I’m Dani Kelley,

and I do lots of things.

Writing

I spend a lot of my time trying to learn how to be a better human, which leads to lots of thoughts about lots of things. I work those things out in writing, sometimes also journaling and critiquing media.

Haikus with Dani: In Which There Is No Room.

It’s been a full year since I broke up with my spouse. A very hard year, if you recall. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to process things as best as I can, and that often looks like distilling emotions into haikus. Something about the structure and limitation seems to lend itself well to expressing myself in succinct and powerful ways (much like how Twitter’s character limit can help focus one’s thoughts).

I don’t really want to offer commentary on this. There is so much I am still processing. But it feels important to share it, and to share it now. And one of my goals is to listen to my intuition far more than I’ve been able to in the past.

One thing I will say is this: it’s a terrifying time in our country right now. To be a woman, not white, not straight, not healthy in body and mind. Most of my friend group — myself included — are fighting the creeping despair as we watch this new administration work so hard to make our lives at best uncomfortable and at worst nonexistent. It’s easy to not take care of yourself in an effort to remain informed, to know what fresh hell awaits every morning.

But the little things matter. Little things like remembering to eat. Checking in with friends. Asking people to check in on you. Kissing your loved ones. Snuggling your pets. Or even daring to simply take up space.

As dumpster fires go.

I’ve been sitting here for a good 10 minutes, just staring at the screen. Occasionally typing a sentence or two, then deleting. The words I want to say aren’t words I feel I can say yet, and so I choose to be silent. Much like I have most of this year, if you’ve noticed. On January 18, I left my…

Cognitive distortion and taking up space.

My brain is spinning with thoughts and conversations over the past weeks, the culmination of almost a year’s worth of introspection and mourning. “I looked through the journal section of your blog and noticed you haven’t really written lately,” a friend noted. No. I haven’t. I’ve been afraid, frankly. With some good reason and probably with some over-reaction. But sharing…

Intersectionality or Bullshit: When White Feminists Profit From Women of Color

A few years ago, I read a powerful article by Flavia Dzodan entitled “My Feminism Will Be Intersectional Or It Will Be Bullshit.” It resonated with me, so much so that I chose to calligraph it. That’s something I do very often with phrases or sentiments that I believe strongly in. I even shared the design with her on Twitter, and she seemed very pleased with it. This was, of course, before her cancer diagnosis and internet hiatus.

It was also before it became a meme and took on a life of its own.

This week, I read with great sadness and anger about how so many people took her words and sold them — with neither permission from nor compensation to her.

You see, last year, Feminist Apparel saw my design and expressed great interest in selling a shirt of it. I was intensely uncomfortable with this. Yes, I put in the work of drawing the letters and creating the design. But the words were not mine. Neither were they words in a public work like a book, for which the author had been paid. While I cited the source, I couldn’t in good conscience profit off of the words and work of a woman of color. Especially in the name of feminism (and especially considering the context of the article the phrase came from!).

I didn’t ignore the request from Feminist Apparel. Instead, I reached out to Flavia on Facebook to tell her about the interest in the design. I told her I was uncomfortable making money from her work. That if she was okay with the design being sold, I wanted to make sure we worked out a way where all the profit would go to her, not me. But I also told her if I didn’t hear from her, I would never sell it and it would only become part of my portfolio. I never did hear from her, and so I have never sold it. Ever.

The biggest part of why I’m writing this is because it was an absolute jolt to see my artwork used in a Vox article covering the topic. It seems to be used as an example of someone appropriating from her work. And I want to be clear that I have not, nor will I ever, accept compensation for the work of someone else. I will never sell that piece.

But secondarily, I’m angry. I’m angry with the kind of feminism that will take the words and work of women of color and capitalize on them with no recognition or offer of compensation. Particularly stealing from women of color. Particularly given the racism that’s always been a driving force in white feminism.

Look. I’m not a saint. I don’t deserve cookies or kudos for how I’ve handled interest in this design, for being primarily concerned with Flavia’s ownership of her words and desiring that she receive compensation for her work rather than me. This is bare minimum decent human behavior.

Especially for feminists who want to claim to be intersectional when their actions prove that, when it comes to intersectionality, their feminism is indeed bullshit.

Haikus With Dani: JerkBrain Edition.

There’s a lot going on in my life. I’ve deactivated my Twitter for a little bit. Vulnerability is terrifying, but it’s easier to be vulnerable to an amorphous mass of people than talk to anyone in particular about what’s been happening, even the things that are only happening inside my own head. Therefore, you’re getting more of my depressing fragments of dialogue, this time brought to you by my very own JerkBrain.

Codependent avoidance.

I’m spending a lot of time just sort of sitting with myself. What do I want? What do I think? What am I willing to give, or ask for? Why? Am I just trying to placate others for my own comfort and ease of anxiety, or is this something I’m genuinely willing to agree to or compromise on? If so, why?