Blog Archives

Donate to Keep Abortion Access Available in the West!

Around the same time as Margaret Sanger was going door to door through New York city, another young woman was faced with an unintended pregnancy. Already having two sons, there was no way her family could afford another mouth to feed. My great-great grandmother attempted a home abortion and died.

I love working for Planned Parenthood. Every day I am able to help young people access birth control safely and plan their fertility in a way that will allow them to be young people. I help mothers who were told breast feeding was enough. I help 45 year old women who thought they were “done with all that” (FYI – you’re not). I help trans folks and LGBTQIA folks and I am able to help so many people through my work at Planned Parenthood.

If you are getting this email, you’ve asked me for favors or money or some kind of help in the past, and I hope I was able to provide it. Right now, Planned Parenthood needs you. We need to be able to continue the valuable and lifesaving work we have been doing this entire time.

Please consider making even the smallest of donations. A couple dollars pays for a handful of condoms that we can pass out to 10 different patients. Planned Parenthood is an incredibly frugal organization. We quarter our sticky notes. We push ever single dollar as far as it will go. Please know that a dollar given to Planned Parenthood is a dollar that will help many people, many faces, faces that look like people you love.

Thanks for reading. Please consider donating, or if you cannot donate, please forward my campaign to that friend you have with money.

 

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Keep Jeanette Vizguerra Home!!

Sign and share the petition to keep Jeanette Vizguerra home! Stop deportations of community members and families!

(Note: Text is copied from information at petition site!)

Jeanette Vizguerra, a Colorado community leader and mother, is facing deportation. Jeanette has lead the fight against her own deportation for over 6 years to great success, part of her secret to success is her die hard community. She needs it again, today! Share this and spread the word.

Jeanette has lived in Colorado for over 17 years, has 3 small children who are US citizens, started a small business with her husband who is a cancer survivor, and has given selflessly as a community activist. She worked for SEIU as a labor organizer and volunteered with her children’s schools, the Aurora Neighborhood Watch Program, Rights for All People, AFSC and contributes to the Romero Troupe.

Jeanette has worked hard to build her community in Colorado and has inspired many with her courage and passion. Jeanette’s story exemplifies the brutality of our immigration system that is unjustly separating families and denying many the ability to live with dignity. Although this immigration system has tried to destroy Jeanette’s dignity, she is still fighting to be with her children and she needs our support!!

History:
Jeanette Vizguerra (A# 089-826-036), came to the US in 1997 with her husband and daughter. They fled after her husband, a bus driver, had been threatened at gun point for the third time. Jeanette worked cleaning office buildings and became a key member of her SEIU local, 105. Eventually she became an organizer, leading the fight for better pay and benefits for all janitors. She also joined a local advocacy group called Rights for All People as one of its founding members. She worked to establish trust and relationship between the immigrant community and the police. She and her husband started a moving and cleaning company and eventually had three more children, all US citizens.

Jeanette’s case began in 2009 when she was pulled over for an expired license plate and then arrested for driving without a license (at that time Coloradans couldn’t get a license if they couldn’t prove status). That traffic stop led to a police officer discovering documents she was going to use to apply for a third job this discovery resulted in a misdemeanor. The economic downturn had impacted the moving company and her husband had taken ill so she was the only breadwinner for her family.

In 2013, as she was awaiting an appeal in her case, she received a call from Mexico that her mother was dying. Despite 17 years in the US and thousands of miles, Jeanette and her mother spoke weekly. There are no humanitarian visas or programs available for those circumstances and Jeanette decided she had to be at her mother’s side before she died. She flew to Mexico the next day and, as she was in the air, her mother died. After 7 months of trying to build a life and send for her children, it became clear to Jeanette that at 40 she was too old to get good paying work in Mexico and decided to return to the US. She was detained at the border, and with the help of community, released back to Denver where she’s been granted repeated stay of removal for brief 6 month periods. Month to month is a hard way to live, grateful for more time with your family but unsure if you’ll continue to stay with them.

