I expected that Stormdancer shit, a YA novel by Jay Kristoff taking place in fantasy Japan, to be absolutely horrible. Looks like I was right! Weeaboo fuckery seems to be about it–but the worst part is, it’s so bad that it’s more ignorant than the average weeaboo fuckery. It’s basic errors that even the average non-Japanese anime watcher would detect. As in, weeaboos know better than this. Wow.
Last year Pankaj Mishra took rabid racist Niall Ferguson out and shot him. Verbally, I mean.
Ferguson did not entirely ignore the more egregious crimes of imperialism: the slave trade, the treatment of Australian aborigines or the famines that killed tens of millions across Asia. But he offered a robust defence of British motives, which apparently were humanitarian as much as economic. Transporting millions of indentured Asian labourers to far-off colonies (Indians to the Malay Peninsula, Chinese to Trinidad) was terrible, but ‘we cannot pretend that this mobilisation of cheap and probably underemployed Asian labour to grow rubber and dig gold had no economic value.’ And he challenged the ‘fashionable’ allegation that ‘the British authorities did nothing to relieve the drought-induced famines of the period.’ In any case, ‘whenever the British were behaving despotically, there was almost always a liberal critique of that behaviour from within British society.’ He sounds like the Europeans described by V.S. Naipaul – the grandson of indentured labourers – in A Bend in the River, who ‘wanted gold and slaves, like everybody else’, but also ‘wanted statues put up to themselves as people who had done good things for the slaves’.
Like all rabid racists Ferguson sued over this awful accusation that he might be–hisssss–racist.
Jaymee Goh On Permission and White Writers.
In the United States, if your work is egregiously racist, you will be impounded for a fine of $50 – $50,000, to be determined by a Jury of Disapproving Negros. They may also involve representatives of NMNAs (Non-Mascot Native Americans). If your work features poverty porn of Africa, Side-Eyeing African Children will be allowed to take arbitrary votes on the extent of your fine. If your work features cultures of East Asian extract, Inscrutable Orientals, from Section YP-1882, will place final call on the result of your work.
Recall Chimamanda Adichie’s story of a publisher who questioned her depiction of Nigeria; it felt inauthentic, because Adichie’s story didn’t fit any African narrative of poverty and ruin that the publisher recognized. Why, when a non-Westerner can be questioned on her writing of her own culture, must we focus on Western writers who have historically gotten away with racist, inaccurate writing, and give them the OK to write stories about us? Why now, when we non-Westerners have finally begun voicing our concerns of how we are depicted? And why we do keep having this particular conversation, in this particular frame, over and over again?
Detailed coverage of the “Aztec Indians” bullshit in Save the Pearls.
My point here is that, while Foyt may have Googled the name of a tribe, she does not bother to get the geographic details correct. Similarly, things are compounded by having the tribe speak in Spanish, even amongst themselves. According to research, this tribe has a unique and distinct language, unlike any other on Earth. I can understand that they would speak to Bramford or Eden in Spanish to try and facilitate communication, but not as a default amongst themselves. I just feel that while blacks/Coals are villainized, Indians and those of Hispanic descent are confused here. There’s no respect or research here. It’s just the assumption that one indigenous tribe in Central and South America is like any other and Spanish is interchangeable with the native language. Also, I’d like to point out she’s as simplistic in her naming here as with the black/Coal characters. There’s a Carmen, Maria, and a Lorenzo.
Finally, there is so much disdain to the native culture here. Eden finds their spirituality stupid and naive as well as their use of medicinal herbs. She has at least two tirades in her head about how gross the food they are sharing with her and her father is. Eden spends so much time in the book looking down at the native people who exist to tend to her father’s wounds and look after Bramford’s son. They serve no story purpose here but to prop up Eden.
Also, the native tribes (there’s a second one purported to be of Aztec descent hiding in the deep forests) worship Bramford in his panther form as El Tigre. I am unclear if that is even an aspect of Aztec or Huaorani religion, but we have the trope of native peoples being highly spiritual and worshipping the more civilized protagonists whom they see as more powerful.
Interview with Junot Diaz from June this year: The Search for Decolonial Love Part 1 and Part 2. Very good reading and wonderfully intersectional.