Charles and Erik finally reconcile
If there were a comic of this, I would buy twenty copies. The number is so low because it is not an exaggeration.
cosmicbreaker asked: Hi, Wil! I'm not trying to be antagonizing. You seem to be rather progressive, and really vocal on a lot of social issues. I'm bringing this up because I feel like you'd take it seriously. Using 'spirit animal' is kinda uncool. Different forms of it belong to specific cultures that are already having a hard time with erasure/delegitimization, partially through appropriation. I've heard suggestions of using 'patronus', or 'daemon' (from His Dark Materials trilogy) as alternatives. Cheers!
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.
I didn’t realize that invoking Spirit Animals was a problem, and I won’t do it again. I thought that was clear from my reply, and I regret that I didn’t make that explicitly clear.
Also, would you please excuse the fuck out of me for explaining my thought process, and attempting to share my admittedly complicated and uncertain reasoning. Please excuse me for acknowledging that I’m a privileged heterosexual white male in a manner that was not to your liking. Please excuse me for admitting that I haven’t thought about something that doesn’t affect me, because it does not affect me.Excuse me for — wait. I’m sorry. That’s not what I mean. I don’t mean that I need you to excuse me for anything. What I mean is: you’ve shown us all a spectacular way to alienate a potential ally with your self-righteous anger and indignation.
Here’s a pro tip for you, incredibly angry person: when someone is polite and respectful, reasonable adults ten to reply to them a lot faster and with more thought than we do to someone who is a condescending, angry, belligerent asshole. I sincerely hope that you are able to find peace and happiness in your life, and that you’ll continue to speak out about issues that affect you. As I said, you have to have the courage of your convictions and you can’t just sit down and shut up.
You can also not be a dick about it.
Wil, I’m a Native American woman who grew up on a rez. I’m currently a social services caseworker who still spends a lot of time on Native lands. Somebody sent me a link to your tumblr asking for my opinion on the “spirit animal” thing. I don’t know much about you, but if I have to give you a piece of advice it would be this; don’t back down next time. These people don’t listen to things like “logic” and “reason” when they are in one of their social justice tizzies. It’s not even worth trying to be kind or polite to them.
If I had a dollar for every time a middle class, white, lesbian with a Women’s Studies degree tried to tell ME how to appropriately respect MY OWN CULTURE AND HERITAGE, I could probably buy a goddamn reservation and turn it into a theme park.
Mr. Wil, you aren’t disrespecting Natives like me by using the term “spirit animal”. We WANT to share our cultural heritage with white people! I gave a friend from another country a ceremonial headdress just a few months ago because he thought it was “cool”. You know what? That shit IS cool! I want everyone to know about it!
Native Americans of all tribes pride themselves on being generous with out cultural iconography. We love having friends in our homes, of all colors! We love sharing what makes our nations so great and unique. We love giving and receiving gifts (except for blankets….you white fuckers can keep those. Ours are prettier and have less smallpox.) Yet our cultural traditions, our languages…they are all dying out. Our own children don’t want to learn Navajo. Our numbers are small and our elders are dying. Nobody wants our traditions to die with them, so we share with everyone we can! So long as somebody isn’t actively trying to make fun of us, we want to give the gift of a culture that transcends generations and skin color. In modern America, there are actually a pretty large number of “white” people who have Native blood. Their skin may not be brown like mine, but their blood is the same.
To the social justice warriors on Tumblr. You know what’s racist? PEOPLE WHO AREN’T NATIVE AMERICAN TRYING TO WHITE KNIGHT FOR MY FUCKING CULTURE. If something offends me or “appropriates” my culture, leave it to ME to stand up for what’s right. I’m not an ignorant heathen savage who needs educated white folk to save me from OTHER white folk. For the love of God, do you not see that your bullshit tirades on Tumblr about spirit animals and hairfeathers are the SAME MOTHERFUCKING THING that Europeans tried to do to my nation YEARS AGO?
If you are a social justice warrior, go play in traffic. I don’t want your help defending a culture you know nothing about.
The whole “spirit animal” debate has been bothering me for a while, and this response helped me finally articulate why.
When I was a kid, my friends were a group of nerds who liked mythology and history. Together we read books of stories, poetry, and prayers from multiple cultures, including native american. We remarked upon the fact that the whole “spirit animal” thing was everywhere in the books we were reading. At one point, I had a book about celtic animal spirits, and one of my friends had one about animal medicine. I don’t know how authentic those books were… the 90s wasn’t the best time for historical accuracy, but we were doing our best as kids to learn the truth about stuff we thought was cool and interesting.
One of the native american girls in our group had been raised by a Christian relative, so she didn’t actually know a lot of this stuff before we started reading about it together. When I was eight or nine, I had a music teacher who was native american, and she’d taught me a bunch of songs, which I passed on to my teenage friends years later. Sometimes, during slumber parties, we’d go out into the woods and sing “Now I Walk In Beauty.”
I’m sure we made some big mistakes while doing this cultural exploration. But the native people who got me interested in native history and culture - the lady who taught me those songs, the people who wrote the books I loved, the storytellers who would come to the local festival and tell stories - all seemed to want us to learn about this stuff, and share it with our friends.
Even today, some native people think us using the phrase “spirit animal” is cool. But the pile-on from non-native-people makes it really difficult for me to hear the native voices on this. I’d like to hear more from native people on both sides of this issue, but it all gets drowned out.
The most relevant to my interests post I’ve ever seen.
Temporary shot of the bigger headdress