Dear Eve Ensler,
I want to start off by saying thank you. I appreciate the time you took to reach out to me, because I know you’re incredibly busy. I know there are much more important people in this world than myself, so I appreciate you engaging in dialogue with me and my colleague Kelleigh Driscoll.
This all started because on Twitter, I addressed some issues that I had with V-Day, your organization, and the way it treated Indigenous women in Canada. I said that you are racist and dismissive of Indigenous people. You wrote to me that you were upset that I would suggest this, and not even 24 hours later you were on the Joy Behar Show referring to your chemotherapy treatment as a “Shamanistic exercise”.
Your organization took a photo of Ashley Callingbull, and used it to promote V-Day Canada and One Billion Rising, without her consent. You then wrote the word “vanishing” on the photo, and implied that Indigenous women are disappearing, and inherently suggested that we are in some type of dire need of your saving. You then said that Indigenous women were V-Day Canada’s “spotlight”. V-Day completely ignored the fact that February 14th is an iconic day for Indigenous women in Canada, and marches, vigils, and rallies had already been happening for decades to honor the missing and murdered Indigenous women. You repeatedly in our conversation insisted that you had absolutely no idea that these events were already taking place. So then, what were you spotlighting? When Kelleigh brought up that it was problematic for you to be completely unaware that this date is important to the women you’re spotlighting, your managing director Cecile Lipworth became extremely defensive and responded with “Well, every date on the Calendar has importance.” This is not an acceptable response.
When women in Canada brought up these exact issues, V-Day responded to them by deleting the comment threads that were on Facebook. For a person and organization who works to end violence against women, this is certainly the opposite of that. Although I’m specifically addressing V-Day, this is not an isolated incident. This is something that Indigenous women constantly face. This erasure of identity and white, colonial, feminism is in fact, a form of violence against us. The exploitation and cultural appropriation creates and excuses the violence done to us.
When I told you that your white, colonial, feminism is hurting us, you started crying. Eve, you are not the victim here. This is also part of the pattern which is a problem: Indigenous women are constantly trying to explain all of these issues, and are constantly met with “Why are you attacking me?!” This is not being a good ally.
You asked me what would it mean to be a good ally. It would have meant stepping back, giving up the V-Day platform, and attending the marches and vigils. It would have meant putting aside the One Billion Rising privilege and participating in what the Indigenous women felt was important.
At the end of our conversation you offered me the opportunity to join V-Day. Offered me money. Offered me to become a spokesperson for Native American women. These are things I am not interested in. I do not want to be part of the white savior industrial complex, and I never want to duplicate saviorism and colonialism within my own organization, Save Wiyabi Project, and I’m surely not interested in selling my soul and integrity for a bit of cash and perceived prestige.
I’m not here to speak for Ashley and how she felt about her photo being used, and I’m not here to speak for the Indigenous women in Canada. Indigenous women in the United States and Canada have agency, self determination, and are quite capable of telling their own stories, and have been doing so for thousands of years. We are aware of the violence we face, and are also aware this just isn’t about individual acts of violence. We expect not only our bodies, but our agency, work, and contributions to be respected. None of this is new, and we do not need a white person to legitimize our history and existence.
I entered this conversation with uneasy feelings about V-Day and your work, and left feeling completely dismissed – much like the Indigenous women in Canada. You might have been listening to what I was saying, but you definitely didn’t hear me. You dumped all of my concerns onto someone else and did not take personal responsibility for anything. Eve, this is YOUR organization. My hope is that you do some self examination about what’s happening here. You have to see this before you continue doing this work because this is epistemic and imperial violence. Your actions are assisting violence, not ending it.
Lauren Chief Elk
Indian feminists/activists respond to Harvard kids attempting to help the less fortunate ‘third world’ feminists
February 25, 2013
Globally, from the U.S. to the developing world, rape and other forms of violence against women remain at shockingly high levels. Focusing on the horrifying case of a 23-year-old Indian student who was gang-raped and beaten to death in Delhi in December, the Harvard College Women’s Center announced it would create a Beyond Gender Equality task force, “convened to offer recommendations to India and other South Asian countries in the wake of the New Delhi gang rape and murder.”
The group ignored the long history of Indian activists themselves fighting to end rape and sexual violence—including recent mass protests of South Asian women and men calling for a systemic fight against rape. And the Harvardites had nothing to say about the ample evidence of the problem of rape in the U.S.—from the sickening gang rape and subsequent cover-up at Steubenville High School in Ohio, to the systematic downplaying of rape and sexual assault at Amherst College and other universities.
In response to this “white (wo)man’s burden” take on the issue of sexual violence in South Asia, a group Indian feminists wrote the following response, first published at Kafila.org, detailing their own years of work fighting to end rape and gain justice sexual assault victims.
