Accountability Timeline: November 2020-April 2021

This timeline is released in conjunction with this statement: https://awfulgoodwriters.com/a-statement-to-our-community/

We created this timeline following the recommendation from one of the social justice advocates we worked with on this issue. Our goal is to provide the AGW and general literary community a transparent account of the events surrounding Awful Good Writers’ decision to work with Roger Bonair-Agard in January 2021.

We present this information as factually and objectively as we are able to do. Third parties mentioned or referenced herein are welcome to contact us with any comments or corrections.

All dates/times noted are Pacific. 

Nov 24, 2020
AGW’s then-owner Buddy Wakefield sends welcome email and Spring 2021 lineup/roster to all artists who are planning to teach that session. 

Dec 3 – 4:37pm
One of the artists slated to teach emails Wakefield and informs him that they don’t feel comfortable being on the roster with Roger Bonair-Agard because Bonair-Agard has harmed people in their community.

Dec 3 – 10:28pm
Wakefield responds to artist:

Thanks for letting me know, and for expressing your valid concerns.

Just to refresh with Roger, person to person, I asked him for an update on the work he’s done around the matters of which he’s been notably accused, in case others decide to associate my venue with some awful version of Roger. I want to be able to offer current, verifiable information.

Dec 3 – 10:28pm

Wakefield shares that Bonair-Agard has provided him with a three-page accountability letter and the names of 30+ people who are voluntarily on Bonair-Agard’s accountability team. Wakefield shares some excerpts from that letter, and offers to forward it to anyone who requests it.

Dec 3 – 11:05pm
Wakefield forwards his reply, including the original email from the artist, to AGW management and staff, and requests that all take note of both the issue and Wakefield’s reply, requesting anyone who inquires about the issue receive that information and/or be referred directly to him.

Between Dec 3 – Dec 18
Reed searches online for information on Bonair-Agard and potential issues, finds unspecific information from 2013-2014.

Dec 18 
Another artist has a phone conversation with Wakefield about the issues surrounding Bonair-Agard. The artist requests AGW enact two conditions to protect students:

  1. On the AGW platform, no one can direct message someone else without their consent.
  2. Bonair-Agard agrees to not work with or contact his students one-on-one.

Dec 18-20
Reed restricts direct messaging on the website to require each party opt-in to receive or send messages.

Wakefield contacts Bonair-Agard, who agrees to not work with or contact his students one-on-one.

Dec 20 – 9:36am
AGW receives a message on Instagram from a person connected to Free Write Arts & Literacy noting Bonair-Agard’s upcoming course and linking to Free Write Arts & Literacy’s statement on Instagram about Bonair-Agard that was posted on Dec 19.

AGW’s social media manager forwards that message to Wakefield.

Dec 21 – 3:30pm
AGW replies to that message with this statement from Wakefield:

Hello ****, thank you for reaching out with this information from Free Write – we have read and are aware of this situation, and have connected with Roger to address the issue. We wanted to to confirm with him the work he’s done over the past several years to hold himself accountable, including training, courses, and reading – under guidance from a 30+ person accountability team – with which he’s evolved his own ability to ensure that his body is never again the locus of someone else’s violation.

Roger has written an open letter detailing the work he has done and what he pledges to do around the matters of which he has been notably accused. If you would like to read this letter, please let us know and we will pass this along. As well, Roger is available for conversations with any and all who wish to address him directly, with or without a moderator.

It is also worth noting that Roger has agreed to not have any one-on-one private communications with the students at the request of another artist out of respect to all involved. 

AGW does not believe in punitive justice that never ends. We support personal accountability and understand that one can evolve from their past mistakes. 

Dec 21 – 3:30pm

Wakefield requests that AGW send that statement to anyone who messages AGW with concerns about Bonair-Agard, along with an invitation to email Wakefield directly to discuss further.

Dec 29 – 12:46pm
The person connected to Free Write Arts & Literacy sends a lengthy message on Instagram discussing their experience with Bonair-Agard. AGW’s social media manager again refers them to Wakefield. AGW’s management and staff is not directly informed of this exchange.

Jan 17, 2021
Bonair-Agard’s course begins.

Feb 7
Bonair-Agard’s course ends.

Feb 25 – 12:15pm
Wakefield and Reed meet to discuss the future of AGW and officially agree to begin ownership transfer to Kerredyn Collaborative.

Feb 26 – 8:46am
The person connected to Free Write Arts & Literacy messages AGW’s Instagram with a link to a survivor’s public statement. (We are not linking that here as the author requested in the statement to not be further involved with or connected to issues relating to Bonair-Agard.)

AGW’s social media manager reads the survivor’s statement and removes Bonair-Agard’s promotional material from AGW social media. Informs Wakefield after doing so.

On or after Feb 26before Mar 3
On the AGW’s Facebook account, Reed sees the Instagram message informing AGW about the survivor’s statement, along with the person connected to Free Write Arts & Literacy’s original message. Reed reads the survivor’s statement and, not in coordination with AGW’s social media manager, removes Bonair-Agard’s course from the past courses archive on AGW’s website. Does not inform Wakefield.

Feb 25 – Mar 3
Reed begins paperwork to arrange for transfer. Goal at that point is to transfer ownership by March 25.

