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Friday, December 19th, 2014

Ani DiFranco’s Apology Shines Spotlight Again on White Privilege

ani difrancoWe ended 2013, the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation — a year in which one of the most popular movies, “12 Years a Slave,” chronicled the horrors of slavery in Louisiana — with singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco huffily canceling her plan to host a “Righteous Retreat” for artists at Nottaway Plantation in New Orleans.

That, ladies and gentlemen, sums up your year in race relations. I understand that most white people never have to think beyond notions of the idyllic and pastoral when it comes to plantations. That these places continue to represent sites of untold horror, violence and humiliation for Black people is the very kind of knowledge against which white privilege inoculates.

The whole point of being white is that you are never supposed to feel uncomfortable in space. To the moon and back, the world is yours. This past year, “pure” white space has been procured and subsequently sanctified through the precious spilled blood of Black bodies – Trayvon Martin, who received no justice; Jonathan Ferrell, who asked for help in the wrong neighborhood; and Renisha McBride, who did the same.

In her faux-pology, which doubled as a notice of cancellation, DiFranco claimed to “get it.” But from her passive-aggressive chastisement and her choice to accuse her naysayers on social media of engaging in “high-velocity bitterness,” she obviously doesn’t really get it. She acknowledged that “the pain of slavery is real and runs very deep and very wide,” but saw as “very unfortunate” “what many have chosen to do with that pain.”

No doubt, Ani discovered this week, that social media is no country for white women’s foolishness on race. Unfortunately for her, she chose to launch this retreat at the same time that another white feminist soul launched a twitter campaign called #stopblamingwhitewomenweneedunity. And after a year of looking at Miley Cyrus’ non-twerking a**, everyone has had enough.

Read the full piece by Brittney Cooper at salon.com

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