Friday, February 27, 2009

Tracey and Tami talk blogging and feminism; Mandy and Brittany say "sorry"

Last week I tackled the controversy surrounding Mandy Van Deven and Brittany Shoot's post on the blog, Professor What If, that critiqued the marginalization of women of color in the feminist blogosphere:
The same hierarchies of race, sexuality, ability, age and class that play out in our larger society, are also present within the feminist movement and, in turn, the feminist blogosphere. This week, in a controversial post on the always compelling blog, Professor What If, Mandy Van Deven and Brittany Shoot attempted to address racial inequality in the femisphere. And while the writers made some very good points about the ways WOC bloggers are marginalized, they also unwittingly committed several sins of privilege. Read more...
Since then, the writers have issued an apology:
Though probably not comprehensive (and with the disclaimer that lack of knowledge is not an excuse for poor behavior), I've put together a list of the places where I fell short in my weak and reckless attempt to support those who are marginalized (myself included) in the feminist blogosphere.
I should have known that the baggage of the history of racism in the feminist blogosphere (and in real life) is MY burden to carry.

I understand that this post comes with the baggage of the myriad ways other white feminists have done RWOC/WOC wrong, both in "real life" and in the blogosphere: Yes Means Yes, Full Frontal Feminism, Amanda Marcotte, Seal Press, etc. This history of white women backstabbing RWOC/WOC has created a blogging environment where white women aren't, and probably can't and shouldn't, be given the benefit of the doubt by RWOC/WOC. White women have just fucked up too much. This history is exactly what I did not/do not want to replicate. And it's exactly this history that makes it all the more important to me to focus on mending this wound instead of simply mending my own hurt feelings and ego. I want to demonstrate that white women are not all alike, and that I want to rewrite the script of white women's poor responses to being called racist—from one of defense and denial to one of accountability. I know this will be hard to do; many have even been telling me that it's never been done before in the blogosphere. I hope that if this is the case, I may be among the first. I may not feel it's fair to carry the baggage of other white women's mistakes, to be a symbol of past racism and wrongdoing, to be chastised because a post written by two white women has gotten more attention than similar posts written by RWOC/WOC, but I recognize that is my burden to bear. I believe in righting this, and I humbly ask RWOC/WOC to believe me.
I don't wish to flog this already dying controversy, but I do want to dig deeper into some of the issues it raised. So, on this weekend's episode of "The Best of What Tami Said," 4 p.m., Sunday, March 1, the topic will be WOMEN OF COLOR IN THE FEMINIST BLOGOSPHERE. I will be joined by Professor Tracey of Aunt Jemima's Revenge. We will talk about the place of women of color bloggers in the femisphere; why spaces dedicated to the unique issues of woman of color are so necessary; and, hopefully, solutions to ongoing marginalization, including how allies can help.
We want to hear from ALL feminist and womanist bloggers on this issue, regardless of race.
Let your voice be heard. Call in (646) 716-4672.
If you are interested in playing a larger role in this podcast, as a panelist, e-mail me.


Monica Roberts said...

Enjoyed the conversation we had today on Blog Talk Radio, looking forward to the next one.

Jill said...

Wow - that is awesome re: getting reaction and response from the authors of that post, WTG Tami. The blogosphere is so maligned and we do often think of it as an echo chamber but I always say that it does NOT have to be that way - we make it what it is, but we have to have partners - and allies ;)

Your writing brings this out in people, you know. Thank you for always putting forth so much effort and good will, and honesty.


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