Sunday, June 20, 2010

Racism at FWD (Feminists with Disabilities)

I spent most of the day yesterday dealing with the erasure of Juneteenth in the so-called progressive blogoshere. At first there were denials that this was an absolute act of racist erasure; however, with the exception of FWD, all of the bloggers have acknowledged the damage that their actions have caused.  I want to say a particular thank you to TigTog, for her post on Hoyden About Town,  regarding the role she played.

As I said at the beginning of this post, FWD refuses to take ownership for their racist behaviour, and at this time has closed comments on the thread, claiming that a productive conversation is not possible.
Hi Renee,  I had chosen not to publish the rest of your comments yesterday as I did think your main concern was in the first one, and that publishing your other comments would detract from your concern.  I will publish them all now.
I believe that conversations that take place at the speed-of-internet are rarely productive.  There is an implicit demand that people react immediately, instead of taking careful, thoughtful, and respectful action.

In light of that, I am closing comments here.  I do not think that this conversation here will prove to be productive for any of the parties involved.

I am sorry that my actions and behaviour have caused this conversation to be necessary.

My other comments continuously called them out on their racism and absolute failure to acknowledge me.  There was a comment in which I specifically took S.E. Smith to task on ou's failure to even comment or acknowledge the behaviour ou engaged in by putting a post on Feminsite calling yesterday Helen Keller day, and completely ignoring Juneteenth.
@s.e. don’t you want to say hi all disabled White people and not hi all as that implies including Black People, you know the people you erased on Feminsite today. You STILL HAVE not commented about putting that racist post up on feministe, and seem to be quite content to pass the buck to Anna, as though you didn’t do some first class erasure yourself. Let me tell you something, if you are not going to have any open threads, then you better be sure that you are not going to fuck up, because then you only double down on your privilege and silencing. Instead of worrying about Anna, you should be worrying about yourself; you engaged in your fair share of racism today, without apology too I might add. (note: this comment has to be published by FWD)
 While Anna needs "time to be thoughtful", I am now devoting a second day to their racist actions.   She is sorry that I had to call her out, but nowhere does she admit that what she did was racist.What enrages me the most about this situation, is the following comment made by Anna on FWD:
 I did become aware of the US holiday of Juneteenth a few days ago, and I must be totally frank that, since I am not from the US, and FWD is not a US-centric blog, I considered that there was enough room for discussions of Juneteenth and discussions of Helen Keller and other women with disabilities on the same date, especially since it was my hope that non-white, non-US women with disabilities would also be discussed and highlighted. Again, I brought this up in the intro post, but not in this open-post for the day.
So, this supposed ally to Black disabled women knew it was Juneteenth and decided that the erasure was just fine with her.  That is White privilege at its best.  Ironically enough, Anna is from Halifax Nova Scotia, which has one of the largest populations of Blacks descended directly from American slavery in Canada.  The descendants of the slaves here, hold celebrations every Juneteenth and so her decision that Juneteenth is an "American holiday", as though it does not effect Canada, the place she calls home, is clearly an excuse to avoid acknowledging the importance of Juneteenth. And while she claimed there was room enough to discuss both, FWD did not post a Juneteenth post, nor did they bother to highlight any Black disabled people in their Helen Keller post.  How is this celebrating both events?

Furthermore, the editor who refused to publish my comments yesterday because they didn't know "how to handle them," once again engaged in racism.  Oh, the scary Black woman is angry, whatever shall we do is bullshit.  I am not some troll, nor an unknown entity to these bloggers.  They circled the wagons and prayed like hell that I would just go away.

To compound matters, S.E. Smith has yet to publicly comment on ou's part in this entire fiasco.  As I said in my comment (which still remains unpublished at FWD), ou declared yesterday Helen Keller day and then closed the comments on Feministe, thereby, suggesting that Blacks have no right to question ou.  Apparently, Smith feels that because of the size of Feministe, that it is not a safe space, and yet when confronted in ou's own space, Smith still refused to comment.  What am I to believe but that ou believes that the erasure was acceptable?  Furthermore, the refusal to engage on this issue compounds the original act of racism. 

I am right back where I started yesterday, trying to get two White feminists to acknowledge their role in maintaining racism.  As disabled people, they are well aware of the cost of advocacy for the differently abled -- and yet, they are more than willing to put me in a place where I have to rise above and keep fighting for my own human dignity.

All I have asked from the very beginning was simply an acknowledgment of the erasure that they engaged in -- and what I have gotten in return is a very determined effort to silence me.  Had I not had Womanist Musings as a platform from which to raise dissent, Anna and S.E. would have been more than happy to sweep this under the rug.  I normally say that what someone did was racist, but when it comes to these two feminists, I no longer make that distinction -- and I am directly calling them racist.  We can just add this incident to the list of reasons why I am not a feminist.  Even special interest areas like disability advocacy clearly have no room for Black women.

And finally, to the people of colour who share space with those two racist White feminists, Anna and S.E., shame on you.  This is what you call solidarity, standing there beside two White feminists as they engage in racism.  If you think they won't turn on you someday, you have another thing coming.  None of you have reached out to me though I have e-mailed you, and instead you direct nothing but silence at me.  What kind of message do you think that silence sends? Racism has the power it does in part because of the collusion of POC, and while we may not share the same racial background, I had hoped that our shared labels as POC who are disabled would be enough to count on you for support.  I suppose that when you become a feminist you forget that race matters.  Thanks for that reminder, and you can be sure that I won't soon forget it.  

Ouyang Dan: I am particularly disappointed in you.  You were the first person on my blog roll, and the first blogger that made me think, I want to be like her when I grow up.  It seems that my faith in your good character was misplaced, but trust that I believe people when they show me who they are the first time, and I shall never make the mistake of trusting you again. 

Today I am extremely thankful for this space.  Had I not had Womanist Musings, I would have had no outlet to deal with the pain and racism directed not only at me but all Black women. I hope that this serves as encouragement to other marginalized women to create a space of their own, because we cannot count on others to respect our issues. Create a space from which you can advocate on your own terms, because left to their own devices, feminists will always choose to privielge themselves.
And before I end this long drawn out post, I would like to send a special thank you to feministing, who also decided that Juneteenth was not worth mentioning on their space, though of course they care about Black women.