Which Women Are What Now? Slutwalk NYC and Failures in Solidarity

Over at Parlour Magazine, I spotted this photo yesterday:

Slutwalk NYC Woman Is the Nigger of the World Sign

Lord. The original reference is from a song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and performed mostly by John Lennon. At the time, Lennon and Ono justified their decision openly, using both the “my black friends said it was cool” defense as well as a more substantive critique based on ideas of “niggerization” – that nigger can be redefined to include anyone who is oppressed.

But can you appropriate a term like nigger if your body is not defined/terrorized/policed/brutalized/diminished by the word? Can we use it in a context that is supposed to belie gender solidarity, without explicitly being in racial solidarity?

I think not. And I am not alone.

The tension over the sign at SlutWalk NYC is the outgrowth of long term tensions in organizing. Aishah Shahidah Simmons writes:

I’ve been informed that one of the (Black) women SlutWalk NYC organizers asked the woman to take her placard down. She did. However, not before there were many photographs taken….

Now, my question is why did it take a Black woman organizer to ask her to take it down. What about ALL of the White women captured in this photograph. They didn’t find this sign offensive? Paraphrasing Sojourner Truth “Ain’t I A Woman (too!)?”
ERADICATING RACISM SHOULD NOT BE THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF PEOPLE OF COLOR.

How can so many White feminists be absolutely clear about the responsibility of ALL MEN TO END heterosexual violence perpetrated against women; and yet turn a blind eye to THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO END racism.

Is Sisterhood Global? This picture says NO! very loudly and very clearly.

The fact that this quote originates from a woman of color ~ Yoko Ono, really underscores the work that we, women of color, must do with each other to educate each other about our respective herstories. This photograph also underscores the imperative need for hardcore inter-racial dialogues amongst all of us in these complicated movements to address gender-based violence in all of our non-monolithic communities.

More importantly, these types of actions chip away at solidarity – nothing kills an idea of coming together faster than the realization that even in a space which is allegedly about your concerns, you are still a marginalized other.

As Aura Blogando wrote back in May:

Regardless of the fact that a scarce amount of women of color got international airtime on the BBC for the first time since SlutWalk was conceived several months ago, its organizers never reached out to women of color as equals to begin with; instead of making sure our voices participated in its visioning, we have been painted into a colored corner inside their white room. SlutWalk’s next turn, I’m quite sure, will be our tokenization. I imagine that women of color will be coddled by white SlutWalk organizers, eager to save (white)face, into carrying their frontline banners and parroting their messages at a stage near you. I’m hoping my sisters won’t fall for it; I know that I, for one, will stay home. This is not liberation – if anything, Slutwalk is an effective exercise in white supremacy.

There is no indication that SlutWalk will even strip the word “slut” from its hateful meaning. The n-word, for example, is still used to dehumanize black folks, regardless of how many black folks use it among themselves. Just moments before BART officer James Mehserle shot Oscar Grant to death in Oakland in 2009, video footage captured officers calling Grant a “bitch ass nigger.” It didn’t matter how many people claimed the n-word as theirs – it still marked the last hateful words Grant heard before a white officer violently killed him. Words are powerful – the connection between speech and thought is a strong one, and cannot be marched away to automatically give words new meaning. If I can’t trust SlutWalk’s white leadership to even reach out to women of color, how am I to trust that “reclaiming” the word will somehow benefit women? [...]

If SlutWalk has proven anything, it is that liberal white women are perfectly comfortable parading their privilege, absorbing every speck of airtime celebrating their audacity, and ignoring women of color. Despite decades of work from women of color on the margins to assert an equitable space, SlutWalk has grown into an international movement that has effectively silenced the voices of women of color and re-centered the conversation to consist of a topic by, of, and for white women only. More than 30 years ago, Gloria Anzaldúa wrote, “I write to record what others erase when I speak.” Unfortunately, SlutWalk’s leadership obliterated Anzaldúa’s voice, and the marvelous work she produced theorizing what it means to be a queer woman of color. They might do us all a favor now and stop erasing the rest of us for once.

I’ve heard quite a few stories about SlutWalk NYC, and its racial issues from women who were involved in some way or another. Sady Doyle, writing for In These Times, compellingly explains her feelings of exclusion from larger political conversations and the marginalization of issues that impact women. So I suppose that’s what makes it somewhat confusing when she ascribes this long arc of feminist history bending toward racism to the simple act of branding.

