This piece is about blame and owning your fuck up, whatever your fuck up is and will be. We are human, so we fuck up a lot. Don’t worry. You’re not alone.
Today’s mad rant was prompted by an insanely idiotic editorial cartoon ran by a newspaper-website out of West Virginia. You’ve already examined it, I’m sure. It’s the one right there at the top leading this piece.
Now, just to be clear, I reached out to the publication – the Bluefield Daily Telegraph – five days ago hoping to get a response from the illustrator (who goes only by T-Bone … ) and/or the editors there who thought such an obviously offensive illustration was okay to publish.
At the time of this publication, I still have not received a response from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. So, fuck it. I gave them ample time to respond, and maybe they’re hiding because they know there is no excuse for this kind of shit.
The reason the goddamn illustration is wrong and wretched will be apparent to the informed conscientious objector who is typically literate in corrected history. (Note: I say corrected history. I do not say revisionist history. The wrong history is the revisionist history – history revised to serve the purpose of the opulent oligarchs. U.S. History textbooks are CHOCK-FULL of revised history – page after page of lies and bullshit. It’s American history that has already been revised, so what are you going to do? Revise the revised? Shuffle around the bullshit? No. You correct it. Moving on.)
Here’s what you see in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph editorial cartoon:
A Native American woman in tears, looking circa 18th century in buckskin and fringe, bound at the wrists, barefoot, while some white business-cretin in a suit jubilantly leads her against her will from a building reading “Norfolk Southern Pocahontas Division,” pulling at her like an animal on a leash to somewhere off the page.
As you’ve possibly already surmised, this editorial is not only racist – it’s sexist.
At a time when thousands of Native American women (who are 2.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other demographic) are going missing or found murdered and buried AND BURNED by evil motherfuckers who whimper and cry when caught, this type of assholery is inexcusable. Inexcusable. In-fucking-excusable!
Now, I did a little digging and found out the illustration, published on Facebook on January 17, was a result of Norfolk Southern, a railroad company, relocating its Pocahontas Division about a two-hour drive away – “a move that will impact management and staff positions in Bluefield,” Greg Jordan of the Telegraph reported.
But this column isn’t about the relocation of some railroad division in West Virginia named after an adolescent – Pocahontas – who was molested by one of the first American pedophiles, John Rolfe (know your corrected history, friend). No. This piece is about the flogging responses Native Americans (and allies) are subjected to when we call out such putrid buffoonery like this goddamn illustration.
Native Americans routinely hear the following, among other finger-pointing things, when we call out the degradation of indigenous peoples: “You’re just being too sensitive” and “fucking P.C. liberals.”
You’ve met these assholes, I’m sure.
We started this piece talking about the ubiquity of fuck ups, right? Well here’s the thing, folks: Americans fuck up a lot when it comes to Native Americans, knowingly or unknowningly. And by fuck ups I mean they offend Native Americans with blunder after blunder, redface after redface, headdress after headdress, slur after slur, lie after lie after lie, and so on and so forth.
And these people fuck up SO much that, in their desperation to feel like they are not obtuse, they blame others – namely Native Americans, and not themselves.
Blaming others is a human flaw, not particular to any one race, creed or culture. Commonly, you will find people blaming others for their fuck ups when their fuck ups become routine, and in America, fucking up by offending Native Americans is as routine as drunks falling down on a Friday night.
In fact, do you remember that irresponsible asshat in class who never studied for shit? You had that one in class, I’m sure. We all have: The one who used to ditch a lot to masturbate to the oldies (70s porn) and to douse Fritos with nacho cheese at 7-Eleven. Every goddamn time he failed something in class he blamed the teacher. Now, there are bad, bad, BAD teachers out there, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes you come across a fantastic one who goes above and beyond to help fuckers like these. But no matter what, he would never own his fuck up, would he? He’d just go on blaming everyone and everything, never himself.
And that’s where we are in America right now. American society is like the guy I just painted for you: it fucks up again and again. Cultural appropriation, racist slurs, and offensive images are so omnipresent that by this point, the only conclusion society can come to is, “Wait a minute. I CAN’T be the one with the problem here. It’s got to be those other whiny sonsofbitches.”
This, my friends, is called othering: Not taking ownership of what you have done or who you are, but instead demonizing others to absolve yourself of any wrongdoing.
Don’t other. Just don’t. Own your fuck up. Hell, I fucked up twice already today. But do you know what I didn’t do? I didn’t blame anyone else for my fuck up. I owned both of them and moved on hoping I learned a thing or two about myself, and then I zipped up my fly because it was open (for God knows how long) and we, as a people, haven’t quite grasped how to delicately tell someone, “Sir, you were obviously in such a rush to put your penis away you forgot to close the gate.”
Do your fucking homework, America. Quit knocking one out to the oldies and pouring cheese on Fritos. Go to class. It’s YOUR responsibility in this social media, world-wide Web century to listen to the teachers so you won’t keep fucking up and we can move on to other subjects. We’ve covered this chapter already. We’re just waiting on you.
Simon Moya-Smith, Oglala Lakota, is the Culture Editor at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter @simonmoyasmith.