April 26, 2012

"What I’m interrogating is why hundreds of thousands of us are so clear that it’s not okay to blame Trayvon Martin for his murder because of his choice of clothing the day that he was viciously gunned down by Zimmerman, but more of us are not clear that girls and women should not be directly and/or indirectly called sluts and whores based on their choice of attire; and subsequently blamed for any form of abuse they may experience because of the same. This kind of victim-blaming happens far too frequently with victim-survivors of gender-based violence. Ironically, Rivera expressed some (perhaps perfunctory) grief for Trayvon’s murder. For most victim-survivors of sexual assault and rape, however, we are not only blamed, but too often there is very little grief or sadness expressed on our behalf. Just reflect upon the treatment of the 11-year old girl-child in Cleveland, Texas, Ms. Nafissatou Diallo, and most victim-survivors whose testimonies are known." ~ Aishah Shahidah SImmons, Who Will Revere Us? (Black LGTBQ Straight People, Straight Women, and Girls) (part 4), for The Feminist Wire

Read the conclusion to this series in its entirety here —-> http://bit.ly/JpCLI4


Read Part One of Who Will Revere US? (Black LGTBQ People, Straight Women, and Girls)


Read Part Two of Who Will Revere US? (Black LGTBQ People, Straight Women, and Girls)


Read Part Three of Who Will Revere US? (Black LGTBQ People, Straight Women, and Girls)


Read Part Four of Who Will Revere US? (Black LGTBQ People, Straight Women, and Girls)


October 11, 2011

"…It’s a betrayal when you act as if you have no clue in 2011 about what feminists of color endure within our own community when we make the decision to trust in and build with White feminists. Patriarchal men and women of color are like Piper Laurie, doing everything to derail us whenever we align ourselves with you. When we throw on our jackets to head out to the meeting, they stand at the top of the stairs yelling, ‘They’re going to laugh at you’…

We have faith and show up anyway only for you to pull the cord on prom night.

(Side note to those anti-feminist people of color: now isn’t the time for you to say, “I told you so.” That’s when you go from acting like Carrie’s mother to making like her gym teacher. Instead of joining the laughter, you should be standing with us as we call out the racism rather than using it as an opportunity to gut check us on our feminism. Don’t bother if for no other reason than it’s just not going to work for you. All you do when you attempt to discredit feminism by throwing an instance of racist arrogance of certain White women in our face is play yourself. We’re just not that fickle. With few exception, we’re not going to come “home” like the prodigal Carrie White because, as you’ll recall, her mother pretended to comfort her only to literally stabbed her in the back. Yeah, we’re not playin’ that.)…” ~Sofia Quintero (aka Black Artemis) excerpt from “They’re Going to Laugh at You: White Women, Betrayal and the N-Word”~



October 11, 2011
""Stop confusing the fact that the n-word is still used by some black folks as license for you to use it. Many women including White feminists still use the word bitch, but I don’t see you abiding for one second any man thinking he can do the same. In fact, if a man who identified as a feminist and/or ally still had the audacity to roll up to Slut Walk with a sign that read Rape is for Pussies, all his professions to solidarity, insistence that we focus on the “real” issue and the like wouldn’t have zilch currency for you so don’t act brand new." ~Sofia Quintero (aka Black Artemis) excerpt from "They’re Going to Laugh at You: White Women, Betrayal and the N-Word"~"


October 10, 2011

I’d also like to know who is “we” in this scenario. Because it’s definitely not white women as a whole, and you’re definitely not speaking on behalf of all SlutWalk organizers, nor even all the SlutWalk organizers from NYC.

The issue here isn’t simply ONE woman holding a sign. It is the repeated dismissal of Women of Color’s concerns throughout the organizing process, from the beginning of the Toronto SlutWalk until now. It is the pat excuses given for the sign holder’s actions. It is the refusal to acknowledge error, take responsibility, and apologize without undercutting sincerity with defensiveness. It’s the ignorant and racist comments/responses to the pain that sign (and the dismissal of other concerns) caused MANY people for VARIOUS reasons — all of which should have been and should be taken seriously and given adequate value and respect in a timely fashion. But they weren’t. (Still aren’t, as this newly established Page demonstrates *SlutWalk USA*.)

I find it enormously ironic that SlutWalk claims to want to hold perpetrators of rape culture accountable for their actions, yet many of the organizers and attendees can’t seem to understand that they, too, need to demonstrate the same level of accountability to Women of Color (and other excluded/de-centered groups) for the work to undo white supremacy and racism (and other ignored -isms).