But let’s go back to the image illustrating the post above. Why this young white protestor thought this sign was a good idea, we may never know. But the idea that it’s fine to appropriate the term nigger without critical engagement of the word and what it represents to the women who are marching with you gives me pause. Perhaps it shouldn’t. Perhaps, after all these years of internal strife around racism and feminism, we should just look at this as par for the course? As Simmons asked above, what were all the other white women thinking? Did no one else wonder what that sign meant, in that context, positioned above that body?

Did anyone even care?

(Thanks to reader Samantha for the tip!)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/bogslug Daniel Latta

    They saw an correlation between the historical treatment of women and the historical treatment of all African people. The word may bother you but the motivations shouldn’t. 

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  • http://twitter.com/daniellalollie Daniella Lollie

    I’m a black woman and I think the person who wrote this and most of the
    comments are made by people who are missing the point. THE SIGN IS TRUE.
    Universally (i.e “of the world) women are the subordinate group. This
    is true for all cultures and time periods in human history. THIS SIGN IS
    TRUE. Being white shouldn’t prohibit you from saying something that IS
    TRUE. 

    • Anonymous

      True from what perspective?

    • Anonymous

      True from what perspective?

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  • http://2in20.blogspot.com yes

    So, if you post something racist, you’re exempt from the dialogue so long as you remove your comments quick enough? I didn’t know that was in the rule book.

    • Offfwhite

      No.  Did you read the comment?

      The thousands of marchers who did not see the sign are not responsible for not removing the sign.

      The woman who carried the sign is guilty as hell.

  • Lala

    It’s just numbing…and it’s relentless.

  • Lala

    It’s just numbing…and it’s relentless.

  • Anonymous

    All the other women refers to the women next to her in the photo.

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  • Anonymous

    Not really well received. I suppose you missed the drama on the facebook page, where the sign carrier and sign creator identified themselves…

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  • Janine deManda

    So, despite the fact that several actual Black women have clearly stated that they find the phrase, the song title, and the song assaultive and disrespectful of their particular human experiences, you’ve concluded that agreeing with the white women who insist on disregarding the voices of women of color is the best way to move us toward a world in which “heirarchies of hatred” are reduced?  Is that because you see some sort of equivalency between a woman of recent continental African descent rejecting use of a word inextricably connected with a long history and ongoing reality of racist oppression/violence and a woman of no recent African descent using the word anyway ‘cuz gosh, it’s just so irresistibly universal?  Or am I unable to see that equivalency because I’m blinded by my investment in “heirarchies of hatred” which, instead of being about systems of oppression, is about a bizarro world perspective on oppression in which white women are on the bottom, overwhelmed and silenced by all of us too blinded by these “heirarchies of hatred” to understand we’re all really, exactly, and in fact white women ourselves and should see the world accordingly?  My head hurts.

    And yeah, even though I should totally know better by now, there’s still and always pain/anger/frustration/sadness/exhaustion and somehow, against all reason, a fresh little stab of appalled surprise.  It seems I can’t get over expecting humans to behave humanely.  Damn it.

    • spinflux

      I’m not disregarding their feelings. It is a horrible word. I just don’t think it’s a horrible song. Women are treated awful regardless of color, whereas in a lot of nations, a black man may not face such hateful discrimination for being a person of color  that a woman will face for being a woman, regardless of her color.  I feel women’s oppression is aptly described by the song specifically because it is such a horrible word with a horrible history. I feel it’s just that level of disgust appropriately begins to describe how many women feel worldwide. This is what I mean by hierarchy of hatred. Women are thought of as “less than” by men, regardless of race. 

  • Schwesterstern

    this is really terrible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7932234 Alian Rodriguez

    I read through most of the comments on facebook and…I find it hilarious (ly demoralizing) that one of the (WEAK)  defenses for this sign is that it came from a song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.  Really.  A song written by a white man and a Japanese woman.  Oh okay…that makes it all good then…I feel so much…worse…cause it doesn’t make it all good.  The song is wrong.  The sign is wrong.  The sign is racist and it’s unsettling to know that people…especially those who have NEVER been the target of that despicable word…think it’s all rosy.  People, good people, screw up.  They have to own up to that screw up.  The sign was a GIANT FREAKING FUCK UP.  And not in any of those comments on this pictures or others did I hear a heart felt apology or recognition of why it’s wrong.  Just “Ohh sorry for OFFENDING YOU” type patronizing apologies.   That’s nice, makes me feel better.  Really.

