we all can do it

I sure learned a lot on today’s show. Sadly, I learned that when we (the privileged white people) dare to talk about equal rights for all we’re just talking about white people.

When I say that I’ve fought alongside people of color, the LGBTQ community and other groups working towards a better life, it’s just my “white feminism™” rearing its ugly head.

When I say that not everything in life is seen through the lens of race, I’m told that’s why I’m the problem.

Apparently, I just don’t understand what it’s like to be Black in America. That’s the first correct assumption any of the idiots who are castigating me on social media today has said. I don’t.

But God forbid I bring up my background as a person of Jewish heritage and the problems my forebears faced, I’m despicable and worse!

Never mind the fact that the only sentence about my grandparents fleeing the Holocaust was written in a private email to Elon James White in an attempt at dialog instead of shit-stirring, which he chose to publish on his blog instead of talking with me about! (His defense was that he didn’t name me as the person who wrote that line. Still cowardice to me.)

I also invited him on my show to discuss the disconnect in our lines of reasoning, only to be rebuffed. His response was that I should have a Woman of Color on instead.

So, his co-host on his radio show “This Week in Blackness” (way to make white people feel welcome there, btw), Imani Gandy was kind enough to join me. I thought we had a good, spirited discussion.

Sadly, she chose to go on Twitter and misrepresent what I said. But that’s how this whole episode is playing out.

I feel as if I’m supposed to apologize for being born white, but even that wouldn’t satisfy the people who are excoriating me today. I shall attempt to bite my tongue and stay off Twitter, and keep doing what I do.

Because nothing I do or say can convince them that I have good intentions. And that’s heartbreakingly sad.

Since Elon James White chose to publish and Tweet out portions of our email exchange, I figured I’d post the entire thing here.  As it was three emails (the original one I sent to him, his response, and my response to that), I’ve color-coded the text with my original email in black type italics, Elon James White’s responses in blue, my second response in pink.

Keep in mind that, rather than respond to my second email, he chose to post some of what I wrote on his blog, outraged that I’d dare to invoke my ancestors’ struggles as Jews during the Holocaust. I guess I’m not allowed to do that.


Hi Elon,

I’m guessing you don’t remember me. You’ve been on my show a few times, and we’ve met and shared drinks a few other times. We were on the

[email] list together, so I thought you knew who I was, which was why I asked you an innocent question about one of your Tweets that showed up in my stream.


Not necessary. My name is Nicole.

I’m familiar with you who you are and I do recall speaking on your show a few years ago. None of that would change the commentary I made this morning. Out of professional courtesy I will address your email as clearly as I can.

Wasn’t sure that you knew who I was as you referred to me as Julianna Forlano’s ‘friend’ and claimed no understanding that she was on my radio show.

I’m a woman and a feminist. I never considered color as part of my being a feminist. I always thought the issues we feminists fought for were inclusive of ALL women.

That’s wonderful. For you. But as many WoC have noted, spoken about, written about and constantly deal with regularly, Feminism is not all inclusive. I’m not saying anything here controversial or ground breaking.  And whether you consider something to be the case or not does not affect the the reality and experiences of WoC who deal with it directly.

And as I have spoken and written about, I’m not my sister’s keeper. I know many, many white women who’ve done nothing to incur the ugliness and vitriol that I was subject to this morning by simply pointing out what Patricia Arquette said, not what she omitted.

I’m sure you’ve experienced people projecting their insecurities and biases on you because of who they perceived you to be.  Not everyone parses their words so carefully as to offend no one. Imagine having just won the biggest award or recognition of your art possible. Imagine wanting to make a statement about women’s rights – using the phrase ALL WOMEN over and over again only to have others assume what you meant.

You seemed surprised that I didn’t know the term “erased intersection” – it sounds like doublespeak to me. I’ve done shows on the ERA, the fact that the LGBTQ movement and civil rights movement have made huge strides, while the ERA sit unratified. I’ve suggested that all these groups who came together to help advance the struggles of all those people (yes, even those who fit in more than one category) come together to help ratify the ERA. I guess that makes me worthy of your ire too? 

I probably never stopped down to say “that includes the LBGTQ women and women of color too” – it was implied in all I said.

I’ve spoken out over the years on a number of issues – some dealing with gender issues, some with religion, some with race, most with inequality and the general unfairness in life.

Never, ever, when speaking on behalf of one group – especially in the heat of the moment or when I’ve had limited time in which to make a point – did I stop down to say, “The group I’m talking about is struggling, but this sub section of the group has it even worse.”

