To the Reading Rush Community:
We wanted to reach out to thank everyone who participated in our event this year. We’ve received some important feedback over the past few days and in order to be transparent we want to respond and share the actions we’ll be taking to do better in the future. Please know that these are explanations, not excuses. We value each of you and we are taking your feedback to heart. The most important thing we’ve learned is that to prevent these types of missteps we need to have a more diverse team behind the scenes to help us ensure that moments like these don’t happen again.
- We know that we disappointed many of you when we did not finish our book club choice, Such A Fun Age, in time for our live show. Amidst hosting the event we failed to finish the book and did not recognize at the time why it should have been our first priority. It was unprofessional for us to not finish it but especially hurtful considering that the novel is by a Black author and is about performative allyship. We’ve learned that we need to be more thoughtful about our allyship and to find better solutions for our time management.
- We are both Canadian hosts and did not know about Juneteenth until June 19th, 2020. Our video was scheduled to go live the morning of June 19th and it wasn’t until a few hours later that we were informed that it was a day of remembrance and should be used as an opportunity to support and prioritize Black voices. As soon as we were made aware, we unlisted the video and issued an apology. We’ve learned that we need to be more cognizant of when we post our content and regret if our announcement video distracted from the larger messages of the day.
- Our reading challenges were designed in January before we understood the full ramifications and realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. As it unfolded we felt that our challenge to read a book outside could still be completed safely while social distancing and our intention was never to encourage people to be unsafe. We issued an update to our challenge and encouraged people to adapt it into whatever method worked best for their situation but we’ve learned that we need to be more mindful and inclusive when designing our reading challenges and activities.
We hope that this information gives context for why these missteps occurred but also shows what we’ve learned from these mistakes. If we continue hosting the Reading Rush we will make sure to have more input from voices that aren’t our own to better diversify the decisions we make. We will ensure that decisions are seen by more perspectives than our own and will make sure to have inclusion as our top priority in every step. Over the past seven years we’ve gone from a small project to an event with 14k participants and we know that we have a responsibility to make sure that we are inclusive in every aspect of our event.
Thank you to everyone who participated and shared your reading with us. It’s amazing to see how much everyone reads and creates during the week. We treasure this week and this event and hope you trust that we’ve learned from this moment.
Ariel and Raeleen