Open Post: Helen Keller Mythbusting Blogswarm Day!

Description below

Image: A grey banner divided in three parts. A photo of a young Helen Keller is in the center. On the right, it reads “Political Activist. Radical Thinker. Suffragist. Pacifist. Journalist. Socialist. Who was she?” On the left it reads “Helen Keller Mythbusting Day 2010”

Today is awesome Helen Keller Mythbusting Day!

As I wrote earlier:

A few years ago someone on a feminist site posted a list of the top 100 historic women in the US, and the list included Helen Keller. A commenter mentioned being surprised to find that out, because… well, what did Helen Keller actually do?

The answer to that question is what this Blogswam is all about.

First, I’d like to thank the wonderful, amazing, and totally awesome Jhameia of Intersectionality Dreaming for making our awesome banner while travelling across Canada! Thank you, Jha, you are awesome!

Second, if you post something for Helen Keller Mythbusting Day, please leave a link here in the comments.

If you’d like to participate, but aren’t sure how, check out the Intro Post, which has ideas and links for more information.

Please check back throughout the next few days!

Previous Posts about Helen Keller on FWD:

Feminist Icons
Subverting the Narrative

By 19 June, 2010.    activism, history   


  1. Still brainstorming for the Blogswarm.

    Will put result onto the Blog that Works: (Halfway up Rysy Peak).

    It will be about house, home, Dasein [being] and accessible houses (building upon a discussion I have had); describing and explaining various house-spaces Keller and Sullivan lived in; and what we can learn for the 21st century. Probably the “big idea” will be construction. And how Keller worked as well as lived in various houses.

    As for the banner, that is a dream come true.

  2. Ours is up! “HKMB: Seven Blind Women in History who were not HK”

  3. […] 19, 2010 by Astrid Today, Anna over at FWD/Forward is hosting a Helen Keller mythbusting blogswarm. It is surprising how ignorant even I, who definitely heard of Keller many years ago, was about her […]

  4. Mine is up at It is interesting that this is some of my own mythbusting, since I didn’t know anything about Keller’s political activism unitl now myself.

  5. My post is up at I also didn’t know anything about her political activities until I followed links from the blogswarm announcement post.

  6. Did it even occur to you celebrants that today is Juneteenth and what this erasure does to Black PWD? There are 365 days in the year to chose from and so I fail to see why it is okay to just slot this in on an important Black holiday. Oh I get it Black PWD don’t matter. The fact that we face other oppressions is meaningless, so why not just erase Juneteenth and fill it in with something else. I mean really? I am absolutely steaming mad. I am disabled and I am Black and this holiday completely erases a part of my identity.

  7. Oh and as for you S.E. shame on you for putting that up on Feminist CLOSING COMMENTS and not acknowledging that today is Juneteenth. Not only do you erase Black people but you deny us the right to openly complain about what you did.

  8. […] welcome to Helen Keller Mythbusting Day! I want to connect the silencing around Helen Keller’s life to the larger context of women […]

  9. So I just started a new blog – and I was unaware of the true story of Helen Keller before I found out about Helen Keller Mythbusting Day.
    But I wrote a post expressing my anger for the way the history of marginalized people is denied – and when its taught, we often don’t even get the truth.
    Sooo be nice 🙂 And thanks for hosting this – because I think its HUGELY important!

  10. I’m the archivist at the American Foundation for the Blind, where Helen Keller worked for more than 40 years, and I recently posted a 2-part blog about my trip to Keller’s birthplace ( Helen was an immensely interesting figure, and I was struck by the juxtaposition between her early life in the South and her later years as a social activist. And if you get a chance, I hope you’ll visit our Helen Keller Gallery to view our exhibit about Helen’s life, which focuses mainly on what happened to her after the water pump:

  11. Are you planning on not approving any my comments because I called out the racism and erasure in this celebration? Is that how it works? You get to decide that POC with disabilities should just shut the hell up so you can get on with erasing us?

    Well isn’t it a wonderful thing that we have our own blogs so that we can say our peace. Why I AM Not Celerbrating Helen Keller Mythbusting Blogswarm Day!”

  12. Just stuck one up on my blog. This is way cool. Thanks to all you who set it up.

  13. What’s the matter do you not have the spoons to deal with your fucking racism. I am NOT going to stop. I am going to keep e-mail the editors here, tweeting, and commenting on every single one of these posts until someone has the fucking guts to acknowledge how racist this it. BTW continuing to silence me is also RACIST but then that is what you seem to want to promote.

  14. I have now lost count of the amount of comments that I have left on this post without even a response from an editor here. As I said, I am not going away and I will continue to e-mail the editors until this racism is acknowledged. It’s funny how the editors constantly talk about how draining it can be for PWD to struggle and advocate for justice but you have no problem forcing me to work and advocate on what should be a day of celebration because your privilege matters more than being a decent human being.

