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Thread: Victoria Foyt's novel coming under fire...

  1. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyia View Post
    I keep expecting someone to try and spin it as "But if you put coal underground with heat and pressure, you get diamonds!!!" I'm really surprised no one has.
    Don't worry, I believe one of her defenses read like this. Which is a whole new level... because that reads to me like, "If you press a black person enough, you can get white out of them."

    Quote Originally Posted by aruna View Post
    Yes, I think the whole thing just exploded two days ago and that's how it reached AW -- not the other way around. In other words, we didn't start it, Mummy!
    Started on tumblr from the reports. Spread to live journal then here.

  2. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by fireluxlou View Post
    Well it would have the sudden 1+ star reviews because an article on the book was posted on ONTD (OhNoTheyDidnt), Bookfails.livejournal.com, Tumblr and various other communities and it was a hot topic among the YA reviewer crowd on Goodreads and Twitter. Several other gossip communities and there's a petition against it. This isn't the only site talking about this book. A lot of people have gotten copies I think through Netgalley and other sites to review the book so they know what it's like which is why the whole discussion was sparked to begin with.
    This whole thing makes me sick to my stomach. Someone here says the controversy tempts her to read the book. PLEASE DON'T! I've got a horrid feeling this will be the exact fallout. That would be tragic. This woman's bilge should be consigned to the deepest pit of failure. I am not surprised she hasn't come on AW to defend herself. It's indefensible. I admit, I am having a hard time respecting my fellow author, because she seems to be incapable of respecting her fellow human being who happens not to be white.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alessandra Kelley View Post
    From the Sand Dollar Press website:



    The problem with viral campaigns is that one cannot really control them. Social media strategy is all well and good, but if the product one is trying to market is doubtful, it may well backfire. Trying to manipulate social media is difficult because, well, people talk to each other and think for themselves.

    This book launch is not going well.
    They wouldn't be the first company to try and manipulate social media and have it bite them in the arse.

  4. #104
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    You know, I just got back a sample edit of a novel I am working on. In this novel, I describe some really bad creatures who could be thought of as the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. I describe their skin as black as coal... Hmmm.

    The editor, whom I respect, noted do you really want to go there with this description? She noted that in this current publishing climate, a description like this, showing the black skinned creatures as being bad guys may not go over well.

    While I understand what she was saying, and why, I am now wondering if all skin color references to bad creatures or characters, have to be non-black so as not to offend, anyone?

    These creatures, while human in appearance were not meant to symbolize PoC. The theme is good vs evil, and while I do have a variety of races in this series, I generally do not describe skin color. Do I now have to rethink the bad guys skin colors so as not to offend anyone?

    I realize this is not the same as what VF has done with her story, but the comment by the editor makes me feel this whole remove all references to black skinned that is not positive may be an overreaction, or is it?
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    I personally think the company is just run by Foyt and some friends because no publishing company would publish this book considering the content. And her last book was published by harper teen but is out of print.

  6. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by thothguard51 View Post
    You know, I just got back a sample edit of a novel I am working on. In this novel, I describe some really bad creatures who could be thought of as the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. I describe their skin as black as coal... Hmmm.

    The editor, whom I respect, noted do you really want to go there with this description? She noted that in this current publishing climate, a description like this, showing the black skinned creatures as being bad guys may not go over well.

    While I understand what she was saying, and why, I am now wondering if all skin color references to bad creatures or characters, have to be non-black so as not to offend, anyone?

    These creatures, while human in appearance were not meant to symbolize PoC. The theme is good vs evil, and while I do have a variety of races in this series, I generally do not describe skin color. Do I now have to rethink the bad guys skin colors so as not to offend anyone?

    I realize this is not the same as what VF has done with her story, but the comment by the editor makes me feel this whole remove all references to black skinned that is not positive may be an overreaction, or is it?
    The problem isn't that you describe a creature as "coal" black. The problem is you made the "coal-black" creatures "MONKEYS"--something that African and African American people have had used as a SLUR (you need to look this up!).

    How do you not know why that is offensive? *boggle*


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  7. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by thothguard51 View Post
    You know, I just got back a sample edit of a novel I am working on. In this novel, I describe some really bad creatures who could be thought of as the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. I describe their skin as black as coal... Hmmm.

    The editor, whom I respect, noted do you really want to go there with this description? She noted that in this current publishing climate, a description like this, showing the black skinned creatures as being bad guys may not go over well.

