,
We must inform you about some deeply troubling revelations at the Girl Develop It organization. As you may know, Girl Develop It is a national organization made up of local chapters across the country. Recent events at some chapters and at the national headquarters have led us to ask some hard questions here in Raleigh-Durham.
As you may have heard, an interview with former GDI employee Shanise Barona on the podcast #causeascene brought to light unacceptable treatment and microaggressions that she faced as an employee at GDI HQ. Other troubling incidents of racism in several chapters were reported over the summer, which have been documented here and here.
In response to the unsatisfactory handling of these situations, many current and former chapter leaders wrote an open letter to GDI HQ to let them know that this is completely unacceptable and to demand changes in the policies and working practices at GDI HQ. However, many chapter leaders, including us, feel that we cannot continue to participate in or advocate for this organization. The steps GDI HQ have taken, and have failed to take, to respond to these events have signified to us that there is little to no desire to enact real change at the HQ level. In order to take a hard stance against racism and discrimination, many chapters are shutting down.
GDI RDU is one of these chapters. This chapter will be ceasing operations under current leadership effective on January 1, 2019.
We realize this news is upsetting. It’s a hard decision that we came to in discussion amongst current and former chapter leaders, and we’d like to explain our reasoning.
We believe that diversity and inclusiveness are not just buzzwords. Implementing diversity in tech requires strong moral commitment and decisive, demonstrable action to make inclusion real. The Girl Develop It that we knew when this chapter was founded in January 2013 believed in meeting people where they are, listening to them, and responding with respect in a spirit of friendship and a genuine desire to help each other. When community members on the margins speak about their experience, we believe them, and we support them, and we work actively to make our community truly inclusive. These principles seem to have foundered in the last few months for this organization, and for that reason, we cannot continue to hold this community together under the pink banner of GDI.
The GDI RDU community is made up of so many supportive, hard-working, giving people. Thank you to every one of you who has made this chapter possible: students, volunteers, sponsors, advocates, and allies. We’ve learned a lot together, and all that work has meant a great deal to a great many people.
We hope that our local classes and events over the past (nearly) six years have inspired and empowered you to learn about and pursue opportunities in tech. We are available to talk about what’s happening with GDI and will provide what guidance and resources we can for continued learning. And, we are sorry for the failure of his organization to live up to its mission and the loss of the future potential to do so.
Our first priority is you. We want to make sure that you feel safe, heard, and informed. If you have questions, ideas, criticism, feedback, or anything you would like to share with us, know that we appreciate the emotional labor it takes to do so, and know that we will take it seriously and keep it confidential. We are here and we are listening.
Thank you for a great run, Raleigh-Durham. We on the leadership team take the experiences we’ve shared with you all and carry them in our hearts and hope to find new ways to do good work in our community.
Amy Gori, Willamina O’Keeffe, & Erin Brown