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


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