Stuff White People Say

July 19, 2008

“Blessed” gifts from “Indians” might be permissable appropriation.

What is permissible and what’s not permissible?

I don’t really know, SH. I don’t think that’s for me to decide.

How about a gift from an actual indigenous person, something accompanied by the blessings, as it were, of that person?

Later on:

It just seems like there are so many traps for us average white people to fall into. What CAN we do without offending the people you defend?

I think you put this point beautifully. Yes, there are so many traps, and a sad thing is that the white folks who get far enough down the path toward the palace of racial wisdom to realize that point often stop at that wayside, afraid to go further for fear of offending someone.

I would say, be clearly sincere, open-minded, and goodhearted. My experience is that if you display those qualities, minor slip-ups are quickly forgiven. As for what else whites can do, I would say the most important thing to do is listen. Listen, listen, listen. We should stop implying to POC that we know what life is like for them, and that we already know what is best for them.

(by Macon D in teach their children to steal [from “Indians”] comments at Stuff White People Do)
(emphasis mine)

Thanks, Okanagan!

See Comment by Okanagan for commentary.


  1. I wish you could double-bold words. If you could, then I’d request that you do so with my words, “as it were,” which already indicate my awareness of what you’re pointing out: the problematic nature of the word “blessings” in that sentence, as well as the common meaning of the term otherwise, to give somebody something “with your blessings.”

    I guess if you’re going to quote words I write, often on the fly, in frickin’ COMMENTS sections, I’ll have to be far, far more careful when writing comments than just about everyone else is. Which is actually another good lesson I’ve learned from this blog–race IS a serious topic, and even comments written in a hurry can be hurtful to non-white people. So comment carefully, white Macon (and other white folks).

    Okanagan, I saw your other comment here, and if you are a Native American/Indian/indigenous person, my apologies if the post offended you, and I’m sorry to hear that you sense a “prideful” presence in me at my blog. I don’t take pride in whiteness, far, far from it–quite the opposite, in fact. I wish you had commented there, so we could have discussed these feelings and opinions of yours.

    You’ve probably heard that there a lot of different opinions out there on whether “Indian” is an appropriate term for America’s first people. I take my cue for my relaxed usage of the word from Sherman Alexie, who’s repeatedly said it’s the word he and many indigenous people he knows use for themselves, and that he doesn’t like the term “Native American” because it was created by “guilty [white] liberals,” not by indigenous people. But thanks for this also–I certainly will be more careful with the term in the future.

    One more thing I’d like to add here–although I find much of this blog’s content patently unfair, the description of it as a whole as an “alternative space” (by Restructure!) struck me. I think that I can help to make it that kind of space–I don’t want to be a white gate crasher into what might form into a largely non-white space. I’ll read along to continue learning, but I won’t comment here anymore.

    With all due respect,

    macon d

    Comment by macon d — July 19, 2008 @ 7:34 pm | Reply

  2. Which is actually another good lesson I’ve learned from this blog–race IS a serious topic, and even comments written in a hurry can be hurtful to non-white people. So comment carefully, white Macon (and other white folks).

    being anti-racist is quite simple: Don’t fake it, be it.

    Comment by jwbe — July 19, 2008 @ 9:26 pm | Reply

  3. Macon D,

    Before you go, why did you censor my comment in associate the word “race” with non-white people, instead of with themselves? When I asked, “Are you a slow learner in general, or only when it comes to race?”, it was not a rhetorical question. Keep in mind that the only writings I have read by you are on race.

    Comment by Restructure! — July 19, 2008 @ 11:02 pm | Reply

  4. I censored it because it was off-topic, which I’ll sometimes do; because it was a question I have no intention of answering; and because it’s oddly personal–as I’ve said there, I generally want commenters to comment on the words on the blog, and not on whoever the person writing them claims to be or seems to be. I haven’t been blogging for all that long, so the way things go on blogs is something I’m also learning about. And one thing I have learned (pretty quickly, actually) about the way things go on blogs is that sharing personal information isn’t a good idea, because people who read and write in bad faith at your blog are likely to decontextualize it and try to use it in negative, even hurtful and destructive ways.

    Comment by macon d — July 19, 2008 @ 11:11 pm | Reply

  5. All right, but you know I was commenting on “the words on the blog”:

    Though I am, as Restructure points out, a “slow learner,” I do appreciate the efforts of her and others there.

    You were the one who made the statement about being a “slow learner” as an explanation, I suppose, of why you ignored what I said about how you should not ask PoC for help. I’m still actually wondering why you don’t/didn’t listen.

    Comment by Restructure! — July 19, 2008 @ 11:31 pm | Reply

  6. […] the path “toward the palace of racial wisdom” (emphasis mine), which was covered in another post on this […]

    Pingback by There is a “palace of racial wisdom”. « Stuff White People Say — July 20, 2008 @ 1:39 am | Reply

  7. […] on how to travel toward what you called the “palace of racial wisdom”; you gave a suggestion about how to safely appropriate from indigenous people; you believe that it is your duty as a white […]

    Pingback by “I see no reason to bog things down here like that” « Stuff White People Say — March 19, 2009 @ 4:16 pm | Reply

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