by Heidi Oran
A while back Ani DiFranco popped out of the New Orleans woodwork and announced she would be hosting a songwriting event, named Righteous Retreat, down in NOLA this year. Diehard fans rejoiced – never had such an opportunity to get up close and personal with their musical hero occurred. And everything seemed perfect ($1000 pricetag and all), until this happened: the Righteous Retreat was to be held at a Louisiana Plantation turned resort. A plantation that when operating, housed more black slaves than any other in the area.
As you may imagine, this caused an uproar. How could a woman who had been an important voice in combating oppression toward women for so long let this go down at this location?
It didn’t last long before Ani retreated herself. In a long post on her blog, she describes her thoughts on the matter, and in the end, cancelled the retreat.
But here’s the thing: Ani’s apology sounded a lot like a non-apology. It sounded a lot more self-righteous than righteous. Her long letter/explanation came off defensive, and almost accusatory toward those who were angry with her poor choice in venue.
Regarding the choice of venue she wrote, “to the matter of the current owner of the resort and his political leanings, that was brought to my attention yesterday and it does disturb me. but it also begs further questions: who are all the owners of all the venues i or any other musician play? the performing arts centers? the theaters? the night clubs? i bet there are a lot of rich white dudes with conservative political leanings on the list. is it possible to separate the positive from the negative people in this world? will those lines be clear and discernible with enough research? is it my job to do this for every gig?”.
Oh, Ani. This is not how one apologizes when one is truly sorry for their actions. These are the words of a woman scorned. One who feels that THEY were wronged. One who feels that THEY deserve an apology.
But in the end, I couldn’t help but think: Ani DiFranco has never been one to sit there and hold back her thoughts about something, having been known as a staunch political activist. She’s become an icon to many for this very reason. This is just another move in that same direction – except in this situation she should have known better. She should have put her ego aside and realized there is no explanation necessary. She should have apologized, and meant it.
Heidi Oran is a writer and career coach with a passion for change. She writes the blog The Conscious Perspective, and co-founded The Millennial Pulse Podcast. You can connect with her on Twitter here.