reservation dogs is literally my favourite show rn. i love willie jack because she reminds me of girls i grew up with and girls i watched grow up, and her actor has such a promising career ahead of her if she chooses to pursue more roles in the future. the world is so raw and authentic and the supernatural/spiritual moments don’t take away the reality of just what it’s like to grow up indigenous, with all the messed up family dynamics and the escapism you find in your friends, dicking around and wishing for things beyond the place you were born into. “this place killed daniel,” those kids say, because they’re aware. willie saying she wasn’t mad at daniel anymore for dying. fuck man, we had three young women commit suicide this year and a sixteen year old died last night, he was shot. there’s so much death we have to deal with due to the circumstances we were dealt and it’s just. it’s hitting so hard right now because a lot of us know that anger. this show is something incredibly special and it’s unfortunate that it’s not as popular as it should be.
i hope that there’s more seasons beyond the announced 2nd one, it really, really deserves it
I want to talk about some of the antiblackness, antiblack racism, and general fuckery in the first episode of Reservation Dogs
First off, I’m not going to address anything but the antiblackness because I’m trying to stay in my lane & I’m not necessarily advocating for cancelling the show because I stopped watching it after episode one anyway because I found it to be extremely degrading with regards to its presentation of Black people. I’m making this post because I have not seen anyone besides my friend Kih, a Black Native, mention anything negative about the portrayals of Black ppl in this show and I found that absolutely ridiculous considering how bad it truly is.
Content warning for discussions of antiblackness under the cut.
Edit: Episode 4 is way worse
So I want to start with this video. (I had to screen record it myself, so I apologize for the audio.) The offending characters are named Mose and Meeko and I despised them the second they came into the show with their blaccents, appropriation and butchering of AAVE, and off-color jokes about Bloods and Crips. It’s messed up that in shows featuring predominantly non-white casts and that feature writers who aren’t white that they still perpetuate this kind of antiblackness. This happens in real life too- I can’t even tell you the amount of non-Black men I have met who think it’s okay to use the n-word and steal the language of Black ppl because they’re brown. There are a lot of instances where the other characters in the show abuse AAVE, but this was the absolute worst and cringiest part of the show- I literally could not take it seriously at all because of these two characters.
Secondly, I have a huge issue with how a certain situation with a Black man was presented in this show. So at the beginning of the episode, the kids steal a truck from a Black man. There were only two Black characters in the episode, one was a cook with one line, and the other was this trucker.
The kids steal his truck. Later in the episode, they’re all sitting and eating and this Black trucker comes into the store (not noticing them) and has a conversation with the store owner. He mentions how after some kids (he doesn’t know they did it) stole his truck he lost his job and his life fell apart. He tries to stay positive, but all of the kids look really guilty as they overhear him talk.
In the middle of the conversation, the scene cuts to the MC’s imaginary scenario where this man hovers over him and angrily says he will beat his ass and that these gangs will beat his ass. I found this to be disgusting- that the MC is projecting this level of aggression and violence onto a Black man he’s never met
This later turns out to be extremely wrong as the trucker smiles at the kids and wishes them a good life before leaving the store.
Now, I actually thought this could have been really cool, considering that Native people owned Black people as slaves and participate in and perpetuate antiblackness. I thought it would be cool for the characters to admit to harming this man and having a discussion about intercommunity harm in general. But no.
Right after this scene, the MC is clearly guilty about it, and one of the other characters basically tells him to stop feeling sad and that this man means nothing to them and who cares about him. Then she monologues about how hard their lives are and justifies what they did. The episode continues as if none of this happened, and as if she was right. It was honestly so extremely disappointing.
I found the use of rap playing over the title at the beginning of the episode (as the kids are stealing the truck) to be shitty too. Non-Black people love using rap overlays as a way to show their characters are doing “bad” and criminal things.
I also found the use of graffiti and fashion to appropriate from Black culture and think they were trying to steal a lot from what they think is the “aesthetic” of Black neighborhoods and poverty. There was a Black gang sign spray painted on the brick wall, and several of the villain characters shoot the main cast with paintball guns in a dramatized slow motion scene making gang signs and wearing red and blue bandanas.