This is why Jeanette needs your support. Sign and share this petition widely.

CIrcle of Love for Mama Josie

mamajosie

 

Josie Shapiro is one of the threads that holds Denver’s eclectic bunch of activists together. Whether it’s raising funds for a funeral, for bail, or organizing a march to proclaim that Black Lives Matter, Mama Josie is always there to Defend Denver.

Last year, Josie and her then partner Dave donated their entire savings to pay for the funeral of Ryan Ronquillo, a young man murdered by Denver’s gang unit. After the funeral, they worked tirelessly to organize marches and keep Ryan’s name in the news so that his death would not be forgotten.

After making her activism so visible to the community, Josie found herself tailed by police. Because of her activism on behalf of the Ronquillos, she lost her job, which she dearly loved, providing doula services to families on their journeys to becoming parents.

Not only did Josie donate her own home to use to raise funds for the Ronquillos, she also raised money for the family of Jessie Hernandez, who was killed by the Denver police in January. Like most of the Denver activist community, she found herself mourning the loss of a vibrant teen while also fighting for the freedom of Sharod Kindell.

At a meeting of activists several months ago, the mother and father of Jessie Hernandez expressed, through tears, their love and appreciate for Josie and the tireless work she had done to help them pay the rent, buy food, and bury their child.

Now, Josie finds herself alone. She and her partner of 6 years, the father of her children, are divorcing. Josie is about to find herself without a job, without a car, without a partner, and if we cannot help her through this, without a home. She is looking hard to find work, but continues to pay a heavy price for her activism.

There is no way this amazing, dedicated young woman should lose her home and her independence when she has done so much for her community. Please help us by joining the Circle of Love for Mama Josie, and donating what you can today. Every dollar helps a woman journeying into single motherhood provide for her children and stay in her home.

If you cannot donate, please help by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and other social media. Donations of social media platforms are absolutely donations!

Thank you.

Shiftwork and Activism

From my Facebook Page:

I am going to make a request. While i have tried to be very vocal about this, and the majority of people are respectful, I need to make it clear:

I am a night shift nurse. This means I only work 2-3 days a week and occasionally have meetings at my hospital. This allows for a lot of time to organize and to go to meetings.

What it does not mean is that I can skip sleep to go to meetings. I cannot sleep for a few hours, then go to a meeting, and then go back to sleep. I cannot exist on less than 7 hours of sleep. It is not safe for me. It is not good for my patients. It is also not good for organizing because there is a big chance I will forget what we have been talking about if I have been up for 24 hours.

I work at least 2 weekends a month. I do not have a set schedule, and my work is scheduled 2-3 months in advance. Yes, this can be inconvenient. No, it is not unfair. Most nurses work at least every other weekend and many holidays. Many other careers have unpredictable hours. This should not exclude us.

A Monday through Friday, 8-5 job, is a privilege. It affords you opportunities shift workers do not have. When people ask that meetings be scheduled at more inclusive times, or if multiple meetings can be scheduled around one topic, this is an opportunity for inclusivity.

I love my job. I love organizing. I can do both.

As I have gotten more involved with activism online and out in the world, I have tried to make myself very accessible and available. It is time to set some limits. I will check phones messages, emails, tweets, Facebook updates, etc frequently if I am not asleep, at work, or driving. If I am doing those things, I will check in during my break, before I go to bed, and after I get up. I will no longer receive alerts for Twitter DMs on a regular basis. This is for my mental and physical health.

I know a lot of other shift workers feel this way. I would really appreciate if you are a shift worker and you have trouble with people respecting basic needs, that you post here and talk about it.

A Brief History Until Now

People keep asking me “when did you become an activist?” so here’s a brief history

I was born in 1976. Baptized into the Episcopalian Church.

Moved to Nashville in… 1981? I think?

I was burned in 1987.

Took back my name in 1990.