As the organizers of a march where a White woman felt entitled to hold a racist sign, YES, they are responsible to some degree for not ensuring the safety of Black women (particularly after having JUST received an Open Letter telling them that many Black women did not feel safe there). To that end, (to echo Aishah), the use of the “N” word doesn’t make it safe for ALL OF US. (!)

On that note, the use of that word was NOT appropriate in this context and should NOT have been accepted. It should have been recognized as a problem by more people than a WOC ally of the SlutWalk organizers. But it wasn’t — at least not enough of a problem to tell the woman to ditch the sign. Using the N-word is not simply about making some people uncomfortable. It is a threat that comes laden with a history of rape, lynching, slavery, and the dehumanization of Black people in this country. It is a reminder of the reality that People of Color have been and continue to be brutalized by white people, individually and systemically.

Just ONE week before SlutWalk, a Black man (Troy Davis) was effectively lynched in Georgia. The Supreme Court of the US and the citizens of this country allowed this to happen — despite widespread protest and media coverage. THAT is what the N-word means IN THIS CONTEXT. It means not fully human. It means expendable. It means the erasure of Black women from the category of “woman.” THAT is totally unacceptable and inappropriate, and it’s disturbing that a white person would defend it so vehemently.

If SlutWalk’s goal is to end rape, then it damn well better figure out how to speak to everyone. Otherwise, it’s not only counterintuitive (seeing as Black women are raped, Latinas are raped, Native American women are raped, Asian women are raped, Middle Eastern women are raped) but it’s also just as broken and problematic as the rape culture it claims to be resisting, which is a culture that is fed by racism (e.g. the myth of the Black rapist, the fact that WOC are more frequent victims of rape, etc).

So, who exactly does SlutWalk think is valuable enough to gain the prize of NOT being raped?” ~ Mandy Van Deven ~


Mandy Van Deven


October 9, 2011

Thank you, SlutWalk, for posting the piece I wrote for Crunk Feminist Collective this past week. The willful ignorance of so many commenters in this thread, who want the right to use the n-word, for I know not what reason, disgusts me and offends me. I say that as both an African American person, who has in fact been called the n-word by white folks, multiple times. And I’m only 30, which means that those slurs happened long after the Civil Rights movement was over. By contrast, I’ve never been called slut. Even still, I stand in solidarity with the SlutWalk movement.

But I stand in disgust at the racism that keeps rearing its ugly head. The sign in question is only the most obvious instance. I also say with certainty, based on my expertise as a Ph.D. in American Studies, with a concentration in African American and Women’s Studies, that white use of this word is offensive and should not occur. (As if one really needed a Ph.D. to say that. :-/)

I also know that that expertise doesn’t matter at all to those folks invested in defending this privilege based on the 1st amendment. I mean, I defend your right to engage in ignorant hateful speech all you want, but I call into question your commitment to social justice if you do so.

To suggest that sexism and rape matter more than racism is to fundamentally not understand the positionality of women of color who deal with racism and sexism at exactly the same time. To ask us to put aside racism for the larger cause of sexism is an act of white privilege that bespeaks the utter ignorance that many white folks still have about Black people generally and Black women in particular. For the record, I will not excuse racism in the feminist movement in order to stand in solidarity with anti- rape activism. I will not do it, because rape is no more a threat to my daily existence than racism is. I will not do it because I shouldn’t have to.

I don’t put up with racist knuckleheads anymore than I put up with sexist knuckleheads, and I certainly wouldn’t show up to a march that claims to care about making the world safer for me, when their are women who show up there with the privilege of not thinking about how their careless uses of language make the space less safe and invoke a history of raping Black women that was done to us because we are both Black and women. To not acknowledge this is to forget the very ways in which rape has been experienced by Black women historically.

