Hi. I’m Ani DiFranco. You may remember me from such things as singing like a wizard trapped inside an aged toad is trapped inside of my throat and being allergic to capital letters. I’m here to talk to you about something that’s very close to my heart today: writing songs on old slavery plantations.
Some people like to have Ideas quietly by themselves at home or at work. Not me. I like to have my Ideas on official Ideas Vacations and performance seminars, preferably in an enormous old building with a wraparound veranda. When I found out where the seminar was going to be held, I thought, “Whoa,” and then I stopped thinking about it and went back to teaching seashells about self-determination and some basic chord progressions.
It’s not like I hadn’t given any thought to how it would feel to spend four days writing songs with my Ideas Colleagues on an infamous slavery site. We were going to bring really good vibes with us. Vibes of compassion, and also transformation, which as everyone knows is how you heal a plantation.
But there will be no vibes now. I am taking my vibes and my ideas and my compassion and I am going home to my Tempurpedic mattress because of your negative and unfortunate energy.
Look, there’s a lot of slavery in the world. My shoes were made in China. They probably have slaves there. Does that mean I should be able to hold an Ideas Festival on a slave plantation? Yes. Yes, it does. Taxes are so messed up, too. We should be mad at taxes, not at me for trying to host an expensive feminist songwriting retreat on a massive plantation. GE is such a bad company. Don’t you agree? See how we’re already coming together? See how much more productive this is than your hurtful, divisive criticism of my actions? Let’s all send our vibes to GE. They’re the real villains here.
I was going to take a lot of kids — poor kids (SO poor, you can’t even imagine how poor) — on a field trip to watch us play music. They were going to get inspired, and realize that if they put down a weapon, they can pick up a guitar, and they were going to change the world, all because of my four-day Ideas Camp for Ladies. But that’s never going to happen now, because of your awful, negative, critical energy that didn’t like my first idea. Now they’re all going to give up in despair and become land pirates. I’m not going to point fingers — that’s bad vibes — but it’s not my fault those kids aren’t going on that field trip.
Look, slavery was awful, I bet, but what are we supposed to do, not host multi-day feminist songwriting retreats and seminars on massive slave plantations that still boast about how well the slaves who lived there were treated? Some sort of plantation ban? Call me a dreamer, but I think we could have had a great time on that old plantation, fixing the horrors of the slavery legacy with our good vibes and our sweet guitar riffs and our unshaved legs. But some of us — I’m not going to name names, but you know who you are — didn’t even want to try.
It was horrible, the way you didn’t want to try, and the way you used your precious energy to tell me I’d done something wrong, instead of signing up for my Warbling for Peace seminar. I guess some of us don’t really care about peace or warbling as much as they say they do. I don’t want to overstep my bounds here, but I think the slaves would have wanted me to have my Words Campout at their old plantation. It’s what they would have done at the time, if they could.
If I can’t have my Ideas Jamboree on a giant Louisiana plantation, then I don’t want to have it at all, you monsters. You won’t have Ani DiFranco to kick around anymore.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.