The last couple of months have been testing for us all during the COVID-19 pandemic and, in particular, the last few weeks have been painful for me, as a black man, to see all the events unfold after the murder of George Floyd and countless others at the hands of the police. The last few days have been difficult on both a personal and professional level, regarding the issue of whether we at Recon will remove the option to filter by ethnicity.
It saddens me to see brands using this time to exploit and detract from the main message of the Black Lives Matter movement, by shifting focus onto something under the guise of supporting it. Calls to remove the ethnicity filter on other platforms have been going on for years and removing it now gives the impression that the filter is the sole reason for racist behaviour amongst users. I'm not sure of the diversity make-up of the companies behind some of the other apps, but Team Recon includes prominent black voices who would not take such a decision so lightly.
This has been an ongoing conversation for everyone at Recon, as a lot of thought and consideration was needed concerning the use of the filter for people of colour rather than the white people that use it as a racist tool. The removal of this tool only looks at it from a white perspective, which directly feeds into the systemic racism that we are trying to dismantle, and by no means tackles the root of the problem. We want to have a platform that enables kink and offers a safe space for all, not just for the white people who do not understand right from wrong. Therefore, we will not be removing the option to filter by ethnicity at this time.
The Recon universe is very different to that of other gay apps or sites. We operate in the very layered and complex fetish landscape. Our members have to not only come to terms with their sexuality but also embrace their kink identity. It's already difficult for young gay black men to be accepted amongst their peers in the wider LGBTQ+ community, now imagine having to find your tribe in an even more niche, predominately white, population. Without such tools, marginalised people cannot reach out to others who look like them, ask for advice on how to conduct BDSM practises safely, solidify their identities, or in the simplest form, just be seen and feel like they are not alone. Not everyone lives in a big city where being gay is accepted and the ability to foster such connections is paramount to their survival.
Recon is by no means perfect when it comes to tackling racism, if you're a member or fan of ours you'll know that our fight has mostly been about increasing and uplifting the representation and visibility of members of colour and POC on the fetish scene. We know that there is so much more work to do.
Yes, I am a person of colour, but I cannot speak for all people of colour on what we think or feel regarding this issue, but I can speak to my own experience, and those of the POC around me based on the interactions I have shared with my brothers and sisters around the world. We will therefore reach out to our members of colour, as well as community leaders and other organisations to figure out how we can make Recon a safer space.
When a person of colour says that they have experienced racism, believe them! We will not tolerate our members spreading hate on our platform and are looking at ways to prevent them from returning once they have been suspended. We want to take the time to work on more stringent reporting procedures and policies that tackle racist behaviour, including creating an anti-racist charter that we expect every current and subsequent new member to abide by.
Lastly, I want to make it clear that Recon supports the Black Lives Matter movement and will be making a donation to help continue the fight for freedom, liberation and justice. We implore you to support the cause and other organisations who are working with people of colour and the protests happening around the world.
The only way that we can all be equal is to embrace the diversity within our community.