I certainly don’t expect white men to get that, and I do hope the white men in this thread who are vehemently (and subtly) asking for and defending the right to use the n-word see the historical irony of that position. But since white women claim to care about the universal woman struggle (whatever the hell that is), then I expect y’all to get a specific clue about the ways in which your racism is divisive and my/our outrage and disengagement completely warranted…” ~ Brittney Cooper ~




October 9, 2011
"…So no, I am not Troy Davis. I am not a slut. I am not an occupier of Wall Street or any street. The fights are my fights, but the current methods and analyses are not mine. I cannot sit by and listen to people debate the efficacy of the death penalty without understanding that it is the larger complex of incarceration and the “elementary-to-penitentiary” path that tracks and traps Black and Latino youth by design. I am done with the handwringing and “white lady tears” of so many white women who keep defending racist approaches and actions and, at times, respond with violence when confronted and challenged. Such behavior only reinforces the fact that these movement spaces as they are currently defined are not safe…”
~ Stephanie Gilmore, from “Am I Troy Davis? A Slut?; or, What’s Troubling Me about the Absence of Reflexivity in Movements that Proclaim Solidarity” ~"



October 9, 2011
"Am I Troy Davis? A Slut?; or, What’s Troubling Me about the Absence of Reflexivity in Movements that Proclaim Solidarity

Sister/Comrade Stephanie Gilmore, who spoke at SlutWalk Philadelphia, is, to the best of my knowledge, one of the ONLY anti-racist White Feminists who has PUBLICLY SUPPORTED the IDEA/PREMISE of SlutWalk while PUBLICLY CHALLENGING its CURRENT RACIST REALITY.

With her FULL PERMISSION, I have re-posted the text of her essay so that people who are not on facebook will be able to read it in its entirety. ~ Aishah Shahidah Simmons

Am I Troy Davis? A Slut?; or, What’s Troubling Me about the Absence of Reflexivity in Movements that Proclaim Solidarity" by Stephanie Gilmore


On September 21, 2011, I joined hundreds of my friends and millions of people around the world to watch, through tears and in abject horror, as Troy Anthony Davis was executed by the State of Georgia. In the twenty years between Davis’ trial for the murder of police officer Mark McPhail and his execution, Davis maintained his innocence while witnesses recanted the testimony that sent Davis to death row. Despite conflicting testimonies and inadequate evidence, the state put aside lingering and longstanding doubt and instead, put Troy Anthony Davis to death.

On Facebook, Twitter, and other media outlets, I saw virtual and real friends declare that “I am Troy Davis.” They changed their profile pictures to a picture or image of Davis, or a black box, all in an attempt to articulate a sense of solidarity, a stand against the injustice of the prison industrial complex and a state thoroughly entrenched in the murder of a man who may not have committed the crime of murder. I agree wholeheartedly that the state was wrong in executing Mr. Davis and I grieve for his death as well as that of Officer McPhail. But in the weeks since Davis’s execution, I have been wondering if people really understand how and why Davis came to be murdered at the hands of the state. People insist that “I am Troy Davis,” but what does that mean?

In many ways, I am not Troy Davis. I am a middle-class, 40-something-year-old white woman. According to a 2008 Pew Center on the States report, one in 36 Hispanic adults is in prison in the United States. One in 15 Black adults is too, a statistic that includes one in 100 Black women and one in nine Black men, age 20-34.  Although one of my parents spent time in prison, and through incarceration joined the swelling ranks of 2.3 million imprisoned people and many more in the system of probation, halfway houses, and parole, I and my white peers do not face systemic racial injustice in the structures of imprisonment. And it does not begin or end with the prison system. Black children are suspended and expelled from school at 3 times the rate of white children. Racial discrimination in funding for education also affects children’s success in school, as cash-poor school districts are also overwhelmingly Black and Latino neighborhoods.  Schools have been and remain a pipeline to prison for many Black and Latino children, and generations of families, prison is a reality. One in 15 Black children currently has a parent in jail. People say that the system is broken, but I (along with others in the prison abolition movement) admit that the system is working exactly as it was set up to do. Can I really say, “I am Troy Davis” without giving serious consideration to the realities of racism in the prison industrial complex? Does that just become little more than the adoption of a slogan and a picture, without a real awareness of the racist realities of the prison industrial complex?


On August 6, 2011, I joined Slut Walk Philadelphia. It was a beautiful day and hundreds of people moved through Center City to end up at City Hall, where even more gathered to speak out against sexual violence. I had been following Slut Walks with great delight because I see the people power in the sheer numbers of women and men who are fighting back against sexual violence.  So when I was asked to participate, and to stand with queer people of Color in a more racially inclusive Slut Walk than I had seen to date, I said “yes” because the fight to end sexual violence is my fight. And fighting against a culture that perpetuates and promotes rape; cheers on rapists; and diminishes, humiliates, and silences victims through law, education, and entertainment will demands knowledge that the system, again, is not broken. It is doing the very work it was constructed to do – sexual violence is a tool of ensuring white status quo. And if we are to end sexual violence, we must acknowledge how it operates.