My mother volunteered at political functions, at churches, at homeless shelters. She did a lot to me I can’t forgive but she taught me how to be useful. My grandmother was an active member of the Republican Ladies Association her entire life. She instilled in me the importance of the vote. My mother sent me to Father Ryan High School, which had the unintended result of encouraging me to think for myself. My teachers and host parents in Germany continued encouraged me to broaden my mind.

Went to Germany in 1994.

Graduated high school in 1995.

Started performing poetry in 1996.

Moved to Colorado in 1998. Lost my name again.

I was a Republican until 1999.

A Green until 2000, when I also accepted that I am bisexual.

Sometime around here people started calling me a feminist.

Pre reqs for nursing started in 2001.

Diagnosed with Meniere’s in 2002.

Nursing school in 2003.

Graduated in 2005 (ADN).

Volunteered/worked with OFA from 2007-2008 on the campaign for Obama

Married in 2010.

Volunteered in a small capacity with OFA in 2011-2012.

A Democrat until 2012. Somewhere around here I began to believe I might be a feminist.

Took my name back again in 2014.

I’ve been an activist since the Summer of 2003. The crimes committed at Abu Ghraib were too much. I could not stay silent.

I’ve marched against the Iraq War (which I initially blindly supported),  for Occupy, for Trayvon Martin and other causes. During Occupy, I was one of many people ferrying supplies to Civic Center Park. I’ve participated in Hashtag Activism since a few months after joining Twitter.

I was in college for the last two years (BSN). I graduated August 14th.

Organizational groups need people who can pass out flyers, fill out permits, make phone calls. They need people with first aid and medical training. Working night shift allows me to do these things, as does my 2-3 day a week work schedule. This is what I can do.

I started working with Coloradans For Justice because I cannot stand by and watch the killing of people of color in the United States. I cannot be complicit in acts of war against a group of people due to their race. By being silent, I was being complicit. I cannot be silent.

I will do what I can until the world changes or I die.

 

The volume of my voice is not as important as the amplification I can provide for others who need it.

Just Keep Walking and Why I Stop

Trigger Warning: Racism. Domestic Violence. Violence Against Women

 

My friends who know me, know I stop. I stop for hurting people. I stop for hungry people. I usually don’t have cash or change to hand out but I almost always have some food in my bag. It’s what I can do. I’ll tell you if you need to go to a hospital or doctor or not. One of these days, stopping might get me in trouble, but I’ll probably keep doing it.

It embarrasses my friends.

It embarrasses my husband.

It embarrasses my family.

I keep stopping because I take the role of the nurse in the community seriously. Everyone who knows me knows I’m a nurse. You shouldn’t be shocked. And don’t go #notallnurses on me because we all know there are different kinds of nurses.

I feel guilty about what I’m about to write. I’ve felt guilty for a long time, even though I was a young child when this happened. But I want to speak out about this culture White people have created and what has been adopted. Because ignoring violence against women, especially Black women, is a huge piece of White supremacy that needs to come apart.

It was a sunny day. I don’t remember what time of year. It was in East Nashville. Somewhere along Eastland Ave. We used to live on Benjamin St. I went to Cora Howe Elementary. I think we might have been coming

I don’t remember where we were going but I was walking with my mother. There was an apartment building nearby that had a reputation. Most of East Nashville had a reputation at that point.

A Black woman came running out of the building, screaming for help. A man ran out after her and tackled her, beating her on the ground. I wanted to run to the payphone and call 911. I told my mother we needed to help. She held me harder and said “Just keep walking.”

Now.. was my mother afraid for her own safety? Probably. Was she afraid for our safety? Probably. But could she have knocked on a door or done SOMETHING? Yes. My mother worked for the Metro Nashville Police Department for years. She wasn’t a police officer, but her call would have brought half a squad. I’ve seen it happen.

And she didn’t. She walked us to the car, she got in, and she never looked back. We lived close by. She could have driven home and called for help and never identified herself to the abuser. She didn’t.