  15. Renee of Womanist Musings commented over at my blog that we’d ignored the fact that today already marks a celebration, Juneteenth, which is the Black celebration of freedom from slavery I gather. I’d never heard of it, so I thought I’d point it out to you, as to not erase women with disabilities of color.

  16. Helen Keller Day is finally up at Dog’s Eye View.


    I just got through the door about 20 minutes or so ago, having spend the day away from the internet. There’s about 20 comments in mod here, and I have some emails that I obviously need to look at and read for content.

    I am sincerely sorry that my absence made serious and important discussions get put on hold while my co-bloggers waited to hear from me. I hadn’t told them I would be away for so long.

    I have not had any time yet to even sort out exactly what has gone on. I’ll be doing that as soon as I can here.

  18. I’d just like to point out that this erasure of long traditions by people declaring certain days without first finding out about the other meanings that day has is not new. The first blog against racism day happened on world AIDs day (although that tradition hasn’t continued). Why is blog against disablism day on May 1st? May 1st is international workers day, and has been for probably a century. Most people who write on blog against disabilism day, don’t even mention the long history of resistance that May Day celebrates.

    As a New Zealander I had heard of Juneteenth – but didn’t know what day it was on. But that’s why it would be really important that I don’t give yesterday or any other day a particular purpose or meanining without finding out what goes before me – because there is so much I don’t know.

    Renee thank you so much for calling attention to this issue – your point is really important.

  19. Hi Renee,

    As I’ve said in my quick email to you, and in another comment here, I’ve only recently gotten home, having been out for the bulk of the day. I’m very sorry that your comments were held in moderation while I was away – my co-bloggers were not sure how to deal with it and didn’t want to speak on my behalf.

    The reason that this day was picked was because I was mirror Helen Keller Day on Second Life. I did speak about that in the announcement post, but I didn’t refer or explain why this day was chosen in this post. I admit that I am unsure why Second Life picked June 19th for their day, but I did specifically want to piggy-back on their work about disability and accessibility, since Second Life has a very large number of people with disabilities on it.

    I did become aware of the US holiday of Juneteenth a few days ago, and I must be totally frank that, since I am not from the US, and FWD is not a US-centric blog, I considered that there was enough room for discussions of Juneteenth and discussions of Helen Keller and other women with disabilities on the same date, especially since it was my hope that non-white, non-US women with disabilities would also be discussed and highlighted. Again, I brought this up in the intro post, but not in this open-post for the day.

    I’m very sorry that my absence left your comments in moderation, and that this prevented a broader discussion and the opportunity for me to immediately acknowledge your words, and to make as clear as possible the decisions that I’ve made over the past two weeks of discussion and planning. While I made the decision to set this date on the Second Life & Helping Hands’ Helen Keller Day, I still made that decision – my co-bloggers and the other people who participated in the swarm were in no way responsible for the date of the swarm, or for your comments not being approved here.

    This wasn’t meant to be an either-or sort of day, and I was – and still am – looking forward to reading posts that are about the history of women of colour and non-white women with disabilities, especially ones outside of the U.S. I’m very grieved to realize that this ended up being an excluding event for yourself and other women of colour, and I’m so very sorry both that this was so, and that I was not around today to do whatever I could to best alleviate that.

  20. Thanks, Astrid. I’ve had to do some googling and reading myself.

  21. It was bad enough when I thought you didn’t know, but to find out that you made an active choice to erase disabled women of colour positively disgusts me. You and I are from the same country and my community celebrated today, so it is not a specific US holiday. Here the descendants of the underground railroad do something EVERY year. You say you didn’t mean it to be an either/or day, but I don’t get how you possibly thought otherwise when YOU CHOSE to ignore the day altogether. And if I had not raised chaos from here to every single blog on this list, you would not have said a word. How is it that you decided, hey this is not important enough to Black women with disabilities to even mention? And then a half assed apology. Your “grieved for me”, but could not admit that what you did was RACIST.

    Oh, and as for the rest of you MODS , double shame on you. One of you could have had the decency to tell me that you were getting together to discuss the issue and get back to me instead of letting me stew for the entire day. I e-mailed three of you personally and no one bothered to answer. If you were looking to give a manual on how to silence, ignore and belittle, I think you did it today.

  22. Hi all, I just wanted to alert everyone to the fact that it is now the middle of Anna’s night. Comments may sit several hours before she has an opportunity to moderate and respond to them.

