Plaza Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement
The LotR Plaza is a community of like minded individuals brought together by our love of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. While we have much in common, we are also a diverse membership from all around the globe, representing numerous national origins, ethnicities, religions, abilities, social backgrounds, and sensibilities. All are welcome here. In this document, we wish to specifically address issues and concerns surrounding discrimination, harassment, bigotry, and provide specific focus on and resources regarding LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC/BAME (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color/Black and Minority Ethnic) communities.
We fully support all of our members being as open as they desire about their gender/identity/orientation. We also recognize that some of our members may not yet be comfortable revealing all or part of their identities, and we respect your right to privacy. Whether you choose to share your identity with us or not, we see you, we hear you, we support you, and this forum is a safe place for you to be. Your identity will be respected, whether it stays the same as it was when you first came to the Plaza, or changes along the way. Gender and identity exploration can be a long process for some, and we are here for you as you discover your authentic self. We encourage (but do not require) all members of the Plaza to use the designated profile field or/and their forum signature to express their pronouns. Whatever your pronouns are, they will be respected. If you aren’t sure what someone’s pronouns are, ask! This article helps to explain the idea of stating your pronouns, and why it’s important for cis (that is, those whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth) people to state them, even if they think their pronouns are obvious.
If you know something about another person's identity that you are not 100% sure they have made public, or you do not have explicit permission from them to share that information publicly, you must not share it. Coming out, or simply revealing your identity to a new group of people, can be a process that doesn't happen all at once, and we must respect the right for everyone to do this at their own pace. A person’s reasons for not coming out, or not fully revealing their identity, can vary widely. In many places and situations LGBTQIA+ people still face discrimination, harassment, and the threat of violence. Outing someone, even by accident, has the potential to put that person into highly uncomfortable or dangerous situations.
Additionally, the deadnaming of anyone who has changed their name will not be tolerated. A "dead name" is a name that a person was once known by, but they no longer use or identify with, and using that name rather than their chosen name is known as deadnaming. This issue is most common in the trans community. If you accidentally use someone's dead name due to not being aware their name had changed, simply apologize and make the correction going forward!
We stand with all our members of any BIPOC/BAME community against racism and racial injustice, both systemic and individual. We will vigorously monitor the Plaza against incidents of racism and microaggression, and strive to educate any member who may display a lack of understanding as to why their words are harmful. We support the worldwide Black Lives Matter movement, and the fight for racial equality and justice it represents.
We recognize that for some of our members, many of these concepts may be new, difficult, or uncomfortable. It is natural to feel a bit lost, or even defensive, when confronted with ideas that are different from what you are used to, or when starting to incorporate new ideas into your life and speech patterns. We ask that you be open to learning and change: if someone tells you something you’ve said has made them uncomfortable, or is harmful or inappropriate, it is not an attack on you personally, but an effort to mitigate systemic issues and make the Plaza and the wider world a more accepting place for all. Making mistakes is part of learning. The important thing is being open to learning, and making an effort to be conscious of what you have learned in the future. If these ideas are new to you, or you find yourself feeling defensive, we recommend you read this article as a great starting place for understanding such feelings, and how to deal with them productively. Systemic prejudice of any kind is not the fault of any one person, but it does create societal advantages and disadvantages, and over time ingrains certain expressions, speech patterns, and euphemisms into the common vernacular which are racist, bigoted, harmful, and even violent. We must all work together to eliminate these things from our choice of words, and be receptive to the knowledge of others, when we as individuals may not be aware of the history behind them.
We support free speech and discussion of many topics, whether relevant to the works of Tolkien, or simply conversation between Plaza members. However, the Plaza is not a space to discuss political party affiliations, the merits of one religion over another, etc. We recognize that subjects such as politics and religion may come up in discussion of daily lives and current events between members, and we encourage Plaza members to approach these types of topics with regard to how they intersect with their personal lives or the works of Tolkien only, rather than seeking to promote or put down, for instance, a particular political party or religious affiliation. The matter of a person’s existence and identity is also not a subject for debate, and in discussions between members that touch on all the aforementioned topics, we will be guided by the words of Robert Jones, Jr.: “We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.” The Plaza endorses the following statements: Black Lives Matter, Trans rights are human rights, Love is love.
The Plaza actively stands against discrimination, and does not tolerate the deliberate use of hate speech, sexual harassment, or other forms of abuse. Such behavior will result in a permanent ban. The following actions will not be tolerated: racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, misgendering, religious intolerance, ageism, sizeism, outing, deadnaming, and all other forms of discrimination. Verbal, mental or any other form of abuse; sexual harassment, and inappropriate/unwelcome comments and behaviors. In the case of unintentional harmful speech or action, an educative warning will be issued, along with an opportunity to discuss and learn. We aspire to operate on a policy of three strikes, allowing for the growth and change of members who may make mistakes. Each situation will be reviewed and investigated on a case by case basis to determine the intent of the member in question. However, deliberate, intentional, or/and extreme infractions may result in an immediate ban. Continued and deliberate infractions following the three-strikes warnings will also result in a permanent ban.
Any member of the admin team is available to any member of the Plaza who has concerns, questions, or wishes to report an interaction or situation which is in violation of the principles we have outlined in this statement. You will be heard, taken seriously, and we will work to swiftly resolve any such situation that may arise. If you are not comfortable initiating a direct conversation for any reason, you may use this form to report your concern, with the option to be anonymous.
Below we have listed some further resources, and recommend that everyone take this opportunity to continue educating themselves.
Thank you for being part of the Plaza, and helping us work towards a better community, and a better world.
The Bifröst - Plaza hangout/support space for LGBTQIA+ and Allies
Race, Equity and Social Justice Terms: a guide to some of the idea in this statement you may not be familiar with, as well as many other helpful and useful terms
Social Justice Glossary: additional reading on interesting terms
What Is Emotional Labour & Why Is It Important? By Francesca Willow
Being an Ally: Most important steps to being a better ally, as defined by Franchesca Ramsey
- Understand your privilege
- Listen and do your homework on the issues that are important to the communities you want to support
- Speak up but not over the voices of the community members you want to support (and don’t take credit for things they’re already saying)
- Realize you’ll make mistakes and apologize when you do
- Remember that ally is a verb.