— — — — — — —
Dear sisters (and brothers?) at Harvard,
WE’RE A group of Indian feminists and we are delighted to learn that the Harvard community—without doubt one of the most learned in the world—has seen fit to set up a policy task force entitled “Beyond Gender Equality” and that you are preparing to offer recommendations to India (and other South Asian countries) in the wake of the New Delhi gang rape and murder.
Not since the days of Katherine Mayo have American women—and American feminists—felt such a concern for their less privileged Third World sisters. Mayo’s concern, at that time, was to ensure that the Indian state (then the colonial state) did not leave Indian women in the lurch, at the mercy of their men, and that it retained power and the rule of the just.
Yours, we see, is to work towards ensuring that steps are put in place that can help the Indian state in its implementation of the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee, a responsibility the Indian state must take up.
This is clearly something that we, Indian feminists and activists who have been involved in the women’s movement here for several decades, are incapable of doing, and it was with a sense of overwhelming relief that we read of your intention to step into this breach.
You might be pleased to know that one of us, a lawyer who led the initiative to put pressure on the Justice Verma Committee to have a public hearing with women’s groups, even said in relief, when she heard of your plans, that she would now go on holiday and take a plane ride to see the Everest.
Indeed, we are all relieved, for now we know that our efforts will not have been in vain: the oral evidence provided by 82 activists and organizations to the Justice Verma Committee—and which we believe substantially contributed to the framing of their report—will now be in safe American hands!
Perhaps you are aware that the Indian state has put in place an “Ordinance on Sexual Assault” that ignores many recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee? If not, we would be pleased to furnish you a copy of the Ordinance, as well as a chart prepared by us, which details which recommendations have been accepted and which not.
This may be useful in your efforts to advise our government. One of the greatest things about sisterhood is that it is so global—feminism has built such strong international connections, such that whenever our First World sisters see that we are incapable of dealing with problems in our countries, they immediately step in to help us out and provide us with much needed guidance and support. We are truly grateful for this.
Perhaps you will allow us to repay the favor, and next time President Obama wants to put in place legislation to do with abortion or the Equal Rights Amendment, we can step in and help, and, from our small bit of experience in these fields, recommend what the United States can do.
Source (with signatures)
I love the awesomeness of the response and the wake up call to academic feminists that are too high up the ivory tower to understand the areas in which they are trying to “save”.
But when it’s 2013 this shit shouldn’t be JUST happening.
I’m writing to ask you all a huge favor. But first, bear with me. I have to first tell you a story.
During my 6-month Africans for Africa project last year, I met Lindiwe (not a real name), a retired, 60-something year old African woman. Lindiwe had been running an orphanage out of her own home for the past 10 years. The government had agreed to offer her some money every month to care for up to two children, but the amount was no where near what she needed to care for the twenty-seven she’d taken in.
You see, most of their parents had passed away from HIV/AIDS, or abandoned them when they moved away to find more work. Lindiwe could barely afford to replace their tattered clothes, let alone their school uniforms. If not for the charity of a wholesale grocery store that donated canned goods each month, Lindiwe wouldn’t have been able to feed the orphans in her care at all.
But, one day, a young white American couple (that had been backpacking through the region) arrived at her doorstep, and offered to help Lindiwe raise money from abroad. The plan was to set up a non-profit in the U.S. to serve as a fiscal sponsor (i.e. serve as an umbrella organization) to the orphanage, which would enable them to collect tax-deductible donations from their network back in the states. Lindiwe couldn’t believe her luck. And, perhaps she shouldn’t have.
There are Very Wrong Ways to Do Good
Elated, Lindiwe gave the young white Americans copies of her non-profit’s official documents, which, as planned, the couple used to validate their US-based non-profit as an umbrella org for the project. Their website went up, along with photos of the orphans they’d met on their backpacking trip, and then the tax-deductible donations began to come in.
Initially, the couple sent Lindiwe money to pay for school uniforms–a mere two hundred dollars–and promised more would follow as they continued to spread the word. Thus, as they announced fundraisers — a few even hosted by celebrities — on their website, Lindiwe expected the relief she’d been promised would arrive soon. But it’s been three years since then, and not much has changed.
This past year alone, the U.S. organization has raised over $30,000. But, since their launch there years ago, only $3000 has made it to Lindiwe’s orphanage, and this is after Lindiwe has had to keep calling, emailing, and begging to receive the funds owed to the local orphanage to cover basic necessities: food, medicine, school uniforms.
the organistaion that this article wants to make you aware of is
It basically allows african led organisations to dictatte and control their own funding, at least visit the website and support if you can. It means that these people won’t be left begging for the crumbs that the large western charities leave them (if they bother at all)
hey guys! remember KONY?
