Rebecca Walker


Friday, July 04, 2008

July 4th--Independence Day



1. a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse, as sadder but wiser, or strong as an ox.

2. (in art, literature, drama, etc.) a trite or hackneyed plot, character development, use of color, musical expression, etc.

3. anything that has become trite or commonplace through overuse.

Of late, I have received a number of responses about the Daily Mail article. I'm always open to dialogue about it, but in all honesty I've been dismayed by the heavily cliched commentary. There is the cliche of the confused, tragic mulatto; the cliche of the ungrateful daughter; the cliche of the out of touch Ivy Leaguer; the cliche of the confused bisexual; the cliche of the wounded child who can't move on; the cliche of the anti-feminist agitator, and so on.

I'm amazed that a person can hold these cliches and read my work, only to still see the world through these cliches when they are finished. These readers apparently bring no openness outside of their own personal ideology to the experience of my writing. Then, they say that I am the one who should break out of the self-centered, narrowness of my views!

I want to take a moment to acknowledge the people with original thought --for and against me-- for their ability to contribute something unique and purposeful in an ongoing dialogue about the world in which we live.

We need you.



Blogger Zulemaya said...

I just read your book and admittedly at the outset I rolled my eyes a bit, alright more than a bit. But I decided to slap back that judgmental bitch inside me and really hear your story, unfiltered by my cliches and opinions. I let it wash over me. It was wonderful. Thank you for it. I saw you grow and change and was glad of it. I worried so for you overthinking things(though I suppose that is part of your life's work), doubting yourself. But then you got it together. When you hollered for that epidural, I said, girlfriend finally crossed over! (I guess that's a bit of the judgmental in me still...sorry)

I chose to read your book because I am 38, pregnant with my first child. Ambivalence and heartburn are two things I have in spades.
I am an ivy-leaguer, colored girl, immigrant, priveleged, white collar worker, thinker type--though not too much), with dreams of yet unfulfilled greatness. I am freaked about about what this all is going to mean (including the skin snap back issues I will face at this advanced age. does it snap back? or it does it kinda just hang there?)
I have grappled with some of the questions that dogged you during your pregnancy and I have decided to just hurtle headlong into the adventure. I figure that I am one up on most people in the world; I have access to medical care and an epidural--hallelujah Jesus. Besides, I do have a 401(k) and a pension. So for the moment, I am just enjoying my new set of pre-partum "girls"

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have every right to post and publish your opinions just like your mother does and her supporters do.

Your writing has done nothing more than demonstrate that we are humans, are what we are....human.

Sadly it appears that such types of people, especially such types of women, are not for equality, openness, or even common sense. Instead prefer to use "shame" tactics and race/gender bating in order to silence the opposition. And that has been the mainstay of their so-called "arsenal" since day one.

The reactions and attack that you are receiving are illogical attempts to assassinate your character, because your detractors have no other logical/reasonable way of deconstructing your writing.

Blogger danielle said...


As a young woman who has obsessively read everything (almost) you have written, I have long considered you to be a thinking woman who can be a part of a movement, love it, and be critical of it still. The Daily Mail article attempts to undermine that. It is disappointing, but what I really want to know is this: was it legal? What happened?

Blogger Rebecca Walker said...

Hey Danielle--

The piece was not written by me, and there are many inaccuracies--my father is not the child of a holocaust survivor, I would never call my mother a fanatic. Certainly readers of my work will recognize that it is not written in my voice.

Phyllis Chesler is responsible for writing the critique of the piece as though the Mail was accurate. Unfortunately, it's viral and not possible for me to control its spread through the Internet.

I'm afraid the Daily Mail, Chesler, and Salon aided and abetted a falsehood that will have to burn itself out over time.

My work at the moment is to continue legitimate discussion as I have always done, with a level of integrity and ongoing appreciation for readers like you.


Anonymous putradi said...

happy 4th of July ..

Anonymous lormarie said...

Hello Rebecca,

Thank you very much for sharing your experiences in an honest and thoughtful manner. Many of us can identify with the things you've gone through and the lasting scars it sometimes leaves. Not once did I "pick up" any ill will or slander on your part towards your mother. I also found many of the interviews you gave to be helpful indeed. I agree that as women, we must strategically plan our lives or we will miss out on opportunities (like motherhood) that many of us long for.

Please keep up the good work.

Blogger Danielle said...