  • Chill

    As a Black person I am always amazed that white people are suprised when Blacks object to the use of the term Nigger in any context.  As a woman it saddens me equally that the name of the event is SLUTWALK!  As a Black Woman I am appalled because the term ‘slut’ is just another way that men, Black and white, have used to objectify and demean women and especially Black women.  Why don’t they just call the event ChickenheadWalk, NYC!

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  • Desiree Ryan

    Imagine a black woman holding that same sign?
    What would your emotional reaction be to that?
    I (white woman) would not feel empowered. I would feel low and I would feel uncomfortable.
    This is not the direction for an inclusive women’s movement.  For those women that did not understand the problem with this sign at first, I hope you do now and we can all grow from this.

  • Desiree Ryan

    Imagine a black woman holding that same sign?
    What would your emotional reaction be to that?
    I (white woman) would not feel empowered. I would feel low and I would feel uncomfortable.
    This is not the direction for an inclusive women’s movement.  For those women that did not understand the problem with this sign at first, I hope you do now and we can all grow from this.

  • http://2in20.blogspot.com yes

    ‎”Good intention is not enough… and sometimes it’s misguided anyway. Feeling defensive? Stop talking. Start listening. Pause. Repeat. (Oh, and apologize sincerely for hurting people.)” – Awesome person

  • http://2in20.blogspot.com yes

    ‎”Good intention is not enough… and sometimes it’s misguided anyway. Feeling defensive? Stop talking. Start listening. Pause. Repeat. (Oh, and apologize sincerely for hurting people.)” – Awesome person

  • Digital Coyote

    Is that like a double word-double letter score in Scrabble? I mean, there’s got to be some sort of benefit if I’m extra niggery.

  • Digital Coyote

    Is that like a double word-double letter score in Scrabble? I mean, there’s got to be some sort of benefit if I’m extra niggery.

    • Anonymous

      It’s at least 52 points.  

      • Digital Coyote

        Just wait ’til I sneak a Q or X in there.

        • Anonymous

          Just…yes.  Yes to this entire tangent.  Brilliant :)

        • Anonymous

          Just…yes.  Yes to this entire tangent.  Brilliant :)

  • Anonymous

    Neither John Lennon nor Yoko Ono are Black women. They are not the authorities on a word that directly impacts Black women’s lives. I don’t know why white feminists don’t get this basic fact.

    • Digital Coyote

      Being able to presume you know more than the people who know more than you about a subject or are affected by your actions with the expectation that everyone will defer to you is a perk of white privilege.

  • Anonymous

    Why? If the song is true, what are the implications for black women? Why did John Lennon seek out the permission of black men in writing the song and not black women, or black feminists? If this is supposed to be a statement of global solidarity around the plight of women, why would you embrace something that women of color are objecting to? How could a white woman be “nigger of the world” if she was able to use that term to incite violence toward men and women of color?

    • Anonymous

      THANK YOU

    • Anonymous

      Further, why spend time going to the “you just don’t understand” defense when it’s clear that we do understand? 

    • Anonymous

      Not to mention that John Lennon not only had race privilege, but he was also male, cis-gender, wealthy, English-speaking, and able-bodied. Dude was coming from an ivory tower of intersecting privileges. He had no context.

    • Anonymous

      Not to mention that John Lennon not only had race privilege, but he was also male, cis-gender, wealthy, English-speaking, and able-bodied. Dude was coming from an ivory tower of intersecting privileges. He had no context.

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  • Anonymous

    Yes.

    Go back and look at the debates within and around these spaces – many of the issues brought up in Toronto were seen, discussed, and either overcome or replicated. Some Slutwalks were successful at attracting women of color, some were not. We published a piece on why one woman marched in Toronto despite reservation, and pieces on why others chose not to because of their personal histories with the term and feminism.

  • http://twitter.com/drbow62 Deena Bowman

    “She was just paying homage and not being racist, in my opinion.” Or better yet as Nikki Giovanni stated so aptly during a talk at my university, more than 20 years ago,”some people are just un-bright.”  Umm, I see the kid’s attempt at the analogy, but she really missed the mark — as did Ms. Ono.  For a teachable moment, perhaps we should suggest instead,  a paraphrase of Zora Neale Hurston’s quote “black women are the mules of the world” (from Their Eyes Were Watching God) — with the explicit awareness that some “mules” are more equal than others. 

