Bubba Otep of the Pretendian and Fake Ally peoples

[Image from Victory Records Press site for Otep. Note: Otep threatened me with her publicist. Never heard from them. Update: Otep says she’s not with Victory Records anymore (my apologies to Victory Records) so here’s her page on Napalm Records. Enjoy the new age description.]

After a couple of days of Otep being an asshole to Natives, she blocked Natives and then posted a 47 minute ramble about how she was sooo right and the victim in everything in a manner to which Natives were not permitted to see or address because most of us who spoke up were blocked. Cowardly, but maybe when one is not willing to listen and learn, the only way to make sure things go one way and one does not have to have any accountability for the actions being called out on is to silence opposing voices. We’ll get into it a little more later, but let’s open with this from her rant.

“I’m pretty straightforward with the way I speak and the way I communicate so if I meant something then… if I was going to say something I’d say it, I wouldn’t just infer it.”

So Otep most definitely meant what she said when she tweeted at me, “Are you claiming your kids are disabled for pity and compassion and PayPal or just a badge you need shined?”

You asked if my disabled children were disabled because you view me, a disabled parent, as needing ‘a badge to shine’ if I share the fact that my CHILDREN are disabled. Or, if I’m making false claims about their disability for social clout and “PayPal”. This is beyond heartless to do to disabled Native children. If you want to act like something more than a white fragile woman who can’t handle the fact that her supposed Native ancestry is, in all likelihood, just a story, you come after ME, disabled or not, or other adults. Not disabled children. 48 hours later and your testament still stands on your “if I meant something… I’d say it.” Yeah, you said it. We all see it.

Disabled people pointed out how wrong this was, not just me; also peep the replies. Not only is it still up but there hasn’t been an apology so it seems she really meant what she said and how she said it.

In her video, she addressed that ‘I mean what I say’ line to being called out for joking about a Native woman with cancer and then claiming it was really compassion. More on the video later. First the introductions.

How did Otep get outed as an anti-Indigenous asshole? She flew under most of our radars for some time but that all came to an end.

This was one of the first tweets that I saw and it digressed from there.

You’ll come to find that instead of addressing questions posed to her, Otep constantly deflects, never answers questions and poses questions of her own that are unrelated and intended to incite conflict. Because that’s what false allies and anti-Indigenous people do.

For someone supposedly championing Native issues for 20 years, Otep doesn’t seem to know that Natives have been protesting Native mascots for more than 20 years to let slip this gem of ignorance:

ChelseyMooner said a very truthful thing here that many of us agree with: “If you’re not Native, then no. It’s not your place to talk over Natives on Native issues.” Otep took this and twisted it to ask someone their sexuality and pronouns. Deflection and attack. Subsequent tweets did more of the same.

This is the excusing something bad by suggesting that ‘good things’ outweigh it. This is a white woman telling a Native that Milano’s perpetuation of Native mascots is okay because she also does/says good things. A lot of people say the same thing about Elizabeth Warren and the ‘better than trump’ angle in excusing how she appropriates Native identity. Milano has been told for years about the mascot issue and has deflected Natives since. Someone who claims to be such a great ally should have known about our decades long fight against mascots first of all. Second, this is a non-Native telling a Native how they should feel about an issue that is very obviously important to them.

Remember back when Matthew McConaughey defended the r*skins, he said, “What interests me is how quickly it got pushed into the social consciousness. We were all fine with it since the 1930s…”? His ‘we’ absolutely did not include Natives. The majority of non-Natives are fine with it. They don’t see our objection and protest because caring about our views and cultures are not on their radar. Otep questioning what we’re doing about it is white privilege and ignorance. There are whole websites and communities that take on the mascot issue, Natives and allies alike. The information is out there and the reason a lot of Natives know about them is because they’re part of our communities and issues that WE care about. For a non-Native to challenge Natives over Native issues that Natives are discussing with problematic people is a disruption of Native conversations. If one wanted to learn or be educated, they can research on their own first and ask questions, not demand answers or insert oneself into a lane they don’t belong in and know nothing about.

Here’s where things went south even more quickly and snowballed. First I’m going to share something of my place in Oglala Lakota culture.

For as long as I can remember, when we meet other Lakota and introduce ourselves, we share the names of our parents and grandparents, minimum, to see if we have any relatives in common. In my fam, when we meet other Natives, if we introduce ourselves first, we give our names, our Nations and then ask the other person/people theirs. Sometimes this includes asking where they’re from because some of us know a lot of Natives from a lot of Nations and while it’s not often that one does such intros and find people in common, you’d be surprised that it has happened. For example, I met a Native uncle downtown and after doing our introductions, discovered that he’s also my blood relative. I’ve met a Native in another state and discovered that we knew someone in common. Introductions are important. What’s not okay is asking in any variation, “how Indian are you?” Pretendians, racists and the ignorant who claim “Native ancestry”get defensive and hostile about being asked what Nation(s) they belong to when it’s a very natural thing that we do with and for each other.