    While I understand what she was saying, and why, I am now wondering if all skin color references to bad creatures or characters, have to be non-black so as not to offend, anyone?

    These creatures, while human in appearance were not meant to symbolize PoC. The theme is good vs evil, and while I do have a variety of races in this series, I generally do not describe skin color. Do I now have to rethink the bad guys skin colors so as not to offend anyone?
    I realize this is not the same as what VF has done with her story, but the comment by the editor makes me feel this whole remove all references to black skinned that is not positive may be an overreaction, or is it?
    Your editor I think means 'black as coal' the coal bit is the problem, not that you're describing them. You could describe their colour in many ways. Black as onyx etc. This is whole 'nother thread. Coal is a racial charged word because it is used as a slur so that is most likely why.

    And there's also the fact you called the black creatures monkeys which is a whole nother field of racism. Like your black creatures are monkeys?

  8. #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by fireluxlou View Post
    Well it would have the sudden 1+ star reviews because an article on the book was posted on ONTD (OhNoTheyDidnt), Bookfails.livejournal.com, Tumblr and various other communities and it was a hot topic among the YA reviewer crowd on Goodreads and Twitter. Several other gossip communities and there's a petition against it. This isn't the only site talking about this book. A lot of people have gotten copies I think through Netgalley and other sites to review the book so they know what it's like which is why the whole discussion was sparked to begin with.
    I've seen similar things happen to books by authors who spammed, authors who said nasty things about reviewers, etc. At least these reviews are about the book and not giving the author one star because they spammed.

    I don't know how many of the reviewers read the whole book. This leads to a whole debate about whether it's OK to read a review that criticizes the book based simply on what the author has said about it, what you have read about it, etc. But I do like being warned away in a case like this.

    Also, it is possible to make a judgment based on reading just part of a book, such as the sample chapters. I make judgments based on samples all the time. By deciding not to buy a book because the sample was badly written. Or in one case, because the author referred to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as a "backwater" in the beginning of the story. (The Lancaster metropolitan area has a population of over half a million people! )

    I wouldn't post a review based on that, but some people will. Is it OK to post a review based on an excerpt? The jury is still out on that.
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  9. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnneMarble View Post
    I've seen similar things happen to books by authors who spammed, authors who said nasty things about reviewers, etc. At least these reviews are about the book and not giving the author one star because they spammed.

    I don't know how many of the reviewers read the whole book. This leads to a whole debate about whether it's OK to read a review that criticizes the book based simply on what the author has said about it, what you have read about it, etc. But I do like being warned away in a case like this.

    Also, it is possible to make a judgment based on reading just part of a book, such as the sample chapters. I make judgments based on samples all the time. By deciding not to buy a book because the sample was badly written. Or in one case, because the author referred to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as a "backwater" in the beginning of the story. (The Lancaster metropolitan area has a population of over half a million people! )

    I wouldn't post a review based on that, but some people will. Is it OK to post a review based on an excerpt? The jury is still out on that.
    Well I think people are basically writing their reviews from also what her website www.savethepearls.com says too because of her videos on youtube advertising her book and her 'midnight luster' and videos of white people blacking up. And this one video of this lady saying she'd make a good match because she has no family so wouldn't run if her coal-mate beat her.

    Like it's not just the book there's a whole website dedicated to saving white people from black people and youtube videos of by her of hired actors blacking up etc.

  10. #110
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    Interesting that Dani and fireluxlou have two completely different assessments as to why the description is racist.

    Personally, absent any other context, I think it requires a stretch to regard coal-black flying monkeys as some kind of slight on PoC, and immediately making that connection strikes me as kind of racist. Who reads about monkeys and immediately thinks "black people"? Who immediately assumes that "coal black," referring to anything, is a reference to black people?

    On the other hand, this sort of close parsing of every reference and descriptive detail in a book is pretty common nowadays*. So your editor is probably right: regardless of what you intended, someone is going to decide that you're calling black people flying monkeys.

    * ObNote: I am not against close reading to dig out subtle, unintended racism. I do think some of these readings can get a bit tortured, though. Which is not a problem with Victoria Foyt's book, in which the "unintended" racism is about as subtle as a minstrel show.

  11. #111
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    My bad for using the term monkey in describing these creatures.

    I do understand the term monkey is offense and that was not my intent in my post. I was just trying to give a visual of what these creatures look like. They are not monkeys in the book. I should have explained better.