I remember that woman. I remember she had long, natural hair. I remember this because the guy used her hair as a weapon. It was how he stopped her before he tackled her. I remember her screaming in our direction, because we were the only people out there. But I don’t know what happened to her.

I also remember my mother  and step-father(s) abusing me and my sister.. I remember when we tried to get help because our parents had threatened us with beatings if my sister failed a test. My sister, suffering from undiagnosed dyslexia, failed the test. My sister is INCREDIBLY smart. She’s just dyslexic. But when we went to the Kroger on Gallatin Rd, that had a giant “Safe Place” sign in the window, we weren’t helped. The police jumped to help one of their own. My sister and I were taken to a counselor, we were never allowed to speak without our parents present, and we were told if we persisted with our complaint, we would be split up, pulled from our school (the only haven we had), and how selfish we were to accuse our parents of these behaviors. I remember how we went to subsequent “therapy” appointments after that, where the therapist called us lazy and told us we had to do more to help our mother. Our abuser. Again, we were not allowed to speak without our parents present.

So now I stop. I call 911 if it’s needed. I help. If I need to, I’ll scream my head off to draw attention to what’s happening. You don’t get to abuse someone near me and feel that’s it’s okay because no one stops. I’m going to stop. If I can’t stop you myself, I’m going to get someone who can. I couldn’t stop when I was a little girl, but I can stop now.
Making rules for yourself and standards for the people you associate with IS NOT easy. It doesn’t even really get easier. But it does lead to a more fulfilled and honest life. I’m not done learning, changing and growing. But learning to stop was one of my earliest rules for myself as an adult, and it’s a good place to start.

Demand Buzzfeed Retract Articles About Steenfox (Christine Fox) and Apologize!

Twitter user @SteenFox held a beautiful conversation among sexual assault survivors that was healing and loving. Before the conversation had even finished, Jessica Testa of Buzzfeed had quickly gotten foggy consent from some users, but not @SteenFox and created a salacious piece of clickbait to up Buzzfeed’s ad revenue. They they wrote an article defaming @SteenFox’s repeated requests to have her own tweets and images taken down, which is her legal right. Your tweets are your own intellectual material, per Twitter’s privacy rules.

Please sign this petition to demand Buzzfeed retract and apologize for their articles about SteenFox (Christine Fox). If you can, go a step further and block Buzzfeed’s quizzes and “news” from your Timeline. You won’t miss them. I promise.

Please, please, please share this post!

Why I Stopped Identifying With White Feminism

(Inspired by @SamAmbreen’s post here: We will not let white feminism divide and conquer us)

Today I’ve been talking with @HadleyFreeman about a series of posts she made to @JudeinLondon earlier in the day. Short story: Freeman wrote a problematic article, Jude discussed it on Twitter without linking to Freeman, someone emailed Freeman about Jude’s response and Freeman demanded, repeatedly, that Jude take the discussion offline. In my opinion, she abused her platform and privilege. She called Jude’s preemptive blocking of her account “childish” when it was an act of self care. Eventually, she used the same tone policing on me and I believe she has blocked my account, although I fully admit to blocking her and not checking back. Maybe later. It was yet another example of why I don’t belong in White feminism and why many other White feminists feel the same way. Today, @SamAmbreen asked for White feminists who practice intersectionality to discuss this, and after a lot of thought, here I am.

I’ve been writing in one form or another since I was a little girl. Poems, short stories, papers. I’ve edited papers for publication. When I used to perform poetry, I was often called a “feminist writer.” At the time, I really didn’t know what that meant. I was raised in a very anti-woman environment with more than a few religions. I shied away from the term “feminist” in direct conversation but that didn’t stop me from allowing the label to promote my writing. Few poets and writers have writing careers, and I am not an exception. I’m okay with that. As I have said many times, I love nursing, and these days, I find my energies are better spent in active campaigns, protests, phone calls and letter writing.

