In Defense of Ezer Rising and Sierra White

Though I am a staff writer for Ezer Rising, I am posting to my personal blog tonight in order to bring my thoughts and reflections of the recent post from former ER staffers (and friends). I won’t go into great detail on the many unfounded accusations made against Sierra, but I will touch on a few of them.

As the creator and leader of Ezer Rising, Sierra managed a growing staff of contributors who ranged from many different backgrounds. We were all united in our passion to help women to understand who they are in Christ and encourage them to live it to the fullest. We were free to write original content, make our own graphics, or repost (with permission) other tweets or articles that would fall into the content of the community that was building. I was one of the last writers to be added and loved the outlet that it gave me to bring my ideas and thoughts to a public forum for discussion and support. Sierra was very encouraging and rarely limited my ideas, but we did have some rules in place, mainly to keep from engaging in polarizing topics that might pull focus off of empowering all women and onto subjects that had proven to be divisive in other communities.

I felt that Sierra’s decisions on this were right, as I had witnessed how quickly online conversations could degenerate into anger and name calling. I mean, who wants their day ruined by an online stranger’s ignorant comment? Sierra did not want that to be the reputation or experience that would be had on Ezer Rising.

Sierra is a “go getter,” visionary, multitasker, and is able to juggle a lot of balls at once. She’s able to accomplish a lot because she is direct and to the point. She is massively gifted at what she does and yet still tries to make every attempt to engage in private conversations. But she’s not an overly sensitive person when it comes to how she packages her thoughts, and as a verbal processor, she can be found talking through an issue and it not always coming out the way she wants it to in her “first draft.” I understand this well because of my own personality as well as being the mother of four sons. I do not mince words and neither does she. I have hurt the feelings of others in my own ignorance and so I have compassion for Sierra because we both want to get it right so badly, for others to see that our hearts are in the right place but our mental and emotional “sorting process” can be a little messy at times.

In my opinion, the crux of the problem with the prior Ezer Rising staff had much more to do with Sierra’s “no nonsense” communication style than anything else. She especially loved on the Ezer Rising staff, checking in often through phone calls, texts, and messages. She sent real, tangible gifts like jewelry, cards, and fun coffee mugs. And while she could not possibly have said everything right and handled every situation perfectly, she never could have expected that those she was working with were struggling behind the scenes. A lot of passionate people bring a lot of feelings, both negative and positive. Sierra’s preference was that if a person had an issue with her, they brought it to her and she would do the same with them, lest seeds of bitterness be planted when simple conversations would have hopefully brought understanding and compromise. She followed her advice. They chose not to in an effort to feel more supported as they processed negative feelings. They felt that she was silencing them and controlling them. She felt that it was simply respectful communication.

Many of them were becoming increasingly passionate about LGBTQ+ issues and were wanting Ezer Rising to become 100% publicly affirming. But as I said before, we are a diverse group of writers and this topic has a tendency to be a defining one. Sierra was determined that Ezer Rising would be focus on women’s empowerment through God and that if we took on the label of “affirming” we would be swallowed whole. There are, quite literally, thousands of online communities that cover LGBTQ+ issues. When one of the members confided in Sierra that she was bisexual, Sierra’s response was one that was not as supportive it should have been and the member was deeply hurt. It took some time, but Sierra has since apologized, realizing that she should have responded more sensitively. I was allowed to read this apology after it was not responded to, the person criticizing it as being fake. I found it genuine.

I do believe that the establishment of a Direction Team had more to do with Sierra having some support when making decisions that were more complicated. Some seemed to favor writing angry posts with public callouts and hotly charged comments sections to increase traffic. I found that when I would write one, they would praise me and give me muscle emoji’s in my inbox. They encouraged me to engage trolls. I noticed in other egalitarian groups they would gang up on individuals who happened to disagree with one of them. But I was scared of questioning them in private or public, lest they turn on me. I knew that while they projected a sweet and sensitive exterior, it seemed like they were always furious with someone. At times, to my shame, I jumped on the bandwagon because it felt good to feel like friends.

