Sun 27 Apr 2008
How is it that a white “feminist” blogger who has been called out in the recent past for appropriating the work of women of color bloggers, publishes a book with retro-racist cover art, changes the cover art in response to calls of racism, and several months later comes out with the first printing of said book, with numerous other racist retro-art images STILL contained in the book, even though they do not relate to the book’s content, finds herself again amongst criticism of racist imagery, then apologizes and states that the second printing of the book will omit those images?
I mean, there’s a point where the supposed “ignorance” about imagery in your OWN damn book TWO different times reaches blatant INDIFFERENCE to the issue. A perceptive 10 year old could tell that the images were racist. Don’t tell me that a prominent white “feminist” blogger couldn’t. And that many of her fans think the images are being taken too seriously by many women, and that they’re just there for irony’s sake. This, after ALL the recent controversy about this said author appropriating. Fascinating. Just fascinating. And absolutely despicable.
More on the issue here (and much more articulately stated than my post):
Feministe (Holly) — It’s a Jungle in Here
Dear White Feminists (tagline: “Quite Goddamn Fucking Up”): Update
I understand that Amanda Marcotte has apologized for the racist imagery in her book, and that Seal Press (the publishing house) has apologized for the same, and that’s wonderful and all, but you know it’s just NOT ENOUGH. Especially after Marcotte’s repeated snarky comments about not appropriating women of color bloggers’ work and her refusal to accept her mistake in not at least linking to some prior work by WOC feminists on her alternet piece on immigration/violence/gender. This is a typical comment from her:
I dislike, strongly, people who treat feminism like a cool kids club and guard the borders to make sure that we don’t grow. There’s a lot effort spent trying to bash people who popularize ideas, and then everyone sits around wondering why young women don’t call themselves feminists. Gosh, maybe we should have reached out more, no?
And Seal Press, who I can’t see as respectful, after comments like this in response to a a comment from a woman of color blogger (best summarized here):
I get that you all engage best through negative discourse, but I find that too bad. It’s not servitude when we pay our authors advances. And book publishing is not an industry of outreach as much as it is editors being presented with an idea and engaging would-be authors in creative co-creation. I just find it curious more than anything that you all are wasting your time hating (yes, purposeful reuse of the word) rather than actively engaging in changing something you find problematic. I totally respect the creative space.
I recall seeing that comment and being SO very incensed at the comment aimed at women of color bloggers as a group: “I get that you all engage best through negative discourse.” Seal Press later apologized about their reactions on their blog, but failed to apologize for this very statement. Classic.
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This is just salt in the wounds of ANOTHER recent controversy involving Amanda Marcotte and white feminist’s appropriation of women of colors’ writings. Others have written about this said controversy in very thoughtful ways, so instead of trying to restate what’s been so beuatifully said, I’ll link to some of the pieces that give it context and reflect on it (with the caveat that tens of bloggers have written amazing posts on this issue, i’m just linking a few):
Problem Chylde/Sylvia: “Don’t Hate, Reappropriate”
Dear Whilte Feminists: “An Open Letter to the White Feminist Community” (where about 30 other bloggers’ responses to the controversy are also linked)
One of the most amazing writers I’ve ever known, Brownfemipower, who I had the wonderful grace of hanging out with during the United States Social Forum last year, has shut down her blog as a result of this controversy. On a daily basis her writings have previously helped me unlearn and re-learn the truth about marginalized communities, violence, and dreaming about a better world. I learned more from her writings in the last two years than I did through most of college and beyond.
Brownfemipower has written a response to all the controversy: “Some Context”. An excerpt:
No, actually, I know I’m brownfemipower and I want to end violence against women. And I wanted to do that with all the women who keep insisting to me that we are all in this together and we have common problems that we have to work against and we’re all sisters, and there is such thing as a commonality of experience between us all—as I said in my original post—I thought feminism was important because it brought women together (I had thought at one time that feminism was about justice for women. I had thought it was about centering the needs of women, and creating action in the name of, by and for women. I had thought that feminism has its problems but it’s worth fighting for, worth sacrificing and sweating and crying and breaking down for.)
But how can it have “brought us together” when my implicit goal in feminist centered media justice is to write erased communities into existence—and the result of the work of the ’sister’ down the street is the erasure of the same communities I’m working to write into existence? (And no, I do NOT accept that I or any other fucking Latina out there should just be “grateful” that our work is being talked about while we remain hidden in the shadows. Even now, as a person who explicitly rejects feminism, I KNOW that Latinas have the right to demand that the work we do not be hidden in some dark silent space that nobody talks about and everybody avoids even as everybody else eats all the fruit that we pick. Yes, even Latina writers have the right to fucking unionize and come into the light.)
There is no “feminist movement” because the work being done is not just conflicting with the work of other “sisters”—it’s directly negating it.
Something to think very seriously about.
It’s comforting to know that a lot of serious reflection has occurred in the “blogosphere” after these controversies, but still, there’s major work to be done and wounds to be healed.
As BFP often says, La lucha continua…