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April 28, 2008

Amanda Marcotte Fears Brown People?

First a silly charge against her. Amanda Marcotte's first book, which by the way will sell eight copies, is called It's a Jungle Out There: Something something blah blah about surviving as a feminist or something blah blah, and so features a cover with a retro-comic book blonde being molested by an ape. Correction: I think that image is photoshopped; other pics I've seen of the cover feature the White Jungle Queen fighting an alligator.

The jungle theme continues in the chapter illustrations, featuring that retro comic book White Jungle Queen beating up Jungle Thugs Who Are Not White.

For this insensitivity, she apologizes profusely, as does her publisher, which promises to remove these offensive images in the second printing (which isn't going to happen). You can see the horrifying images here and here, as well as all the screaming and self-flagellating and general drama.

The other charge is deadly, but alas there's no way to prove it anymore. A while ago Dan Riehl tipped me to a serious charge of plalgiarism against Amanda Marcotte. She had attended a conference of Women of Color bloggers, and WOCblogger calling herself Brownfemipower gave a speech about racial code words (of course) in the immigration debate (naturally) inciting sexual violence against women of color (what else?). Amanda Marcotte then wrote a column for AlterNet a few days later making liberal use of similar (idiotic) ideas, without so much as a hat-tip or mention of Brownfemipower.

After Brownfemipower wrote a long screed about WOCbloggers having their work appropriated by WhiFemBloggers (or whatever) and how hard it was for WOCBloggers to get book deals... well, she then deleted her entire blog.

So at this point, search as I might, I cannot find any of the allegedly plagiarized ideas of Browmfemipower and compare them to Amanda Marcotte's article.

This is why I didn't jump to link this two weeks ago, by the way. I tried to do the basic due diligence on the controversy but couldn't. Whatever Brownfemipower wrote or said, I can't find it on the Internet, and all I have is this post-deleted blog rant from Brownfemipower which says that the issue isn't about who stole what ideas from who. It seems then she's specifically denying the plagiarism charge after first making it.

Wikipedia addresses the controversy, briefly:

In April, 2008, Marcotte posted an essay entitled Sexual Abuse Fueled by Abusive Immigration Language on Alternet. In it, she discussed the intersections of racism and sexism as experienced by female illegal immigrants to the United States [13] "without one attribute to any blogger of color, male or female."[14] This led to allegations of appropriation on Marcotte's part: "I do not accept that the author of this article made a mistake in not publishing any links to the work already being done by pro-immigration bloggers, nor do I accept that the author came up with these ideas all on her own."[14]

Numerous feminist bloggers pointed to Marcotte's actions as symbolic of a wider process of cultural and racial appropriation, in which the words and work of feminists of color are both given less value than those of white feminists, and co-opted by them.[15] Several bloggers accused Marcotte of directly plagiarizing the work of another well-known blogger, Brownfemipower, as much of Marcotte's article appeared to be derived from Brownfemipower's work.[16] These bloggers pointed to Brownfemipower's extensive history of highlighting immigration as a feminist issue[17] and Marcotte's lack of history dealing with immigration on her blog,[18] as well as Marcotte's previous admissions that she read Brownfemipower's blog regularly.[16] Marcotte denied these allegations, claiming instead that she was inspired by a speech on a related subject delivered by Nina Perales of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.[19].


Marcotte seems to be ignoring the issue on her own blog (searches for the likely keywords call up no recent posts on the matter), preferring instead to insist she is innocent in the comments of other bloggers who broach the subject.

So I don't know whether the charge is valid. Lefty bloggers seem divided into two, camps, though: Those who think Marcotte is guilty, and those who gingerly suggest we shouldn't be fussin' and fightin' about who stole from who, which doesn't seem to be a very strong defense.

But with Brownfemipower deleting the evidence and herself declaring this isn't about whether Marcotte stole from her (while then complaining of a general pattern of white appropriation of WOC labor, etc.), I guess Marcotte gets to walk.

Thanks to DelD for reminding me of the plagiarism charge.

Et Tu, Feministe? Even Sister in Solidarity Jill "suspends" her endorsement of the book over the "racist imagery," and takes a rather weak let's-agree-to-disagree position on the plagiarism charge.

Amanda Marcotte's All-White Country Club Publishing House: as silly as I think this is -- I certainly don't think the dumb comic-book pictures are intended to be racist, or can even be viewed as racist without really, really, really wanting to find "unconscious racism" wherever one fixes one's gaze -- it's quite obvious the goofball left takes this nonsense seriously.

And so it should have been obvious all along the "racist imagery" would be a problem.

So-- is there not a single EoC (editor of color) at Marcotte's publishing house? Not a single BFLCLE (black female lesbian-curious line-editor) there to raise a warning flag? Nary a WOCWFILWTPNTGLM (woman of color who falls in love with the person, not the gender, layout manager) in sight?

Now that's racist.


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posted by Ace at 10:07 AM

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