In response to “subtweet-style callouts”, Eskimeaux‘s Gabby Smith posted a note on the band’s Tumblr explaining that the band name is a deliberate reference to her actual Tlingit eskimo heritage.
“I was adopted. The only information I have about my birth family or blood line is that my birth father is Tlingit eskimo. The Tlingit tribe in Alaska considers the designation “eskimo” to be inoffensive and neutral, even preferable to imprecise terns like Inuit (the Tlingit are not Inuit). I chose this moniker as a teenager, in a time when I felt like I had been denied an identity—my Tlingit heritage was the only thing I could hold onto about my cultural history that was real. As a person who had very limited information about where I came from, this was a very powerful idea. The name Eskimeaux is in no way appropriative—I do not seek to utilize or contrive an anglo-fied or whitewashed version of the Tlingit culture. I don’t mystify the Tlingit culture in my imagination. The name is personal to me and I don’t condone non-eskimo people using the term ignorantly.”
She goes on to lament trigger-happy callout culture, writing:
“I find it weird and offensive that people are so quick to police perceived racism from an extremely white-centric perspective. It seems like it never crossed anyone’s mind that I might be connected by blood to the people whose term I’m using (people who use the term “eskimo” in a non-derogatory way) and it sucks that people are so quick to cast stones without doing any research about me or the band name (I actually posted about this a few years ago on tumblr).”
It’s a thoughtful response and a pertinent reminder that while it’s important for people to pay attention to problematic band names and be more conscious of appropriation in general, sometimes the difference between claiming and appropriating identity is not immediately visible. Before yelling snarkily into the void, it’s worthwhile to take a second and double check whether people are actually doing the thing you’re publicly accusing them of doing. Luckily, many of your favorite artists are just a direct message away.