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Racism gets weird - Tim Lieder [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Tim Lieder

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Racism gets weird [Dec. 30th, 2013|01:23 am]
Tim Lieder
I saw some mutterings about Ani DiFranco this morning and it was all about her trying to have a retreat at a plantation. I was barely awake and reading it on my phone and I'm reading these twitter messages that are extremely pissed and so I'm thinking "what's the big deal?" So what, she holds a hippie thing at a plantation and that's just like a hotel but with a shitty history. It's not like we can avoid this kind of history.

And another FB post is by Mark Wholley who was one of the founders of Anthocon but also one that I've been getting steadily more sick of since Trayvon Martin. He did a knockout game post and a bunch of his asshole friends seeing exactly what they are supposed to see - EVIL BLACK TEENAGERS and Innocent White People and they are all proudly talking about how no black teenager is going to get them. Plenty of wishful thinking concerning the punching out of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. I responded to that one by calling out everyone for being a racist shithead obsessed with an obviously bullshit story in order to justify their defense of George Zimmerman's god-given right to chase down one of those black teenagers and shoot him. Later on, Wholley responds to me but I block him so I don't read it. Later on a couple of other people that were mutual friends are responding but I don't want to read that shit.

So on the racism scale, Ani DiFranco is well below Mark Wholley and the George Zimmerman fans. But then I enter into the discussions and realize that I'm actually naive on the whole plantation scene.

I did not realize that plantations weren't hotels with crappy histories but were set up to be theme parks in celebration of the Old South in a "Rose for Emily" obsession. This had to be explained to me. Even though there's a potential for a neutral or even a positive plantation (one owned by the descendents of the former slaves for example) most are just as racist as you would expect and the one that DiFranco chose is very racist.

But then her statement - oh G-d - I think I owe Amanda Palmer an apology. Holy fuck, Ani DiFranco makes Amanda Palmer look sane by comparison. It starts out so well. First two paragraphs address the issues. The third paragraph turns into hippie shit and then it just goes on and on into a Wall of Text. She even mentions her black friend. No. Seriously. And of course at no point does DiFranco say "I'm sorry. I was wrong"

I realize it's a minor miracle for public figures to say that, but it really shouldn't be. See my paragraph before the last one. Oops. Didn't realize that it was still racist to rent out a plantation. But Ani DiFranco is the arbiter of leftwing politics and human rights. It would be too hard for her to admit that she's wrong about anything - especially anything race related.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: chaos_by_design
2013-12-30 10:23 am (UTC)
I did not realize that plantations weren't hotels with crappy histories but were set up to be theme parks in celebration of the Old South in a "Rose for Emily" obsession. This had to be explained to me. Even though there's a potential for a neutral or even a positive plantation (one owned by the descendents of the former slaves for example) most are just as racist as you would expect and the one that DiFranco chose is very racist.

I didn't realize that stuff either. According to Wikipedia, she did wind up canceling the retreat, so there's that at least.
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[User Picture]From: james_nicoll
2013-12-30 03:58 pm (UTC)

one owned by the descendents of the former slaves for example

Technically these workers weren't slaves but something like this?

https://sites.google.com/site/waileavillage/who-we-are
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[User Picture]From: james_nicoll
2013-12-30 04:05 pm (UTC)

Re: one owned by the descendents of the former slaves for example

They also shelter cats.
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[User Picture]From: sabotabby
2013-12-30 04:06 pm (UTC)
I am so naïve (and/or Canadian) that I didn't realize that there were former plantations that you could visit at all. And for some reason (naïve or Canadian) I immediately imagined them being like the concentration camps, where you go and there's a few solemn historical plaques and tours and so forth.

Apparently that's not the case. Wow. I really had no idea.

I'm not a big Ani DiFranco fan—she hits my allergy to earnest pretty damned hard—so I don't have the sense of betrayal or shock that many people are feeling. I'm mostly astounded that anyone would think this was a good idea, even if former plantations were respectful historical sites. I mean, would you have a concert in a concentration camp?
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[User Picture]From: marlowe1
2013-12-30 05:06 pm (UTC)
I think they tried to put a convent at Auschwitz but the public outcry was so pronounced that the Vatican nixed on that plan.

Meaning that the Pope is more sensitive than Ani - at very least he didn't issue a 4000 word "apology" that conveniently forgot to apologize.

I usually like Ani DiFranco's music, but I never understand what she's saying, unless she's singing abotu getting dumped, so I only know that her politics is being sung but as far as I'm concerned she's Tori Amos with a guitar and dreadlocks. I don't listen to her that much.
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[User Picture]From: marlowe1
2013-12-30 05:15 pm (UTC)
Also, this isn't just like having a concert in Auschwitz. It's like having a concert in a concentration camp where all the butlers are dressed like SS officers and the rest of the staff are in striped pajamas.
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[User Picture]From: fengi
2013-12-30 04:07 pm (UTC)
A while back I wrote something resentful and ill-informed about Occupy Sandy and New York post-hurricane, sneering with an obviously simplistic view that New York is super-rich and powerful and would get all the national assistance it needs. A transparently flawed argument which might as well be a Fox News view of New York. My only somewhat valid point was Occupy Sandy was soliciting donations in a way that seemed sketchy, but that didn't justify my saying it wasn't necessary, fuck NYC.

When everyone pointed this out, I got defensive in comments because it's hard to admit you've been that stupid about something, based on an ingrained resentment people in other cities have towards New York's important. Then I ate a lot of crow and wrote every commenter a personal apology and a post despite wanting to pretend that wasn't what I meant. It was also shorter than this comment I'm making.

I get that it's natural to be defensive because it's hard to admit to that part of yourself which thoughtless or, worse, a knowing asshole. Everyone, even the oppressed, is capable of being an asshole.

Yet I also know, from years of observation, a brief, contrite apology with as few explanations as possible is best. You can't expect or worry about winning people back or making them forget it, that will actually make them less likely to do so.

You would think, after years of watching these dynamics go down, that DiFranco would get this, but I also know that if I had that sort of media profile, it would take a lot longer to stop being defensive and write a careful response, and in the meantime I'd say some very stupid things.
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[User Picture]From: marlowe1
2013-12-30 05:13 pm (UTC)
Oh believe me, I know about being a stupid asshole online. Actually you don't have to believe me. We've been LJ friends for years. But it's very astounding that a singer that bills herself as a caring and enlightened individual. Savior complex must really rot the brain.
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[User Picture]From: the_siobhan
2013-12-31 06:33 pm (UTC)
People who get a lot of strokes get out of the habit of being wrong in public. I expect a least part of the crapitude of her reaction is because she's in a situation she's profoundly unprepared for.

I really think all influential people need to have the equivilent of a court jester on staff. Somebody's whose sole job is to tell you when you something you are about to release into the world really is junk.
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[User Picture]From: marlowe1
2013-12-31 07:16 pm (UTC)
If you read Job the right way, that seems to be Satan's job.

Sadly, Ani has no personal Satan.

Also no editor or PR guy working for her either.
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[User Picture]From: fengi
2014-01-02 02:46 am (UTC)
And no caps key on her computer either, apparently. J. H. F'n C., you are a 43 and not e.e. cummings. At least write with adult sentence fragments.
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[User Picture]From: marlowe1
2014-01-02 07:03 pm (UTC)
Even bell hooks uses capitalization in her actual essays.
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