Let’s get into this one tweet a little. The opening is rich. “If you know my track record…” Like we, all Natives, know every non-Native who has done anything regarding Indigenous rights. There was no introduction, no information about herself that would have indicated to anyone that she saw herself as an ally and wanted clarification. Otep was hostile out of the gate, became worse and is now crying victim over being called out.

Speaking of track record: exactly what has Otep done with and for any Native Nation? Not a single Native stepped up to assure, ‘hey, yeah, Otep has done [this] or [that] for us/Natives’. More than a few Natives have indicated that they’d listened to her music. That’s it. But her whole ‘do you know who I am’ approach only set herself up for being schooled.

After starting out hostile, Otep turns it around and tells a Native woman to ‘take a relax’ because Otep is on our side. Then proceeds to talk down to someone who’s conversation she inserted herself into that any backlash Milano faced would only have been worse if they were after the clothing line. Which isn’t how any of this works and only illustrates how much of this topic is something Otep knows absolutely nothing about and has no right to speak to Natives about how we should feel about issues relating to us. This paternalistic attitude is one that most of us are familiar with.

A few tweets ago Otep asked someone’s sexual orientation and it was as unrelated to the subject at hand as this centering herself to make the playing field about her when no one had taken it to this direction. In setting herself up to be martyred, all she did was display a need to be some kind of acknowledged white savior. Later, Otep does another self-martyr move by suggesting that she’s become a target because ‘Milano doesn’t answer you’. None of this started about Otep at all. She manipulated conversations to so totally center herself that it rallied the handful of fans actually paying attention to her tweets to lash out at Natives. Fans, by the way, that she calls ‘tribe’ because of course. But who exactly is Otep and what is her Native American connection?

Natives educated Otep in as many ways that went ignored. She stoked as many flames as she could and then did her best to paint herself as the victim before resorting to blocking most of us who had spoken up. She uplifted voices that put us down and those that praised her for being ‘a badass’ – this from a self-proclaimed ally. Only then did she make a 47 minute ramble in an attempt to ‘tell it like it is’. She trump’d her fans and they bought it.

What got many a Native upset was this tweet, which we’re going to break down a little bit too.

“It seems like you’re having a bad day” – this is already paternalistic and hypocritical given how Otep had been tweeting at people up till now. It comes off troll-like and could be construed in a number of ways. At best, the predominant being that Otep is condescending to a Native woman with cancer. At worse, she’s intentionally mocking because of Otep’s previous hostilities and the fact that Otep has admitted that she loves to fight online.

Let’s continue.

“I checked your profile and i saw a tweet that read “cancer” was kicking your butt” – the larger reason that this comes off as a joke or a jibe is because Otep chose to put cancer in quotes as though the cancer wasn’t real. In her video rant, she claims that she was being compassionate. If that were the case, why not simply leave @/wapshkankwet in peace. You know. Be mature. Which, as Native have discovered, isn’t possible for Otep.

“Is that the horoscope or do you truly have cancer? If so…” – does this really need any explanation of why this is a shitty thing to say to someone with cancer? Here is the tweet Otep references, which does not give any indication that a horoscope sign is kicking her butt.

I rest my case.

But wait, there’s more! Check out how Otep rode that out further and further, making an offer of guestlisting come off more as a threat. Again, all directed at a Native woman battling cancer

Now for the coup de grace.

“Irish/Lakota roots are well known and exist in interviews and other statements…”. I have yet to find a single one. I’ve seen a 2012 Navajo Times article that claims her great grandmother is Choctaw. I’ve seen her 2016 Facebook post in which she claims her great great grandmother was Cheyenne, Comanche or Choctaw.

Yet Otep now claims:

Grandma lost a ‘great’ and is now suddenly Lakota? I don’t know any Native who just switches tribes. In Otep’s video, she even says that grandma didn’t speak or learn English, yet had four daughters who became English professors. But no one knew this grandma’s name? If she didn’t speak English, she somehow raised four daughters that she could not communicate with since the language died with her? If she knew her language, she knew her name, and she knew her people. I imagine she would have been able to teach her kids what she knew, so this whole story is already strange and a stretch even if we add on the extra ‘great’.

Otep went on to claim that grandma was in a boarding school, had her hair cut, endured punishment – the same type of stories that Natives have actually gone through. But a lot of family lore stories do. Some of us have great great grandmothers alive today. Even ten years ago there were plenty of resources especially if the grandmother didn’t speak English, which given what Otep claims doesn’t seem possible.

Yes, we do.

There are a lot of reasons why so many American families have a wide range of ‘my great great grandmother was…’ What too few people realize is that if there are no records whatsoever, it’s likely because there’s no record whatsoever and that ancestor wasn’t Native. Take the saga of Elizabeth Warren as an example of a family lore story gone wrong and the peak entitlement to, at the minimum, refusing to just admit that she’s not Native. That’s the level that non-Natives, and predominantly white women, go to cling to these myths. This is something beyond desperation to want so badly to be us that it trumps logic.