  • Eddyj

    This stems from ignorance. Or as a friend of mine likes to call it ‘obliviousness.’ Our society is ill with many diseases, one of the most serious being racism. Gender discrimination and homophobia are up there too. And we don’t realize how closely they should bring us together. Instead of stopping and contemplating our place in the world as it relates to others and how we can work to make the world better through equality for all, we stay imprisoned by ingrained prejudices. We think we are the oppressed ones, and our oppression is far worse than any others’, without realizing that human pain and suffering has no color, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. 
    Words have meaning, and this one was especially. To know exactly why this girl chose this word you’d have to speak to her personally. But ignorance is at the root of it. 

  • rochelle

    I found this quote inspiring: (Found it here: http://www.feminist.com/resources/girlsyoungwomen/youngwomen/gyw_hues_logwood.html)
    ‘I’ve talked to other women of color who’ve felt a chalk outline being drawn around their reputations the minute they set foot on feminist territory. In this respect, White women have a definite privilege. Because they don’t have to rely on White men’s support to fight racism, they have a lot less to lose by wearing the feminist badge. I know that if I stood up in front of a Black audience and declared myself a feminist, I would also have to explain that I was the type of feminist that fights for both civil rights and women’s rights (funny how we always consider those to be two separate things). We live in a society where unity at the expense of one identity or another seems to be the only way to be heard. And sexism always seems to be the easiest card to toss aside in the name of this “unity.” Maybe that’s why there was so much controversy surrounding the Million Man March. After all those years of sistas being told to shelve our issues as Black women “for the good of the community,” the same leaders expected us to swallow the idea that a historical Black event that openly excluded women was also “for the good of the community.” ‘

  • Tom

    In regards to why no one challenged it, I could understand why I wouldn`t challenge it – The N word is just one debate that as a privileged white male, I have too little knowledge about and as such want to avoid when I`m with strangers who I have no desire to offend or marginalise – keeping the peace is never an excuse to tolerate any form of racism, but because I know too little about the N word, and there`s a plethora of opinion on whether it can be reappropriated or not within black communities, I don`t know when it is being used to be critical and when it is being used ignorantly, and also when I`d be using my (white or male) privilege in the process of confronting the sign. I guess because of these fears, I defer authority to those who would know – ie. black women (I understand that here my problem lies with assuming that we all have equal opportunity in being listened to). But apart from seeking out the opinions of a black woman at this march (as a man or a woman), I wouldn`t know what else to do. If anyone has any ideas (or criticisms) in regards to this thinking, please fire away, it would help me out greatly. 

    • http://rvcbard.blogspot.com RVCBard

      I have yet to encounter any Black people who would respond unfavorably to a White person telling other White people NOT to say nigger.

  • Nibalizx

    “SlutWalk has grown into an international movement that has effectively silenced the voices of women of color” How can it be international but exclude WOC!? 

    • Mickey

      Especially since WOC make up the majority of the planet’s women!

  • Anonymous

    It comes down to this: white people just want to say the word nigger.  

  • Anonymous

    The sign is the icing on the long, Slutwalk cake. We’ve published at least five pieces, on Slutwalks from around the world, and the various ways in which women engaged with that movement. And we’ve published dozens of articles on women of color and feminism. The readers here are looking at a long, long, history.

  • Charlotte

    Though I attended Slutwalk NYC and consider myself to be a very big supporter, the faulty reasoning behind this sign could very possibly stem from the fact that the entire concept of the protest is “reclaiming” a word that has historically been derogatory (“slut”). Though it seems obvious to most people, it is arguable that some ignorant/confused person could completely twist and misinterpret that sentiment and somehow think that it is ok to put the word “nigger” on a sign. I am not trying to justify this woman’s inconsiderate, insensitive, and ultimately poor choice in signs (and uncreative- come up with your own slogan, John Lennon quotes are so cliche!), but I do think that it is important that we need to think about the repercussions of this aspect of SlutWalk and if the  “reclaiming” of certain derogatory words makes it ok to “reclaim” others (and if said “reclaiming” is the right way to go about protesting in the first place). 

