“Ensuring the safety and integrity of your name, brand, business, family, and community is not gatekeeping; it’s protection.”
The Vital Role of Gatekeeping in Community Building: To move forward, we must expose those who claim to do good but are bad actors in the community.
As someone deeply committed to strengthening community bonds and fostering collaboration, I often find myself navigating the delicate balance between promoting unity and addressing the challenges posed by adult bullies within our community. Throughout my extensive involvement in various community initiatives over the years, I’ve encountered individuals whose toxic behavior has necessitated implementing gatekeeping measures to protect the well-being of our collective pursuits.
During an interview, I faced the disturbing reality of intentional exploitation by a community member. This individual shamelessly admitted to exploiting others’ perceived weaknesses, displaying a blatant disregard for ethical conduct and empathy. Decisive action was needed to prevent further harm to unsuspecting collaborators.
In grappling with the moral dilemma of whether to intervene and alert others, I confronted the harsh truth of how manipulative individuals can perpetuate falsehoods and inflict lasting damage on our community. Despite initially hoping for personal growth and redemption, I realized the urgency of prioritizing the protection of vulnerable individuals from exploitation and deceit.
Though challenging, I decided to cut ties with such individuals because I felt a deep sense of responsibility to safeguard the integrity of our community initiatives. Witnessing the insidious spread of falsehoods and intellectual property theft underscored the importance of distinguishing between genuine allies and opportunistic detractors.
Furthermore, my dedication to shielding loved ones from potential harm led me to withdraw from collaborations tainted by deceit and manipulation. This sobering realization emphasized the necessity of vigilant gatekeeping to preserve the integrity of our shared endeavors, even in familial contexts.
In prioritizing authenticity and integrity over superficial alliances, I found solace in my daughter’s unwavering commitment to pursuing her artistic vision independently. Despite facing setbacks orchestrated by deceptive actors, her resilience in amplifying Black voices in the community served as a beacon of hope amidst adversity.
Reflecting on these experiences, I’m compelled to initiate an honest dialogue within our community about the nuanced dynamics of gatekeeping and its role in promoting inclusivity and safety. While gatekeeping can evoke mixed reactions, its importance lies in distinguishing between constructive standards and exclusionary practices.
Bad gatekeeping, characterized by arbitrary criteria and discriminatory practices, fosters a hostile environment that undermines community cohesion. Such behaviors erode trust and perpetuate divisiveness, harming the fabric of our community.
Conversely, good gatekeeping serves as a defense against toxicity and exploitation, maintaining the integrity of our shared spaces and promoting accountability and mutual respect. By setting clear standards and boundaries, gatekeepers uphold the values that define our community and mitigate the risk posed by malicious actors.
To safeguard our collective well-being, we must recognize the pivotal role of good gatekeepers and support and empower individuals who demonstrate integrity and compassion in their stewardship of community resources. Whether through formal leadership roles or grassroots initiatives, fostering a culture of accountability is essential for our community’s growth.
Moving forward, I advocate for a proactive approach to gatekeeping that prioritizes transparency, inclusivity, and education. By encouraging open dialogue and promoting diversity, we can overcome the barriers posed by toxic behavior and build a community grounded in trust and solidarity.
Bad gatekeeping is exclusionary and discriminatory, often based on arbitrary or superficial criteria. It can be harmful to individuals’ mental health and create toxic environments by barring people from participating in a community based on things like how big of a fan they are or the circumstances of their discovery of the community.
This form of gatekeeping can be particularly damaging in fan communities, where the joy of shared interest should be inclusive and where gatekeeping can be used to exclude typically underrepresented groups, such as women or people of color, based on prejudiced views.
In summary, good gatekeeping protects the essential characteristics of a community and ensures its members are qualified or aligned with its goals. In contrast, lousy gatekeeping is exclusionary, often based on prejudice, and harms the community by creating a hostile and unwelcoming environment.
Good Gatekeeping (When it goes right, keeping toxic people from harming others and their pursuits.)
Good gatekeeping involves setting and maintaining standards, boundaries, or rules necessary for functioning or preserving a community’s core values and purpose. It can be a form of quality control that ensures the integrity of a community or activity is maintained.