But then came the internet. I played with learning about feminism, and quickly found early online feminist communities to be battlegrounds. After witnessing a few virtual bloodbaths, I left the communities. I don’t like being flamed, I really didn’t like direct confrontation (but I’m getting better at it).

I read. I went to college. I started to learn more about feminism. But it was in a conversation with a women’s studies major that I realized I would never quite fit into mainstream White feminism. I’ll get into that. While women of color were happy to talk about feminism in class and online, recommending sources and books and Twitter accounts, White women were less welcoming. Still, I got involved the day Caroline Criado-Perez started receiving rape threats. It was too much. At the time, I had no idea how prevalent rape threats on Twitter were, but I found out, because I received my own. I quickly followed her account and my tweets in her support rapidly gained me new Twitter friends. FEMINIST friends. I was so excited. Finally I could learn. And I did.

Then one day, I saw a heated, excited Twitter conversation. Flavia Dzodan (@redlightvoices) had written a blog post at http://www.redlightpolitics.info, and one line kept ringing throughout the discussion. “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be BULLSHIT.” At the time, I thought a different Twitter user had coined the phrase. This is important later. I knew nothing about intersectionality. In fact, most of the books on feminism recommended to me were written by white women. I was also ignorant of how readily information was available. I asked a close Twitter friend, @judeinlondon what intersectionality was. Jude gave me a brief explanation and told me to check Wikipedia. I realize now I really should have gone to Google myself. Jude, I love you and I thank you so much for your direction and that we are such good friends.

I read. I realized ~ MY FEMINISM WAS “BULLSHIT.” It wasn’t intersectional. Intersectionality is really a simple theory and easy to understand if you want to understand. My feminism wasn’t transinclusive. My feminism didn’t recognize the different struggles faced by women of color, women in poverty, sex workers, or even the struggles I faced as a disfigured woman with a disability. I began to see feminism in a new light. I began to see where I might fit in as a feminist.

Eager to learn about trans issues, I went to Google. I read GLAAD’s page on trans terms. And I followed a few Twitter accounts run by trans individuals. And then something happened. I began to see drama. I hate drama. I really do. The drama I saw was linked to a couple of terms I had never heard before. TERF, SWERF. This feminism was “bullshit.” I started tweeting about it. I started talking with trans individuals, and one day, my follower count dropped by about 20 people. All white feminists. Mainly British white feminists. I was really hurt, but I quickly learned I wasn’t alone.

I mentioned talking with a women’s studies major. This is important because it was this young White feminist’s opinion that because I chose a female dominated field and not something else, I was supporting the patriarchy and had no place in feminism. I didn’t talk further with that young woman because her feminism wasn’t open and inviting and uplifting. She was kicking down. I realized her feminism was “bullshit.”

One day, I was tweeting along and I incorrectly credited Flavia Dzodan’s (@redlightvoices) now famous quote to Judith Wanga (@judeinlondon). Someone told me I was wrong but I was quite certain I was correct. I could have easily verified it but I was lazy. Flavia let me know how wrong I was. I deserved it. I apologized. In talking to Flavia, and reading her blog and Twitter, I realized how much education I was losing. But I didn’t want to impose upon her. So one day, I asked her if I could follow her. I reiterated my apology, and the most amazing thing happened. Flavia forgave me. She followed me back. We have had a few very enlightening and uplifting conversations. She doesn’t kick down.

I’ve screwed up several times. initially, apologizing wasn’t a skill I had. I got into an incredible, damaging argument a few years ago with @amaditalks and we blocked each other on my primary account. I still followed her on my nursing account and eventually I began to feel very guilty and intrusive about following her when she didn’t know who I was. So I brought it up. I apologized. And we are friends. We are good friends. If I had not apologized, my life would be poorer. Amadi has taught me, along with others, how to more skillfully debate. She has reminded me to use inclusive language and given examples of what this is. I was wrong, so wrong in our argument, and while Amadi had forgotten it, I never had. Because I was wrong, and I knew it.