Quentin Tarantino, professional white savior here to save us all despite ourselves (for the price of admission of course)
OMFG is this real?
this racist prick
“I’ve always wanted to explore slavery.”
OH AND ALSO.
“I refuse your question. I’m not your slave and you’re not my master. You can’t make me dance to your tune. I’m not a monkey.”
fucks sakes quentin
Can someone please kick this fool in the face while wearing a pair of cleats? It’d make me really happy.
|—||bell hooks (via wretchedoftheearth)|
Ally-chan waited behind the school, wringing her hands nervously. She’d left the note in PoC-senpai’s locker, but she didn’t know if he’d see it. He was always busy, aloof, unreachable.
“Ugh! Stop it!” she said, smacking herself in the forehead. She heard footsteps approaching, and she straightened up hurriedly, brushing her skirt off, and tucking stray locks of hair behind her ears. She prepared herself, running example dialogues through her head, waiting for his approach.
The footsteps rounded the corner.
but it wasn’t him.
It was White Supremacy-kun, his jacket tied around his waist, and hair slicked back.
“Keh. Waiting here for PoC like a lapdog. I hope he never notices you.”
His words cut Ally-chan like a knife.
“B-baka!” she shouted at his retreating back, and turned away, continuing to wait for PoC-senpai. He would notice her! He would!
his soft voice startled her.
“I got your note. And the picture.”
Her breath caught in her throat.
“We’ll never be together.” he said, dropping the picture of Ally-chan in blackface in the dust by her feet, and tearing the note into tiny pieces.
“B-but why? I love you, PoC-senpai! I love you!”
“Ally-chan, you’re embarrassing yourself. I don’t love you, and I never will. You’re self important, arrogant, and selfish. You hurt the people you’re trying to help. There’s no way we could ever be together. Get over me.” He turned on his heel and left the same way he’d come.
Tears tracked their way down her face, and Ally-chan balled her hands into a fist. She’d show him! She’d show everyone just how wonderful she could be! She took off running. She’d help him in her own way, no matter what the cost!”
well well well
look at what i found under #rookie
LOL the dangers of flippant, unaccountable, well-intetioned white supremacy is you breed little girls who think that they can fix all of the brown hurts with more racism & appropriation.
also, gurl, u went to kenya but still use bindi for an afrikan-inspired line?
*why don’t white girls ever care about the brown babies who live around the corner getting shot execution-style by cops tho? can u save them w fashun?
|—||Andrea Smith; Beyond the Politics of Inclusion: Violence Against Women of Color and Human Rights (2004)|
I couldn’t help but think of Josiah Wedgwood’s famous antislavery medallion of the chained slave on ended knee, begging in supplication, “Am I not a man and a brother?” The medallion had enjoyed such popularity that is became the favored icon of the abolition movement and was worn as a brooch or hairpin by women of fashion in the 1780s and 90s. But the bid for emancipation reproduced the abject position of the slave. And the pleading and praying for relief before the bar struck me in exactly the same way - it was an act of state worship. I didn’t want to get down on my knees as a precondition to arriving at freedom. I didn’t want to plead my case, “Yes, I have suffered too.” I didn’t want to display my scars… .
Needing to make the case that we have suffered and that slavery, segregation, and racism have had a devastating effect on black life is the contemporary analogue to the defeated posture of Wedgwood’s pet Negro. The apologetic density of the plea for recognition is staggering. It assumes both the ignorance and the innocence of the white world. If only they knew the truth, they would act otherwise. I am reminded of the letter that James Baldwin wrote his nephew on the centennial anniversary of the Emancipation Proclimation. “The crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen,” he wrote, “and for which neither I nor time nor history will ever forgive them, that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it … It is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime.”
To believe, as I do, that the enslaved are our contemporaries is to understand that we share their aspirations and defeats, which isn’t to say that we are owed what they were due but rather to acknowledge that they accompany our every effort to fight against domination, to abolish the color line, and to imagine a free territory, a new commons. It is to take to heart their knowledge of freedom. The enslaved knew that freedom had to be taken; it was not the kind of thing that could ever be given to you. The kind of freedom that could be given to you could just as easily be taken back. Freedom is the kind of thing that required you to leave your bones on the hills at Brimsbay, or to burn the cane fields, or to live in a garret for seven years, or to stage a general strike, or to create a new republic. It is won and lost, again and again. It is a glimpse of possibility, an opening, a solidification without any guarantee of duration before it flickers and then is extinguished.
- Saidiya Hartman, “Lose Your Mother: A Journey Across the Atlantic,” p. 167-170
thanks for posting this.
|—||Patricia Hill Collins (via ellomaria)|