It has come to the attention of Kersplebedeb Publishing that claims are being made that two books we have published by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson — Defying the Tomb and Panther Vision — were really “ghostwritten” by Tom Watts.
Given that Kersplebedeb published both of these books and has plans to publish future books by Rashid, we feel it is our responsibility to respond to these claims.
As such, we state that we are fully confident that none of the material bearing Rashid’s name that we published in Defying the Tomb or Panther Vision (or anywhere else) was written by anyone other than Rashid. While we may have been in contact with Tom at the time of publishing Defying the Tomb, this would have simply been to ask his advice, as he had a more longstanding relationship with Rashid at the time and our own mail to Rashid (and from him to us) was under an effective mail embargo from various prisons. Such advice would NOT have been about making political edits to Rashid’s material, and certainly none involved getting material from Tom to be published under Rashid’s name. Indeed, where there were certain passages we would have wanted to edit, we did not do so, because we had no direct way of asking Rashid if we could; it was only when the book was printed in its second edition and Rashid was able to communicate with us that these (minor) changes were made. The only texts by Tom that we published, were those that clearly bear his name (a Preface, an Introduction, an Afterword, a “Final Word”, and some short articles and introductory passages included in Rashid’s books).
We received the manuscript for Defying the Tomb very early on in our relationship with Rashid. It was in fact key to our establishing this relationship. Defying the Tomb is largely a collection of letters between Rashid and another prisoner. We received it from two outside supporters who had been involved in transcribing it and who approached us about publishing the book while we were tabling at the Baltimore Anarchist Bookfair in the late 2000s. Neither one of these supporters was Tom Watts.
In fact, we have never met Tom Watts. Our only contact with Tom — after over a decade of work with Rashid — has been via 2 or 3 phone conversations very early on, and since then infrequently via social media and email. Despite Rashid having put us in touch, we never pursued a close political relationship with Tom, as it became clear almost immediately that we simply saw the world and political priorities in very different ways.
As for Panther Vision, most of the various texts in that book were received by Kersplebedeb Publishing and other outside supporters — not via Tom — directly from the prisons Rashid was being held in, postmarked as such, and written by hand in Rashid’s handwriting. They were transcribed, often by Kersplebedeb Publishing or by individuals close to us who offered to help do so. (In many cases, we still have the original handwritten versions.) In some cases, some of Rashid’s writings during this period directly responded to texts we had mailed to him in prison (not texts that were necessarily ever shared with Tom). These bore a relationship at times to discussions — and disagreements — we were pursuing with Rashid by snail mail. As background for many of his articles, Rashid would request research materials be mailed to him in prison, an process that often involved packages being returned or refused until protests were lodged with the prison authorities. At no point was it suggested that mail be rerouted to or via Tom. While we understood Tom to be an important comrade of Rashid’s during this period, he was generally not one of the people involved in facilitating Rashid’s communications with the outside world.
Finally, to be clear, had we been asked to publish a book by Tom Watts, we would not have done so.