So here I am. In intersectional feminism, I have found a place. I have come to terms with my own gender fluidity. I am out to my husband and online and I will never deny my queerness or gender fluidity in person. I have learned about White privilege, and learned to check it. I have become a better person. I have become a better nurse. I have learned to confront people, first online, and then in person. Thanks to Ngọc Loan Trần, I have a new method of calling out problematic behavior. in their article Calling IN: A Less Disposable Way of Holding Each Other Accountable, I learned a way to call out bullying behavior without crying and shaking. It has made work easier.

I don’t fit inside White feminism’s neat bubble. I’m not going to take extra classes when information is so readily available. I do not need a women’s studies degree to practice feminism. I need my brain and my heart, both of which are currently functioning. I’ve been called “divisive” by White women when I back up women of color, primarily when I back up Black and Muslim women. It’s pretty obvious. I’ve been told that feminism needs to focus on the needs of ALL women instead of subgroups.

White women are a subgroup of feminism. It is true that placing the focus of feminism on subgroups is divisive. This is why White women must learn to stop crying for “unity” (Adele Wilde-Blavatsk) and realize that women of color, trans women, trans men, and others are moving on in unity WITHOUT us.

Am I going to screw up again? ABSOLUTELY. That’s the thing about White privilege, it doesn’t go away because you start recognizing it. You have to actively work to be a better person. You have to actively work to change the world. I doubt I’m going to change many minds with words, but I hope I do so by actions. That is the inspiration behind my @TransDyingYoung project, and my tentative decision to focus my NP on care of the transgender population. This is work, and with work comes mistakes. But I have learned to apologize. I have learned to Google. These are not difficult things to do with practice.

I don’t believe mainstream “White feminism” wants to change. Instead, it will die a painful death by attrition. A few days ago, I tweeted that White feminists are angry because they didn’t come up with intersectionality and make it about white women and I really believe this is true. I have seen White women say “we have to come up with a better term.” This rebranding of intersectionality is nothing short of plagiarism and theft of its founder, Kimberlé Crenshaw. It wasn’t a White woman’s idea. It wasn’t about White, cis gendered women. This is appropriate. This isn’t “bullshit.”

I want to thank so many people, mentioned in this post, and unmentioned, who have let me learn, who have told me when I was wrong, and who have taught me what my White, racist parents never told me: it is okay to be wrong. Apologizing doesn’t make you weak. Learning new things makes you stronger, and we will come through this with a more unified feminism.

The Difference Between “Cutting Down” and “Calling Out”

I’ve been very public about my feelings regarding Ani DiFranco, her “Righteous Retreat,” its cancellation and her short apology she made earlier this week.  I have been going through my own process while I try to decide if DiFranco’s apology was sincere, if she is living her words, and if I can continue to support her label.

Tonight, at the New Orleans House of Blues, DiFranco made the comment “”It’s an upside down world, when your sisters cut you down and Fox News defends you.”

It’s making the rounds and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see another apology from DiFranco in another couple of days. Maybe the quote is out of context, but it’s hard to imagine what context it could be in that didn’t involve some sort of self righteous anger. It’s a sign of the times. A decade ago, a statement like this would have gone unnoticed. Thanks to social media, it is everywhere.

I am a white woman. I have a lot of interracial friends. This doesn’t mean I don’t screw up. I am very lucky to have friends who will call me out when I say something racist. It’s not always gentle, but it is always needed, and when I look beyond my initial shock, I always learn something. I try never to make that mistake again.

Ani DiFranco didn’t get “cut down.” She got called out. Fans of all backgrounds called to her and asked that she cancel the retreat and apologize. When she cancelled the retreat and offered and explanation but not an apology, we continued to tell her, Ani, it’s not enough. Finally, she issued a short apology, stating she was “digging deeper.”

Getting “cut down,” “dragged,” and other terms are when people put you down without reason. Without caring about you.