    • Guest

      The problem is that she can’t “reclaim” a word that was never utilized against her.  The sign is not only problematic because of the use of the word.  It is problematic because it shows a complete disregard for and erasure of black women, who have had the word and what is represents – racism, degradation – deployed against them.  If the tactic of this sign was supposed to be drawing a parallel between racism and sexism, the sign’s creator revealed her own white privilege in neglecting the fact that many people experience both!

      • Charlotte

        I completely agree. By using that sign, this woman is just exhibiting an unfortunate behavior that has reappeared time and time again throughout the history of American Feminism: the fact that (historically and today) white feminists have often made statements or organized movements that exclude or completely ignore women of color (certain other feminist groups that have some sort of privilege  are also responsible for ignoring entire populations of women- for example, cisgender feminists not acknowledging or excluding transgender women, etc.).Like you said, by comparing racism and sexism in the way it did, the message that the sign projects is one that fails to acknowledge the existence of women of color within feminism. However, the point that I trying to make in my previous comment was that the entire concept of “reclaiming” words that are viewed by society as derogatory needs to be reassessed. The “reclaiming” of derogatory words is a tactic used by many different rights movements outside of feminism, and the idea seems to be met with an equal amount of support and controversy wherever it goes. Many of Slutwalk’s critics opposed the organization simply because they thought that appropriating the word “slut”, historically used to demean women, was not an effective or appropriate way to go about protesting rape culture and victim blaming, and were offended by its usage in the movement. I realize that this woman cannot “reclaim” a word that was never used against her, but I don’t think that was the intention of the sign (if it was she is more severely ignorant/confused then I thought). I just thought that it would be interesting to point out that this sign, carried by a white woman, appeared at a protest that relies heavily on the appropriation of another derogatory word, and wonder if there was any sort of connection between the two. What I was basically trying to say was that, within any movement that considers reclaiming words that are typically derogatory, they need to more careful and make sure that people understand the purpose behind the reclaiming, and that just because a certain derogatory word has been appropriated, it doesn’t make it okay to use all other derogatory words, especially those that can be extremely offensive to those of other races, sexualities, gender identities, etc. I think that a subconscious combination of privilege, the (privileged) assumption that we live in a “post-racial” society, and  a lack of explanation of the concept of “reclaiming” or “appropriating” derogatory words (in addition to a lack of common sense) could be the explanation as to why this sign was made.

  • http://rvcbard.blogspot.com RVCBard

    I’m going to ask here the same thing I asked on Tumblr: How many isolated incidents should it take before POCs can be justified in critiquing or condemning a movement as hostile to their well-being? Is it an absolute number? A ratio (nigger signs:slutwalkers)? Is there an exchange rate (one ass whupping by a cop = 5 racial slurs)? When does it become unequivocably acceptable for POCs to say, “Fuck this; I want no part of this”?

    • Anonymous

      We both know the answer to that: when the white people say so.

  • Lois

    I would also suggest commenting on Slutwalk NYC’s Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/pages/SlutWalk-NYC/195661440475800

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  • http://crunkfeministcollective.wordpress.com crunktastic

    “But the idea that it’s fine to appropriate the term nigger without critical engagement of the word and what it represents to the women who are marching with you gives me pause.” Yes. Absolutely.
    But doesn’t this critique hold true for the appropriation of the word “slut” as well?

     It seems to me that this kind of egregious misstep was bound to happen within a movement that has as one of its central tenets the reappropriation of an offensive word. There are a few major models of this kind of reappropriation–those which come out of queer activism and disability activism, in particular. But the “sexiest,” and most provocative of these models is of course, Black folks’ attempt more or less successfully –less I would argue–to reappropriate the n-word.

     This issue also seems to point to the follow-up work that needs to be done. It is clear that many of the women being drawn to SW have not had the opportunity to sit in a classroom and learn about intersectionality, which is why many of them seem totally baffled by the notion that Black women would find this sign offensive.  And this means that the organizers need to get on their game and create a larger apparatus to support this movement, or else this will keep happening, and Black women will keep having to be the sign police. It isn’t about this one woman’s error in bad judgment, but rather about the widespread lack of consciousness with regard to differences among women to which it points. I don’t just want to hear condemnations of the sign  or promises to be more vigilant in future Slutwalks. I want to hear about the education/ consciousness-raising campaigns that are being designed. 