    They are part Elf and part Raven, thus, Raven Elves. The Raven part would match their skin color. Which is why I used black as coal, and I am not sure the editor got that? Or if she did, was still warning me away from this whole color issue. Obviously, if I make the skin color other than black, I will also have to find a more suitable name to call these creatures.

    I hope that clarifies...
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  12. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by fireluxlou View Post
    I personally think the company is just run by Foyt and some friends because no publishing company would publish this book considering the content. And her last book was published by harper teen but is out of print.
    It's self-published; the ISBN is a dead giveaway.

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  13. #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by thothguard51 View Post
    My bad for using the term monkey in describing these creatures.


    They are part Elf and part Raven, thus, Raven Elves. The Raven part would match their skin color. Which is why I used black as coal, and I am not sure the editor got that? Or if she did, was still warning me away from this whole color issue. Obviously, if I make the skin color other than black, I will also have to find a more suitable name to call these creatures.

    I hope that clarifies...
    How about Eagle Elves? Falcon Elves? Magpie Elves?

    I'm guessing you need a predatory bird with a bad reputation?

    Vulture Elves?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
    Interesting that Dani and fireluxlou have two completely different assessments as to why the description is racist.

    Personally, absent any other context, I think it requires a stretch to regard coal-black flying monkeys as some kind of slight on PoC, and immediately making that connection strikes me as kind of racist. Who reads about monkeys and immediately thinks "black people"? Who immediately assumes that "coal black," referring to anything, is a reference to black people?

    On the other hand, this sort of close parsing of every reference and descriptive detail in a book is pretty common nowadays*. So your editor is probably right: regardless of what you intended, someone is going to decide that you're calling black people flying monkeys.

    * ObNote: I am not against close reading to dig out subtle, unintended racism. I do think some of these readings can get a bit tortured, though. Which is not a problem with Victoria Foyt's book, in which the "unintended" racism is about as subtle as a minstrel show.
    Well there's all kinds of problematic to the entire description, it's not a nice description and the association's are there to both 'coal' and 'monkey' because of history. People will see things differently but I think we both drew the same conclusion no less.

    Quote Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
    It's self-published; the ISBN is a dead giveaway.
    Not surprised then.

  15. #115
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    Quote Originally Posted by fireluxlou View Post
    Your editor I think means 'black as coal' the coal bit is the problem, not that you're describing them. You could describe their colour in many ways. Black as onyx etc. This is whole 'nother thread. Coal is a racial charged word because it is used as a slur so that is most likely why.

    And there's also the fact you called the black creatures monkeys which is a whole nother field of racism. Like your black creatures are monkeys?
    Quote Originally Posted by Dani View Post
    The problem isn't that you describe a creature as "coal" black. The problem is you made the "coal-black" creatures "MONKEYS"--something that African and African American people have had used as a SLUR (you need to look this up!).

    How do you not know why that is offensive? *boggle*
    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
    Interesting that Dani and fireluxlou have two completely different assessments as to why the description is racist.
    Bold above is mine. How exactly did we get two different assessments? Look pretty similar to me. But what I do know? I'm just, according to you, racist because I put the two together.

    By the by, most people put those together who are sensitive. Privilege people don't because they don't get veiled racism.

    My white grandma doesn't get why calling my dad that "dirty redskin" is offensive to me, either. Probably because she's not sensitive to the fact that I SHARE HIS BLOOD.


    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
    Personally, absent any other context, I think it requires a stretch to regard coal-black flying monkeys as some kind of slight on PoC, and immediately making that connection strikes me as kind of racist. Who reads about monkeys and immediately thinks "black people"? Who immediately assumes that "coal black," referring to anything, is a reference to black people?
    Um those of us that read his post when he said it described THE CHARACTERS as coal black. Yeah, dunno how I could confuse him saying he "describes" them as coal black. What's he talking about if not skin tone? Their panties?

    I don't believe it was intentional. I don't even think the majority of people will read anything into it. It's just simply one of those moments when you don't realize how things are taken because you don't DEAL with that kind of thing all the time. Doesn't make him racist. Doesn't make him a bad person. Doesn't even make his book or the characters in it "veiled" in racism. It just is something to consider and that will HURT some people and offend them. The thing about learning about veiled racism and offensive things is that you can use that information to be defensive, or you can use it to learn a little something and perhaps not alienate people unnecessarily.