I have struggled to accept a movement that does not acknowledge the very problematic word “slut” and how historically many women have not been able to shake the label of “slut.” I participated in the struggle – the movement as well as my own internal struggle – because I wanted to engage in, create, and sustain dialogue. Indeed, many criticize the apparent move to claim “slut” – how can you pick up something you’ve never been able to put down? Black women have been most vocal about the longer legacy of sexual violence done onto their bodies – often against the backdrop of slavery and colonialism — simply for being Black. But I continued to push into these bigger conversations and analyses. I listened and engaged when Crunk Feminist Collective challenged Slut Walks, when BlackWomen’s Blueprint issued their “Open Letter from Black Women to Slut Walk Organizers,” and when individual women of Color (and only women of Color) spoke publicly about racist actions within individual marches as well as racism within the larger movement. White women I know made private comments about different expressions of racism, but never spoke up to challenge individual actions or larger frameworks of analysis, leaving me to wonder “why?”

And then I saw the sign from Slut Walk NYC bearing the words “Women are the N*gger of the World.” I don’t care that the quotation is from John Lennon and Yoko Ono. I don’t care that the woman was asked to take down the sign – although I certainly do care that a woman of Color had to ask her to do so while white women moved around her, seemingly oblivious. I am angry when I continue to see so many white women defending it expressly or remaining complicit in silence, suggesting that “we” (what “we”?) need to focus on sexual violence first, as if it is unrelated to racism. And I wonder, can I really claim to be a part of the nascent Slut Walk movement without giving serious consideration to the realities of racism within very publicly identified facets of it? Can I be a part of it when so many women – my very allies and sisters in antiracist struggle – are set apart from it, or worse, set in perpetual opposition to it?


My question is, how can we be in solidarity when we are not willing to be reflexive and to check ourselves, check each other, and be checked? Bernice Johnson Reagon acknowledged that coalition building is hard work, made even harder by people who come to coalition seeking to find a home. My sense, or perhaps one sense I have, is that many people came to the “I Am Troy Davis” momentum or the Slut Walk marches looking for a home, a place where they can sit back and feel comfortable in their hard (very hard!) work, and comforted by others who pat them on the head and tell them “good job.” This is not to dismiss genuine concern for the state of our world. Perhaps we’re all lonely, as the realities of social justice work have taken on different and palatable forms since WTO and 9/11. So many people are down for the immediate issue – the indefensible execution of Troy Davis, the indefensible perpetuation of sexual violence — and that matters. But I worry that many white people aren’t paying attention to the larger structures in place. They are not being reflexive about the realities of racism that undergird prison incarceration, death penalty, and sexual violence.

I am not Troy Davis; I never will be. A system built on the foundation of racism ensures that I will not confront the realities of prison incarceration in the same ways as Black and Latino people. I am a strong advocate against sexual violence, but I cannot fight in and for a movement that is not interested in the realities of racism and the ways that racism undergirds sexual violence, and instead so blindly employs racist language. (The “Occupy Wall Street” actions call for me again the realities of racism and its necessity within the existing structure of capitalism – and the insistence among white people that people of Color indulge a luxury of time and money to sit in with them is untenable and racist. Many others have pointed out that the language of “occupation” is inherently problematic because bodies and lands have been historically occupied, often through sexual violence and criminalization. The movement itself needs to be decolonized.) Even as I support openly the prison abolition movement, the end to sexual violence, and the uprooting of a socioeconomic system that ignores the 99%, I cannot do so without deep awareness of racism that is operating within and among these movements. It is my work as a white activist to speak to and be aware of these legacies and histories of racism. Women and men of Color need not be alone in the front lines of identifying racist action and reaction within the movement. Insisting that people of Color have a voice only when it comes to identifying racism perpetuates, rather than alleviates racism. As I look at the actions of some people within these movements, I am reminded again that the racism of the supposed left is even more damaging and hurtful than the naked racism of the right.

If we are to work together in solidarity, we must do so reflexively, conscious of our actions and the potential outcomes before we act. This is not a call to focus on criticism and self-reflection to the point that we are inactive. That is unproductive, to be sure. But it is a call to be mindful and vigilant about racist action and reaction, to come to terms with the fact that we must do the work of understanding racist underpinnings of prison incarceration, the death penalty, and sexual violence if we are to make significant progress. Undoing racism must be at the core of our collective work across movements. To echo Dr. Reagon’s statement, we need to be honest and ask if we really want people of Color or if we’re just looking for ourselves with a little color to it. So much of the movement work, as it stands, seems to be looking for a little color, when we need to be exploring the realities of racism as part of the problem, not an additive to the “real” issue. In the absence of reflexivity about the structural forces that are keeping us apart, we will never be able to engage in real coalition work that will be required if we are to take seriously our goals of ending sexual violence and the death penalty. These movements as they are going now may continue, but they will not do so in my name and certainly not without my consent.

