Earlier, I wrote about Jess Craig who has a blog called IROCKSOWHAT. She featured a non-native woman in a Plains-style headdress on her blog header (shown above), and a drawing she did from a photograph was labelled ‘native girl’. The ‘native girl’ in question is a 10-year old French model smeared with messy ‘war paint’ with some feathers and beads. The images offended a number of people, who told her so on her blog.
After a day-long back and forth between native posters and her supporters (the beginning was copy/pasted here before she deleted everything), Jess Craig told everyone that not only had she not bothered to read most of the posts, but that she was not taking the images down. She and her supporters kept it up on twitter as well, unapologetic as ever.
Today it was heartening to see that she had in fact taken the images down. Things had gotten nasty on her blog and I can understand that she’d been taken by surprise and felt under attack. I know I felt that way when her supporters posted racist things about natives being drunks, and that we all needed to shut up because this is ART. Regardless, I’d hoped she’d had some time to think about it and the arguments that were made.
Unfortunately, the twitter back and forth between her and some of her more foul-mouthed supporters unfortunately seemed to suggest something else. This became even clearer as her friends attempted to rewrite history in their responses to one of the people who had been commenting. That’s right folks.
Jess Craig thinks she is a victim.
Below is her latest blog post.
I just gotta get this out.
I do not like being strong armed and forced to do things I don’t want to do, or don’t believe that I should do. This is my blog and it’s personal to me. I started this for me, and the fact that I have followers is a bonus. I like you guys and I feel like I’ve made a lot of awesome friends.
But when a small group of people will not leave you alone and hassle you to no end, send you hundreds of emails exclaiming you’re a racist, calling you a privileged white person, you have to stop and think about what you’re doing. I do not AT ALL believe that the drawings that I had on here previously were racist. But, since that small group of people felt like it was, they contacted some of my sponsors asking them to withdraw their support in me. That is not okay. I do not want my friends/sponsors/advertisers to be involved in this in anyway. Innocent bystanders in the cross fire. I can honestly say that I would never bully anyone into changing their content, even if I detest their website.
I guess I just want you all to know that I’m not racist. I care very much for all types of people, even the ones that are mean to me. But I did change my blog header (don’t laugh! it’s temporary!) and I did remove the native girl print just to give my inbox some peace. There was no lesson learned here except that bullying gets you what you want.
So the change is temporary. Jess Craig does not feel she did anything wrong. The people contacting her about the images she used, and will use again, are merely bullies. All of us.
This despite the fact that I, and others, were exceedingly polite in the face of really awful comments and outright dismissals of our arguments. And I mean arguments, not ‘just complaints’. I very specifically laid out what was wrong with the image of the headdress in particular. You can see that argument captured above under the ‘foul-mouthed supporter’ link. You can also see the kind of respect it was given.
JESS CRAIG, YOU ARE NOT AN INNOCENT VICTIM
This may have been the first time you ever had it brought to your attention that a woman in a Plains style headdress is a disrespectful image. This might be the first time that you ever had someone tell you that one of your images (‘native girl’) was a gross stereotype of Native Americans. I can imagine that this may have come as a surprise.
Nonetheless, it would have greatly diffused the situation if you had at any time considered the arguments presented to you. If you had at any time actually engaged in honest dialogue. If you had not banned people, then erased our words leaving only the (now) unchallenged words of your supporters. If you had not erased it all in an attempt to hide what happened. I’m sure it would have been easier as well.
Yes, some people called your images racist. The first few comments were short and used words like ‘cultural appropriation’. Then someone linked you (politely) to a post on the subject. You merely said “I don’t agree”. You did not actually read the links provided to you (as demonstrated in your characterisation of them as having said only native people can draw ‘native stuff’). You admitted you didn’t actually even bother to read most of the posts and explained that nothing was going to change your mind.
And that’s fine. If you wish to actively engage in disrespect towards Native cultures, that is indeed your right. But there are consequences to your choices.
I did not bother contacting your sponsors once I realised that many of them were the same group of people shutting native voices down. I’m glad others did take the time to do so. It is precisely what should be done when people choose to engage in bigotry.
It does not matter that you refuse to accept that the images you displayed (and state you will display again) are offensive. This does not absolve you of responsibility for your actions.
Sometimes, shame is what is needed in order to get people to alter their behaviours. Your supporters claim that if only we had been nicer, maybe you would have listened. Except I was nice. I was clear. I was precise. And you made a point of not listening.
You have not listened. You have not accepted responsibility. You have not apologised.
You have learned nothing.
And that is a very sad thing.
Update: Apparently Jess Craig is not content having all those who disagree with her blocked from responding directly to her on her blog. She is also responding to some of those people with these kinds of comments:
Jess Craig: hey there. honestly, i just don’t understand how you can have a tumblr/blog about your hate for white people and not think that’s hypocritical? i may have had art work that offended you, and you may have thought it was racist, but you have to truly believe me that it was unintentional. the reason i wouldn’t remove it in the first place was because my blog is my personal space. it’d be as if i were to come here and tell you to remove every single time you made a white tears comment. it’d be absurd and a waste of time. you are being intentional with your comments and blog posts. i guess the question is which is worse? i know that you hate white people and i’m sorry for that. but i do not hate native americans at all. i can’t imagine randomly picking websites and attacking them for their content, even if it did offend me. i guess what i’m asking is, do you have a job?
Yes. She just repeatedly called someone a racist and then went on to explain that she is definitely not. She complains about people throwing around the accusation of racism too freely….and then engages in this behaviour.
No, this won’t be resolved. Jess Craig, and her supporters, are hell bent on off-loading any responsibility for this on to those of us who find her images offensive. After all, it’s her personal blog. She can be offensive is she wanna.