I think it’s clear the writers of Reservation Dogs think of Black people as props and tools for comic relief. I think it’s clear they think AAVE is associated with criminality and also a tool for comic relief.
I think they don’t give a single shit about Black Natives.
The way they use Black aesthetics and poverty as interchangeable with non-Black people of color’s neighborhoods rubbed me the wrong way too. And the way this episode addressed the Black trucker shows me they think Native people have no societal privilege over Black people
All in all, this was a hot heaping mess and I highly recommend that Black Natives avoid this show like the plague and I highly recommend that Black people be very careful if you decide to continue on with the show.
The prolific filmmaker, who already has “What We Do in the Shadows” heading into a third season at the network, is teaming with Native American writer and director Sterlin Harjo for half-hour comedy “Reservation Dogs.”
“Reservation Dogs,” which has been handed a series order by FX, follows four Native teenagers in rural Oklahoma who spend their days committing crime and fighting it.
“Reservation Dogs” stars D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Devery Jacobs, Paulina Alexis and Lane Factor (pictured above) as the aforementioned teens. The pilot episode also features guest stars Tamara Podemski, Zahn McClarnon, Macon Blair, Kirk Fox, Matty Cardarople, Dallas Goldtooth, Lil Mike and Funny Bone.” (source)
Y’all are really out here looking at black people, Afro-natives included, saying that rez dogs is literally unwatchable for us and seeing all the black people who did give it a chance have to quit at the minstrelsy scene, seeing how triggering and damaging it’s been, and responding like “oh yes it is antiblack and it’s important to acknowledge that!! Keep supporting the show though bc it’s great native rep, just hope that they do better in the future :)” and you think that’s a good progressive take.
Maybe you need to stop hiding behind the ambiguity of “antiblack” in your disingenuous “critiques” and put a name to exactly what you’re excusing: minstrelsy and exploitation of black culture. Be transparent with yourselves about what you’re doing. You actually think there’s room for antiblackness in progress for natives, you actually think we can spare some more damage done to black ppl for the sake of somebody else’s win. And you think you look less clownish than the nb natives denying the show is antiblack at all but you don’t. You’re not better than them. Admit that you share a common interest with our colonizers and go.
I promise you any change you think you could be making by bitching that Ian Ousley "looks white" would be more easily accomplished by watching Reservation Dogs, talking about it, telling your friends amd neighbors about it, thereby helping to create a demand for media where Native folks are actually in charge of the story and not just a neat facet to add flavor.
Reservation Dogs is about Native teenagers trying to leave their community for the greater wide world and California specifically. They do what they can to save money, getting into trouble along the way as teenagers tend to, all while facing a "rival" gang. If Jet and his Freedom Fighters or Team Avatar's not-entirely-legal shenanegins were your favorite parts of the original series, you'll love Reservation Dogs. Check it out and help boost the ratings.
While we're at it, let's hype up the video game Never Alone, even though it's been out for a while now, because it was entirely informed by Inupiaq people sharing cultural knowledge and stories. It was narrated in Inupiatun!!! The narration is in a dialect of our dying language!! You collect little video lessons about the way of life, contemporary and traditional. They talk about King Island! A video game studio found my grandma's village interesting enough to depict and offer an explanation for! We never get that kind of attention in anything not strictly about us or Nome!
Native people who aren't that weird crypto-terf that tried following me a while back: reblog this with a piece of Native media you think should get more love
It frustrates me to no end how non-Black people of color really think they get a free pass to steal and exploit Black culture and our language like white people do. I honestly feel like everyone thinks they own us and that’s why
Also I think non-Black people of color who fetishize Black culture forget that they’re not actually Black 💀
I have not watched the newest episode of Reservation Dogs yet but I'm told that there is a HUGE trigger warning for suicide and images of suicide. Please be careful while watching. Please be gentle with yourself.
Can u specify the antiblackness your friend seen on Reservation Dogs?
There are central characters that appropriate black culture & mimic black ppl constantly, scenes that really lean into that to the point of borderline caricature, and just the fact there are barely any black ppl at all lol n like I said the ones that are there are treated weird which I just don’t rlly feel like getting in2 !
Just gonna say now that I’m not engaging with any nonblack ndns who think there’s no issue w media showcasing our communities not representing black ndns at all, not for less than $50.