So no, I am not Troy Davis. I am not a slut. I am not an occupier of Wall Street or any street. The fights are my fights, but the current methods and analyses are not mine. I cannot sit by and listen to people debate the efficacy of the death penalty without understanding that it is the larger complex of incarceration and the “elementary-to-penitentiary” path that tracks and traps Black and Latino youth by design. I am done with the handwringing and “white lady tears” of so many white women who keep defending racist approaches and actions and, at times, respond with violence when confronted and challenged. Such behavior only reinforces the fact that these movement spaces as they are currently defined are not safe. My friend, colleague, and sister-in-spirit Aishah Shahidah Simmons said it best when she commented, “It’s sobering to observe how White solidarity is taking precedence over principled responses…. ” Sobering, indeed. I will most assuredly fight to end the prison industrial complex, sexual violence, and unbridled capitalism, but I will do so from a space that centers the racist roots of incarceration, criminal “justice,” capitalism, and sexual violence.  Thankfully, those spaces already exist – even if they remain peripheral in the mainstream media (and in much of what is left of the lefty media). But it is time to pivot the center. Without reflexive analysis of racism and coalition work grounded in antiracist movement, we miss the real root of the problem as well as real opportunities to create change.

Stephanie Gilmore is a feminist activist and assistant professor of the women’s and gender studies department at Dickinson College. For the 2011-12 academic year, she is a postdoctoral fellow in women’s studies at Duke University. She is completing “Groundswell: Grassroots Feminist Activism in Postwar America" (Routledge, 2012) and has started a new research project on how students negotiate sexual violence on residential college campuses in the United States.

October 8, 2011
"…As a rape survivor, an urban woman of color, a feminist activist, and a burgeoning scholar deeply invested in issues of gender and sexuality, I have thoroughly appreciated all of the discussion and critique about Slutwalk. Black Women’s Blueprint unveiled questions I hadn’t thought of when I initially (and quickly) applauded the radicalism of Slutwalk. Their critique of how Slutwalk failed to acknowledge the historical and social context that brings women of color to this conversation in different and unique ways, was undeniably valid. It offered another reason for why it was important for me to enter and entitle myself to a space in that walk, even if the organizers or my fellow white marchers had the privilege to not think about that space, and the cultural baggage that kept them from fully understanding it… ~ @MoralesWilliams "Rage, Conviction, and Our Radical Imaginary: My Experience at Slutwalk with My Mother" ~"



October 8, 2011

The video is self-explanatory and unfortunately in so many venues, very relavent. It’s tragic that it it is relavent for the current state of affairs within SlutWalkS where there is a need for too many, definitely not all, to think it’s okay for a White woman to carry a “Woman is the N**** of the world" placard at a march/walk/rally that is supposed to be a safe space for ALL SURVIVORS.

Personally, I’m still waiting for a PUBLIC (not private) STATEMENT from WHITE WOMEN (not WOMEN OF COLOR) who are either organizers of SlutWalkS (in any part of North America); and/or who support the idea and/or premise of SlutWalkS (in any part of North America) to take a STAND AGAINST RACISM within the SlutWalk(S) “movements.”

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

October 6, 2011

…I do not dig debating with young white feminists late into the night about white privilege and having other Black women in the thread have to call out the supposed anti-racist feminists for not speaking up, for yet again forcing Black women to do the exhausting work of teaching. I do not dig being told on the interwebs, –tumblr, other blogs, the Slutwalk NYC FB page–that Black women are being hyper-sensitive and divisive. I do not dig being intellectually insulted with the assertion that I simply didn’t understand “Yoko and John’s intent.” As if.

Y’all know that saying about intentions and well, perhaps you should also recognize that we are long past the point of talking about intent when we talk about racism. We should be talking about impact. (Rest in Power to the venerable Dr. Derrick Bell, father of Critical Race Theory, whom we have to thank for that little insight.) Intent is about individual relationships and hurt feelings; impact is about systems of power and their impact on material realities…”
~ Crunk Feminist Collective “I Saw the Sign but Did We Really Need a Sign?: SlutWalk and Racism” ~




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