Singer Ani DiFranco Cancels Feminist Retreat At Slave Plantation Site After Backlash
After much backlash, Ani DiFranco has canceled a feminist retreat that was scheduled to be held next year at the site of a former slave plantation. The folk singer has scheduled a four-day “Righteous Retreat” at the Nottoway Plantation Resort in Louisiana, which now serves as a museum and vacation spot. However, fans expressed outrage at the choice of venue because they felt it reinforced stereotypes that African-Americans couldn’t be feminists. They also opposed the venue due to Australian billionaire owner Paul Ramsey donating over $1 million to anti-gay and abortion efforts within Australia.
“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. This was doubtless to be a gathering of progressive and engaged people, so I imagined a dialogue would emerge organically over the four days about the issue of where we were,” she wrote on her website. “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.”
But even in canceling the event, DiFranco continued to stand by her choice of venue and said she had planned to involve a group of underprivileged children. Many responded by declaring that they could no longer support her or her music. “This is insulting to black feminists and black queer individuals and is a very blatant display of racism on her part,” wrote Sara Starr in a Change.org petition to cancel the event. “Holding an event on the site of the genocide of black people is no way to show inclusion and intersectionality, both of which are important tenets of feminism.”