Dear Ani DiFranco Supporters: You Cannot Reclaim an Oppression You Have Never Experienced

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In yet another example of white feminist cluelessness, Singer Ani DiFranco will hold her annual songwriting retreat this year on Nottoway Plantation in Louisiana. Righteous Retreat Song Camp is billed as a feminist songwriting retreat, and DiFranco's choice to hold the event at this locale has drawn ire from Black women who note the offensiveness of the location.

Black women feminists and allies took to the event's Facebook page to express their concerns, yet neither Difranco nor anyone on her team has responded.

The thought of women choosing to luxuriate at the sites of historic brutality against black bodies confounds, but even more outrageous is the refusal of so many women to listen to those whose lived experiences continue to be mediated by the legacy of chattel slavery.

In fact, defenders like Mandi Harrington, a visibly white woman, try to tell us that we need to "reclaim" these spaces.

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And when called out, these women go to shockingly extreme lengths to cover their tracks.

Take, for example, the exchange below. Harrington created a fake black woman persona named Laqueeta Jones to defend her senseless comments.

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The absurdity of the racism displayed here is laughable: from the name, to the misuse of black vernacular, and the stolen picture. But the situation also highlights the necessity of emphasizing the interconnectedness of oppressions. You cannot fight for the equal rights of women and ignore the history of racism within this country.

Sad are the lengths some women will go to exclude the voices of Black women and lay claim to marginalization they have never experienced.

I have an inkling that if a man attempted to "reclaim" the word "bitch" or "cunt" these women would understand perfectly the error of misappropriation; however, white supremacy continues to obscure the realities of slavery.

DiFranco should absolutely choose a new location for her retreat. There can be no healing at Nottoway Plantation. Continuing to hold an expensive getaway here is an affront to feminists of color.

Update: The event has been cancelled. Read Ani DiFranco's explanation.

Screenshot source


Dear White Women: To Whom My Pain is Invisible
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Kimberly Foster is the founder and editor of For Harriet. Email or

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