Intellectual theft is still theft
April 9, 2008
Anyone who reads BFP regularly knows that she has done a lot of writing on immigration and particularly the racism and sexism faced by immigrant women in the US during the current climate of hysteria.
And now, she is understandably upset that Amanda Marcotte from Pandagon has published an article that happens to make all the same points BFP has made time and again and her blog – and yet, at no point has BFP been linked. Sylvia at Problem Chylde has a post up showing the eerie similarities; she links to a BFP post for every point Marcotte makes.
Intellectual theft is still theft – Marcotte is, by her own account a regular reader of BFP’s blog. Even if she genuinely believes she came up with the ideas in her article completely on her own, (which, I personally doubt given how widely BFP has blogged about this, and the fairly damning evidence of Sylvia’s), she must realise the extent to which BFP was an influence, and at the very least should have made mention of the fine work BFP has done on this issue.
It’s all too easy for white women to get away with stealing the ideas of women of colour. Women of colour often have less access to the mainstream media or mainstream academia, making it harder for them to become known to a wide audience. Adding to the temptation is the fact that white women will get credit for being remotely anti-racist in a way that women of colour will not. A white woman with an Audre Lorde quote for every occasion can build an entire academic or media career out of being an “intersectional” feminist. A woman of colour who raises any of these points is just “angry” (ironically, the same thing that men say about feminists).
I would also like to raise, however, the opposite issue – white women citing women of colour as an alibi, without actually engaging with any of the ideas, or letting any of the ideas influence their actions. Not only, as I pointed out above (and as BFP says in her post) can you build an entire academic career around this, but the Audre Lorde quote for every occasion is also used to avoid ever actually discussing racism. I’ve witnessed this first hand – try to bring up racism in a predominantly white feminist group, someone will quote Audre Lorde and then the entire conversation comes to an end. Because surely no one who has read Audre Lorde could possibly be racist!
At this point, BFP is thinking of rejecting the label feminist. Hell, I’m thinking of rejecting the label feminist, and I’m about as white and privileged as you can get.
WE WILL NEVER BUILD A REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT IF WHITE PRIVILEGED WOMEN CONTINUE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE AND GENERALLY MISTREAT WOMEN OF COLOUR AT EVERY AVAILABLE OPPORTUNITY.
So the question is – do you want an Academic Career? Or do you want a Revolution?