Ani DiFranco Cancels Songwriting Retreat At Former Slave PlantationS

Today in "whaaaaaaaat," feminist icon Ani DiFranco has cancelled her four-day "Righteous Retreat," a songwriting workshop for women. It was cancelled because it was going to be held at the Nottoway Plantation — one of the largest former plantations in the South, which now functions as a museum in which the horrors of slavery are totally sanitized and glossed over. DiFranco has since released a remarkably unapologetic "apology" following a lot of quite justified uproar.

On the Nottoway Plantation website, this sentence really exists: "Ever the astute businessman, Randolph [Nottoway] knew that in order to maintain a willing workforce, it was necessary to provide not only for his slaves' basic needs for housing, food and medicine, but to also offer additional compensation and rewards when their work was especially productive." Yes, a "feminist retreat" was really held at a location that describes hundreds of brutally enslaved human beings as a "willing workforce." How myopic does one have to be to think that's okay? As if that weren't bad enough on its own, Kat Endgame points out at PQ Monthly that the retreat itself is owned by the Paul Ramsay Group — an investment arm of Australian billionaire Paul Ramsey, who has "given more than $1.8 million to [Australia's] anti-gay, anti-abortion, and anti-immigrant Liberal party over the last 14 years."

In response to the massive outcry from DiFranco fans who felt deeply uncomfortable with the idea of developing their creative singularity (or whatever) in a site that essentially celebrates its own vile history, Ani posted an "apology." She does not take much accountability at all:

when i found out it was to be held at a resort on a former plantation, I thought to myself, "whoa", but i did not imagine or understand that the setting of a plantation would trigger such collective outrage or result in so much high velocity bitterness. i imagined instead that the setting would become a participant in the event.

This is the note it ends on:

i ask only that as we attempt to continue to confront our country's history together, let us not forget that the history of slavery and exploitation is at the foundation of much of our infrastructure in this country, not just at old plantation sites. let us not oversimplify to black and white a society that contains many many shades of grey. and let us not forget to be compassionate towards each other as we attempt to move forward and write the next pages in our history. our story is not over and, Citizens of the Internet, it is now ours to write.

SYSTEMIC RACISM IS EVERYWHERE, IT'S NOT MY FAULT IF I DIDN'T NOTICE OR THINK ABOUT THE IMPLICATIONS OF HOSTING A FEMINIST CAMP IN A SITE THAT ESSENTIALLY CELEBRATES THE HISTORICAL EXPLOITATION OF BLACK BODIES BECAUSE OF MY PRIVILEGE, LEAVE ME ALONE YOU JERKS!!!!! You can read the whole thing here, if you're so inclined. [Daily Dot, Telegraph, Vintage Vinyl News]


Ani DiFranco Cancels Songwriting Retreat At Former Slave Plantation

Khloe Kardashian covered Cosmopolitan UK; she says that she's excited for a "fresh start" in 2014 following her divorce from Lamar Odom. She also spoke about the pressure she's faced to conform to traditional beauty standards: "I won't be bullied into [losing weight] by social media or anyone else. I love my body and always have" and recalls that when she was around nine, "I overheard my mom [Kris Jenner] telling her friend I needed a nose job. I was shocked; I hadn't even thought about it." It's honestly amazing that she manages to stay so positive despite facing such unhealthy pressure from her own mother at a young age. Kris Jenner, you are the worst. [Gossip Cop]


Ani DiFranco Cancels Songwriting Retreat At Former Slave Plantation

If you are like me, you wonder at least once a week, "What is blandly affable Canadian chanteuse Carly Rae Jepsen doing right now?" And lo! an answer: she's going to play Cinderella in Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella on Broadway. Cinderella 2: Ball Me Maybe? I don't know, guys. It's early. [Billboard]


Ani DiFranco Cancels Songwriting Retreat At Former Slave Plantation

NBC brought Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauley back to the Today show today — but, sadly, it was a one day only kind of deal. [PopWatch]


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