I’ve been sick for all of 2014 up to this point, so missed several stories I thought to blog about but lacked the energy—so I’ll blog about them now. Probably everyone with any interest in the topic has seen or heard about Ani DiFranco’s now-cancelled retreat at a refurbished slave plantation in Louisiana. There isn’t much I can say about it that hasn’t been said by people with far greater wisdom than experience than I, and that’s really the point. The only advice I can give to anyone in this sort of situation is to stop talking and listen.
Once it became clear that this was an epic f***up, Ani Difranco offered a notpology on Facebook, followed by a somewhat better apology, but by then the damage was done. There is literally nothing anyone can say about a spruced-up concentration camp on the banks of the Mississippi that would make it anything other than a spruced-up concentration camp. Multiple commentators have drawn a comparison to Dachau—say what you will about the historical parallels, but at least Dachau is honest about its past.
To learn more about the Nottoway Plantation and exactly why this was all such a terrible idea, read Ani DiFranco’s Epic Fail: Reflections on Nottoway Plantation by Adele M. Stan. Stan also tweeted an excellent question:
— Adele Stan (@addiestan) January 6, 2014
To learn more about the legacy of slavery in Louisiana, read Lamar White, Jr.’s Why “12 Years a Slave” Will Always Matter to Louisiana.
For a broader understanding of racial issues in feminism, read Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color (JSTOR registration required) by Kimberle Crenshaw, Stanford Law Review, Vol. 43, No. 6 (Jul., 1991).
Here are other posts I’ve found dealing with the issue:
Ani DiFranco’s faux-pology: White privilege and the year in race by Brittney Cooper
Ani DiFranco Cancels Songwriting Retreat At Former Slave Plantation by Callie Beusman
Why feminist icon Ani DiFranco is being accused of ‘blatant’ racism by Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
I’m sure there are many more, but you get the idea.