On Safety and Accountability Within Our Organization and Our Greater Community

Please note that this statement contains content about sexual violence.

Over the course of the last several months, XFR Collective was prompted, by a past incident that negatively affected our organization, to think critically about our collective values and beliefs. We are releasing this statement, first and foremost, to take accountability for our collective actions in the aftermath of this incident. This public statement is one of several actions XFR is taking to set clear expectations for how we expect the communities and individuals we work with to treat XFR members and affiliates, as well as how we, as XFR Collective members, expect to treat one another, and respond to assault, harassment, and any other form of violence against members of our communities, going forward.

In our ongoing work of striving towards safety for all in our community, we acknowledge that while unintentional, we failed to adequately center our responses and efforts around the survivor. This compromised XFR Collective’s ability to create a safer space, which as a group is a shared value we hold. With respect to anonymity, and an acknowledgement that issues of community safety extend beyond a single incident, as a collective we commit to moving forward centering the needs of those harmed.  

XFR developed a Code of Conduct (CoC) to define our expectations for how members, participants, and other people associated, or engaging with XFR should treat one another both in private spaces and public venues. We published that document, which is a living document on our website and on our Github repo in September. We know that this is not a perfect document, as this work is ongoing, and we welcome questions, comments, and dialogue about how to improve it.

Following the release of the CoC and this public statement, XFR members are committed to taking the following steps:

  • Train XFR members on effective de-escalation techniques, and make training mandatory for any new members or volunteers. This training will be done by a professional that will be hired by XFR Collective. Training may take place as part of the retreat process for XFR Collective members, in order to engage as many members as possible, and the on-boarding process for new core collective members. Based on this training, XFR Collective may decide to expand aspects of the CoC or create other additional policy documentation outlining the contexts in which de-escalation will potentially be used and what specific tactics may be employed.
  • Continue to engage XFR members in dialog and conversation to do with sexual harassment, misconduct and violence. Specifically, we will continue working with a consultant who has 10+ years of experience working with both survivors of sexual violence and individuals/groups in alternative and radical communities of practice and are committed to continuing work with them for the foreseeable future.
  • Update our CoC in the following ways:
    • Address both physical and intimate partner violence, which the first draft did not address or mention.
    • Outline specific steps XFR will take to ensure organizations and/or individuals engaging XFR Collective in any way understand and are committed to abiding by our CoC, as well as steps XFR will take when they refuse.
    • Committing to being open and listening to suggestions or direct or indirect critique, and responding in ways that are proactive and abide by our commitment to creating safe, supportive spaces.
    • In addition, we are committed to promoting transparency, not only around the actions we are taking, but around the mistakes we made. We hope to set a precedent for like-minded organizations to be okay with failure, and reframing our mistakes as opportunities for learning and growth.

We hope that by talking openly about these issues we can help foster a culture, both within the field of archival/preservation practice and beyond, that centers survivors and their experiences, provides transparency around process and decision-making, and prevents further harm.

We appeal to our professional organizations and communities in New York City and beyond, and all others that have hosted or expressed support for XFR Collective to develop thoughtful, intersectional, survivor-centric, action-oriented, transparent codes of conduct and policies – documents and policies that may be publicly commented on – and to encourage active participation by all people within the communities they serve. If we wish to truly encourage and make possible the participation of all members of our community, such work is essential.

The issue of assault and harassment in our professional communities is not a theoretical problem; it is very real. Failure to address it consistently, across our profession, with policies and action poses a danger to members of our professional communities, at times making it impossible for all to fully participate in meaningful and essential professional work.

As a Collective, we still have a lot to learn. Accountability is difficult but necessary. Even people who are themselves survivors of sexual and relationship violence and/or who are committed/determined to build inclusive, safer spaces often make mistakes. We believe that transparency, openness, and difficult conversations are key to providing a safer and open space for all, and we encourage our community to have them. Members of XFR Collective will continue to do so.

Resources:

Anti-Violence Project: NYC based nonprofit serving LGBTQ and HIV affected people experiencing domestic and sexual violence. 24 hour confidential crisis line  https://avp.org/

New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault: Centralized resource hub with interactive map that survivors in NYC can use to find support that meets their needs. http://www.svfreenyc.org

Safe Horizon: NYC nonprofit serving survivors of sexual violence, relationship violence, stalking, child abuse, and trafficking. 24 hour confidential crisis line. https://www.safehorizon.org/

Reading List:

Abuse and Accountability in the Arts Scene: A Reckoning, by Maura Callahan and Rebekah Kirkman
http://www.citypaper.com/bcpnews-abuse-and-accountability-in-the-arts-scene-a-reckoning-20170822-htmlstory.html

Against Carceral Feminism, by Victoria Law
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/10/against-carceral-feminism/

Baby, I’m a Manarchist, Zine by The Boston Area Liberation Medic Squad (BALM Squad)

http://repository.library.csuci.edu/bitstream/handle/10211.3/178806/Baby%20I’m%20a%20Manarchist~.pdf?sequence=1

Betrayal: A critical analysis of rape culture in anarchist subcultures, Words to Fire press
http://libcom.org/files/Betrayal%20-%20a%20critical%20analysis%20of%20rape%20culture%20in%20anarchist%20subcultures.pdf

The Broken Teapot, zine that is critical of accountability practices by Alex Gorrion, Angustia Celeste, Anonymous
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/anonymous-the-broken-teapot

Conflict is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair, by Sarah Schulman
http://www.arsenalpulp.com/bookinfo.php?index=449

DIY Guide to preventing sexual assault, Zine
https://archive.org/details/DiyGuideToPreventingSexualAssault

QUARREL: Stories of Survivor Self-determination Direct Action, Strategies for Safer Spaces & Ripping Patriarchy to Shreds
https://www.scribd.com/document/126967465/QUARREL-the-ZINE#from_embed

Scorched Cunt-  Acquaintance rape & one survivor’s attempt toward accountability, justice & healing — Zine by Heather Clark https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz3DvN4RErGdRWM3NkItNWpqbU4ta1YwbTdxR3IxVGJVNE40/view?usp=sharing

Supporting a survivor of sexual assault, prepared through a collaborative effort by UBUNTU and Men Against Rape Culture
https://issuu.com/poczineproject/docs/survivor-support

Taking Accountability. How Do We Change Violence? from a toolkit created by “Community Accountability: ideas, actions, art & resources for communities responding to and transforming violence”
http://www.creative-interventions.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/4.F.CI-Toolkit-Tools-Taking-Accountability-Pre-Release-Version-06.2012.pdf

What do We do When? A zine about community response to sexual assault. Issue #2
http://www.phillyspissed.net/node/27

Writings by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, e.g.:
http://incite-national.org/page/dangerous-intersections
http://incite-national.org/page/community-accountability