Everyone knows the ‘my cousin’s boyfriend’s dad’s neighbor’s sister said’ is not the start of a believable tale. Native ancestor family lore stories read a lot like that. The ‘great great grandmother’ myth is so common that it’s a multi-generational joke. 99.9% of the time, it’s always a great (or gg) grandmother and not a grandfather. It’s not as often these days, but a Cherokee princess is involved. These days, it’s more often ‘my great great grandmother was Cherokee’. Who was removed from her family, married, had kids and her name, culture and language always dies with her because that’s all the information that’s ‘available’.

Let’s go back to the ally aspect. Exactly what Indigenous activism has Otep done with or for Natives beyond some tattoo?

Otep and I have sooo much in common. I, too, have had a childhood best friend who’s Navajo. That doesn’t make me Navajo, honorary or otherwise. I asked my Navajo family if the Navajo Nation gives out honorary membership or would it be more like some family adopted a non-Native as some Native families have done. If that were the case, that doesn’t make them honorary members of a tribe. If a tribe bestowed that honor, surely there are receipts? I mean, we have the 1491s version of the Johnny Depp adoption, was it something like that?

I was also told to, “ask her what her clans are”, so I pose that question to Otep. What are your Dine clans?

Once Otep had achieved the desired result of martyrdom and when Natives didn’t bend to a random white savior indignant that we weren’t worshipping her supposed activism, she blocked us. This is the same tactics that Otep’s right wing twin, Kaya Jones, did when we didn’t stop questioning her Apache claims.

This has been a lot of information and many an avenue available for education for non-Natives and even the non-Native Otep to use as a starting point to educating themselves about Indigenous issues and how WE operate in our own spaces and how to be an actual ally, not a performative jerk who needs to condescend and mock people from multiple tribes and backgrounds while doing everything possible to center herself throughout the whole mess.

At this point, it’s not worth engaging this fraud. Her history of lying about this ancestor are well documented. There’s no evidence anywhere that we’ve found any activism, let alone the Navajo Nation bestowing an honorary status that probably doesn’t exist. Her history of picking fights for the sake of publicity are well documented as well. Check out this Loudwire article about her feud with Amarakin Overdose. Her tweets read the same way they do about us. Attempting to paint herself as victim in the guise of a tough act. The fact that there’s so very few likes on any of them is telling. Check the links on other feuds she’s been in and how she communicates in them. Her narcissism means she’s always centered and she views anyone arguing with her as ‘using her for attention’. For as much as she bashes trump, she acts a lot like him.

A note about Natives, and likely quite a few marginalized communities Otep is ignorant about, on Twitter. This comes back to her mockery of me having my PayPal in my Twitter.

We have PayPal, Venmo and more available for people who would like to support what we do in Twitter and beyond. We look out for each other when we’re in a bind and need help. Students can get a little help with books or food. Struggling families get a little boost. Someone needs travel help for the funeral of a loved one. Sometimes Natives or allies have extra money and appreciate boosting others in our community. That’s solidarity and camaraderie. You don’t know that because you don’t understand those concepts. You see us as beggars and ‘less than’ for sharing those methods of support and uplifting each other.

Our beloved kitty Puma got sick and we couldn’t afford to take him to urgent pet care. Our Native and ally community stepped in and we got him seen and bought his medications. We had an opportunity to get my son a power wheelchair and were short. Our communities helped us reach our goal to get something we couldn’t have otherwise afforded on our own. Yet Otep has the gall to dehumanize us like any other racist and still bitch at US about ‘what do you do?’. Yeah. Where have YOU been?

On a minor tangent, this reminds me of an article a while back where the writer compared Natives to beggars for a blanket dance where spectators left money on a blanket during an honor song. A retraction and apology eventually followed, but that and this are a good illustration of when Natives are doing Native things and non-Natives dehumanize it without understanding. It’s especially disheartening for this coming from someone who keeps harping on about being an ally.

Now here’s some tweets for my Native fam:

Yesterday, I spoke with my youngest about what a white, abled, woman said about us. I reminded him that regardless of how cruel people can be, it’s important to note why they do the things they do and what kind of people pull this kind of shit. I theorized that she said what she said because I’d questioned this supposed Lakota (or Cheyenne/Comanche/Choctaw) great great (or just great) grandmother and instead of just targeting me, she targeted my family instead of being honest.

Today, we are slated to play Halo together. Over lunch, I informed him that I’ll be free after I publish my piece. Out of curiosity, I asked him how he felt about what I told him yesterday.

“It made me angry. If someone doesn’t believe that I’m in a wheelchair. Or can’t walk, or that I can only use one hand…She doesn’t know me.”

We discussed how unfair it would be of any abled adult in targeting disabled children. I asked if he would be willing to address such a person in person one day. He didn’t answer and I didn’t push him but I assured him that I wouldn’t let someone like Otep close to him. I wouldn’t trust such a person..

We close with some very good advice:

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