An official response from Ani and Righteous Babe Records has been posted. Here is part of it:
tragedies on a massive scale are not easily dealt with or recovered from. i certainly in no way expect or want to be immune from that pain or that process of recovery. i welcome (and in fact have always pursued) constructive dialogue about these and all political/social issues. my intention of going ahead with the conference at the nottoway plantation was not to be a part of a great forgetting but it's opposite. i know that pain is stored in places where great social ills have occurred. i believe that people must go to those places with awareness and with compassionate energy and meditate on what has happened and absorb some of the reverberating pain with their attention and their awareness. i believe that compassionate energy is transformative and necessary for healing the wounds of history. i believe that even though i am white, i can and must do this work too. if you disagree, i respectfully understand where you're coming from and your right to disagree. i am not unaware of the mechanism of white privilege or the fact that i need to listen more than talk when it comes to issues of race. if nottoway is simply not an acceptable place for me to go and try to do my work in the eyes of many, then let me just concede before more divisive words are spilled. i obviously underestimated the power of an evocatively symbolic place to trigger collective and individual pain. i believe that your energy and your questioning are needed in this world. i know that the pain of slavery is real and runs very deep and wide. however, in this incident i think is very unfortunate what many have chosen to do with that pain. i cancel the retreat now because i wish to restore peace and respectful discourse between people as quickly as possible. i entreat you to refocus your concerns and comments on this matter with positive energy and allow us now to work together towards common ground and healing.
It's far from a perfect apology—still contains quite a lot of defensiveness, I think. But it's far better than this post of Buddy Wakefield's (who was scheduled to be at the retreat) from a few hours ago:
Howdy shitstorm e'erybody! As a Righteous Babe who was naively excited to participate in this event I'm not necessarily able to make a comprehensive public statement today due to spinning full plates and a cruddy case of the crud. Until I or Ani or Toshi or anyone else are able to respond from our personal perspectives on the blunder, I think it'd be most productive for y'all to continue assuming the absolute worst, don't you dare ask thoughtful questions as to how this really went down, venomously insult Ani and her years of efforts, then write as many demolishing statements and articles as possible in an effort to eternally shackle her to this oversight. If forgiveness is off the menu, consider compassion and the possibility of extenuating circumstances before discounting 20+ years of sincere activism. I think it's pretty safe to say all the artists involved are amply bummed about the situation, and that your hateful approaches/vitriolic statements/narrow understanding of how things transpired have safely arrived to our inboxes. I happen to know that given all the facts I/we were otherwise not privy to, Ani is cancelling. You can all go feed on someone else's mistakes very soon.
So, yeah. Could be better, but, as Buddy shows, could be a hell of a lot worse.