We Write Letters

We've been discussing among ourselves how best to address the fissure happening in the feminist blogosphere right now between some prominent white feminists and feminists/womanists of color, which has resulted, in part, in Brownfemipower having shuttered her extremely valuable blog, La Chola. There are two parts to the mess—one related to Seal Press' response to women of color bloggers and one related to charges that Amanda Marcotte did not honor the work of Brownfemipower, who has led the way in the blogosphere on identifying, explaining, and packaging immigration as a feminist issue. (For further background, we recommend Holly's post at Feministe and Sylvia/M's post at Problem Chylde.)

We wanted to think very carefully about our response, not because there was any doubt where all of us come down on the aforementioned issue(s), but because picking apart specifics seemed from every angle unhelpful. At best, we might seem self-congratulatory, standing in judgment by detailing what we would have done differently in the first place or how we would have responded to the concerns raised; at worst, we might appear to suggest that we are above criticism ourselves, that we have no need to remain vigilant about continually, actively forging bonds of solidarity with feminist/womanist women of color bloggers.

So we will leave a dissection of the particulars to other very capable bloggers who don't need our help explaining what went wrong and where. (Kevin has a good round-up.) Instead, we're going to take this opportunity to look forward and make a few resolutions.

We will write about, discuss, advocate, and recognize as integral to the central tenets of feminism/womanism issues our sisters of color bring to our attention.

We will link to our sisters of color—in the blogroll, in the blogarounds, and in posts—and will welcome them as commenters, guest posters, and contributors at Shakesville.

We will not appropriate their work, but amplify their work and integrate their ideas with attribution.

We will endeavor always to be aware of our privilege, and, in moments of failure, will remain open to criticisms and suggestions, resolve to think twice before responding defensively, and apologize when we fuck up.

We resolve to listen to you.

In her post, Holly said something that we feel is extremely important, something that we will all bear in mind with regard to our responsibility and making the best use of the platform Shakes gives us:
What I care about is that when white feminists undertake to write about the issues of women of color—such as immigration, which is clearly a massively race-infused issue—they should do so in solidarity with women of color. In ways that give political voice to women of color, to immigrants, to those whose voice is generally not heard as loudly.

When any of us have a soapbox, an opportunity to get up and talk, we must continue to stand by those who aren't called on. If you want to consider yourself an anti-racist or a white ally to people of color—if you want anyone else to consider you those things—then it behooves you to swim against the current. If everyone did, perhaps the tides would turn, even if it was just in our corner of the blogosphere. And sometimes all you have to do is simply call out the hard work of another woman who went before you, who has paved the path that you're walking down with research and ideas and words and strong feelings. All you have to do is cover your bases, pay your respects, and make sure you can't be read as trying to take sole credit.
Irrespective of our sex or race, we hear the message. We resolve to use our teaspoons to turn that tide.


Melissa McEwan
Kate Harding
Iain McEwan
Jeff Fecke
Space Cowboy
Mustang Bobby
William K. Wolfrum
Phil Barron
Portly Dyke
Shark Fu
Paul the Spud
Chet Scoville
Kenny Blogginz

[Not every contributor has yet read the letter as of this posting. Names will be added as requested, so if you're wondering why someone isn't there, please don't assume it's anything other than my having not heard back from them yet. No contributors have declined to be included.]

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