I got a lot of messages like yours that were bordering on antagonizing, but I’ll respond to you: this was entirely news to me, and I never meant to be offensive.
I’ll be honest: I think it’s a little much to get upset about this, but I am fully aware that I’m living life on Scalzi’s Lowest Difficulty Setting, with the Celebrity Cheat enabled, so I’ll own that reality up front. My ancestors murdered untold numbers of Native Americans, and I hate that my country was built on their blood, and I hate that the worst poverty in America exists on Tribal lands. What I hate the most is how many Americans don’t know or care. Those issues are, in my opinion, more important than words. Having said that, I see the point you make, that so much has already been taken from native people, and when a White Guy takes something more, it’s uncool.
I never meant to take anything from anyone. I think Spirit Animals are really cool, and I love everything I’ve ever learned about native or aboriginal culture. I’m not trying to appropriate or lessen anything by expressing how much Kelly Sue inspires me, and how I try to be more like her.
It’s amazing how problematic this apology is. I don’t even think Wil gets that he’s whitesplaining.
For the education of those who might find themselves in this situation, here’s a primer on what’s wrong with this response.
First: “I got a lot of messages like yours that were bordering on antagonizing, but I’ll respond to you”
I didn’t like the Tone those other people used. Yours was appropriate! I’ll talk to you.
Second: “I think it’s a little much to get upset about this, but…”
This doesn’t affect me and I’ve never given it two seconds worth of thought. And even though I’m about to launch into a whole explanation of how I get it, I need you to know that my first reaction is that everyone is oversensitive.
Third: “My ancestors murdered untold numbers of Native Americans, and I hate that my country was built on their blood”
This outpouring of white guilt somehow brings it all back to me and how I feel. Curious that.
Fourth: “I never meant to take anything from anyone. I think Spirit Animals are really cool”
THIS WOULD BE THE CRUX OF THE PROBLEM, SIR. SIR? SIR.
Fifth: “I’m not trying to appropriate or lessen anything by expressing how much Kelly Sue inspires me, and how I try to be more like her.”
The point is not what you were or were not trying to do, it’s how what you did affects others. Why don’t you express your admiration for Kelly Sue in ways that are not appropriative? Why MUST you express admiration in this exact way?
Also, how fucking hard is it to say: “Oh, I did not realize that invoking Spirit Animals like that is a problem. I won’t do it again." ? That’s really all you needed to say. You didn’t need to whitesplain or get defensive AT ALL.
Let Wil Wheaton serve as an example of What Not To Do! Trust me on this, y’all.
Tumblr genuinely is younger than most other social platforms, and more diverse. A greater proportion of its users are people of colour than on any other major platform. Women users make up a higher percentage than anywhere else bar Pinterest. Teenagers over-index dramatically. And while Pew and other research agencies don’t tend to ask about sexuality or gender identification, LGBT visibility in Tumblr fandom is very high. What looks to dim outsiders as some kind of obsession with “social justice” often just springs from people talking about themselves, their lives and the shit that happens to them.
Just one of many excellent parts in this piece by Tom Ewing (which is only a little bit about Tumblr.)
(The piece is about Marvel fandom, though that’s not apparent from this quote.)
This is exactly why people refer to Tumblr in dismissive tones, though. This is no accident.
"Hysterical", "over-emotional", "irrational" means too many women
"obsessed with social justice" means too many POC, too many LGBTA, too many disabled/chronically ill people. Not just talking about their own lives, talking period, without being immediately silenced.
Makes some folks very uncomfortable.
It’s too blatant to even be a dogwhistle.
This is an extremely interesting insight, for me at least. And sheds some light on certain reactions to this blog both from the tumblr platform itself, and from other external websites. I wonder how medievalpoc and ideas about it are affected by overall perceptions about tumblr as a blogging platform, and the way its users are perceived. It lends some context to some of the assumptions people have made about my age, gender, race and *ahem* “relative credibility”.
Personally, I am in love with the interactive elements here.
More than color, it was class that defined race. For whiteness to maintain its superiority, membership had to be strictly controlled. The ‘gift’ of whiteness was bestowed on those who could afford it, or when it was politically expedient. In his book ‘How the Irish Became White,’ Noel Ignatiev argues that Irish immigrants were incorporated into whiteness in order to suppress the economic competitiveness of free black workers and undermine efforts to unite low-wage black and Irish Americans into an economic bloc bent on unionizing labor. The aspiration to whiteness was exploited to politically and socially divide groups that had more similarities than differences. It was an apple dangled in front of working-class immigrant groups, often as a reward for subjugating other groups.
During the Civil War, Irish immigrants were responsible for some of the most violent attacks against freedmen in the North, such as the wave of lynchings during the 1863 Draft Riots, in which ‘the majority of participants were Irish,’ according to Eric Foner’s book ‘Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877’ and various other sources. According to historian Dominic Pacyga, Polish Americans groups in Chicago and Detroit ‘worked to prevent the integration of blacks into their communities by implementing rigid housing segregation’ out of a fear that black people would ‘leap over them into a higher social status position.’
These quotes are from her essay on Salon, The History White People Need To Learn; especially important since some Whites demand a “White history month,” which totally obscures the fact that all history has a hegemonic lens that favors Whiteness, and centers those perspectives and experiences as “boiler plate” for which everything else should be compared if it is not ignored in the first place.
So yeah, this needs to be included in conversations that occur when some Irish-American/Irish descendants only bring up being Irish whenever primarily Black people are discussing racism in America. They are using their own ancestors as rhetorical devices to shut us up. (Shit, Whites use our own forbearers and ancestors to try to shut us up.) Further, why don’t they ever have these conversations with the descendants of the Whites who excluded them and harmed them, because they were still placed over Black slaves and freedmen (not to mention Indigenous people) in this hierarchy of transient Whiteness (and her essay discusses the history and transience of Whiteness). The Irish were eventually included so that they would identify with White supremacy and harm us based on anti-Blackness. I genuinely do not understand why their beef is with Black people discussing racism and not the fact that they are considered White now or that those who oppressed them in the past were NOT Black slaves or freedmen. Like…explain it to me like I am 2. I don’t get it.(via gradientlair)