Dear Peech— and all those affected by my angry comments—
I have decided to respond to your letter, because I think you brought up some pretty strong arguments. Instead of berating me by telling me that I sat there and watched it happen, and that I can fuck off, or that I’m “lapping up white feminist’s piss…” (Which I can’t find a link to anymore!) You listed your points very clearly, and I appreciate that.
I myself wondered why nobody stopped that girl from holding up such an awful sign. I asked organizers if they had seen it, and of those who had I asked them why they did nothing about it. I was infuriated. It’s a given that when a white pop culture icon such as John Lennon writes something as ignorant as “Woman is the N—— of the World,” people stand by him to defend his intentions, as some idiots have on facebook. Some people truly believe pop stars like him are infallible, and that his shitty “good intentions” should be regarded as gold— despite the fact that his reappropriation of a violent word was not his to make. Out of his entitlement, he simply felt it was his domain to step into. As if women, especially women of color, really needed a poorly-executed nod from him. And the defense of his presumptuousness is the behavior of a culture pervaded by white supremacy.
But also, the fact that almost nobody around her even stopped to question it, is also on par with a culture pervaded by white supremacy. Their silence— our silence— perpetuates that culture.
That said, many of us organizers wanted to break from that culture. What my original bratty post was addressing was not even the sign, but the fact that we did a lot of work to give QPOC a place at Slutwalk, and it has gone far unrecognized. Contrary to your statement, Peech, we had multiple black women speak at our event— like poet Eboni Hogan, and trans activists like Lourdes Ashley Hunter and Ceyanne Doroshow. We also hosted Kenyon Farrow from Queers for Economic Justice, who wrote an amazing speech about his stance as a queer Black man at Slutwalk. Not a single critique has acknowledged these fantastic speakers, or engaged with what they personally had to say about their own unique positions as black people at Slutwalk. They have been repeatedly erased in this dialogue. And if erasure and exclusion are forms of oppression, then we must all try to engage with them, lest we perpetuate cissexism and heterocentrism in this movement, too.
And you know what? I’m an enormous hypocrite for saying how much I wanted to build a positive community… and then shut down those who said queer POC were not welcome there, simply because I was there myself. I’m really fucking glad that I, a QPOC, was able to speak at the event. But that was a privilege I had, by virtue of living in NYC. I’ve been busting my ass as a nanny and an intern to finish my degree and live here. My family can’t afford to help me. But living here and taking part in all these activist-y things is a HUGE privilege. It was my own foolish shortsightedness and anger that moved me to post something as dismissive as, “You weren’t there… Y’all don’t know shit.”
I want to apologize for that. My intention wasn’t to shut black women up. That was a post that came out of my own sense of feeling erased when reading critiques of our march, because I was just thinking, “Hello?! What about me? Or my friends? Or the speakers?” We did put a lot of work into it, and especially to into making it more inclusive than previous Slutwalk events. But I understand now that the event’s failure to be more safe for POC is part of an issue that’s much, much larger than me, myself and I. We all feel that we failed you because of that girl’s sign, and some of us felt we failed you by keeping as exclusionary a name as Slutwalk. (And the fail grew harder after she wrote a clumsy, half-assed facebook apology. And even harder when her buddies decided to pile on the ignorance. And much, much harder when I wrote my backlash.)
That said, I felt personally attacked on tumblr, by a handful of people. I never told you to stop complaining, and I’m not coming after anyone on tumblr to bully them. I never sent anyone personal messages, nor did I actually tell anyone to shut up. I don’t have the time. I’ve got a bad cold, and I can barely even sit at my computer long enough to track down every response. But telling me to kiss your ass is not a critique, that is an attack. This is a critique, or this, and so is this, and this really useful one, and so is Peech’s letter. These were brought up at tonight’s meeting. But of course, I never stopped to address these critiques, but instead, focused on somebody’s personal attacks. That was mistake #2. So I know my priorities are already fucked, if I’m entertaining attacks on me, instead of paying attention to the people interested in contributing to the building of a movement.
However, addressing my problematic behavior is one thing, but attacking the validity of my experiences as a WoC because I organized Slutwalk is another, and it’s very personal one that hits too close to home. Nobody has the right to tell me I’m not brown enough to be offended by racism— there’s no litmus test for that, nor should there be. None of us can kick each other out of the WoC club because we disagree on effective tactics to end rape culture. But the best thing I could do was to calm the fuck down, stop posting angry retorts, and take the time to listen and learn from you all. Aside from laying in a Nyquil coma and attending the post-SW meeting, that’s exactly what I spent the day doing.
So notyourkinddear, among others, can keep on hating me. Fine, my life isn’t over. And I won’t be demoted in my organization because, to the confusion/frustration of some white feminists I’ve previously called out, we organize as a non-hierarchical entity, and everyone is responsible for themselves. This is why it’s taken so damn long (read: 48 hours) for us to come up with a response. We have to meet as a group and have a consensus on any statements we make publicly as a group. And for anyone who’s tried to have consensus among a group of 40-50 people, you would know that takes a loooooooong time. It is because of that lag that I felt responsible to respond to criticisms on tumblr so briskly and haphazardly. Because 1) nobody else was and 2) I felt empowered to say something about feeling excluded. But now I know that was not the right thing to do.
But one thing I WILL do is own up to my own irresponsible, emo responses, and not on behalf of all the organizers of Slutwalk, but on behalf of myself. I’m really sorry if I’ve hurt you. The black women of tumblr don’t have to put up with my tantrums by putting it more nicely or giving me pity. I don’t want you to feel bad for me. Because I fucked up, big time. We all did. And even as a queer woman of color, I know that I don’t come from a position of moral purity because of the oppression I face. This is something I will continue to work on for the rest of my life, and it starts with myself.
That said, I’ll be taking a break from tumblr for a few days. To those who supported me the whole time, I salute you. For those who enlightened my sorry ass as to why I can’t and shouldn’t ever be responsible for representing All Women of Color— because that in itself is a logical fallacy— I thank you. Very much. And whatever movement you choose the rep, even if it isn’t Slutwalk, I wish you all the best of luck.