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  • http://rvcbard.blogspot.com RVCBard

    Perhaps, after all these years of internal strife around racism and feminism, we should just look at this as par for the course?

    I most certainly do.

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  • lamariposa

    Ugh. Check your privilege people. 

  • M.

    I think I see that she was trying to allude to today’s inequality by using Lennon and Ono’s piggybacking off of a taboo word.  Shock value and all that.  The problem is that it’s not just a word that has been arbitrarily singled out as “crass” or “crude” by a moral majority.  It is intrinsically linked to the atrocities of the past (and present, for that matter) and really can’t be reappropriated when it has such a specific palpable connection to the slavery and oppression of a specific group.  

    Honestly, it would be great if such a slogan wouldn’t cause controversy, if this specter of racism didn’t permeate our culture; but it does.  It’s still a very real part of society and if you’re going to use words that so blatantly refer to a struggle that still persists in the modern world, you’re not only being insensitive to those who are affected by it (although I would argue that racism affects everyone), you’re redirecting attention from your own intended message to another matter.  

    In the end, I would guess that she simply didn’t examine her sign from all perspectives.  I genuinely hope that the young progressives of my generation would not be so brash to generalize such suffering.  If we give her the benefit of the doubt, she’s probably extremely embarrassed by all this and hopefully all activists will think a little more carefully about their quotes from now on.

  • M.

    I think I see that she was trying to allude to today’s inequality by using Lennon and Ono’s piggybacking off of a taboo word.  Shock value and all that.  The problem is that it’s not just a word that has been arbitrarily singled out as “crass” or “crude” by a moral majority.  It is intrinsically linked to the atrocities of the past (and present, for that matter) and really can’t be reappropriated when it has such a specific palpable connection to the slavery and oppression of a specific group.  

    Honestly, it would be great if such a slogan wouldn’t cause controversy, if this specter of racism didn’t permeate our culture; but it does.  It’s still a very real part of society and if you’re going to use words that so blatantly refer to a struggle that still persists in the modern world, you’re not only being insensitive to those who are affected by it (although I would argue that racism affects everyone), you’re redirecting attention from your own intended message to another matter.  

    In the end, I would guess that she simply didn’t examine her sign from all perspectives.  I genuinely hope that the young progressives of my generation would not be so brash to generalize such suffering.  If we give her the benefit of the doubt, she’s probably extremely embarrassed by all this and hopefully all activists will think a little more carefully about their quotes from now on.

  • M.

    I think I see that she was trying to allude to today’s inequality by using Lennon and Ono’s piggybacking off of a taboo word.  Shock value and all that.  The problem is that it’s not just a word that has been arbitrarily singled out as “crass” or “crude” by a moral majority.  It is intrinsically linked to the atrocities of the past (and present, for that matter) and really can’t be reappropriated when it has such a specific palpable connection to the slavery and oppression of a specific group.  

    Honestly, it would be great if such a slogan wouldn’t cause controversy, if this specter of racism didn’t permeate our culture; but it does.  It’s still a very real part of society and if you’re going to use words that so blatantly refer to a struggle that still persists in the modern world, you’re not only being insensitive to those who are affected by it (although I would argue that racism affects everyone), you’re redirecting attention from your own intended message to another matter.  

    In the end, I would guess that she simply didn’t examine her sign from all perspectives.  I genuinely hope that the young progressives of my generation would not be so brash to generalize such suffering.  If we give her the benefit of the doubt, she’s probably extremely embarrassed by all this and hopefully all activists will think a little more carefully about their quotes from now on.

  • Anonymous

    That’s akin to saying repeating a slur is fine, because you didn’t make up the term. Repeating something someone else said isn’t a defense.

  • Drhiphop85

    This is an interesting phenomena, one that is very complex. Make no mistake this is incredibly insensitive. The use of the word without attempting to juxtapose it within a racial framework (not sure how you would do it with a sign, perhaps it would have been different if a African American woman had created the sign *shrug*) calls to light the fact that their could be at worst a genuine disregard for the women of color there or at best a high level of ignorance to the racial issue there. I actually wonder what, if any, women of color said about the sign. Perhaps some did not find offense in it because they identified more with the gender identity so they did not take offense from their racial identity standpoint. It would be interesting to get their POV.