There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of conversations had in confidence that I was not directly involved with. I did have many conversations with her accusers but found their evidence to be inflated and possibly out of a projection of their pain regarding past trauma. They could not give me direct examples, only assumptions. I can’t say for sure, but I don’t want to believe that they are simply mean. This I do know, to call Sierra’s management of Ezer Rising “abusive” is a false representation of her leadership and character. I believe that those who left Ezer Rising have one thing in common, a passion for justice that is so overwhelming to them that they, quite comfortably, will call any comment, behavior, word, look, or perspective they deem fit “abusive.” Not only that but I have seen many of them become extremely upset and go on a full crusade to publicly call it out on social media. They will claim to know motives they don’t know. They will stop at nothing to embarrass a real, human, individual and sister in the Lord. There is no mercy or grace to be extended or given, at least none that I have ever witnessed.

I have no idea what this must be like for Sierra except on a much lesser scale. There is one particular woman who has been viciously attacking my character in whatever online community she has access to for no other reason than that she can (She did it again today, actually). I did nothing to hurt her. I’m not friends with her. I have no relationship with her. She was able to grab screen shots of comments I made on a post unrelated to Ezer Rising and has stored and been using them to try to discredit and embarrass me. I reached out to her to try to understand where I might have caused offense but my message went unanswered. If this is not online bullying, I don’t know what else is. And so my heart goes out to Sierra because I don’t think that they would be constantly attacking her this way if she had given them full control over the direction of Ezer Rising when they wanted it. And rather than to build something new among themselves, they have chosen to make it their mission to dismantle Ezer Rising. Every time their efforts fail, they mount a new one.

This is revenge, folks, plain and simple. Sierra is not only a victim of this online slander, she is a real and actual survivor of childhood sexual abuse. For individuals who don’t understand her experiences to turn around and accuse her of abusive behavior is especially abhorrent to me. For them to throw around words like “racist” and “white supremacist” when she is biracial and constantly speaking out on racial reconciliation is extremely manipulative and slanderous. For them to come out of the woodwork every few months to attack her IS actually emotional and psychological abuse! We are witnesses of it. (Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!) I believe that they are projecting unrelated anger onto Sierra because she is an easy target and has already established that she will not fight back publicly. Many have advised Sierra that the unbecoming nature of their attacks are more damaging to their reputation than her defending herself can possibly accomplish. While I’m in full agreement with that, it’s pushing my conscience to the edge that some might actually believe this of her.

One important thing I want to point out… while they are vaguely speaking about the content of private conversations, in all of their accusations, they have been unable to present a single public Ezer Rising post that is an example of misogyny, homophobia, or the racism they accuse our team of.

Truth be told, for the most part, I found those who left to be very kind and sweet and caring of me. However, I did notice that they have in common an extreme sensitivity level that made me wonder how it could be that they would be able to manage their lives without being in a constant state of offense. To each their own, but if you ever disagree with them about anything, watch your back. They will take screen shots and post at their convenience, context be damned. They will defend each other through countless passive aggressive social media posts. They will not have mercy. They will not stop. They must think it’s their calling and God’s will to bring God’s wrath upon you. That’s why no one publicly opposes their posts anymore. Everyone is afraid of them.

But no one is afraid of Sierra.

If you care enough to navigate this chaos, I sincerely apologize for the drama of it all. I am a busy mom, a wife, and actively involved in my church. I write for Ezer Rising because I love being able to share my thoughts and heart with a community who shares my passion. Sierra created this space. She carved it out with blood, sweat, and tears. At times, it wasn’t the prettiest process but it is what it is because she protected the essence of the vision that God gave her for it.

It is a shame to me that she is being painted in a negative light. All leaders find themselves having to make hard decisions that not everyone likes. Most leaders face criticism from time to time. Rarely, do public character assassinations like this one happen. I can’t stay silent on it any longer. I fully expect them to come after me next. I expect them to fish through year old private messages of things I might have said to take out of context. Honestly, I don’t care. I know who I am and I have a real life outside of the internet. I can quite happily unplug and walk away at any time. I’m not addicted to drama. I have noses to wipe, grilled cheese sandwiches to make, and I don’t have time or energy to worry about the opinions of strangers. But this just isn’t right.

I’m entrusting this message to those who mean to better understand my perspective. I’m entrusting you to know me and my character well enough to consider that perhaps it didn’t happen the way that they claim it did. And I’m trusting you to question whether or not these kinds of public callouts are honoring to Christ or just plain gossip.

Entrusted,
Noelle

Author: noelletoscano

I long to bring the truth of the good news to those that God brings across my path. If you are reading this, He loves you with ALL HIS HEART (and therefore, so do I!)!

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