Reed and business partner Katie Adams Farrell discuss AGW ownership transfer plans, including AGW values with regard to the survivor’s statement, how and when to post a values statement, and if/how to address the survivor’s statement.

Mar 3
Kerredyn officially accepts the offer to assume ownership of AGW.

Mar 17 – 12:14pm
At the request of staff and during a staff meeting Zoom call, Wakefield sends two artists scheduled to teach in Spring 2021 a one-line email:

Y’all down to do live IG interviews with me to promo your workshops, kids!?

Mar 17 – 12:14pm

Mar 17 – 3:41pm
The first artist responds to Wakefield’s email informing Wakefield that they were offended by Wakefield’s use of the term “kids”. The second artist replies, agrees that the language was offensive to him as well. Both artists inquire about continuing to setup interviews for their courses.

Mar 17 – 5:00pm
Wakefield forwards the emails to AGW staff.

Mar 18 – 12:08am
Wakefield responds to the artists.

Mar 18
Reed asks AGW staff to contact the artists to request a phone conversation with Reed about the email exchange between them and Wakefield. Both artists agree, and individual meetings are scheduled for the following day.

Mar 18 – 5:50pm
Wakefield and Reed sign Memorandum of Understanding, formally beginning ownership transfer process.

Mar 19 – 1:30pm
Reed calls the first artist who reported offense. Reed informs them about the ownership transfer. They discuss Wakefield’s comment and the artist’s experience. The artist does not cancel their course.

Mar 19 – 2:20pm
Reed calls the second artist. Reed informs the second artist about the ownership transfer. They discuss Wakefield’s comment. The second artist says they will be cancelling his course.

While discussing with Reed his experience with Wakefield, the second artist mentions their perception that they were given the slot for Bonair-Agard’s course. Reed explained that they were not given that slot, as Bonair-Agard’s course happened in January. Reed tells the second artist that she and Adams Farrell plan to make a statement about the situation, but do not yet have a specific course of action in place. The artist says they will make a statement to explain why they are cancelling his course and will reference Bonair-Agard’s association with AGW. Reed asks if they are able to wait until after the ownership transfer and AGW is able to make a statement. They say they cannot. Reed affirms to the artist her understanding of their right to make a statement as they sees fit.

Mar 19
AGW begins cancellation process for the second artist’s course, as requested.

Emails continue to be exchanged between Wakefield and the two artists. Wakefield and the first artist forward the exchanges to Reed.

Mar 29
The first artist who initially reported offense’s course begins.

Mar 29
The second artist publishes a statement on Instagram announcing their course cancellation and dissociation with AGW due to the affiliation with Bonair-Agard.

Mar 30
Reed messages social justice advocate and poetry community leader with request to hire them for consultation services to deepen our understanding of AGW’s role in enabling harm with regard to Bonair-Agard and to ensure AGW responds appropriately and thoroughly. 

Reed has separate paid consultation with a literary community leader for input and advice.

Mar 31 – April 2
Reed notifies AGW artists with current or upcoming courses to inform them of the public post and the circumstances surrounding it, as well as the impending ownership transfer. Reed has email and phone conversations with multiple artists discussing the circumstances and sharing AGW’s plan of action. Two artists cancel their courses at this time.

Mar 31
Reed schedules an April 2 meeting with social justice advocate.

Apr 1
Per Reed and Adams Farrell, in conjunction with AGW’s social media manager, AGW pauses all promotion and social media posting until a statement can be published.

Apr 1 – 2:30pm
Reed emails the first artist who reported offense to notify them of the Instagram statement and AGW’s circumstances and intentions.

Apr 1 – 11:52pm
The artist requests to cancel their course. AGW begins the cancellation process.

Apr 2
Wakefield confirms Bonair-Agard’s accountability team is active.

Reed consults with social justice advocate to formulate AGW’s response.

Apr 2-Apr 25
Reed and Adams Farrell assess internal systems and AGW actions, develop public statement, and continue the ownership transfer process. Reed continues to communicate with instructors of current and upcoming courses. A fifth artist cancels their course, and an additional artist postpones for an unrelated matter, but will wait until statement is released to reschedule.

Reed and Adams Farrell decide to end the Spring 2021 session early. Reed asks the seven remaining artists who courses hadn’t started yet to postpone until the Summer 2021 session.

Apr 13
Reed consults with social justice advocate to provide feedback and guidance on AGW’s statement.

Apr 20
Reed emails the artists who had the email exchange with Wakefield, asks each if they would like to review timeline and offer any clarifications or corrections. They do not respond.

Apr 21
AGW consults with a second social justice advocate from the literary community to provide feedback and guidance on AGW’s statement.

April 26
AGW publishes statement and this accompanying timeline.

Related Articles

Ben Yisrael wants you to turn your challenges into gold

Ben Yisrael–accomplished poet, storyteller, writer, founder, and curator– will be joining Awful Good Writers’ Summer 2021 session to teach his four-week writing workshop, Poetry as Alchemy. AGW sat down with Yisrael to discuss his work, his writing, and his course: “I want to equip people with literal words that are helpful in changing the world and the way we think about ourselves. We’ve got to start reprogramming ourselves little by little in every single element.”

Responses

Comments are closed.