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
|—||my uncle left this comment on his friend’s Facebook status, a white British man who was bragging about how easy it is to be a native English speaker when trekking to different nations. (via maarnayeri)|
colonized concepts of love will fucking kill you.
if love is only hetero-romantic, and only women love,
then love of community supposedly doesnt matter either, and much less non-hetero love
and marriage is how you cement that love and secure resources, which is just patriarchal ownership of women, since men dont love,
and the only marriageable women are white or light, and better off, leaving the poorest, darkest, most marginalized to starve (emotionally and economically),
we talkin bout individualist heteropatriarchal bullshit,
which is the basis of capitalism.
in other words, if you accept all love as equally valid, platonic, hetero or not, then you also accept interdependency, under which capitalism cant function
and this is also why its so hard to get over family not loving or wanting you: if love of friends and other community and chosen family is just as valid, then you dont have to be stuck within a shitty unit, believing if they cant love you no one else will?
im rambling, trying to organize my thoughts, but I swear theres a point in there,
on how support and love from anyone is valid,
and shutting the most marginalized out from having it and thus community, when patriarchal romance isnt there,
is just more oppression and denial of resources,
coz I will say it again, basic needs and resources include a human aspect of love, respect and support, not just the tangible basics
decolonized concepts of love are the basis of emotional justice,….of justice, period
In AmeriKKKA a Black woman accused of killing a cop gets a bounty put on her head and is labeled a terrorist by the F.B.I.
A cop who kills a defenseless Black youth ON CAMERA is set free. This is repeated all the time.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe is my power animal.
(‘Didn’t It Rain’. Recorded in Manchester (land of rain), England, 1964)
Folks don’t think about the black woman behind young Elvis Presley, but Sister Rosetta was the ultimate godmother of rock and roll.
This music was our tradition.
Former political prisoner and member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army, Assata Shakur is still being aggressively perused by her former captors, over three decades after her escape from prison. Utilizing the same tactics as their slave holding predecessors, the New Jersey Police and U.S. Justice Department offered a $1,000,000 reward for her capture in 2005 - the largest reward placed on an individual in the history of New Jersey. Like Tubman, Shakur is being hunted not only for her alleged crimes against the state of New Jersey, but also because of her unwavering revolutionary opposition to imperialism and injustice.
This article is from 2009 but these words are extremely relevant today.
Watch out for them drones, Assata. <3
“Don’t you know that slavery was outlawed?”
“No,” the guard said, “you’re wrong. Slavery was outlawed with the exception of prisons. Slavery is legal in prisons.”
I looked it up and sure enough, she was right. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution says:
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Well, that explained a lot of things. That explained why jails and prisons all over the country are filled to the brim with Black and Third World people, why so many Black people can’t find a job on the streets and are forced to survive the best way they know how. Once you’re in prison, there are plenty of jobs, and, if you don’t want to work, they beat you up and throw you in a hole. If every state had to pay workers to do the jobs prisoners are forced to do, the salaries would amount to billions… Prisons are a profitable business. They are a way of legally perpetuating slavery. In every state more and more prisons are being built and even more are on the drawing board. Who are they for? They certainly aren’t planning to put white people in them. Prisons are part of this government’s genocidal war against Black and Third World people.
Assata (via michellehuxtable)
I tell my students this every single semester.
and just another way to create a wedge between poor white people and poor poc, particularly Black. this is nothing new, just a different form