Updated: Freedom Arts Movement has been informed by Joseph that they no longer wish to move forward with the accountability process we were planning to facilitate. They claim they are going to incorporate the model we provided through their personal cohort of friends, community members, and the RPP collective. Whether or not the accountability process is genuinely taking place, FAM cannot verify or vouch for it going forward because we are no longer a part of the accountability pod. We hope for the sake of the communities harmed that this process takes place and bears fruit. We advice all parties involved with the pod to be completely transparent and honest about the progress, the good or the bad. Feel free to reach out to FAM if you need support or advice. You can find our prescriptive first steps of our accountability process. Hope it provides a look into how these processes can be possible and effective if all parties within a community are willing and open.
Statement Of Purpose
Freedom Arts Movement is engaging in a process of accountability with Joseph Rathgaber. This process is not to rehabilitate his image or to allow him to move on from his past discretions or instances of harm. FAM recognizes the dialectical nature of human socialility under the interlocking systems of oppression within capitalism. We are indoctrinated into the systems logic as soon as we are conscious. We must constantly struggle to transform ourselves and transform others. This accountability process seeks to repair, restore, recuperate and pay material reparations in the form of community-centric labor.
The Harm That Has Been Identified
Joseph has made books and poems that have caused harm because of the way they misappropriate black images, aesthetics and language, as a white person.
Joseph has made a book, as a descendent from settlers, about indigenous peoples that reproduces the role that white supremacy has had on the exploitation and framing of lives under colonialism.
What Has Been Done So Far
Joseph has been in contact with a number of people who have worked closely with his publishing press, as well as members of the collective that run the press, who have shared their discomfort in regards to having their work associated with him. He has offered people space to air their grievances and feelings of distrust.
Joseph has reached out to folks to assess more particularly what harm was caused.
What Needs To Be Done
Joseph needs to issue a public statement acknowledging his role in the accountability process that he is coming to through his own volition based on his commitment to repairing the harm he caused to the communities he shares space with.
An accountability pod needs to be made. Here are resources on what that will look like. FAM has offered two organizers (a black organizer and an Indigenous organizer) to be a part of the pod while we have asked Joseph to include one or two close friends and a community member who will be able to keep them accountable.
Joseph needs to go directly to these affected communities and explain this entire process. This does not mean going around posting fliers hoping it will reach them. This means finding Ramapough Lenape and black local leaders; having a formal meeting with delegates, discussing his work, how it was problematic and harmful, and how these delegates can imagine him repairing the harm that was caused.
Members of the pod will be updated on the process by Joseph; they will offer advice and creative solutions to snags; and they will also be transparent and available to community members who have questions about the process.
Only after the accountability work is done can the pod and Joseph begin to take action steps to move the repair work forward.
Freedom Arts Movement