  23. @s.e. don’t you want to say hi all disabled White people and not hi all as that implies including Black People, you know the people you erased on Feminsite today. You STILL HAVE not commented about putting that racist post up on feministe, and seem to be quite content to pass the buck to Anna, as though you didn’t do some first class erasure yourself. Let me tell you something, if you are not going to have any open threads, then you better be sure that you are not going to fuck up, because then you only double down on your privilege and silencing. Instead of worrying about Anna, you should be worrying about yourself; you engaged in your fair share of racism today, without apology too I might add.

  24. Y’know, I normally enjoy FWD, but I’m completely unimpressed at a) the complete erasure of Juneteenth and b) the response from the powers that be to the justified privilege check Renee handed out. I would have hoped that y’all could have at least checked the Wikipedia page for 6/19 before going along with an event like this. Juneteenth is RIGHT THERE under holidays, for pete’s sake! If you Google “June 19” it’s the second link on the page.

    Barring thirty seconds with a search engine, you all could at least have acknowledged Renee’s callout and said it was being internally discussed, since I guess it takes group consensus to throw up a little “Hey it’s Juneteenth today too” note. And to apologize for the erasure in a more upfront way, rather than hidden in the comments with a thin veneer of “stop being so ethnocentric, Americans!” smoothed on top. I will say, such a veneer is an interesting example of derailing rather than admitting that one was caught doing a racist and silencing thing.

    It is shameful that this post has not been altered to include at least a mention that Juneteenth was today.

  25. Renee, you emailed two women who live in different time zones, and third person was me.

    The person directly responsible – 100% – is me, not my co-mods, and especially not Chally and Ouyang Dan. They didn’t even get a chance to respond to you before I did, because I got home well before either of them were awake. Please do not blame them for my failing, since it is both untrue and very unfair to their situation. They couldn’t answer you in their sleep.

    I could explain my thoughts to you in more depth but we both know that my intent does not matter, but my actions – and the results of those actions – do. I’m very sorry that I was not here, that I could not immediately address your very serious concerns and issues, and the very negative impact of my actions. I’m sorry that my behaviour erased yours, and other women of colour and non-white women’s, experiences.

  26. Kao, by the time I got home to find out what had gone on, it was 2 a.m. blog time. I felt then – and still feel now – that adding something to the bottom of this now would be disrespectful even if I did make it clear that it was an ETA. I feel very strongly that that’s just not the right thing to do, because it seems like “Well, now that there’s been this strong backlash, we’ve sheepishly acknowledged that something went bad”. I did something that erased people’s identities in a very damaging way, and I don’t think that’s made better by an ETA to the post.

    I’m not sure if that’s the right decision, but that’s where my thoughts are right now.

  27. @ Anna,
    You still aren’t approving my comments and for someone who is claiming to want clarity what does this say? Whoever the mod was yesterday could have said something and they didn’t. They approved comments after my original one so I KNOW that they heard me. So far FWD is not taking responsibility for their part in this mess. No one has owned this and S.E needs to personally say on’s own bit because on actively placed a post on feministe and I am not forgetting about this. You don’t engage in a complete act of blatant racism and stay silent unless you are a complete racist tool.

    Are you even aware that your behavior absolutely ruined what should have been a good day for me because I had to spend ALL fucking day dealing with it? And YOU did it intentionally, because unlike some of the other bloggers YOU KNEW it was Juneteenth, I don’t even have enough curse words for what I think of you. This is one of the most purposeful acts of erasure that I have seen in a long time.

    Stop pretending that this is a safe space. It certainly isn’t for Black disabled people and now you have proven that I was right to look cautiously at this space. It’s bad enough that you did this, but the fact that you cannot completely own it disgusts me more than I can say. What you need to realize that what you did was racist and in your case Anna purposefully erasure, and you need to own it without hesitation. All this defensive tripe does is compound the mistake.

    S.E. this is supposedly your safe space, so you have no excuse to be quiet. And a failure to speak up indicates that your whiteness means more than the dignity of Black people.

  28. I Apologize for misgendering S.E. I thought the correct pronoun was on but after further reading I have discovered that it is is ou and I will use that from now on. BTW S.E. that is how an apology is done you should try it.

  29. Hi Renee, I had chosen not to publish the rest of your comments yesterday as I did think your main concern was in the first one, and that publishing your other comments would detract from your concern. I will publish them all now.

    I believe that conversations that take place at the speed-of-internet are rarely productive. There is an implicit demand that people react immediately, instead of taking careful, thoughful, and respectful action.

    In light of that, I am closing comments here. I do not think that this conversation here will prove to be productive for any of the parties involved.

    I am sorry that my actions and behaviour have caused this conversation to be necessary.

  30. As I said above, I am closing comments on this post. This is in main part because of the reasons outlined, but also because comments critiquing other bloggers have begun to appear in our modqueue. We will not be hosting any conversations of that nature.