Ani DiFranco’s “Righteous Retreat”
I have been an Ani DiFranco fan for nearly 20 years. I have so much of her work. I have quoted her so many times. I have sung her songs in a circle with other women, but as of today, that is over. I’m angry. I’m hurt.
A little while ago, @CatPennies made me aware of the blog post: Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Retreat: Please Use Both Hands to Cover Your Ears
Even if I wasn’t horrified, the $1000 price tag for the event would put it far out of my means. The retreat will be at Nottoway Plantation, in White Castle, Louisiana. Nottoway currently functions in many capacities, including offering white washed tours which talk about the “kindness” of the former plantation owner toward his slaves.
Here is the link to the Facebook event page for the Righteous Retreat
There are multiple white feminists going after black feminists on the page, and there’s a lot to be offended by, so please be prepared to be angry.
I have personally emailed email@example.com:
To whom it may concern,
As a longtime fan of Ani DiFranco, and a woman who grew up in the South, I am incredibly disappointed in your choice of venue for your “Righteous Retreat.” I am sending this email to let you know if this retreat moves forward, my financial support of Ms. DiFranco and her label, as well as the vendors and participants in the retreat will cease. As a white feminist actively working in support of black feminists, I am appalled. As a woman from the South, I cannot see how paying money to a venue celebrating a system of oppression that also oppressed all women in different ways, on different levels, is a feminist action.
Right now, on the Facebook page for the retreat, white feminists are telling black feminists to take the opportunity of the venue as an opportunity to grow from the pain of slavery. White people are telling black people how to feel about slavery. Is this where Ms. DiFranco’s message now lies? Have we gone from “Subdivision” to actually dividing and shutting out people and ignoring our history while allowing a symbol of patriarchy, white oppression, and colonization to profit?
Earlier this year, when news of the depth of Paula Deen’s racism and her desire to dress black men as servants for a plantation event surfaced, we were horrified, and Paula Deen has not made a living promoting equality and feminism. If I am hurt by the choice of a Southern plantation, I cannot imagine the hurt feminist women of color must feel. I do not have that experience. Because of the this, as I said in my email, I am calling for a boycott of Ani Difranco’s label and any vendors at the event.
I am not calling for a change of venue for the event. I am calling for a cancellation of the event, reparations to the black community, and if DiFranco still wants to hold a retreat, finding a new location at a different date with some of the proceeds going to fund programs for women of color, and an acknowledgement of why the “Righteous Retreat at Nottoway Plantation” was the wrong venue for a feminist event.
Posted on December 28, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged Ani DiFranco, DiFranco, Feminism, intersectional feminism, intersectionality, Nottoway Plantation, racism. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.
Need to know who the vendors are, I hope I found out that it’s easy to find out who plans on going. Time to act like the Right and hit companies where it hurts.
I have been trying to find out the vendors for the event, but have not found any info yet. I will monitor the page and post an update once I learn of vendor information.
Someone on Facebook told me about this. I haven’t given her any money for years. She stopped connecting with me as an artist. Still, I never would have expected this from her! I’m shocked, appalled, and hurt. It perplexes me that so many white feminists don’t understand how hurtful this is not only to women or color and queer women (the plantation owner supports anti-queer causes) but to all women everywhere. I grew up in Mobile, Alabama. Even in my girlhood, I had to struggle to find models of strong women to combat the pressure towards Southern Bellehood. I had no models of strong women around me. Ani DiFranco was once of my rolemodels.
I can’t help but think that someone at RBR, and especially Ani, would have at some staged recognized that this could be problematic particularly for people of colour. And given Ani’s consciousness of racism, I’ll assume generously that maybe it honestly didn’t occur to them. Fine. But after so much outrage, they should have said SOMETHING. Acknowledge the oversight, explain themselves, offer some kind of solution… anything. It’s just so uncharacteristic of them. It’s a big WTF that just won’t go away.
Great letter. How to profit from an ugly past, hits the nail on the head for me. It’s ridiculous to try the “it’s in the past” defence, that one has never worked for me anyway. I’ve actually shared the stage with Ani Difranco and have never been much of a fan. As a colleague, I found her male identified and privileged – the kind of fighting for success attitude that you can come across in male dominated disciplines. Seems she doesn’t like to be challenged. I can’t believe the event hasn’t been cancelled by now, I find that arrogant and shockingly dismissive. The diversity of women’s voices speaking out on this should be a clear enough message. Come on Ani, get up to speed!
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