I have to ask ma’am, who asked for that? The issue that I, and many others, pointed out wasn’t the need to drill down and speak of each individualized group. The commentary about PoC and LGBTQ folks needing to step up and speak out for Women was the issue. Some PoC are Women. Some LGBTQ are Women. The call for these groups to help “Women” as if they aren’t already doing that because they are in fact, women already, is problematic and speaks to a similar theme found through out conversations around feminism. Women defaults to White Cis-Women. I understand you don’t think it does but language, policies, framing all paints this picture which is why so many WoC have spoken out against this and have critiqued Feminism as much as they have. And the idea that LGBTQ and PoC need to step up and help like White Women have helped us? That’s why we should do that? You don’t see how this framing is problematic?

And what’s wrong with asking those people to step up in the issue of pay equity and passing an Equal Right Amendment? You’re the one drawing the lines of separation. Do you not see that?

I get that African Americans have been persecuted and have had a rough ride through history. I’m of Jewish descent. Shall I tell you the stories my grandparents told me? Do I think that every injustice has to do with the fact that my forebears were targeted by Hitler? Not for a second.

This is incredibly insulting. I’m not even sure what this means. Are you saying Black folks are blaming race too much? Are you saying that we bring up slavery too much? I’m not sure of the point of writing these words at all.  

And I’ve been insulted all day by people on Twitter telling me that women’s rights is code for “white women’s right”. Bullshit.  I’m saying we all have our own crosses to bear. You have your struggles and I have mine. Some are because I’m a woman, some are because I’m Jewish. Some are because I’m now 55 years old so “unattractive” and some because I’m overweight.. and some because some people just don’t like me and other reasons I’m not privy to.

But to have people who’ve never even heard of me call me a bigot or tell me what I’m thinking and that I’m motivated by “white privilege” or “White feminism” is not only insulting, but hateful and, yes racist.

I do host a daily radio show. I’ve been in radio for over 30 years. I was on Air America and moved online when the network went under and have been struggling to keep doing what I do for the past five years. I don’t get a free ride because I’m a “white woman”. I don’t get a free ride at all.

1) Who said you get a free ride? 2) Are you denying that you benefit from White Privilege? 3) Are you saying that your experience is the same as Black Women, who are dealing at the intersection of race and gender? What about the gay black woman? 

  1. Those who keep pushing “White Privilege” on me. No, you didn’t say it, but your mass of followers did.
  2. I am denying that I benefit from White Privilege. Care to tell me how I benefit from anything right now other than my own hard work, cuz I’m trying really hard to make it through to the end of each day. I could use some of any kind of privilege right about now.
  3. My experience is wholly different from black women, and other white women, and men of every color too. My color doesn’t control my destiny. Sure it has likely played various roles in my life – but not because I designed it that way.

The attacks I was subject to on Twitter today were completely out of line and uncalled for. I’ve lived my life in a caring, loving way, and brought none of this nastiness on myself. And for complete strangers to come into my Twitter stream, telling me what I think and how I act – all antithetical to everything I stand for – really sucks.

I invited you on my show to discuss this failure to communicate – because that’s what it is.

You and your followers who’ve been attacking me on Twitter all day have just assumed that Patricia Arquette was consciously excluding women of color and/or LGBTQ is ridiculous.

I’ve assumed nothing. I responded to the words she actually said. I didn’t call her names, imply what she meant or any of that. The issue seems to be that many folks believe the benefit of the doubt should be given because obviously Arquette means well. That she should be above critique. That’s ridiculous. You’ve inserted words like “consciously” when a lot of the points made here is that it ISNT conscious and that’s the problem. This line of thought is normal and this framing considered reasonable. As opposed to simply reading and absorbing those explaining exactly what the issue is in great detail you wanted it explained to you. This is not the responsibility of PoC. Just like I don’t believe it is your responsibility as a woman to explain things to me if my male privilege is blocking me from understanding the argument you’re making. If you were kind enough to explain it to me I’d appreciate it, because many Women have taken that time with me. But it’s not owed to me. It is not their responsibility. 

She didn’t say those groups were mutually exclusive and, sorry, it’s our role as reasonable people to consider intent. I know how badly I’m feeling today after all the hatred thrown my way. She just had her biggest career-high of her life, and she’s being excoriated for thought crimes. How about trying to reach out for clarification?

No, instead, you throw out terms like “erased intersection”. How about speaking in plain English.

 Yes I’m disappointed – as a fan and somewhat colleague – that you seem more intent on escalating the nastiness rather than engaging in dialogue. That’s what I’m trying to do. Imani Gandy is coming on my show tomorrow.

 She and I have had differences in the past. But I have no doubt we can try to hear each other out tomorrow and understand that we’re on the same side.

 How about, instead of crucifying her because she said what she was trying to say clumsily, you try to help her say it more eloquently?

 Maybe that doesn’t fit in This Week in Blackness? Are we not black enough? (And yes, that was meant to be incendiary, because I know that’s not who you are….)
 If you think I’m wrong, then come on my show and say so.


And that’s it. Now I shall disengage from Twitter where I’m apparently everything that’s wrong with the evil white woman.

See you tomorrow, radio or not.