Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf President resigns after controversy

[Transcript] The Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf (RAD)’s President Paul Kiel resigned yesterday morning after more than two weeks of controversy in which multiple members of the LGBTQIA+ community said he exhibited racist behavior and was unprofessional by silencing and blocking people who raised serious concerns about having a safe space for marginalized people.

The new RAD President is Roy Jones, who is the first African-American person in this role. He was the vice-president and announced he is taking over after Kiel’s resignation.

A part of what started the controversy was a recorded video call between Kiel and a Deaf and Black man, Dion Williams. It was a tense call where Williams said Kiel was not listening to his concerns as a person of color and asked why he was being blocked. Kiel said it was because he was disrespectful and one-sided. During the conversation, Kiel pulled a black man who happened to be in the same room he was in to prove that he loved people of color. The other man didn’t understand what was going on.

Kiel later apologized and said he was a racist and have made mistakes, but dozens of deaf LGBTQIA+ members said he had to go and demanded his resignation using the hashtag #PaulResignNOW. Multiple Facebook users said they were blocked by Kiel after voicing criticism.

The Deaf Queer Resource Center shared an article by “The Deaf Report” about the controversy and said, “Racism has no place within our Deaf LGBTQ communities.”

There were open letters from the Ontario Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf and from Inka’s Screen Printing, a deaf and LGBTQ+ owned business, that said Kiel had to go.

The pressure on Kiel continued for days. On Wednesday evening, Kiel released a second apology video, but after more criticism from RAD Facebook members, of which some said they did not accept his apology, Kiel submitted a letter of resignation, effective immediately, on Thursday morning.

Kiel posted on RAD Facebook that he is really sorry about the situation and that he is asking for forgiveness. He said he is no longer on the board but is just a member.

Roy Jones announced in a vlog that he was the new president. There were many who congratulated him. Jones said the RAD team would figure out what to do for the vice-president position and that their focus is now on the next conference in 2021. He encouraged people to join RAD as members so they could have more power to decide where the conference would be. He said he wants to make RAD a safe space for everyone. He thanked Kiel for resigning and asked people to give him love and mercy, and educate him on why it was important for him to resign.

Several people on RAD’s Facebook page said the RAD board still should go through training to learn about and to stop racism, sexism, or other oppressive behaviors.




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