    It does bring to light 2 points I think, 1: the dispersal of the word “nigger” throughout other forms of usage;  2: the  continued use of the Civil Rights Era paradigm of protest (although I always questioned whether the Women’s Rights Movement used it first or not), that I think is useless now.

    It reminds me of when an older black activist in my city, during a townhall meeting called Latinos “the new nigga”. It caused quite a bit of fervor. Latinos in attendance did not know how to respond. Some Blacks and Whites both took offense, while others thought it was an appropriate analogy. I personally against use the word in general, even when trying to make big political points.

  • Anonymous

    Honestly, I’m just embarassed. I’m an organizer of Slutwalk NYC, and a queer woman of color who spoke at Saturday’s march. I never saw that sign until it was posted all over the internet and I’m upset that someone even thought it was a good idea to bring it. The actual organizers of SW NYC have discussed racism quite extensively in the past 3 months, as many of us are feminists and anti-racists, and we spoke about it a lot on Saturday. Many of us are people of color. While we we are absolutely humiliated that we didn’t catch it sooner, I have to say that with less than 50 marshals at this march, in which 3,000 attended, catching every bigot and/or their offensive signs was a pretty difficult task. We at SW NYC are not okay with it, but at the same time you have to understand that it is not easy to control an entire park full of protesters. Just offering a different persepctive.

  • Anonymous

    As a black male, I am on the fence about this. I didn’t find it all bad. But maybe I’m looking from the wrong POV or something. I’m not a woman, but I get the song and I get black women’s frustration with it in this instance. It does smack of appropriation w/o dealing with racism. But that doesn’t dull the fact that women have had it hard in this world … black women especially. 

    So is it absolutely wrong, immoral, heinous, offensive for this woman to have this sign in this instance? I’m torn.

  • Anonymous

    As a black male, I am on the fence about this. I didn’t find it all bad. But maybe I’m looking from the wrong POV or something. I’m not a woman, but I get the song and I get black women’s frustration with it in this instance. It does smack of appropriation w/o dealing with racism. But that doesn’t dull the fact that women have had it hard in this world … black women especially. 

    So is it absolutely wrong, immoral, heinous, offensive for this woman to have this sign in this instance? I’m torn.

    • Kyi Davenport

      You answered your own question within the question, but I’ll bite.

      YES. 

      As a black person, I don’t want to be called a nigger. As a black woman, I don’t want to be called a nigger twice. Going for the shock value by using such a charged word eliminates me from the conversation, when to some extent I should be at the center of it. 

  • Anonymous

    As a black male, I am on the fence about this. I didn’t find it all bad. But maybe I’m looking from the wrong POV or something. I’m not a woman, but I get the song and I get black women’s frustration with it in this instance. It does smack of appropriation w/o dealing with racism. But that doesn’t dull the fact that women have had it hard in this world … black women especially. 

    So is it absolutely wrong, immoral, heinous, offensive for this woman to have this sign in this instance? I’m torn.

  • Anonymous

    As a black male, I am on the fence about this. I didn’t find it all bad. But maybe I’m looking from the wrong POV or something. I’m not a woman, but I get the song and I get black women’s frustration with it in this instance. It does smack of appropriation w/o dealing with racism. But that doesn’t dull the fact that women have had it hard in this world … black women especially. 

    So is it absolutely wrong, immoral, heinous, offensive for this woman to have this sign in this instance? I’m torn.

  • ch555x

    I think one of those so-called “SlutWalks” came to my neck of the woods earlier in the year (that’s how I first heard of it).  It was a bunch of college students and I had a feeling it was one of those “fauxgressive” movements (catchy name, slogans, etc.).  Seeing that pic in the article pretty much made it official…O_o

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t make it to SlutWalk, though I had planned on attending. I’d had my reservations about the lack of intersectionality in SlutWalks since the beginning, but figured that if I had time for it, I’d go. At this point, I can’t say I’m sorry I missed it, though if I had seen this lady I would’ve torn the sign from her hands immediately and given her a sassy talking-to. Unfortunately, it’s easy to believe that it took a black woman to tell her to take that sign down – that every white person around her didn’t seem to have a problem with it, or didn’t see why they should say something about it to her.

    I also couldn’t stand Sady Doyle’s article! It totally trivialized the racial concerns regarding SlutWalk by summing them up with that discussion of “branding”. Meh.

