02/22/2016 11:29 EST | Updated 02/22/2017 05:12 EST

It's Unacceptable That Scaachi Koul Was Harassed Off Twitter


Scaachi Koul took a lot of flak over the weekend for a Twitter call for story pitches that were Canada-centric, especially if you were "not white and not male."

She was harassed, received at least one violent threat, and deleted her Twitter account.

If you look at the masthead of Canada's major publications, it's not hard to see exactly what she's talking about.

I've never met Scaachi in real life (or even on the Internet), but I hear we're about the same age. Twitter persona aside, I've always been a huge fan of her writing, which makes me question what I'm doing with my life.

No one should be subject to that kind of harassment, let alone someone who's making a salient point about the industry she works in.

I started following her career when she was at Hazlitt, writing a hilarious advice column that was always snarky and insightful. She's written some great pieces that tie in her experiences as a racialized woman, and some that are just flat-out great.

That being said, there's some legitimate critical discussion that can be had, specifically using her platform on BuzzFeed to shut down criticism from black women about her appearance on a CBC panel.

But even though I don't always agree with Scaachi Koul, it's completely unacceptable she was harassed off Twitter. It's unbelievable she received violent threats for pointing out something every non-white, non-male journalist already knows -- mainstream media (in general) is not here for you.

No one should be subject to that kind of harassment, let alone someone who's making a salient point about the industry she works in.

Yeah, sure, she could've been more polite about it so as not to poke the Twitter trolls. Pragmatically speaking, every PoC with a platform knows that the minute you start speaking out about race on Twitter, you'll get harassed, or worse, threatened.

But even though I'd never yell about white men myself, tone-policing Scaachi Koul is the opposite of fixing media's diversity problem.

Why should people of colour, sexual and gender minorities, be expected to always be polite when demanding a media they deserve -- one that reflects the diversity of their experiences, and the diversity of the country they live in? Should we just sit here and wait for the predominantly white, male media to include our voices?

If the reaction to Scaachi's call for pitches is any indication, that's not going to happen anytime soon.

I'm Chinese-Canadian. My parents came here from Jamaica when they were teenagers and became Canadians. There are few journalists who share even a small part of that experience, and fewer still, any regular columnists. I honestly can't think of any Chinese ones. I'm lucky to work at an organization that values my input, and sees my experiences with race and culture as important.

But Canadian media is getting smaller and smaller every day. Budget cuts are forcing some of the country's most talented journalists to take buyouts, or get laid off anyway. Some of us are clinging to our jobs for dear life, because who knows -- you could be next.

And as it gets smaller, it'll be harder for Canadian media to diversify, because it'll be less of a priority to include our voices.

As her boss Craig Silverman pointed out, Scaachi Koul didn't violate any labour laws. A call for story pitches is not the same as a job application.

And as Scaachi herself pointed out, "Giving ignored voices preferential treatment is not racism against white people is an attempt to fix all of history."

BuzzFeed's move is refreshing, and should be applauded. They're not saying white men -- a group of people whose voices can be found in every major publication in this country -- won't be considered. They're simply reaching out to communities that have never had an equal seat at the table.

Disclosure: Scaachi Koul once worked as an editorial intern at The Huffington Post Canada.

Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook


Billionaires Who Own Newspapers