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    Racism is so ingrained in society, half the time people don't realise they're doing it. But the immediate reaction is not get defensive just because you can't use those terms, descriptors and words about other people because of the history associated to them. It's to learn from them. Intent doesn't matter at all.

    Also here's a sample of the 1st chapter for anyone who hasn't read it.

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    This article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor...b_1591048.html
    makes my head ache. Lack of knowledge about anthropology and "guesses" don't make an article. This just confirmed my suspicion that she never researches because she thinks, "Hey, I'll write what I know." No... no... no... you write what you care about and research the rest.

    I'll save the rant on why Homo Erectus didn't exactly "get wiped out" (You know, evolution... but ya know what we're dealing with) and why homo Neanderthalensis probably did get wiped out. But I'll summarize to say she's wrong. It's not because they friggin' procrastinated their way to death.

    At least this article highlights how she gets her science knowledge (or the lack of it). Explains a lot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dani View Post
    Bold above is mine. How exactly did we get two different assessments? Look pretty similar to me. But what I do know? I'm just, according to you, racist because I put the two together.
    Longer post deleted, because I don't think you're engaging in good faith.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
    Interesting that Dani and fireluxlou have two completely different assessments as to why the description is racist.

    Personally, absent any other context, I think it requires a stretch to regard coal-black flying monkeys as some kind of slight on PoC, and immediately making that connection strikes me as kind of racist. Who reads about monkeys and immediately thinks "black people"? Who immediately assumes that "coal black," referring to anything, is a reference to black people?

    On the other hand, this sort of close parsing of every reference and descriptive detail in a book is pretty common nowadays*. So your editor is probably right: regardless of what you intended, someone is going to decide that you're calling black people flying monkeys.

    * ObNote: I am not against close reading to dig out subtle, unintended racism. I do think some of these readings can get a bit tortured, though. Which is not a problem with Victoria Foyt's book, in which the "unintended" racism is about as subtle as a minstrel show.
    Well, there certainly are people who specifically look for these kinds of symbolisms in everything from movies to Hallmark cards. I don't see an issue with dark beasts attacking protagonists, especially if the antagonists are born of night or tar or darkness. We're naturally afraid of the dark, and it has nothing to do with racism. If the author is using this natural menacing feeling from stillness in the night, natural camouflage with the night, etc., then I certainly don't find fault with it.

    That doesn't mean that no one else will though. I would have to recommend going with your writer instinct on what will be scarier or more menacing. I had no idea "coal" was even a racial slur before it was fictionalized as such in this book. It certainly isn't listed on this list, but is used as a base word in things like coal-burner and coal-miner. Still, I think it's a stretch unless it's being used as is being done in this book, where it's explicitly setup as a slur.

  20. #120
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dani View Post
    The problem isn't that you describe a creature as "coal" black. The problem is you made the "coal-black" creatures "MONKEYS"--something that African and African American people have had used as a SLUR (you need to look this up!).
    That isn't what he wrote.


    Quote Originally Posted by thothguard51 View Post
    In this novel, I describe some really bad creatures who could be thought of as the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. I describe their skin as black as coal... Hmmm.
    The creatures he's referring to are not monkeys; he says they could be thought of as the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz.

    That's what we call a literary allusion. His creatures are not physically like flying monkeys; they are anthropomorphic ravens, as he makes clear in his subsequent post.

    thothguard's real question is

    Quote Originally Posted by thothguard51 View Post
    The editor, whom I respect, noted do you really want to go there with this description? She noted that in this current publishing climate, a description like this, showing the black skinned creatures as being bad guys may not go over well.

    While I understand what she was saying, and why, I am now wondering if all skin color references to bad creatures or characters, have to be non-black so as not to offend, anyone?

    These creatures, while human in appearance were not meant to symbolize PoC. The theme is good vs evil, and while I do have a variety of races in this series, I generally do not describe skin color. Do I now have to rethink the bad guys skin colors so as not to offend anyone?
    Last edited by Medievalist; 07-29-2012 at 11:40 PM.

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  21. #121
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    Quote Originally Posted by zahra View Post
    This whole thing makes me sick to my stomach. Someone here says the controversy tempts her to read the book. PLEASE DON'T!
    Oh, don't worry. I'm curious how awful it actually gets, but my money doesn't go to the obviously racist or those with their privilege running out of control. She definitely falls into one category or the other.

