I sent the below to the creatorpolicy@ email address; I thought I’d also post it here to continue the discussion within the creator community. — jamie
Hi friends! I wanted to give you some feedback on this:
Dangerous Organizations (Criminal Pasts): Nobody’s perfect, and we know that some people have been on the wrong side of the law. Going forward, we will specify that individuals with a criminal record who have served restitution are allowed to share their works on Patreon, as long as they don’t create campaigns tied to the activity for which they were convicted.
The part that I have italicized above, if not properly clarified, will serve to shut people out from being able to support themselves on Patreon by aggregating communities centered around recovery from the thing for which they have a criminal record.
Worse, this will mostly affect people of color, because that’s how our prison system works.
For example: imagine that someone has done time for gang-related activity. Then also imagine that they are completely rehabilitated, have turned their life around, and now their full-time life’s work is outreach to youth and young-adult communities to do proactive intervention.
The way this policy is currently worded, it’s entirely possible that this person would be shut out from getting ongoing community-based financial support through Patreon for their work. And this type of work is so important!
In my personal story: I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict with long-term sobriety (16+ years). My wife also has long-term recovery. A large part of our ongoing, full-time, Patreon-funded work is the sustaining and leading of a community based on recovery ideals and practices.
I don’t have a criminal record for drug dealing or narcotics trafficking — not because I didn’t do it, but because I’m white, and the cops who busted me always let me go with a warning, despite obvious immediate physical evidence on more than one occasion of what I was up to. (You can only get so much white powder off the front of a black tee shirt as a cop is walking up to your window.)
If I had a criminal record for what I did in my past — which, to be clear, I should have — the above policy, as currently worded, would potentially bar me from the very Patreon-funded work that I’m currently doing. And, to be clear: this is extremely positive, healing work, based in vulnerability, authenticity, and radical transparency. It’s through sharing our stories that we heal — particularly our stories of overcoming negative forces in our lives.
We’re helping people learn to be better versions of themselves, by modeling recovery in public. It’s important work; only recovered addicts can do this work; and a lot of us have criminal pasts.
This policy should be rethought, clarified, and reworded. If I can talk with anyone over there at greater length about this, or be a resource as you work to improve this, I’d be happy to — just let me know.
Thanks for listening — jamie