Ani DiFranco Apologizes

On December 29, Ani DiFranco cancelled her “Righteous Retreat” at Nottoway Plantation, but did not apologize.

Today, she posted this to her Facebook page:

everyone,
it has taken me a few days but i have been thinking and feeling very intensely and i would like to say i am sincerely sorry. it is obvious to me now that you were right; all those who said we can’t in good conscience go to that place and support it or look past for one moment what it deeply represents. i needed a wake up call and you gave it to me.
it was a great oversight on my part to not request a change of venue immediately from the promoter. you tried to tell me about that oversight and i wasn’t available to you. i’m sorry for that too.
know that i am digging deeper.
-ani

I am glad to see Ani reach this point within herself and find the strength to admit she was wrong. She additionally posted a link to this article: 5 Ways White Women Can Address Our Own Racism.

I still feel that if she wants to hold a retreat to encourage growth and music creation, that she should offer one or two scholarships to the retreat, as reparation to the black community, and as a recollection of her own roots. With camping tickets to the original retreat starting at $1100, such an experience is far out of the range of independent artists who could really use such an event.

I still feel upset on a deep level about the initial choice of a plantation for a retreat, but I believe DiFranco’s words to be sincere. You cannot live your life and be a perfect person. When you are famous, your mistakes are going to get a lot more attention. My decision on whether or not buy DiFranco’s music in the future will be based on the black community’s response to her apology, as well as future actions.

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About Grimalkin, RN

Trying really hard to be a decent person. Registered Nurse. Intersectional Feminism. Poet. Cat. Political. Original recipes. Original Stories. Occasionally Questionable Judgement. Creator of #cookingwithjoanne and #stopcock. Soulless Unwashed Carrot. This blog is dedicated to my grandmother, my beloved cat Grimalkin, and my patients.

Posted on January 3, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I started following your blog after a friend posted “The Effects of Nursing on Nurses”. I am a registered nurse who can relate to the emotions expressed in your post. I was impressed enough to repost it to my facebook where it has been shared many more times. I thought it very ironic when I discovered that you, like me, are an Ani DiFranco fan… or were a fan… I don’t meet many other Ani fans here in the “bible belt of Michigan”. However my admiration for your nursing article was quickly trampled on by your quickness to turn your back once you discovered that Ani is, in fact, human. She made a mistake. A 20 year fan like yourself would know that she is not what the blogging world is calling her. She is not a racist. Her actions and music over the last 24 years speak much louder than one ill advised, 3rd party decision. I am deeply saddened by the things that I have read lately from multiple sources. These are people who say that they have “loved Ani’s work since the 90’s”. Yet they have turned their back on her faster than I bet any money hungry, pre-RBR record executive could have conjured the thought. They hide behind a computer like keyboard cowboys, without giving a second thought to what it might be like to be a public figure. To have your every move scrutinized right down to what they think Ani was thinking when she decided on Nottoway. Nobody knows the answer to that question, but I know for a fact that Ani DiFranco is not a racist. I will be happy to shout it to anyone who will listen. Go ahead, call the girl police!

    • I have been an Ani DiFranco fan for nearly 20 years. I did not quickly turn my back on her. Instead, I, like many others, sent messages to Righteous Babe Records about how offensive the location for the “Righteous Retreat” was. We received messages back that the location would not be changed, the retreat would not be cancelled. A plantation is a symbol of oppression that is still incredibly painful to African American individuals. Many fans of Ani DiFranco called for change on her website, only to be called names on her Facebook page. This went on for days. I posted the information I had about the “Righteous Retreat” because I wanted to put pressure on Ani to cancel the retreat and make reparations.

      I never said Ani DiFranco was a racist, but many racist statements were made to her fans on her Facebook page, on Twitter, and in comments on other blogs. I am disappointed that staff at Righteous Babe Records did not do more to moderate the Facebook page and remove some of the racist commentary sooner. I also have not “turned my back” on Ani DiFranco. I haven’t decided if I’m going to purchase more of her music or not at this point because I do believe some manner of reparation needs to be made to the black community for this mistake. While it was not an intentional mistake, it was a mistake, and for someone on her level, responsibility needs to be accepted.

    • Here is a link to Toshi Reagon’s statement on Plantations. She was slated to perform and teach at the “Righteous Retreat.” Perhaps her words will convey a message to you I could not.

  2. “i would like to say i am sincerely sorry”
    I think she did say that she’s sorry. She wasn’t very specific, but she did apologize. I would bet that a more formal apology is issued in the near future.

  3. Obviously you haven’t decided if you are going to purchase more of her music or not. Your waiting for somebody else to make that decision for you.

    • I really don’t understand why you’re so mad at me. You don’t believe DiFranco did anything wrong, I do. I didn’t come to this conclusion because of anyone else, I came to this conclusion because I grew up in the South, where plantations now serve as memorials to the grand old South and the lifestyle that has become romanticized. That lifestyle included slavery. Nottaway Plantation is a for profit corporation which conducts “whitewashed” tours of the plantation during which the perpetuate the myth of the happy slave. For the person who wrote “Subdivision” to allow such an institution to profit from her work, as well as to expect black women to come and participate and feel comfortable, is unthinkable to me.

      So yes, I haven’t decided whether or not I will purchase music from Ani DiFranco in the future. It is completely my decision. It’s funny I can talk about very emotional things on my blog and people will have no problem with that, but as soon as I say something they disagree with, they feel the need to take me to task and indicate I have zero intelligence or the capacity to make decisions for myself. You disagree with my opinion on this matter, but obviously we have similar opinions about other things. This is the benefit of independent thought and opinion.

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