Wow!!! This is the first time I am seeing that (daily mail) article. It's really powerful!
As for getting criticism- Way back in December, you wrote this post:
You said, "And the cost is tremendous. I often tell writers in my workshops that their biggest fear about telling their story can come true: you can lose the people you love the most. But, as many of those same writers like to tell me, the opposite is also true: you can become closer to the people you love; telling your story can be a cathartic place of healing. I thought that would be true for me and my family. So far, not so much. But there is still time. I'll never close the door."

I loved what you said so much that I talked about it on my blog at the time (but unfortunately, I printed it out for my daughter's first year scrap book and deleted it from the blog).
I know that receiving criticism is not quite the same as "hurting those you love", but often, the emotional pang you get is along the same lines.
I feared that I would hurt/offend/piss off so many if I told my stories on paper (whether I love them or not), but the above quote from you gave me inspiration to rise above that.
I also wanted to add this:
Many bloggers receive comments which debate and criticize what they have to say. The majority of them, I have noticed, simply delete the comments or do not approve them.
A rare few will take their critics to the front, address it in a new post and respectfully answer. The fact that you've done this with your own critic shows a lot of strength.
Keep up the good work (the above Danielle was not me, btw).
As for having #2, have you thought about adoption?

Anonymous Anonymous said...


1. a record of events written by a person having intimate knowledge of them and based on personal observation.
2. Usually, memoirs. a. an account of one's personal life and experiences; autobiography.

I find it strange that someone would intentionally set out to read someone's life story, only to comment afterwords that the writer writes too much about herself. Your BWJ memoir was, for me, extremely groundbreaking and forced to look at my own past, and to sincerely consider the experiences that makes me who I am today. Your book truly set the pace for the change in my life that I was seeking. I anticipate going to buy your next book.

An unexamined life is not worth living..... --Socrates

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"She never seemed to remain in any kind of consistent or comfortable state of grace, she always seemed to be jumping from one extreme to another." I wonder what kind of perfect world allows a young female adult to be in a consistent, comfortable state of grace. That quote is ridiculous. But not quite as ridiculous as this next one: " Rebecca Walker has indeed had an interesting life, but I'm just not sure why the rest of the world needs to hear about her life or what we are supposed to gain from her very public confessions." Hmmmm...I could've sworn we had choices about what we want to read and what media we choose to be informed about. I commend you for sharing your life lessons and for entertaining us with your writing. It's a breath of fresh air to read your books--it's much like having a personal convo with you even though I've never met you. Baby Love is phenomenal. Thank you for your contribution to the world. You inspire me.


Blogger kinnari kreme said...

my heart breaks for both of you.

i see no crime in what your mother did, even the worst of what you describe. in fact, all i see is a very human mother.

it seems that you've been thoroughly brainwashed by your very white father's wife and father. i'm astounded that you can stand and criticize someone who lived through what your mother lived through and side with your father and his very privileged wife.

i don't know any of you personally.
but i've read your books and your mother's.

i feel so sad for you that you judge her so harshly with almost no understanding of the history of her time.

you are a child of privilege. your mother was not. you cannot possibly understand her.

it's completely understandable that mothers harm daughters since they are human. you fall prey to the "i want a perfect mother who never hurts me" fallacy that has haunted children for millennia.

i feel so sad for you that you will probably be doomed to be judged as harshly by your own child in the future since you've criticized your amazing mother in such a publicly hurtful way.

i find you to be astoundingly arrogant.

you could have talked to your friends, you could have gone to therapy. you could have done any number of things to address your pain but you chose to publicly humiliate her.

how very sad.

you have no clue what kind of messages we were given back in the 50's and 60's. that motherhood was our only option. that you can't understand that dogging your own mother's life and all feminists of that generation, is very immature.

i'll be interested to find out if you gain any humility after experiencing your own child hurt you. i hope so.

Blogger kinnari kreme said...

i hope you realize that your infamous attacks on your own mother are being used by the radical right to further shackle women to motherhood.

way to go!

Blogger Danielle said...

Would you mind if I made my own blog post about this debate in the next few days when I get a chance?

Blogger Rebecca Walker said...

of course. blog away. enjoyed your post about your parents' debt. I applaud your financial discipline, too. Not easy, especially with baby. I always get snookered by the toys--and my son doesn't end up playing with them at all--he'd rather put dirt in his dump truck all day. anyway--i look forward to reading your post--no matter what it says--rebecca

Blogger Danielle said...

Thanks, Rebecca!
I'll let you know when I do post it. I need the right words to come to me.


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