  22. #122
    Quote Originally Posted by thothguard51 View Post
    You know, I just got back a sample edit of a novel I am working on. In this novel, I describe some really bad creatures who could be thought of as the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. I describe their skin as black as coal... Hmmm.

    The editor, whom I respect, noted do you really want to go there with this description? She noted that in this current publishing climate, a description like this, showing the black skinned creatures as being bad guys may not go over well.

    While I understand what she was saying, and why, I am now wondering if all skin color references to bad creatures or characters, have to be non-black so as not to offend, anyone?

    These creatures, while human in appearance were not meant to symbolize PoC. The theme is good vs evil, and while I do have a variety of races in this series, I generally do not describe skin color. Do I now have to rethink the bad guys skin colors so as not to offend anyone?

    I realize this is not the same as what VF has done with her story, but the comment by the editor makes me feel this whole remove all references to black skinned that is not positive may be an overreaction, or is it?
    Meh, as a POC, I'm rather sick of the bad guys being dark skinned, black as night creatures.

    It's not that they have to be non-black, but it seems like a standard trope in fantasy -- if a creature is dark skinned, it's evil. If a character is dark skinned, they're a savage. If they're white, they're pure and probably holy and saint-like.

    You're always going to offend someone, but it's good to keep in mind that for the past 400 years or so, dark skin has been seen as something to get rid of, bleach, or fear. All your bad guys don't have to have non-black skin -- that's ridiculous -- but you could equalize the field if you're afraid of potential back lash. And from what I've seen, ravens are dark violet and shiny, not really black.

    But I'd have to raise my eyes if your coal black antagonists started attacking and raping the *coincidentally* white as snow MC's.

    Just my two bits. I'd really have to read your novel to understand the context. I don't like to automatically conclude IT'S RACIST, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me, just a little.

  23. #123
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebloodfiend View Post
    but I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me, just a little.
    This was the whole point of what I was saying.

    Instead of becoming defensive and making excuses, step into someone else's shoes and, to quote a very wise woman:

    "the number-one rule when talking to a minority about their experiences with prejudice: assume that they understand the situation better than you do, because they’re the ones who live it."


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  24. #124
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    [QUOTE] Just my two bits. I'd really have to read your novel to understand the context. I don't like to automatically conclude IT'S RACIST, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me, just a little. [/QUOTES]

    Not to derail, but here is the scene description she commented on.

    The Shadow Stalkers did not bother him as much, though, as what rode upon their backs, Raven Elves. They were shorter than humans and fairly thin. They wore leather jerkins and leggings; their exposed skin as black as coal. Their ears seemed overly large and pointed, while their heads were bald. Like the Shadow Stalkers, their eyes were a bright crimson-red. From their backs, leathery wings were folded in place so as not to hinder their movements. According to legends, their wings were more for gliding than flight.

    The editors biggest issue was the black as coal description because of the current climate of publishing. I suppose I could change to ebony black, obsidian black, or other, but coal black to me is dull and non reflective, which was the image I wanted. It never dawned on me that anyone would look at it as I am stereotyping PoC.
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    Nick Anthony

  25. #125
    Cuddly sweet teddy bear! Dani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thothguard51 View Post
    It never dawned on me that anyone would look at it as I am stereotyping PoC.
    Just to be clear, I am not accusing you of stereotyping or of being racist, especially in light of this description. Since I didn't have context when I made my original quote (which was based on your words of "flying monkeys"), I pointed out something that would distress many readers. It turns out, as you later posted, that they were raven-like creatures.

    Some things that suck, but are no less true. This kind of thing can cause a lot of internal anguish among POC: The bad guys called "dark", "black". Black always considered evil. White always considered pure/innocent.

    Why is this still used? It's cliche. Why can't red be evil in stories? Red is the color of blood and passion and anger. How about violet? Violet even sounds like VIOLENT.

    Is some of this over-sensitivity? Well, ask yourself this: Do you live it every day? If your answer is no, then you can't say whether they're being over sensitive.

    Here's an AmIndian's perspective-- I am sick and tired of the Indian being portrayed as some sort of spiritual plane walker who smokes peyote and turns into a wolf when night comes. That's one perspective. My cousin, on the other hand, calls himself Running Wolf and has a garish tattoo of a wolf on his lower back.

    You can't please everyone, but it's always good to be aware of things and decide based on what you learn.


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