Getting called out is different. When you say or do something racist and your friends of a different race call you out on it, they are taking the time to offer you education. It’s not their job to educate you, but if someone is taking the time to do it, you should appreciate it and reciprocate by trying to learn the lesson they are trying to teach you. Getting called out can hurt, sure, it can hurt like hell, but we have to ask, do I hurt because I’ve been wronged or do I hurt because my ego is wounded?

Ani DiFranco is many things. A songwriter, an activist, a feminist. She has this image of a kind, crunchy, kick ass artist. I don’t believe she is a racist at heart but I do believe a person who is not a racist can do racist things. This is when the people who love you call  you on your shit.

I’ve talked about white privilege and the fact that while white people may not be aware of its existence, they sure as hell get mad when people refuse to extend it. I think DiFranco is unaware of the amount of privilege she is currently demanding.

I don’t know Ani personally, though like many of her fans, I have always felt a connection through music. This connection is why I’m writing tonight. I know she’ll never see this, but I feel the need to write about my feelings. This entire week has been a process of learning to let go of someone I always saw as a role model. I know she’s not perfect. It’s not a lack of perfection that is making me angry. It’s the clear abuse of privilege. DiFranco has a lot of privilege, built from years of hard work, and I think she believes she deserves to be sheltered.

DiFranco may have apologized, but she appears angry. Statements like the one from tonight make it seem like she personally thinks she did nothing wrong.  From her statement tonight about living in an “upside down world,” she is not taking the change in her status very well. DiFranco has always been someone who has managed to not do racist things in the public arena. That changed. She made a mistake. I feel like a lot of us wanted to forgive that mistake, but we cannot accept her apology if she is not going to live her apology. She could have said “I fucked up, I was wrong. I could tell I was wrong because Fox News was defending me but my own sisters weren’t.” There are a lot of things DiFranco could have said, but what she did say tonight shows me she is not living her words.

It’s not enough to apologize when you are called out. You have to make a conscious effort to change the behavior that got you called out in the first place. Perhaps DiFranco needs more time to change, but for now, the effort she has made is simply not enough.

 

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.

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 info@righteousretreat.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?

Sincerely,

GrimalkinRN

 

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.

White Feminism and the Denial of Privilege – or – None of us are buying your book, Robyn

The first time someone told me “check your privilege,” I was incensed. I didn’t have privilege! I am a woman! I have been oppressed. Everything I had learned from feminism told me so. I was hurt and confused and I refused to back down and quite frankly,  I made a fool of myself. A friend blocked me, and didn’t want to hear from me again. I was absolutely certain I wasn’t guilty of the “privilege abuse” practiced by men. I was trying to learn more about feminism, and I honestly didn’t see (at the time) how I was being intrusive. I was reading a lot, but I was reading white feminists, and there was NO mention of racial disparity in those books.

Everyone’s life should be an evolution, and one day, mine came. Feminists on Twitter were going as fast as they could, and they were talking about something called “intersectional feminism.” I messaged @JudeinLondon, who gave me a short explanation and suggested I check google. Suddenly, everything made sense. Intersectionality was the missing piece that I needed. The more I researched, all online, the more I understood. The next time someone said “check your privilege,” I knew what they were talking about, and could examine what I’d said. I was still hurt, inside I felt defiant. But I apologized, and asked what I had done. They were absolutely right. I learned, and I grew from the experience.

I’m not perfect. I want to jump into conversations where I don’t belong all the time. I get excited about trending hashtags, and I want to share my opinion. Maybe if I think of something witty, it will be okay. It’s not okay. Hashtags like #solidarityisforwhitewomen by @Karnythia and #notyourasiansidekick by @Suey_Park are not intended for everyone to be included. They were created for and by women of color for feminist discussion. A lot of really amazing discussion has happened and there’s been a lot of opportunity for learning, because unlike having a closed door meeting, we can all see what is going on. This is good and bad, because there’s been a lot of trolling of the hashtags as well. This is where white people CAN be allies. Call out the the trolls. Report them for their spamming of the tags. Use your tweets & account as a shield so the discussion can continue.