For example, in professional or specialized communities, gatekeeping can ensure members have the necessary skills or knowledge to contribute effectively. This type of gatekeeping is often seen as essential to keep countercultures vibrant and thriving, as it can prevent the dilution of a community’s unique culture or the misrepresentation of its values. Good gatekeepers play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of a community by keeping toxic individuals out to prevent harm. They serve as protectors of the community’s well-being and values.
However, good gatekeepers need to exercise their role responsibly, ensuring that their actions are based on transparent and fair criteria and that they do not engage in discriminatory or exclusionary practices. Good gatekeeping should focus on preserving the community’s positive aspects and promoting a safe and inclusive environment for all members.
In essence, gatekeeping is a means of nurturing communities built on trust, integrity, and inclusivity. We can dismantle barriers and create a future defined by genuine collaboration and mutual respect.
Gatekeeping operates in various contexts, impacting advocates within communities as well. Here are some examples:
- Media Advocacy: Advocates often engage in media advocacy, where gatekeeping involves pitching stories or perspectives to journalists or editors. Gatekeepers in media ultimately decide which stories get coverage, shaping public discourse on social issues.
- Healthcare Advocacy: Within healthcare, advocates may encounter gatekeeping when advocating for improved access to healthcare services or challenging discriminatory practices. Gatekeepers in healthcare settings, such as insurers or healthcare administrators, may control access to resources and services.
- Social Media Advocacy: Advocates utilize social media platforms to amplify their messages and mobilize support for causes. However, through content moderation policies or algorithmic decisions, gatekeeping by social media platforms can impact the visibility and reach of advocacy efforts.
- Community Advocacy: Gatekeeping can also occur within community advocacy efforts, where specific individuals or groups may control access to decision-making processes or resources. Advocates may face challenges navigating these gatekeepers to advocate for community needs effectively.
- Policy Advocacy: Advocates working to influence policy decisions may encounter gatekeeping within governmental or organizational structures. Gatekeepers in policymaking processes, such as legislators or government officials, can shape policy agendas and determine which voices are heard.
- Funding Advocacy: Securing funding is essential for sustaining advocacy efforts, but gatekeeping by funders can pose challenges. Gatekeepers in philanthropic organizations or grant-making institutions may prioritize specific issues or approaches, affecting which advocacy initiatives receive support.
- Intersectional Advocacy: Advocates working at the intersections of multiple social justice issues may face additional layers of gatekeeping. Intersectional gatekeeping can arise from entrenched power dynamics and systemic inequalities, requiring advocates to navigate complex barriers to achieve meaningful change.
Gatekeeping can have significant impacts on marginalized communities in various ways. These examples demonstrate how gatekeeping can hinder marginalized communities’ inclusivity, representation, and progress in various spheres.
- Exclusion of Marginalized Voices: Gatekeeping can exclude individuals or groups with valuable perspectives, limiting diversity and representation within movements or communities.
- Fragmentation and Divisiveness: Strict gatekeeping can lead to internal conflicts and the marginalization of voices that do not fit within predefined boundaries, contributing to fragmentation and divisiveness within grassroots movements.
- Replication of Power Structures: Gatekeeping can perpetuate existing power imbalances, making it challenging for minoritized individuals to persist in certain fields such as STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine).
- Cultural Gatekeeping: In creative industries, cultural gatekeeping by the dominant group can limit the opportunities and recognition of marginalized creators, reinforcing existing power dynamics.
- Reduced Community Engagement: High barriers and exclusive cliques created by gatekeeping can alienate and intimidate community members, reducing engagement and limiting the potential for widespread mobilization.
In navigating these contexts, advocates must strategically address gatekeeping challenges, build alliances, and advocate for transparency and inclusivity in decision-making processes. By recognizing and confronting gatekeeping barriers, advocates can work towards fostering more equitable and inclusive communities.
In solidarity and commitment to collective growth,
Community Advocate and Activist
Publisher: Black El Paso Voice News & Information
Monica is the founder and publisher of Black El Paso Voice. She is an advocate fighting against racism and embracing positive community involvement. She is a lover of God, Puerto Rican cuisine, and the greatest defender of her family. She also enjoy House Music and swears it’s the best music on the planet!