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t make it to SlutWalk, though I had planned on attending. I’d had my reservations about the lack of intersectionality in SlutWalks since the beginning, but figured that if I had time for it, I’d go. At this point, I can’t say I’m sorry I missed it, though if I had seen this lady I would’ve torn the sign from her hands immediately and given her a sassy talking-to. Unfortunately, it’s easy to believe that it took a black woman to tell her to take that sign down – that every white person around her didn’t seem to have a problem with it, or didn’t see why they should say something about it to her.

    I also couldn’t stand Sady Doyle’s article! It totally trivialized the racial concerns regarding SlutWalk by summing them up with that discussion of “branding”. Meh.

    • Kael

      I don’t think it’d have been appropriate to tear the sign from her hands. Free speech and all.  Discussing it with her, absolutely with you there.

      • Anonymous

        Free speech only applies if one is acting as a government agent ripping the sign from her hands. 

  • k.eli

    “Why this young white protestor thought this sign was a good idea, we may never know.”

    I imagine her rationale went something like this:
    Oh my gosh, that’s so clever. ‘Cause, you know, black rappers use that word all the time so it’s okay, right? I mean, I have a black friend so I couldn’t possibly be accused of harboring any latent prejudices. Besides, racism ended, like, forever ago anyway.

    And in true feminist fashion, I imagine all of her fellow white women also thought her of being incredibly clever and witty for re-appropriating that word much like their movement seeks to re-appropriate the word “slut.” My issue with this, however, is that you can’t re-appropriate a slur that was never directed at you to begin with. And to even suggest that white women are treated even remotely the same as black people the world over requires a certain level of blissful ignorance I can’t begin to comprehend.

  • http://twitter.com/Karnythia Michelle Kendall

    In a discussion about this very sign yesterday on Tumblr, a white woman who “liked the message” of the sign came right out & said “Think about it from the perspective of women” to the black women critiquing it. The fact that it never occurred to her that black women are women tells me everything I need to know about why this person thought that sign was a good idea.

    • Anonymous

      Yes that was all over my dashboard too like WTF who the hell did she think she was talking to? Obviously Black women. “Ain’t I a woman?” hello stupid? Many Black women on tumblr including myself tore her a new one. 

      Think about it from the prospective of women. Seriously have a seat in the corner and wear a bloody dunce cap too. And white feminist wonder why Black feminist don’t want to mess with them.

      I just want to know since white women are the niggers of the world. Are Black women double niggers now or what?

      • Anonymous

        Are Black women double niggers now or what?

        That was Pearl Cleage’s response to Ono’s statement. 

  • http://twitter.com/MalikPanama Malik

    Well it goes back to one of the race discussion problems in America; Black issues have almost always exclusively meant Black male issues. So the sign excludes Black women. So, I guess the meaning for BW would be that that they are the Nigger squared of the word. 

  • http://commentarybyval.blogspot.com/ Val

    This kind of stuff is exactly why I refuse to call myself a feminist. It’s sort of like Black people who are conservative but refuse to call themselves Republicans. We may agree on the main issues but there’s just too much casual racism involved to actually identify with the movement.

    • jetessence

      Yep, I can’t do it. After the shit I have to deal with on a daily basis, I don’t have the energy or the strength to fight to be recognized in feminism. I applaud the black women who do. I am too tired to carry an additional load.

    • Drhiphop85

      Not sure if that’s an proper analogy. Since Republican is a singular political identifier with an actual “leadership” and official branding (although those within the party could argue that there is a wide range of interest there as well). Feminism is a school of analysis that includes some of the most brilliant women of color around to some ignorant person like the young lady above (although I don’t know her to know if she really sees herself as a feminist or even knows what the concept means). The range of beliefs, stances, paradigms, etc included within Feminism is very broad. To simplify it into one idea would be akin to simplifying Christianity to just Catholicism (although I can see it being problematic using this example as well LOL).

      Of course this is not my attempt to tell you what to identify with, far from it, just to illustrate the fallacy of monolithic identity being exhibited in that analogy. Peace to you

    • Anonymous

      White people don’t own feminism, nor did they come up with the concept. Feminist theory and activism was developed by Native American and Black women in this country, and that’s the history I look to in identifying as feminist. The lifeswork of Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth was feminist to the bone, if you ask me.