This morning Huffpo posted a blog post by Adele Wilde-Blavatsky: “Stop Bashing White Women in the Name of Beyonce: We Need Unity, Not Division.” and the nonsense that has been her Twitter mentions has not stopped.

After a discussion about white privilege, today, I made this tweet:

I then talked to a user who was convinced white privilege doesn’t exist and gave me the “white women are oppressed, too!!!” line. I tried. I failed. I blocked.

A couple of hours later, I got a response from @TeamOyeniyi:

After a bizarre conversation, I thought she’d gone away. But she came back again. And again. And then she left this post in my mentions (Trigger Warning: Racism):

On Feminism and White Privilege 

In her blog post, Robyn Oyeniyi attacks the use of the term “white privilege,” and claims it ignores matriarchal societies and that use of the term “white privilege” actually oppresses women of color. She talks a lot about Yaa Asantewaa, a woman who led the Asante people in rebellion against the British. She also claims we need to get rid of the term “intersectional.”

This is my comment to her post:

Yaa Asantewaa remains a figurehead to her people, but Yaa Asantewaa died in exile, under British oppression. While white women certainly have been and continue to be victims of oppression, they are also in many circumstances the oppressors.

Being told to “watch your privilege” is not the same as being oppressed. Women of color discussing their shared experience have the right to request that white women back out of or stay out of the conversation. Because we cannot share their experience, what we’re really doing when we try to join conversations about shared racial experience is hijacking their conversation and appropriating it for ourselves.

Cries of “telling me to check my privilege is oppression” actually furthers white oppression of women of color because you’re literally telling them they have no right to request a conversation remain among women of color.

Refusal to self-check our own white privilege is why many women of color want nothing to do with feminism. Feminism is so focused on white women that women of color feel they no longer have a place. If we want feminism to be an ongoing movement that includes all women, we need to check our privilege. Knowing when to be silent is a powerful gift that you not only give to yourself, but a gift you share.

I feel like all day long I’ve been told by white people that white privilege isn’t a thing. That it doesn’t exist. Yesterday, I was told that the DC area is a magical land where racism does not exist. At the same time, I grew up in the South, I witnessed oppression, I’ve seen men use their privilege and I’ve seen the wealthy use their privilege and I’ve seen white women use our privilege. I’ve seen a lot of people use their privilege in good ways,  but usually, it’s people who aren’t aware of their privilege. We are so steeped in privilege we just expect it to happen and when it doesn’t, we (white people) are shocked and offended when people of color aren’t surprised at all.

My fellow white people, we do have privilege. White women, we are oppressed in many ways by a society that favors white men over us. But we are still privileged. When someone says “check your privilege,” they are not necessarily calling you a bad person. They are asking you to examine what you are saying so that you can be a better person. Of course, if you are a bad person, or refuse to acknowledge your privilege, you probably deserve the smackdown that’s coming.

A Men’s Rights Law Firm

Tonight I was watching the Colbert Report, having a laugh, and then the commercial came on. It was for Bloch & Chapleau, a lawfirm that claims to specialize in men’s rights. The commercial showed a mother being stripped of her rights to her children while her ex-husband and attorney clapped. It ended with a child saying “I MISSED YOU SO MUCH, DADDY!!”

Now, there are bad mothers. Dear God, do I know there are bad mothers. But there are also bad fathers. There are fathers that abuse their wives, their children. There are fathers who bring children on drug deals. There are good fathers.

I have never known a woman to refuse a good man the right to see their children. I remember always wanting to see my father, and I saw him once during my childhood. Once, when I was 11, I spent a week at his house with my step mother, and I didn’t see him again until I was an adult. At that point, my father asked if we could “just be friends.”

Right.

I wish I could see that this law firm doesn’t exist only as a way for men to get revenge on their ex-wives, but the commercial clearly showed a revenge scenario. I am sickened.

If I didn’t already have such a paranoia of having children, this would increase it even more.

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